Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 14 Jan 2021Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
The Ten Commandments—what are they? Most people have probably heard of them, either from Sunday School or church days, or recall the 1956 film The Ten Commandments, the Cecil B. deMille’s spectacular motion picture, the account of liberation from slavery of the Hebrew people, led by Moses.
But today how many people can recite the Ten Commandments? Are they still relevant today? Are they a relic from the past? One of the problems with the Ten Commandments is that we see them as a list of do’s and don’ts. Are they a list of infringements and restrictions? Is God a divine tyrant who issued a list of rules to keep an eye on us?
Principles of Relationship—with God and Others
No—nothing could be further from the truth. They were not given by a God to satisfy his need to manipulate our lives. They are statements of principle which give an expression to an idea. They were first addressed to the people of Israel as they left Egyptian slavery, and moved out into freedom as a community under God. That’s why he issued the rules—they moved out of bondage into servanthood of God’s rule.
They had changed masters—no longer under slavery of Pharaoh. And the living God wanted to give them some principles of behaviour to help them. It was an attempt to express what a community under God looks like. That’s why the Ten Commandments have a dual focus—relationship with God and with our fellow human beings.
The people of Israel started to learn about God as a loving God who wanted them to be free—and that’s the wonderful message about these rules. They are designed for our freedom and happiness. They provide some security. But there’s more to it than that. God’s Ten Commandments bring order to our world, in any generation.
A Timeless Guide for Humankind
They are not just a set of outdated laws for a former generation. They are still relevant for us today. After all, what is the basis of morality? Who can be sure of what is right and what is wrong? There are lots of opinions on these big issues. Thousands of years ago, God gave man a plan for order within society, a plan for morality and ethics that would guide humankind down through the centuries.
They are his ideas, not the prejudices of man, nor are they based on the latest popularity polls or what a particular government wants. It’s what God wants. The basis of the Ten Commandments is God himself, and if taken seriously, they work. They work because he knows man, and knows what we need to live a fulfilled and orderly life.
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God gave the Ten Commandments so that humans could live a fulfilled and orderly life.
When Moses came down off Mt Sinai, we read in the Bible that he told the people what the Lord had said:
God said to the people of Israel:
I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves. (Exodus 20:1-2 – CEV).
They are true statements, the basic laws that govern our lives and our society. They show us how to live together in love, joy and peace. It’s wonderful to know God loves us so much he speaks to us.
Despite our rejection, and rebellion, God cares for us. He has communicated with us, telling us how to live. He spoke and gave the law to man—God did not leave humans in the dark, wondering how they are to live. We don’t have to stumble around in the dark groping after truth, wondering how we can bring reconciliation to the world, wondering how to please God.
So, more than just speaking to Moses, he saw fit to pass on his law written down for humankind. He has communicated the Ten Commandments, so we will always know how to live with him and with others.