10 Things You May Not Know About the Ten Commandments

Deuteronomy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:09
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Our Scripture text this morning is taken from Deuteronomy 5:1-6:
Deuteronomy 5:1–6 ESV
And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the rules that I speak in your hearing today, and you shall learn them and be careful to do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, while I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said: “ ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
As I begin my message this morning, I want to assure you that we will cover the very important material found in Deut 4:15-40, especially when we look at the First and Second Commandments, however I think it is vital that we cover some foundational issues before we go any farther. As Moses preached on the banks of the Jordan, he preach to a congregation who was intimately familiar with the concept of covenant and the Ten Commandments. The same cannot be said of most modern American Christians. In addition, much bad teaching and incorrect application of the Ten Commandments have plagued the Church for centuries. Consequently, I want to devote one sermon in this series to act as an introduction.
Introductions are rarely interesting and are frequently forgettable. Therefore, I decided to use an unconventional format, I have made a list of 10 Things You May Not Know About the Ten Commandments. I will only be covering each item briefly, however, I have already introduced you to some of these things and all of them will come up again as we work our way through Deuteronomy. So let us begin:

1. The Ten Commandments is Not Its Biblical Name

I mentioned this in last week’s message, but what we call the “Ten Commandments” is actually called the “Ten Words” in the original Hebrew and in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.
Why is this important? It is important because it reminds us that they are more than mere commandments, they are God’s words of instruction to us, given to us that we may enjoy a relationship of love with Him. This brings to the next item on our list:

2. The Ten Commandments are Covenant Stipulations

The Ten Commandments are a law code, but they are a specific type of law code—a covenantal law code. Verse two of our text makes it very clear that what we are talking about is a covenant.
Deuteronomy 5:2 ESV
The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
A covenant stipulation are the rules governing a relationship with another person. We see this relationship in verse six:
Deuteronomy 5:6 ESV
“ ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Why is this important? It is important because the commandments that follow all presuppose a relationship with God. In fact, the purpose of the ten commandments is to preserve and protect our relationship with God.
Every relationship is governed by a spoken or unspoken set of rules. Think of a young couple that has just gotten married, each person comes into the relationship with their own set of expectations and rules. One of the reasons for conflict in the early years of marriage is because these expectations are not clearly communicated.
Thankfully God has not left us to figure out what His expectations are, He has given them to us in writing! More than this, as our Creator He knows our needs better than we do. His commandments not only perfectly please Him, but they perfectly bless us!
This brings us to the next item:

3. The Ten Commandments are Unilateral

Marriage is an example of a bilateral covenant. A newly married couple must negotiate the rules of their new household.
The Ten Commandments are not like this. They come to us directly from God, there is no negotiation.
Why is this important? It is important because far too many of us attempt to negotiate with God. We need to remind ourselves that God is wiser than we are. As was previously stated, the Ten Commandments are perfectly suited to please God and to bless us. They cannot be improved upon!
This brings us to the next item of the list:

4. Why There are Two Tablets

There are clearly two parts or tables to the Law. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God and the last six with our relationship with our neighbor. Because of this, it is commonly assumed that the first table of the Law is on the first tablet and the second is on the second tablet. However, this is not the case. At the time of Moses, when a covenant was made, to memorial copies were made—one for each party,
God commanded Moses to place these memorial tablets into the Ark of the Covenant.
Why is this important? It is important, because God always has before Him a reminder of the covenant. This is true of the New Covenant as well. The New Covenant was made with the shedding of the blood of Jesus and before the throne of God are forever the five wounds of Jesus!
The next item on our list.

5. The Ten Commandments are Not the Only Stipulations

God revealed His covenant stipulations to Israel in stages. First there was The Ten Commandments (Ex 20, Deut 5), then The Book of the Covenant (Ex 20:22-23:19), followed by Instructions on Holiness (Lev 17-26) and finally, The Torah of Deuteronomy (Deut 12-26, 28).
Why is this important? The Ten Commandments serves as the foundational of Biblical Law, just as the US Constitution serves as the foundation of US Law. If we do not know and understand the Ten Commandments, we will misunderstand much of the Bible.
This brings us to the sixth point:

6. All Ten are Found in the Law of Christ

We are no longer under the Law of Moses, but the Law of Christ. However, this does not mean we are not under the Ten Commandments, for when we examine the New Testament, we find Christ and His Apostles call us to obey all ten!
Why is this important? It is important because the Ten Commandments should still be loved, taught, memorized, and obeyed!
This brings us to the seventh point:

7. The Ten Commandments are Based on Grace

The Ten Commandments begin with these words:
Deuteronomy 5:6 ESV
“ ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
God elected Israel and saved Israel before He gave them the Ten Commandments. Our relationship with God is not based on our keeping of the Ten Commandments, but upon God’s grace!
Why is this important?It is important because the Ten Commandments must never be used as a way of earning God’s favor. Nor can they be used as a way of keeping God’s favor.
This brings us to next point:

8. Breaking Them Does Not Destroy the Covenant

By the Holy Spirit, Moses foresaw that Israel would not abide by the terms of the covenant, back in chapter four we read:
Deuteronomy 4:26–28 ESV
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
This is true of us as well. As Christians, we have all broken the Ten Commandments and all of us will do so in the future. If keeping the Ten Commandments was our hope for maintaining our relationship with God, we would all be doomed, but praise God, He promises in the covenant not only to save us by grace, but to preserve us by grace!
Let us continue in chapter four:
Deuteronomy 4:29–31 ESV
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
Why is this important? It is important because it reminds us that salvation is by grace through faith from beginning to end!
Now on to the next point:

9 & 10. There are Two Versions and Two Way of Numbering

I am combining the last two items because they are dependent upon each other. The Exodus 20 version differs slightly from the Deuteronomy 5 version of the Ten Commandments. These differences are found primarily with the fourth and the tenth commandments.
In the Exodus version we are called to “remember” the Sabbath Day because on the seventh day God rested from His creative work. In the Deuteronomy version, we are called to “observe” the Sabbath Day because God delivered us from bondage.
In Exodus, our neighbor’s wife is listed together with all the other things we are not to covet. However, in Deuteronomy, our neighbor’s wife is listed first and separated from our neighbor’s possessions, almost as if it is a separate commandment.
In fact, Roman Catholics and Lutherans do just this. The use the Deuteronomy version and combine the first two commandments to still have ten “commandments”.
Why is this important?It reminds us that we need to always keep both the emphasizes of Exodus and Deuteronomy before us. Exodus emphasizes the importance of not making images of God and Deuteronomy emphasis the importance of not treating women like possessions. God’s revelation to us in multifaceted. Like a gemstone, looking at the Ten Commandments from different angles highlights its beauty.
I hope you have found this brief introduction to the Ten Commandments both interesting and fun. As I stated in my introduction, we will look at the details of each of these points in greater depth as we work through each commandment, but I wanted to give you the big picture today so you will not lose sight of it as we look at the details.
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