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Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Ten Words (1)

My latest book (currently at the proof-reading stage) has the title "Foundations of the Faith".  It is based on what is known as The Apostles' Creed but, when I started writing it, I planned to add two other sections to it.  One of these was to be on The Beatitudes, and the other on what are usually referred to as The Ten Commandments.  Regretfully, my self-imposed limit of 50,000 words was reached with the Creed, and a couple of appendices!  I may, at some future date, produce a volume on those two important parts of the written Word of God but, for now, they have been placed on the 'back burner' - where a good chef will place something that needs to simmer gently while other culinary preparations are made.

However, at the beginning of a new year, I thought that it might be helpful to look, albeit briefly, at The Ten Commandments or, as they are known in Hebrew, The Ten Words (also known as The Decalogue).  These, as many will be aware, are recorded in the Old Testament book of Exodus, in the 20th chapter.   This chapter begins:

"And God spoke all these words, saying,  'I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me'."   

"You shall have no other gods before Me."  I wonder how you understand those words?!   Basically, they are a command to recognise the one true God, and they are a reminder to the Children of Israel of the authority behind these words.  Moses isn't reporting some celestial suggestions, or providing some alternative opinions.  He is is stating ten commands being given - initially to the Children of Israel but, by extension, to all of mankind - by the very Creator and Sustainer of all that is.

This first command has to do with our relationship with Almighty God.  Jesus gave us the same commandment, in slightly different words, when He was asked: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" (Matt 22:36).  He replied: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment." (Matt 22:37-38).  In other words, Jesus - Himself, God - is confirming that this command is that nothing, and no-one, else should receive the honour that belongs to God alone.

Some, of course, will claim that they do not believe in the existence of any 'god'.   However, I would contend that all of us have at least one object of our worship.  It may be nature itself; it may be a prized possession; it may even be 'self!   You see, whether we like to admit it, or not, we are 'hard-wired' to be worshipping creatures.  It is, in modern parlance, "in our DNA"!   Romans 1:18ff may have been written almost 2,000 years ago - but it is as up-to-date as tomorrow's newspapers!  A key statement is that people "... exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever!" (Rom 1:25).   That is, quite simply, breaking that first commandment.

So, who or what are you putting before God?  It's not a rhetorical question!  It's a question that each of us must answer - if not now, then later!  If we are breaking that commandment; if we are placing anyone, or anything, before Him in our lives, then we are already guilty in His sight.  James writes: "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." (James 2:10).
It's a sobering thought!  

The next post will look at the second commandment.

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