The Character of God
Who God is may be determined in part by what He demands from those bound with Him in covenant. The same is true of religion generally, for the demands are an index to its character.
Command of God 1-5
The command of God is clear in these passages, hear, learn, and do all that God commands. The covenant was not just for the fathers who stood on the plains of Moab to obey but for all the people. God’s covenant was made with the patriarchs and the law was given to the people at Sinai. The importance of what Moses was saying is that the covenant was not made with someone in history but that the people of the day themselves have a covenant obligation with the Lord. Love brings on a certain fear and the emphasis of that love is a reverential awe in response to the Lord and is appropriate for every generation of believers.
Confessional Proclamation of the Lord’s Redemptive Deed 6
God’s redemptive action is the foundation for the commandments. These are the commands for the redeemed of God and not for those who are outside of His redemptive grace. In the religion of Judaism the focus on the character of God’s redemption that this verse is considered the First Commandment. “I am the LORD your God.” this redemptive statement is confessional as it rises from faith as opposed to rationally demonstrated proof. The Israelites view their Exodus from Egypt as an act of faith and so was a confessional statement on God’s redeeming action.
Character of God Revealed in the Ten Words 7-21
The first four of the Ten Words stress the worth and worship of God. God is unique, as there is none like Him and this is His worth to covenant persons. God is the only God to be worshiped by the believers and His revelation comes through His Word and not through static idols.
The name of God is holy and is not to be lifted up in emptiness. By setting side one day a week and making it holy to the Lord the believer acknowledges that all time belongs to God and give this day to worship Him.
The remaining six words of the Ten Words focus on the rights of other people in relationship to the believer. The Ten Words are seen vertically and horizontally. They are seen vertically in our relationship to God and horizontally in our relationship to others. God and man are just as involved in both directions, vertically and horizontally.
There are some rights that are central in this covenant relationship. Parents have the right to expect respect from their children. Persons have a right to life in the fullest sense. Adultery is the expectation that the husband has that others will respect fidelity of marriage. The property of persons is to be respected in the covenant community, as well as their right to have property. As God’s Word is true so should the word of those in the covenant community. The truth is fundamental in all relationships and is expected in legal, social, individual, and corporate exchanges. Persons also have the right to be free from the covetousness of others in regards to their property and possession.
Receiving the Ten Words
How did the Israelite people receive the Lord’s revelation through the Ten Words? There are at least three aspects of that reception.
Sufficiency of the Word 22
These Ten Words are adequate in that the statement of the Lord was, “and He added no more.” The Ten Words are in themselves adequate statements of fundamental principle to guide the covenant life. Jesus confirmed the validity of the Commandments but took them beyond their original application. (Matthew 5:17-32) The commandments do not need to be expanded or superseded but applied in all human situations. There are some who say that the commandments will not work in present day society but then neither will soap if it is not applied.
Speaking With God 23-27
If we as a people become too familiar with God, then are relationship with God would be as it is with others, taken for granted. The Israelites could not bear to be in the presence of God for fear that they would die. They had a proper fear of His power. I think that many people today do not, even as His power is displayed throughout His creation.
In these verses we see three feathers of their experience in being in the presence of God. First they had seen God’s glory and greatness. Second they had heard His voice. Third they had seen Him and yet they lived.
The distance between a holy God and man remained. The people of Israel realized that they could not approach the fullness of God’s glory and power. They knew that they needed a mediator for them and they turned to Moses. Today, now in the New Testament times our mediator between God and us is His Son Jesus.
Submitting to God 27
Israel submitted to the Lord’s revelation and this is a model of commitment. “The LORD our God speaks to you, “and we will hear and do it.” It is one thing to hear the words of God but unless we obey it does not do any good for us. In the Biblical sense one has not heard if one does not obey. The revelation of God then is a personal experience for the one who hears and obeys. If one does not obey, then there has been no revelation.
Responding to Human Reaction
How does the Lord respond when persons commit themselves to Him as Israel did?
Loyalty to Revelation Commended 28
When the Lord again spoke to Moses He commended the people. “They have done well in all that they have spoken.”
Longing for Loyalty 29
The Lord’s response reflects His longing for a constant fidelity. “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!”
Legal Expansion of the Ten Words 30-31
Moses was commanded to remain with the Lord that He would give “all the commandments and the statutes.” This is consistent with the view of the Ten Words that are the foundation of other stipulations. As the society evolved new stipulations grew from the foundation of the Ten Words.