Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 and Psalm 19
Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:7-15
Peace be with you!
As Americans, our lives are defined by where we have been and what we have done. The past defines who we are. As a result, we continually look over our shoulder. We want to see where we have been and what we have done as well as who has seen us. Susan Eastman uses the analogy of a runner in a race. The goal of any race is to reach the finish line. When runner looks behind him/her, he/she looses track of where he/she is going to look at where he/she has been and who is behind him/her; therefore, the runner looses track of where he/she is going.
As Christians looking back on their Jewish heritage, we look back to the Old Testament for the Ten Commandments and other laws to see how we are to live. A few of the Ten Commandments we, Christians, find easy to follow, but most of them we fall in the traps:
1. Shall not have any other gods (Exodus 20:3).
a. simple enough, we only need one God.
2. Shall not make any idols (Exodus 20:4).
a. We only need one God
b. Where we fall in the trap is when we value material items – money, computers, cars, [whatever “it” is] – more than God the Father.
3. Shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God (Exodus 20:7).
a. Again it sounds simple enough …
b. Until we get upset and slips out – opps!
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-9).
a. Sweet, God the Father demands we take a day off.
b. But than the boss calls and demands you come in or he/she will fire you, so you go in. Or you need to catch up on your household work. Or your husband/wife/child(ren) needs your help. Or [whatever “it” is] that demands your time.
5. Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12).
a. We never truly want to go against our parents.
b. But what if they do not value the same things? What if the disagree with our career choice? What if they say you cannot go by your best friend but you really want to? What if [whatever “it” is] that you and your parents disagree on?
6. Shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).
a. Pretty simple rule – do not harm others.
b. But your brother hit you first, and you hit him back. Or another individual seek to harm your family. Or an individual threatens to take [whatever “it” is] you have that he/she wants. Or jealousy boils over. Or [whatever “it” is] that causes individuals to harm others.
7. Shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
a. No one goes into a marriage thinking it will not work out.
b. But there are reasons – not comparable, individuals grow apart, trust issues, [whatever “it” is] – that individuals go a strain.
8. Shall not steal (Exodus 20:15).
a. Again pretty simple rule – do not take what is not yours.
b. But my friend has hundreds of [whatever “it” is] that they will not miss if I take one. I could never afford [whatever “it” is] and look it fits in my pocket or bag. Or I’ll bring [whatever “it” is] back before they notice it is gone, yet you never bring it back.
9. Shall not bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).
a. Again pretty simple – do not lie.
b. But do you really want to tell [whoever “they” are] [whatever “it” is] they just asked you about? Like, do I look fat? Or isn’t this the best [whatever “it” is] meal you ever had? As a society, we say it is all right to tell white lies to protect an individual’s feelings. But what if you are protecting yourself? Or you are hiding [whatever “it” is] from an individual who wants to know but the information will destroy them. Or [whatever “it” is] causes you to lie.
10. Shall not covet your neighbor’s: house, wife, slaves, ox, donkey, or anything else (Exodus 20:17).
a. Again pretty simple: do not want what others have – be happy with what you have.
b. But the Jones have a bigger house. The Smiths have a nicer car. And lets not forget the Johnson’s big flat screen television. Most of us, if not everyone, want something that we do not have.
Dang it! I do not know about you, but I know I fail to keep at least five of the Ten Commandments on any given day. I guess I should just accept I will never enter the Kingdom of God. So why should we even attempt to keep the Ten Commandments? I mean, if we cannot keep half of the Ten Commandments, why should we even be faith to God the Father?
Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:7-9 that this is the exact reason why Jesus Christ came into the world: so we can have new life. Jesus gives us a new future in his crucifixion, death, and resurrection in that we are forgiven by his grace and love.
So instead of looking to the past, we are to look to the future – a future with Jesus Christ by his forgiveness, grace, and love. We look towards the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:11) when we, the living and the dead, will enter the Kingdom of God.
The past says we are not able to enter the Kingdom of God because we cannot keep the Ten Commandments. As the human race, we are flawed, broken, and undeserving. But with Jesus Christ, we are forgiven, made whole, and deserving. Therefore, we are let go of our broken past and given an amazing future.
We are to press on to our new future, because Christ has made us his own (Philippians 3:12) and given us a new identity, just as God gave the Israelites a new identity when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The new identity Christ gives us the opportunity to press into the future, because our pasts are rewritten (Jacobson, et al. 2011) with forgiveness.
In the end, we do have a reason to believe in God the Father, because we are given a pass into heaven through Jesus’ grace. Even though we fail to keep the half of the Ten Commandments on any given day, we are forgiven on every given day, because God the Father loves us so much that he sent his only son to die for our sins.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for our new identity through Jesus Christ. Help us to press into the future as we are going to heaven through Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending Jesus to give us forgiveness. Amen.
Jacobson, Rolf, Karoline Lewis, David Lose, and Matt Skinner. “Brainwave 196: Lectionary Texts for Oct. 2, 2011.” Brainwave. St Paul, September 25, 2011.
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
1. Which of the Ten Commandments is the hardest for you to keep?
2. How do you press into the future?