Exodus 20

Exodus 20:1-17

20:1 And God [the source of the Commandments] spoke all these words [the Ten Commandments]:

20:2 “I am the LORD [Yahweh; the covenant name revealed to Moses (cf. Ex. 3:14-15)] your God [Elohim (cf. Gen. 1:1); refers to the absolute, infinite Lord over creation and history], who brought you out of Egypt [emphasizes God’s intervention in history], out of the land of slavery [a reminder that God’s actions were redemptive].

The first two commandments call for a distinctive relationship with God.

20:3 [1] “You shall have no other [many people worshiped other gods; Israel was to have an exclusive loyalty to God] gods before me [cf. Isa. 44:6].

20:4 [2] “You shall not make for yourself an idol [something cut or shaped from material such as stone or wood; God’s people were to demonstrate an exclusive devotion to Him in their worship] in the form [in the ancient world people depicted deities in figurines, poles, statutes, carvings] of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Note: List some modern-day idols.

20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship [many people worshiped inanimate and impotent objects (cf. Isa. 44:6-23; Rom. 1:22-25)] them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,

20:6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The next two commandments call for a distinctive reverence for God.

20:7 [3] “You shall not misuse [“in vain” means “emptily, falsely, deceitfully”; to lift the name of God to vanity or emptiness] the name [represented His being and character; cf. Mal. 1:11] of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Note: List ways in which God’s name is misused today and ways in which people mar His reputation.

20:8 [4] “Remember [to recall and to act on what is remembered] the Sabbath [means “rest” or “cessation”; the seventh day] day by keeping it holy [set apart for the Lord; to separate from improper things].

Note: Christians observe Sunday (the first day of the week ) as the time for spiritual renewal because that is the day Jesus was raised from the dead (Lk. 24:1; Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2).

20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

20:10 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

20:11 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.

The last six commandments call for a distinctive treatment of other people.

20:12 [5] “Honor [for children still living at home: to give weight or consideration to their parents instruction; for grown children: to give weight or consideration to their parents counsel and welfare] your father and your mother, so [cf. Eph. 6:2] that you may live long [the general principle is that children who hear and heed their parents instruction are more likely to avoid the things that can shorten life] in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Note: List ways in which you can honor your parents.

20:13 [6] “You shall not murder [premeditated murder; violation of the sanctity of human life].

Note: The Hebrew word translated “murder” in this commandment generally indicated the premeditated taking of another life. This prohibition does not apply to all forms of taking human life, such as the execution of murders by the state (Gen. 9:6) or defending one’s home from a thief (Ex. 22:2). The prohibition does, however, apply to abortion, to being an accessory to murder (2 Sam. 12:9), and to taking one’s own life.

20:14 [7] “You shall not commit adultery [violation of the sanctity of marriage; punishable by death (Deut. 22:22); Jesus taught that faithfulness in marriage extends to the sexual thoughts and attitudes we harbor (Matt. 5:27-28); adultery destroys the unity of the home and family].

Note: When it comes to adultery, is your brain as faithful as your body?

20:15 [8] “You shall not steal [cf. Lk. 10:30; Amos 8:5-6; Jas. 5:1-6].

Note: List some of the many ways in which people steal.

20:16 [9] “You shall not give false testimony [damages reputation; gossip, slander, and lying are common ways people give false testimony; cf. Prov. 6:16-19] against your neighbor.

20:17 [10] “You shall not covet [to desire or yearn for what another person has; coveting is often rooted in dissatisfaction with what God has provided for us; cf. Lk. 12:13-21; 1 Tim. 6:6] your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

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