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Devotionals

The Ten Commandments (Part 2)

Over and over in the New Testament we are called to watch our spiritual walk because we are so weak and frail, ready to bend and fall into the traps our enemy, the evil one who sets these for us. None of us who follow the Lord Jesus can deny how prone we are to wonder and stray from the One whose passion for us His people never ceases, changes or lessens. So here we have a tension between the desire to stray and the passion to love. What ought to motivate us as a people to a higher level of intentionality? The first Israelite community, journeying as they were to the Promised Land, heard the Law being given in Exodus 20 and repeated in Deuteronomy 5. Immediately after this second reading of the Law, we find a passage that every Jewish parent knew, especially the fathers (Deut 6:3-9). I include a longer passage that reads:

Dt 6:1 “These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.”

In these verses Moses tells the people the reason they have the Ten Commandments.

(1) He needed to teach them to observe the Commandments. It was a God given instruction.

(2) They were about to cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land. As a new community of God’s people living in a new land, they needed a new set of rules to live by … rules different to when they were in Egypt and rules different to the way the pagans live in Canaan. The culture, the morals, the religion and the God were different!

(3) The complete family were required to adhere to these Commands so that they would have a holy fear in their hearts for the True God. As parents taught the children so the children, when parents would teach their children and in so doing, God’s Laws would be passed onto the next generation each time.

(4) For obedience God’s promise was long life that would be enjoyed. The long life would be personal in years and community in generations.

The next verse sums this up:

Dt 6:3 “Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”

There follows the ever needed reminder of the Oneness of God as the Only God.

Dt 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

Now that there is a good understanding of God, teaching, obedience and the family unit’s spiritual need, Moses provides a summary of the First Four Commandments …

Dt 6:5 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”

… coupled to the need for love to be a heart matter …

Dt 6:6 “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

Now the spiritual stage is set for families to apply the Law aggressively in the home by …

Dt 6:7 “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Due to space and time please pray through these verses personally and see how God leads you to apply them in your life and family. So here it is as it applies to the Third Commandment:

Dt 6:13 “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. 16 Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah.”

Now let’s look at the Third Commandment:

Ex 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

In this Command you can easily see Deuteronomy 6:13-16 … Fear, serve, oath taking, no other gods, God’s jealousy and anger, punishment and not testing God. As a follower of Jesus you carry the name “Christian”. You represent Him everywhere all the time. As a pastor I committed myself to a few personal things that although not un-Biblical, if practiced would ruin my ministry, integrity and reputation. One was that of using alcohol. Where a drink now and then is not a sin, getting drunk is. Where drinking a glass of wine at home is acceptable, getting drunk away from home is a double sin. If people saw me my ministry would be ruined for those people would never trust anything I preached. Why should they? Another would be the places I go to, whom I mix with and what I do? But it’s not limited to what I do … it includes what I say. Each time I use filthy language or lie … I as a Christian take God’s name in vain. Sadly the same would be my driving … and more sad would be me straying sexually … before marriage or once married. What about writing WhatsApp Messages, SMSes or Emails? What is the content and to who is it written? The point I am making is that as a Christian I stand on the stage and all eyes are upon me. This includes my family (children), my superiors and subordinates at work, neighbours, friends and last but certainly not least … my church family and my God who is Omniscient! Just before Paul’s riveting passage on marriage he writes under inspiration:

1Co 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Beloved, we are not whom we are! We are whom we allow ourselves to be. We can either honour God by carrying the Precious Name of Jesus high, even if we are laughed at and scorned … or we can dishonor His Majestic Name through willful sin. Read the Commandment again:

Ex 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Never think the Blood of Jesus protects those who abuse the LORD’S Name. God does not play games. If we are “in the Kingdom” let us live to prove it for failure proves we are outside the kingdom … and damned!

Dear Loving Father, in mercy You have given us rules such as this Third Commandment to live by. Thank You for helping us understand Your rightful jealousy and Your commitment to punish those who dishonor Your Name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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