Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 2 2019 - Exodus 20:1-21 – The Ten Commandments

At Sinai, God gave Israel his law through the mediation of his servant Moses. The Ten Commandments are both an introduction to the law and a summary of its key principles. The law covers every aspect of human life; the Israelites relationship with God, with one another and even the thoughts of their hearts.

The law is given as a pattern of life for a redeemed people; it begins with the reminder, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). The Israelites are to live by this pattern not that they might become the people of God but because they are the people of God. Obedience is the response of God's people to his goodness, grace and love poured out upon them.

The law is a revelation of God's holy character and requirements, given to teach Israel to fear their God and to keep them from sinning against him (20:20). More than that, the law is also a gracious provision for God's people. Not only is it designed to create a harmonious society in which every member is able to flourish, it also provides for their rest. The Sabbath is a gracious provision of God which looks forward to the time when God will provide his people with rest from their labours and welcome them into his perfected work of redemption.

A life shaped by God's law would make Israel distinctively different from the nations around about them. They would be a people whose individual and corporate life would reflect and commend the character of their God and enable them to become the envy of the nations and a light to the nations. Their law would commend their lawgiver to an unruly world.

The law is good, but there is something in the human heart that rebels against it. Don't you long to crack open that door that says, "No Entry" and look at what may be inside the forbidden room? So the law becomes a reminder of what we are not – it reminds us that we continually fall short of all that God calls us to be. It easily provokes resentment as, like Adam and Eve, we ask why God should tell us what to do; we want to be gods and lawgivers to ourselves – and, of course, to others.

But there is one who has lived in perfect obedience to all of God's requirements, who has not rebelled against him. Jesus did not remain at a distance from us but came to live among us. He lived the life we are called to live and died in our place that our sin might be forgiven. By his resurrection from the dead and gift of the Spirit he gives us life and calls us to follow him. We are no longer kept at a distance (see 20:21) but are embraced by God. The Spirit of Christ living within us enables us to meet fully the righteous requirements of God's law.

God of grace, I have no other god but you. I thank you for Jesus, my Saviour, my advocate, my example, my strength and my Lord. Thank you that his perfect sacrifice for sin has rescued me from slavery to the gods of this world, freed me from the terrors of the law, sin and death. Thank you for your great love for me. Help me to love you in return and to live to please you in thought, word and deed. May Christ's Spirit shape my life and the lives of all your people so that together we may reflect and commend the character of our gracious God to a rebellious and unruly world.

Peter Misselbrook