God’s Commandments – Exodus 19-20

Download MP3
(If you would like to request the PowerPoint presentation for this sermon, Click Here)

(If you would like to download the PowerPoint presentation for this sermon, Click here)

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click here)

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

September 30, 2007

God’s Commandments

Exodus 19-20
Review

Last week we saw the various hardships and the responses of the children of Israel as they left Egypt and made their way in to the Sinai Peninsula. (See: God’s Provision)  First, they went southeast, then north, then south again finally ending up at Baal-zephon (Exodus 14:8-9). This enticed Pharaoh to change his mind and come chasing after them with his army in order to enslave them again. When Pharaoh caught up with them, the people recognized that they were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, so they cried out and complained that Moses had brought them out there to die and they should have stayed in Egypt. Moses told them to not fear for God would fight for them, and God did. The angel of God then stood between Israel and the Egyptians so that they could not attack. Then God caused a wind to part the Red Sea so that they were able to cross it on dry ground with the water of the Red Sea being as walls on either side of them. God then allowed Pharaoh to pursue them into the Red Sea, but now Pharaoh was trapped. Too late they realized that God was fighting for Israel and the sea returned to its former place drowning all of Pharaoh’s army. By destroying the Egyptian army God protected Israel from any further threat from them in that generation and for many generations to come (Exodus 14:10-31).

Their next hardship was a lack of water as they journeyed out into the desert and arrived at Marah where the waters were bitter. Again they complained against Moses, but Moses brought the need to God, and He provided a means for the waters to be sweetened by Moses tossing a certain tree into it (Exodus 15:22-27).

They then traveled from Elim into the wilderness of sin where they ran out of food. Again they grumbled and complained against Moses and Aaron accusing them of bringing them into the wilderness to starve to death. Moses pointed out to the people that there complaining was really against the Lord and not him. Moses brought the matter to the Lord and He again provided for a rebellious people. There were specific instructions for how the people were to collect the manna, but some did not do so and they had to be instructed again (Exodus 16).

The next challenge came as they moved farther south to Rephidim where again they ran out of water and again they quarreled with Moses accuse him of bringing them out there to die of thirst. Once again Moses brought the matter before the Lord and once again the Lord provided water for them. This time by Moses striking the rock (Exodus 17:1-7).

Amazing enough they did not complain when they were attacked by Amalek. God enabled Israel to defeat Amalek by Moses keeping his hands held up with the assistance of Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:8-16).

God is good, gracious, merciful, patient and longsuffering. Those who accusation God of being different in the Old Testament and New Testament are either ignorant or slanderous. The fact that God provided for His people though they were rebellious, disobedient, faithless and stubborn speaks strongly of His attributes that arise out of His love. God would have been just to have wiped Israel out, yet He was patient with them as He taught them the lessons needed so that they could learn to trust Him. In the future we will see that He will eventually judge some because of their sin, but overall it is actually His mercy that shines the brightest in Exodus.

 

Arrival & Preparation at SinaiExodus 19

This morning we will be examining Exodus 19-24. As we begin our study we find that the sons of Israel have moved from Rephidim and have arrived at Mount Sinai where they camp at its base. It has been three months since they left Egypt (Exodus 19:1-2). Upon arrival Moses makes a series of trips up and down Mount Sinai to receive from the Lord instructions and then give them to the people in preparing them for when the Lord would come down on Mount Sinai in their sight.

On Moses’ first trip (Exodus 19:3-8) God told him to tell the people 4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and [how] I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” When Moses returned he called all the elders of the people and told them what the Lord had said. All the people answered, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!”

Moses went back up the mountain with the answer of the people and received further instructions about how the Lord would communicate to Moses before the people saying, “Behold, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe in you forever” (Exodus 19:9). The Lord also gave Moses the specifics of how the people were to prepare themselves. (Exodus 19:10-13) The Lord said, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11 and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 “And you shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13 ‘No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” Moses returned down the mountain and prepared the people by giving them the Lord’s warnings as well as instructions about washing themselves and refraining from marital relations so that they would be ceremonially clean (vs. 14-15).

All this seems very strange to many people in our society today because their approach to God is so casual. Since we have constant access to God through the new covenant it can be easy to become nonchalant about meeting with Him. This in turn can lead to a loss of the proper reverence for God that would cause thoughtful preparation before coming before Him. I am not just talking about when the congregation gathers together to worship but also the way we approach the Lord in our individual devotional lives. Coming into the presence of God is a serious matter, as we see again in verses 18-25.

