“And God spake all these words, saying,” (Exodus 20:1)
We’re back in the Book of Exodus, picking up where we left off last time with the opening of Chapter 20. It has been over four months since we have looked at Exodus and we have been blessed with many new subscribers and regular readers since then. I have recently updated and reorganized the index of previous posts and have placed new links in the upper right corner of the page. If you are interested in reading any of the prior studies from Exodus (or Romans and Genesis), you can find a complete listing for each by clicking the corresponding links listed under the heading “Bible Commentaries.” Additionally, you can find several other topical studies listed under “Other Topics and Study Series.” I pray that those interested will find these earlier studies to be both useful and inspiring.
Now, moving on into Exodus Chapter 20 we find two very important factors preceding the actual listing of the “10 Commandments” which serve as a foundation for the Authority behind their giving. First we have the statement in Verse 1: “And God spake all these words…” These are not the words of Moses the Prophet nor are they the commandments of Aaron the future High Priest. These are not the moral imperatives imagined by man, nor a code of laws binding a people to the arbitrary discretions imposed by a human sovereign, as were the statutes established in Babylon by Hammurabi. These were the Words of God, a Divine set of laws and rules of conduct which rested firmly upon the highest Authority.
“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” (Exodus 20:2)
The first utterance of Jehovah in the giving of the Law are the predicates of Who He is, and what He has done. God reserves the right to command the conduct of men because it is He Who has created all things, including man. The Creator of man possesses the intrinsic right to issue whatever edicts He so desires for no other reason than the fact that He is the Creator Who has both given life and upholds it. Yet far from asserting this right based on that alone, God will immediately remind the Children of Israel of what it is specifically that He has done for them.
We find not here the formal and somewhat impersonal introduction which the Lord so frequently gave to the ancestors of this great people. God does not come to them as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” He does not speak of the deliverance and blessings He bestowed upon the Patriarchs, but what He has done directly for this generation. I have brought thee out of bondage, declares the Lord, I have rescued you from the slavery which bound you.
And so it is that our relationship to God moves from the doctrinal to the experiential. We read of what He has done for those who came before us in the Bible, we hear the testimonies and the witness of others whose lives He has moved upon, but these things always lead to what He does for each of us. He is not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He is our God, too. He has delivered the Children of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt, but He has also delivered each of us who are in Christ from our slavery to sin. He is their God, but He’s also our God.
The Law and Commandments which follow, the “Law of Moses“, was given to a people who belonged to God. These were a people whom the Lord had purchased and redeemed. They were a people whom He had freed from bondage and delivered, giving them life, becoming their God. He possessed the right and the privilege to establish His Laws with them. Thus, before the first Commandment is spoken, God reminds His people that He is no tyrant, oppressing them unfairly with rules which He really had no prerogative to impose. No, He is about to reveal His expectations, the covenant into which He will enter into with this nation, establishing them as His own peculiar treasure (Ex. 19:5).
Until next time. To God goes all glory. In service to Him,