Exodus 20:1–2 (HCSB)
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 place of slavery.
This pericope contains the ten commandments, certainly the most famous portion of Exodus, although not necessarily remembered accurately. Rather than walk through each of the commandments, I think we need to step back and look at the intro to them more closely.
The commandments, we read, were spoken by God (Exodus 20:1). Don’t miss this. God’s words carry authority. In Genesis, He speaks creation into existence. So not only do the commandments carry the weight of authority from God, but they also carry the trustworthiness from God. The ten commandments would be very different if scripture read, “Then Moses wrote down these words.” But God takes all doubt out of the picture, His word is reliable and enduring.
And we can know that the commandments, despite being primarily a bunch of “do nots”, are for our good. In Exodus 20:2 God reminds us who He is, what He has done, for our own good. He specifically names Israel being rescued from Egypt, but we all fall into the group of those rescued from slavery if we follow Christ. So the commandments are not a collection of rules to keep us from enjoying ourselves, they are keys to unlock freedom and joy.
And when we find ourselves fighting against God’s commandments, we should be reminded of the Israelites complaining about being freed from Egypt and slavery, because that is our position when we do. Temporary delights, fed by rebelling from God, should not outweigh eternal joy, unlocked through His ways.
Lord, thank You for guiding us, for putting up guardrails to keep us safe. Help us to recognize true freedom exists within those boundaries, freedom to live with You, in joy. But when we get outside them we invite danger, punishment, and separation from You. I pray for a renewal of values and morals that align with those You lay out for us, the truth. Amen.