(Exodus 19:18-25) Now Mount Sinai [was] all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. 20 And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the
Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 “And also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.” 23 And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for Thou didst warn us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.'” 24 Then the Lord said to him, “Go down and come up [again,] you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest He break forth upon them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

 

The Ten Commandments Exodus 20

Exodus 20:1-17 records God giving to the people the Ten Commandments, but before we look at each of those commandments in detail it is important that you clearly understand the setting in which this is occurring so jump ahead to verse 18-21.

The SettingExodus 20:1-2, 18-22

18 And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw [it,] they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God [was.]

The people are gathered at the base of the mountain with Moses between them and the mountain and the Lord is speaking to them directly. That fact is confirmed in verse 22 when the Lord tells Moses to tell the people, “You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven.” All the phenomena that occurs on the mountain when God is talking to them scares them so that they tremble and back away. God speaking to them directly is too much for them and they want Moses to be the mediator who would talk to God for them and then tell them what God has said. Too often people have the idea that Moses is up on the mountain and God is giving the Ten Commandments only to Moses who would then tell the people, but He actually gave it in the hearing of all the people.

This fact counters the ideas proposed by liberal scholars who say Moses developed the Ten Commandments based on law codes of other Ancient Near Eastern societies. Moses did not because he and all the people received the law from God at the same time. The prologue in verses 1 & 2 also back this up saying, Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The law was not developed by Moses but came directly from God.

In addition, the literary form of the Ten Commandments is different from most of the Ancient Near Eastern law codes which are given in the third person as “if. . . then” statements. If a person did a certain thing then they were to receive a certain penalty. The Ten Commandments are given in the second person as precepts or direct commands. The Mosaic law was not based on the laws developed in any other nation or society but came directly from God to Moses and then to the people with the Ten Commandments themselves also being given directly to the people.

The Ten Commandments are a summary statement of the laws that God would be giving to the Israelites. The are the precepts, the principles under which detailed law would later be given. Every one of these commandments except the fourth, to keep the Sabbath, are repeated in the New Testament for Christians to follow. Because of that they are a quick reference standard by which a person can be judged to be either morally good or bad. Do they meet God’s standards of being good? Have they kept the law or not? This is important because until a person comes to understand that they are guilty before God they have no need for a savior. Paul said in Galatians 3:24 that the law was our schoolmaster (tutor) to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. We can and should use the law when we are proclaiming the gospel to others. What then are these commandments and what do they mean?

No Other Gods Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” This is an exclusion of all polytheism. Having the Lord as the supreme God is not enough. “Before Me” means “over against Me,” and refers to all that would stand in opposition or substitution of Him. Allegiance and worship belong to the Lord God alone for the Lord is the only true God (see Isaiah 43:10; 45:21,22). In Exodus 22:20 we will find that worship of any other god would be punishable by death. Jesus restated this command in Matthew 4:10 that “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

The positive expression of this commandment is in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37 that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might. To do less than that is to put something else before God, something in opposition of or substitution for Him.

No Graven Images Exodus 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

This command is repeated in 1 John 5:21 and explained in Romans 1:23 as one of the steps downward in rejecting the true God. This is the commandment generally left out of the list in Roman Catholic versions which split the last commandment in two so that they still end up with ten. God is a spirit (John 4:24) so there cannot be any physical representation of Him. No idol and no image of anything in heaven or on earth. Any attempt at doing this would be the substitution of something false and therefore a defaming of the Lord instead of an aide to worship. People with artistic talent can express themselves in many ways about many things, but this is an area that is to be off limits. Israel would be judged many times in the future for their violation of this commandment. Exodus 32 records the first record of God putting to death those that violated it.

The phrase “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate me” refers to the natural consequences of fathers teaching their children to follow after their sin. It takes generations to purge such false teachings. Passages such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:20 make it clear that each person bears the penalty of their own sin and that sons are not to bear the penalty of their father’s sins. God’s lovingkindness is extended to those that love Him and keep His commandments so that even the consequences of generational sins can be reversed.

Do Not Take God‘s Name in Vain Exodus 20:7

 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” This is not just blasphemy but using the name of God in any irreverent manner. It would include using any of the names of God as a thoughtless exclamation. To say “Oh God!” or “Jesus!” with reverence or as part of a plea in prayer is fine, but to say such things because something surprises you, startles you or hurts you is in violation of this command. Taking an oath or swearing by any reference to God and then not fulfilling the vow is also a violation of this command (Leviticus 19:12). Jesus made that clear in Matthew 5:33-37 and James 5:12 repeats the commandment. Leviticus 24:11-16 rec
ords the first person put to death for violation of this commandment.

Keep the Sabbath Exodus 20:8-11

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; [in it] you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

The Sabbath was one of the commandments that was to be a sign between the sons of Israel and God and any of them that violated it were to be put to death (Exodus 31:13-15; Ezekiel 20:12). The first occurrence of capital punishment for a violation of this command is in Numbers 15:32-36.

