On The Ten Commandments

[Note: Today I am going to share with you all a slight adaptation of one of my lectures for my History of the Old Testament class, and I hope that it may be instructive for all of you as well:]

The Ten Commandments Are Found in Both Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-22. There are some differences between the two accounts: for example, the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 looks back at God’s creation of the world and His keeping of the Sabbath day (see Genesis 2:2-3), while Deuteronomy 5:12-15 looks to the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery. In both cases, the Sabbath is connected to liberty and rest for all, a command that remains for Christians today (see Hebrews 4:9, Colossians 2:16-17) as a shadow of what is to come.

The Ten Commandments are as follows:

1.I am the Lord Your God. You shall have no other gods before (or other than) Me.
2.You shall not make carved images.
3.You shall not take the name of God in vain.
4.You shall obey the seventh-day Sabbath and keep it holy. This also includes the Holy Days, land Sabbaths, and Jubilee year.
5.You shall honor your father and mother. (You learn to honor God by honoring human authorities).
6.You shall not murder.
7.You shall not commit adultery.
8.You shall not seal.
9.You shall not bear false witness (lie) against your neighbor.
10.You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The Ten Commandments can be divided several ways. The first five commandments show us how to “love God with all our mind, all our heart, and all our soul” (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matthew 22:37-38). The last five commandments teach us how to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (see Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39-40). On these two laws, and these ten commandments, hang all of the many laws (over 600 in total) in the entire Bible.

Additionally, the Ten Commandments also fit into five pairs, one relating to our behavior to God and the other to our behavior towards mankind. Each of these pairs also relates to a book of the Torah (Law). Genesis deals with ethics—with the sins of mankind and also with the start of the family (and eventually nation) of faith. This relates to the first commandment, which shows God as the origin of our ethical and moral system and our ultimate authority as believers, and the sixth commandment, which forbids attacks on mankind, those created in the image and likeness of God. To attack God’s viceroys is to attack God’s authority. Exodus is about God’s oath and his conditional election of ancient Israel and the Church as His agents of grace. God’s oath means that mankind must not seek to make a false image (which would be treacherous behavior to the oath of service to God) or to be treacherous to the oath of loyalty to one’s spouse in marriage. Leviticus is about representation and authority, those who are fit to serve God as his representatives (namely, the priests and Levites, and eventually Israel and the Church as His holy nation and royal priesthood). Likewise, the third pair of commandments is about the same subject: the third commandment states the requirement that those who represent God show honor to His name, and the eighth commandment states theft is unacceptable. Just as man is God’s property and must be respected accordingly, man must respect the property of others (including their wages and thoughts) and not seek to steal or appropriate it for themselves, regardless of what office they hold or what power they possess. Additionally, men must not tread on holy ground—or consider themselves to be above others. Likewise, the book of Numbers is concerned with resistible grace—and the resistance of Israel to God’s grace (thus leaving their graves to be scattered in the Wilderness and denied God’s rest for their unbelief—see Psalm 95, Hebrews 3-4). God’s grace can be resisted (but the results aren’t pretty), and He is both immanent and transcendent. The two commandments in this pair are likewise concerned with God’s resistible grace—the freedom of the seventh day Sabbath (and the Holy Days, land Sabbaths, and Jubilee year, all of which remain valid for Christians today, and all of which point towards our liberty from exploitative elites, including those heretics who believe that God’s Sabbath Day has been replaced with a heathen and gnostic eighth day), as well as the prohibition against bearing false witness—including to God’s truth. Finally, the book of Deuteronomy deals with succession, and with conditional inheritance (conditional on continued obedience—see Joshua 24, Judges). Likewise, the fifth and tenth commandments deal with succession—the protection of property from the covetous as well as the honor due to parents (indirectly honoring God, the Father of all), leading to longevity.

It should be noted that my understanding of the five point covenant is owed, at least in part, to the research of Ray Sutton, whose book That You May Propser deals with the five-point covenant in a gnostic Calvinist fashion. Despite its heretical beliefs about total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints (all of which add up to postmillenialist views), the book does correctly point to a genuine biblical belief that Calvinism corrupts, and that can be recovered one the proper and unexaggerated biblical language is used (i.e. not total depravity but a mixture of good and evil that is unacceptable to God, not unconditional election but conditional election (see Romans 9-11), not irresistible grace but resistible grace (see Numbers 14), not merely transcendence but both immanence and transcendence, not eternal security but conditional inheritance). So, I am not a Calvinist, but the fivepoint covenantal model, with some modifications for doctrinal reasons, is a valuable tool to understanding the correct relationship between the two halves of the ten commandments as well as the structure of the first five books of the Bible. Let us therefore use such knowledge wisely, after having plundered the heathen.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to On The Ten Commandments

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Forgiving Our Fathers And Mothers | Edge Induced Cohesion

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  5. Ed says:

    Regarding the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil I can’t help but think that somehow this tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil is somehow connected to the 10 commandments for they also discern good from evil is it possible that at that time when the 8th of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil that God’s law was written in their hearts right off the bat they knew it was wrong to walk around naked and as time passed man’s heart degenerated 2 Stone

    • I think that the issue was not the intellectual knowledge, but rather that it involved a deliberate choice to try out and experience evil, a choice that human beings still make, rather than choosing to live a godly life. Thanks for your comment, though.

  6. Pingback: Book Review: The Ten Commandments: Still The Best Moral Code | Edge Induced Cohesion

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