The Timely Top Ten

Old Testament Reading Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9 “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the just decrees that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you…. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and just decrees so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”

The first part of our text deals with the time frame when Mosses was instructing his people about what they should do and how they would inherit the land which God had promised them. And as we read further we see they indeed did inhabit the land and lived there for a period of time. However, we also see where they did not always keep these commandments and how they suffered because of their disobedience as well as their idolatry.

There are any number of cases we could consider but I would like just to recall the Judges. There we see that they disobeyed God 13 times, repented 13 times and were forgiven and blessed 13 times.

One might think that after two or three times, maybe four, they would have gotten the hang of it and realized that following these commandments had its rewards while disobeying them had its consequences. But they didn’t.

But then too, there is today’s people, including you and me who likewise stray from the straight and narrow over and over again. How does one statement state it? “We are weak and sin daily.” In fact, the Kennedy Program is based on the idea that if we were terribly good, we might only sin three times a day. (they go on to say after 50 years that is more than 50,000 sins—which they reason is impossible for us to believe that God would just look the other way.)

This bring the text down to us. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

Many outside of religion believe that the Ten Commandments are a good thing. Way back when I worked in industry, one of my co-workers was a fallen away Catholic who professed to be an atheist. He lived a life which seemed to be more “Christian” than a lot of professing Christians. You could not find fault in him. He would even criticize the Christians who were not giving eight hours’ work for their eight hour’s pay (in a gentle way). He would never gossip. I was always amazed at his honesty and life style.

The Ten Commandments! Let’s look at some of them.

The First Commandment

Thou shalt have no other gods.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. (Even Atheists understand that something or someone will be #1 in our lives.)

The Second Commandment

Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. (Way back when I was in public school we were taught only low -class people used bad language because they didn’t know how to use decent language.)

The Third Commandment

Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it. (Everyone understands that we need a time of rest and refreshment.)

The Fourth Commandment

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long upon the earth.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem. (Non—believers understand parents ought to be respected and there is the need to have civil authority.)

The Fifth Commandmentuu

Thou shalt not kill.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need. Universally. (Civilized people know the value of human life.)

The Sixth Commandment

Thou shalt not commit adultery.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in words and deeds, and each love and honor his spouse. (Atheists know marriage needs to be respected and yes even worked upon—love and honor)

The Seventh Commandment

Thou shalt not steal.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or property, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business. (Non—Christians know private property needs to be respected and protected.)

The Eighth Commandment

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything. ( Atheists do not want to be lied about, or their faults and weaknesses exploited and so they and we recognize that we need to do the same for others.)

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments

Coveting—wanting what you do not have, especially at the expense of others. It will not lead to a contented life. Being satisfied with what you have is far better.

So the Top Ten are for our betterment—even without religion. But that goes back to what I already said: we are weak and we sin daily and often. And this is where we separate ourselves from the atheists and other non-believers.

The Bible tells us “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His Blood, to be received by faith. Also “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Two verses plainly giving us both Law and Gospel. So we thank God for giving us the Ten Commandments—good directions for good living. But we thank God even more for the Gospel—for Jesus living a perfect life in our place and then taking our sins upon Himself to the cross and paying that wage of sin.

And with that—not just for some real estate in Israel, but a mansion in the Heavenly and eternal Jerusalem. Amen.

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