This is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament, but that does not mean the principle in it does not still apply. Jesus corrected the Pharisees telling them that the Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around (Mark 2:27). The pattern was set when the Lord rested on the seventh day. Man needs a day of rest. The difference in the New Testament is that the Christian is to regard and observe any day as the Lord leads him to regard it (Romans 14:5-6) and we are not to judge one another in respect to how someone else regards it (Colossians 2:16). Keep in mind that goes both ways. Those who regard it are not to judge those who do not regard it, and those who do not regard it are not to judge those who do. (Example: I regard Sunday as a special day that I set aside to worship the Lord. There are certain activities I try to refrain from doing on Sunday, but I do not judge those who do. But it is irritating when those who do those things then judge me as a legalistic because I do not wish to join them in what they are doing).

Honor Parents Exodus 20:12

 

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Paul applied this command to believers in Ephesians 6:1-3 quoting it and saying that it was the first commandment with a promise and that children were to obey their parents. Children who were marked by rebellion and disobedience were subject to capital punishment for violation of this command (Exodus 21:15; Deuteronomy 21:18-21). In Titus 1:9, men who have children who are rebellious are excluded from being Elders in the church. After the child becomes an adult they are not subject to obey their parents, but they still have to honor them with respect and also provision when necessary. 1 Timothy 5:8 says that the one that does not provide for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Do not Murder Exodus 20:13

“You shall not murder.” Capital punishment for this was instituted back in Genesis 9:5,6 because man is made in the image of God. I spoke about this when we examined that passage (See: Man’s Continued Rebellion). James 2:11 repeats the command in the New Testament. It is important to note that the Hebrew word here, “ratsach,” is a specific word that includes both premeditated and accidental murder, what we might call manslaughter. This command does not apply to death that occurs as part of war or executions for violations of the law. Exodus 21:12-14 stipulates different punishments for each. The penalty for premeditated murder is execution and the penalty for what we would call manslaughter was banishment.

In the New Testament we find that Jesus and the Apostle John raised God’s requirements regarding murder. In Matthew 5:21- Jesus said that murder made a man liable to the court and then went on to say that unrighteous anger did the same thing and that anger resulting in calling others derogatory names also makes him liable before the supreme court and even guilty enough to go into fiery hell. 1 John 3:15 states, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” God looks at the heart, not just the outward actions.

Do not Commit Adultery Exodus 20:14

 

“You shall not commit adultery.” Marriage was instituted by God in Genesis 2:24 and violations of it by infidelity are called “great sin” as early as Genesis 20:9 (Abimelech) and a “great wickedness and sin against God” by Joseph in Genesis 39:9. The death penalty was ascribed to it in Leviticus 20:10. The command is repeated in several places in the New Testament (Romans 2:22; 13:9; James 2:11) including by Jesus in Matthew 5:27 where He increases its application saying “that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Again we find that God looks at and judges the heart and not just the outward actions.

Do not Steal Exodus 20:15

 

“You shall not steal.” If you take something without permission that does not already belong to you, then you have stolen it and you are a thief regardless of the value you place on it. There are more things that can be stolen than just theft of physical items. There is also stealing time from your employer, fraud, cheating, neglect of responsibility, extortion, embezzlement, tax evasion, etc. Exodus 22 gives a long list of the different penalties for different types of stealing, both intentional and non-intentional (losses from acts of neglect). They all involve restitution of what was lost but intentional theft also includes a payment of double or more (Exodus 22:1, 4, Prov. 6:31). Stealing a human (kidnaping) made a person liable for execution (Deuteronomy 24:7). The command not to steal is repeated in many places in the New Testament including Ephesians 4:28 which says, “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have [something] to share with him who has need.” We also have a positive responsibility to work so that we have something to share with those in need.

Do not Bear False Witness Exodus 20:16

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Lying about other people is a serious matter. God said He would not acquit the guilty of those who pervert justice (Exodus 23:6-8) and the penalty for bringing false testimony was the penalty that they intended to bring upon the one they were lying about (Deuteronomy 19:15-19). Psalm 101:5 says that God will destroy the one that secretly slanders his neighbor. Talebearers and gossips lose their friends (Proverbs 20:19). The New Testament repeats the prohibition (Ephesians 4:31; James 4:11) and adds in Revelation 21:8 that “all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” All false witness is serious including gossip. I have spoken about that before (see: True Fellowship – October 19, 2003)

Do not Covet Exodus 20:17

 

