God of grace, you have given us minds to know you, hearts to love you, and voices to sing your praise. Fill us with your Spirit, guide us by your Word, and help us as we seek to follow you and your commandments. Amen.
Discovering the 10 Commandments
Then God spoke all these words . . .
Did you know that in the book of Exodus, the 10 Commandments don’t actually start with “Thou shall not”? In fact, Exodus 20:1-3 says “(1)Then God spoke all these words: (2)I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, (3)you shall have no other gods before me.”
It may not seem like a huge change to include two additional verse when we talk about the 10 Commandments, but the implication of those two verses is huge. By including verses 1 and 2, you discover that the 10 Commandments are not simply as statement of what you can and can’t do, but rather an extension of a loving relationship between God and God’s people. God reminds the people of what God has done for them out of love and then God invites the people to respond to what God has done by following these 10 Commandments. When you see the 10 Commandments through the lens of verses 1 and 2, you begin to see each commandment as a way we can respond to what God has done for us.
- I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, now therefore you shall have no other gods.
- I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, now therefore you shall remember the sabbath and keep it holy.
- I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, now therefore you shall not murder.
While some people see the 10 Commandments simply as a set of rules, when you include verses 1 and 2, you realize that they are not simply a set of prohibitions, but rather are guidelines meant to help us build whole, healthy relationship with God, with one another and with the world. The first three commandments focus on our relationship with God and the next seven focus on our relationship with one another. As a society, we develop specific rules to govern daily life, but taken together these 10 define the boundaries within which a whole, healthy life is possible.
Different Ways to Count to 10
Since the 10 Commandments are specifically numbered in Exodus 20, different numbering systems have developed. Take a look at this chart from SundaySoftware.com which does a nice job of illustrating the different approaches to numbering the 10 Commandments.
Regardless of which order you prefer, the 10 Commandments are a wonderful gift from God to help God’s people as they seek to live faithfully in the world.
A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words
While none of us knows exactly what Moses experienced on the mountain, here are two videos that imagine what that moment was like.
The first video is from the classic 1956 movie, “The Ten Commandments“.
The second video is a modern day animation.
Gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek you, wisdom to perceive you, and patience to wait for you. Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on you; eyes to behold you; ears to listen for your word; a heart to love you; and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
“Luther’s Small Catechism with Evangelical Lutheran Worship Texts.” Copyright © 2000, 2006 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Prayers are adapted from “ELW -Additional Prayers” Copyright © 2015 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.