In my first article of this series, “To Keep the Ten Commandments or Not?” I discussed whether or not we should keep the Ten Commandments. As this series progress we will elaborate on each commandment to see if there is any valid reason to obey it in this day and age. Maybe at least one of them doesn’t apply to us for one reason or another. Throughout this study we will find out if this is true or not.
The Ten Commandments are given in two separate places in the scriptures – Exodus and Deuteronomy. Both sections basically say the same things except for minor changes, which were based on the circumstances in which each set was told.
The Exodus Commandments
When the Ten Commandments were given in Exodus, Moses was speaking to all the children of Israel who had just left Egypt. He brought them to the base of Mount Sinai where Yahweh wanted to speak directly to his people. The people couldn’t take hearing him speak and asked Moses if he would speak to God alone and tell them about it later. He agreed.
Moses went up the mountain to speak with Elohim. While gone the people got inpatient and built a golden calf to worship. This caused great problems for them and they paid dearly for their mistake. In the process Moses broke the first set of testaments and Elohim had to write them over again.
After Moses spoke to the children of Israel concerning everything Yahweh had said, the people agreed to listen and obey every word spoken to them. Every tribe of Israel rested at the base of that mountain. Every man, woman, and child agreed to follow Yahweh, thus, establishing a covenant with him. This covenant was not only for everyone alive at the time, but for their descendants as well. This was to be an everlasting covenant between Yahweh Elohim, the creator of all and the children of Israel, his chosen people.
The Deuteronomy Commandments
In Deuteronomy, Moses was reminding the descendants of the original group what Yahweh had done for them and their parents. The only ones who were allowed to enter the promise land from the original group were Caleb and Joshua because they trusted Yahweh and were willing to follow him anywhere. They believed him when no one else would. You can read about them in Num. 13-14.
Another way you know this was a separate telling of the commandments because all this happened after he defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan and before they entered into the promise land. You can read about these kings in Deut. 2-3. This is why some of the wording is a little different. It addresses two separate groups of people. We’ll get into these differences as we focus on each commandment in the coming weeks. You can read the differences in the table below.
Moses starts out telling Israel to listen to the laws and rulings he is instructing them on and not to add to or take away from what he is saying. Time had passed since the telling of the commandments the first time. It seems like Moses had to reiterate some key points before he began re-telling them what Yahweh had commanded at the base of Mount Sinai. He also tells them why they should listen and obey. It is so they can:
- Live a long healthy life
- Possess the promise land
- Have other nations viewing them as having wisdom and understanding
- Tell their descendants so they can be blessed also
- Not forget their covenant with Yahweh
Although, a lot of instructions were given both times, it is these Ten Commandments that get the most press and it is these that we will focus on throughout this series.
An Everlasting Covenant
Some people believe the rulings of Yahweh shouldn’t be obeyed because the law was done away with. It is no longer valid. It was given to the children of Israel, which means the Jewish people only. However, careful study of the scriptures will tell you differently.
The covenant didn’t start with the children of Israel at the base of Mount Sinai. It was actually passed down to them. Yahweh was fulfilling a covenant he had made from the beginning of time. Elohim’s purpose was to always have fellowship with his human creation. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve broke their side of the covenant and were forced to leave paradise. He promised to redeem the human race back to himself through the seed of Eve.
Elohim keeps his side of the covenant by saving mankind through Noah and his three sons. One son, Shem, received the greatest blessing from Noah. He was to be blessed by Yahweh Elohim. Abraham was Shem’s descendant.
Yahweh made a covenant with Abraham. This promise was passed to his son, Isaac, the promise carrier. Isaac passed the blessing on to his son, Jacob. Elohim used Jacob’s son, Joseph, to save his people so he could continue his covenant with them. When Jacob got ready to die he adopted Joseph’s two sons as his own. Then he blessed them and the rest of his sons. These are the tribes of Israel. It was their descendants that stood before Elohim and received his written covenant. This is why Yahweh Elohim is called the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It establishes who the promise carriers were.
See the pattern. Yahweh spoke to Adam and Eve. He spoke to Noah. He spoke to Abraham. He spoke to Isaac. He spoke to Jacob. He spoke to Moses. He spoke to the children of Israel. Every time he spoke, he confirmed his covenant with the human race. Today, he speaks to us through his Holy Spirit, confirming his covenant.
The Ten Commandments were given by Yahweh Elohim, written by his own hand and spoken by his own mouth. The scriptures say he is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. As you saw above the covenant was to be a lasting covenant. To belong to Yahweh is to be in covenant with him. Every covenant has rules to follow. Are you following his rules or someone else’s rules? This really will determine whose covenant you are a part of.
So the question is, “Do you listen to Yahweh Elohim, your creator or do you listen to man and his traditions?”
The Commandments Comparison
|Num||The Exodus Commandments||The Deuteronomy Commandments|
|I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery. You are to have no other gods before me.||I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. You are to have no other gods before me.|
|You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.||You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents, also the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.|
|You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.||You are not to misuse the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who misuses his name.|
|Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work – not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.||Observe the day of Shabbat, to set it apart as holy, as ADONAI your God ordered you to do. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it you are not to do any kind of work – not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your ox, your donkey or any of your other livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property – so that your male and female servants can rest just as you do. You are to remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and ADONAI your God brought you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore ADONAI your God has ordered you to keep the day of Shabbat.|
|Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.||Honor your father and mother, as ADONAI your God ordered you to do, so that you will live long and have things go well with you in the land ADONAI your God is giving you.|
|Do not murder.||Do not murder.|
|Do not commit adultery.||Do not commit adultery.|
|Do not steal.||Do not steal.|
|Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.||Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.|
|Do not covet your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.||Do not covet your neighbor’s wife; do not covet your neighbor’s house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.|
Our Heavenly Father, who is in heaven,
Help us to follow Moses’ advice in hearing your words, learning them so that they are in our hearts, and obeying them to the point they are normal to us and to do otherwise will cause us great sorrow. Help us to follow your ways and not man’s ways.
In Yeshua the Messiah’s name, Amen.