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” To covet is to yearn to posses what someone else has. It could be material things such as those listed in the verse or immaterial things such as their talent, position or fame. We usually call that envy. This is the only sin that is only a matter of the heart because if action is taken to satisfy the desire then it results in all sorts of other sins including stealing, bearing false witness and murder (Example: Ahab in 1 Kings 21 who did all these things because he coveted Naboth’s field). It was coveting that pushed Eve to eat of Tree of the Knowl
edge of Good and Evil. She sinned because she gave in her desire for something that looked good for food, pleasing to the eyes and could make her wise (Genesis 3:6). Its penalty is the other sins it leads to and the specific penalties they bring. The sin behind coveting is not being content with what God has provided and trusting Him to provide what is needed. Contentment and coveting are opposites that exclude each other. 1 Timothy 6:8 tells us that we should be content if we have food and covering. Paul added in Philippians 4:12 that he had learned to be content in all circumstances.

Conclusions

The only person that has ever kept all these commandments is Jesus Christ. There are certainly people who have fooled themselves into thinking they have kept most of them, but all it takes to be guilty and under God’s condemnation as a sinner is to break one of them just once. There is no weighing of your good deeds against your sinful deeds to see which way the scale will tip. The penalty of sin is incurred for any evil deed. The sin cannot be offset by good deeds, and when it is recognized as Isaiah 64:6 states that all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags before God, then any hope of earning God’s favor by our own actions is completely destroyed. The weight of the God’s law has crushed us.

Our only hope is in God providing a way of forgiveness apart from anything we do. It is only God’s grace that can provide hope of redemption and God provided that in Jesus Christ when He took the penalty of our sin upon Himself and then rose again proving He has the power and authority to keep His promise of giving eternal life to all who will believe in Him. There are ramifications to believing that Jesus is God in human flesh who lived a sinless life, died as the substitute for sin, rose from the dead on the third day and ascended to heaven where He now intercedes for us on the right hand of the Father, and He will come again to take us to be with Him forever. The one that believes those things will also love Him and follow Him. They are the ones that have the promise of eternal life. God has in His grace provided a way out from under the crushing condemnation of His law, but all those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are still under the law and its condemnation. If you are still under the law, you can have that changed today by placing your trust in Jesus Christ. Talk with me or any of our church leaders. We would love show you how.

Sermon Study Sheets

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Write down the meaning of each of the commandments. Talk with your parents about them, the importance of seeking God’s forgiveness & how to obey God.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

How had God treated the sons of Israel prior to their arrival at Mount Sinai? How many times did Moses go up and down Mount Sinai in Exodus 19? What was the purpose of each trip? How did the people prepare themselves to meet God? What warnings were they given? How do you prepare yourself to meet with God? Describe the setting of God giving the Ten Commandments? Who heard Him declare them? What was the origin of the commandments? How did the people respond? What does Paul say was the purpose of the Law? How should it be used in declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ? If you were to be judged by the law, how would you plead? How can the penalty of the law be avoided? Are you under the Law or Grace?

Sermon Notes – September 30, 2007

God’s Commandments – Exodus 19-20

Review

The LORD provided Israel safety from the Egyptian army by ______________ them in the Red Sea

The LORD provided ___________ for Israel at Marah when Moses tossed the tree into it.

The LORD provided ____________ for Israel in the wilderness. They made bread out of __________

The LORD provided _____________ at Massah and Meribah

The LORD defeated ______________ at Rephidim by having Moses keeps his __________ up.

Arrival & Preparation Exodus 19

Moses went up the mountain to get instructions from _________________

The people __________ themselves to meet the LORD

The LORD had Moses warn the people twice not to ____________________

 

The Ten Commandments Exodus 20

The Setting Exodus 20:1,2, 18-22

The people were at the __________ of the mountain with Moses in __________ of them

God spoke the Ten Commandments directly to _________________

The people were ___________ of the LORD & told Moses to speak to Him for them

The Law came from ____________, not any other Ancient Near Eastern nation / society

The Law is a ______________ to lead us to Christ – Galatians __________

No Other Gods Exodus 20:3

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

No Graven Images Exodus 20:4-6

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

Do Not Take God’s Name in Vain Exodus 20:7

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

Keep the Sabbath Exodus 20:8-11

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Honor Parents Exodus 20:12

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

Do Not Murder Exodus 20:13

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

Do Not Commit Adultery Exodus 20:14

Penalty = ________________________________________
__________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Do Not Steal Exodus 20:15

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Do Not Bear False Witness Exodus 20:16

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty = __________________________________________________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________

Do Not Covet Exodus 20:17

Meaning = __________________________________________________________

Penalty =         __________________________________________________________

New Testament References = ____________________________________________


Grace Bible Church Home Page | This Week’s Sermon | Sermon Archives

For comments, please e-mail  Church office