God and Others

October 3, 2021

Exodus 20.1-17

1 And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before (beside) me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Yesterday we saw that God has prepared us to be his people.  Now we hear these words that people will take in a variety of ways.  We might remember that these words had been, and still are in a few places, engraved on walls in some court buildings in some places.  There was an outcry to have it removed because it promoted particular religious beliefs.  And others said that while it comes from the Bible, these are the universal truths by which we govern society.  Part of the 3 uses of the law – to show us how we are need of grace, to show us how society should operate, and to show us how to live lives of gratitude to God.

If we stayed with the 2nd use, people might be okay.  But we see those laws and we see God’s grace.  How his grace comes to us and how we respond to that grace.  We remember those summaries that are in Leviticus and Numbers, later stated by Jesus and others in the gospels: “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbour as yourself.”  This is the way the people are now being told they are supposed to live.  Not for ourselves first, but for God and for others.  Life was not going to be like the world around them, getting for ourselves and leaving the others.

These were not put all together like this in the Bible prior to this text.  But they are still pushing the actions of the people to go back to the way it was in the garden.  We only hear the one piece of rules in the garden.  Do not eat of this tree…  But the way things worked in the garden is reflected in these words.  The basis of life for them already had been to love God and to love each other.  We might think the love each other was easier with just the two of them.  Yet, even then, the “rules” were broken.  In essence they did not love God as they ate of the tree from which he commanded them not to eat.  And they did not love each other as they tempted and blamed each other.

We still have the same commands of God before us.  And it has changed for us, not the commands, but our ability to follow.  We’ve been given the Holy Spirit in us to guide us in being those who love God and love others.  We ask him to show us how our actions, or those we are intending, how they are loving to God and others.  These commands are not about our limits for the sake of controlling us and others, these commands are set down so that we are set free from the selfish ambitions that hold us so that we can love God and neighbours well.  How will we act today, and this week, so that we show the love of God and neighbour which we are now able to have?

SongLove God, Love People

Prayer

Almighty God, we confess that we are often swept up in the tide of our generation.  We have failed in our calling to be your holy people, a people set apart for your divine purpose.  We live more in apathy born of fatalism than in passion born of hope.  We are moved more by private ambition than by social justice.  We dream more of privilege and benefits than of service and sacrifice.  We try to speak in your name without relinquishing our glories, without nourishing our souls, without relying wholly on your grace.  Help us to make room in our hearts and lives for you.  By your Holy Spirit, forgive us, revive us, and reshape us in your image. Amen.

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