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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Exodus

(Return to Old Testament Contents)




v.1-17 The Ten Commandments

v.18-21 The People Fear

v.22-26 NO Idols and Prescribed Altars



v.1-17 The Ten Commandments


v.1 And God spoke all these words:

The background to the Commandments

v.2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.



PART ONE: About the Lord

[First Command]

v.3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

[Second Command]

v.4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

v.5,6 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

[Third Command]

v.7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

[Fourth Command]

v.8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

v.9,10 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.

v.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.



PART TWO: About People

[Fifth Command]

v.12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

[Sixth Command]

v.13 “You shall not murder.

[Seventh Command]

v.14 “You shall not commit adultery.

[Eighth Command]

v.15 “You shall not steal.

[Ninth Command]

v.16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

[Tenth Command]

v.17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”


[Notes: The context for the Ten Commandments' is set in the fact of the recent Exodus; this is the LORD with whom they have dealings. The first FOUR commands are about revering Him, the second SIX are fundamentals of living at peace and in harmony with one another. For meditation purposes, consider the meaning of the opposites of all of these commands and consider what sort of people that would reveal. These ten commands are thus seen as fundamentals for a people to relate to God and live according to His design for humanity.]



v.18-21 The People Fear


v.18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance

v.19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

v.20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

v.21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.


[Notes: The people fear at the thought of God speaking directly to them and thus they are happy to leave Moses as their intermediary.]



v.22-26 NO Idols and Prescribed Altars


v.22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven:

v.23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

v.24 “‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.

v.25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it.

v.26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.'


[Notes: The immediate follow-on from what has been seen and heard so far is the strong imperative from the Lord that Israel are never to have ‘other gods' or worship ‘other gods', a reiteration of the all-important first two of the ten commands. No altar of stones [as distinct from the one that comes later in the Tabernacle] that they might make should look impressive otherwise they might [implied] be proud and self-focused. Tragically v.23 becomes the measuring stick by which Israel for centuries failed again and again, as seen in the words of the prophets.]



Continue to Chapter 21