Exodus 20: God's 2nd Table (5-10)

May 17, 2009 Series: Exodus

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Exodus 20:12–20:21

Exodus 20: God’s Second Table (5-10)

May 17, 2009

Sam Ford


The “Old” Testament

Today we’re in the 2nd half of Exodus chapter 20, the 2nd book in the Old Testament.  I don’t know how popular it is in churches today to go straight through Old Testament books.  It seems like for most of my life I ignored the Old Testament, because it was “Old.”  The fact that it is called the “Old Testament” probably gives many the feeling that it is old in the sense of outdated and out of touch with culture today.  The terms Old and New Testaments came from an early church father named, Origen.  Before that time, the Jews would have viewed the Old Testament as Jesus did, as the Law, Prophets, and the Writings. 


Old Testament and Jesus

Jesus read, believed, learned, and taught from the Old Testament.  Jesus didn’t dismiss the people and places of the Old Testament as myths or legends, but taught them as history.  Jesus taught the law as binding, teaching 9 of the 10 commandments, which is the heart of the law, and affirming the over 600 taught in the Pentateuch. Most importantly, Jesus affirmed that Moses wrote them and that all that he wrote pointed to Jesus:  John 5.46  46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.


The fact is that the Old Testament or Covenant is not detached and irrelevant; rather, the New Testament is its fulfillment or renewal.  Our position is not too unlike the Old Testament Christians in that they read the Old Testament waiting for the fulfillment of its promises in Jesus in his first coming.  We now read both the Old and the New Testaments awaiting Jesus to come a 2nd time.  Until then we know that, while good, the Law cannot save us.  But we also know that salvation is given by faith in Jesus and grace from Jesus alone.  AND by the power of the Holy Spirit, then, a Christian can fulfill all of the demands of the law.


Law and Jesus



READ Exodus 20.12-19


5th Commandment – OUR AUTHORITY

12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.  The first commandment of the 2nd table sets the stage for the remaining five.  It is a commandment that deals with the foundational aspects of the creative order.  God brought Adam and Even into the world. He gave them food, shelter, education, and love.  He said Adam you are in charge of the animals and the plants and everything.  He said, you guys are in an exclusive relationship, have lots of babies.  He said Adam, you have a job, work hard, go build and care for the world.  Eve you help him.  And eat, drink, and enjoy what I’ve made, but don’t eat that one tree.   


Honor your Parents as God’s Representatives

God, the perfect parent, set the family rules.  He says as long as you are under my roof which is—forever—this is what you’ll do.  God is the provider, the judge, the ruler, the parent, the boss, the teacher, all of it.  Respect for authority is part of the creative order.  While this command is most obvious for children, it is given to adults.  This fundamental relationship represents God’s creative order in the world. Any disruption of God’s order is sinful.  When we refuse to work according to God’s design, we pervert it (sin), and the result is chaos.   In as much as children honor or dishonor their parents, as youth honor their teachers, as men and women honor the authorities in their lives (including their elders), God is honored or dishonored. 


Help me to be a parent worthy of honor

In the Israelite community, parents are particularly focused on because of the role that parents played in the society.  Throughout Exodus, and Deuteronomy 6, the parents were responsible to teach the children about God.  The Proverbs are replete with calls to listen to the wisdom of the Father and Mother.  Rebellion against Mom or Dad then, was an attack on their very identity.  As parents, bosses, teachers, anyone leading a group of people, it should sober us to know that in some way we are reflecting our love for God.  


GOSPEL – This commandment requires humility. Jesus perfectly obeyed the will of his Father.  Though he knew that the Father’s will would result in his death, he trusted.  His love for God denied any desire he might have had to complain about Judas, get mad about Peter, crush the arresting guards, argue with the Sanhedrin, or disrespect Pilate, the Roman Governor.  He delivered himself to the authorities and powers believing God was in control.


6th Commandment– OUR HATE

13  “You shall not murder.  With the creative order of authority established, the rest of the commandments fall into place.  Children who obey their parents who obey God will result in a community that loves in a particular kind of way.  The 6th commandment is always a cause for controversy.  Opponents who fight against aborting the unborn, euthanizing the elderly, even punishing the criminal all bring up the 6th commandment to not murder.  It is a commandment that speaks to the value of life in addition to our hatred.  I don’t mean our hatred in the sense of the emotions, more of the resulting actions connected with that emotion.  As Scripture records God hating sin in its various forms, we also can in some sense exercise a righteous hatred for sin.  But then what?  Here, God forbids any form of murder that results.  The Hebrew word ‘rasah’ is a comparatively rare word for kill, and usually implies the violent killing of a personal enemy—murder.   More than that, this law deals with any act of violence against an individual out of hatred, anger, malice, deceit, or for some sort of personal gain, in whatever circumstances and by whatever method, that might result in death.  We break this commandment when we step out from under God’s authority and take vengeance into our own hands.  It is not wrong to hate what God hates.  It is not wrong to kill what God commands us to kill.  But it is unlikely that many of us will become murderers but when our hatred leads us to indulgence in anger, rage, and wrath, it will lead us to murder people with our minds. 

Valuing Human Life means you must kill

Saying thou shall not kill (murder) does not mean we never kill, just as love your enemies doesn’t mean you never defend yourself or go to war.  I remember as a high school student, watching some of the more liberal teachers picking on the few Christians in the class.  The debate about Capital punishment always ended the same.  The teacher would ask if he/she believed we should kill murderers or other such criminals—capital punishment.  They would say yes.  Then, the teacher would ask if they believed in the 6th commandment.  The student would respond yes.  Then the teacher would triumphantly declare the student hypocritical asking how they could kill and believe in not killing.  IF YOU VALUE LIFE, you support God’s justice which includes the death penalty.  The exercise of our hatred, when one takes another life, they act in God’s stead, in the face of which there should be a lengthy pause filled with careful soul-searching and absence of vengefulness and arrogance.  As a result, the taking of a human life should be rare—ALL LIFE belongs to God (Lev. 17.11, Gen 9.6).  


GOSPEL –This commandment requires meakness when we could be strong. Jesus did not come to be a king and conquer.  Though he hated all of the sin involved in bringing him to the cross, he forgave them. At the same time, the cross of Jesus proves that God is restoring the world and that restoration involves the killing of sin on the cross, which ultimately brings life.


7th Commandment– OUR LOVE

14  “You shall not commit adultery. God not only wants to govern our hatred but also our love, specifically, our marital relationships.   Marriage was not something that society just thought would be a good idea.  It is not a cultural privilege that the state offered; it was part of God’s creative order from the beginning.  AND, although there are those gifted with singleness, I believe it is God’s intention for us to be married, to stay married, and to have joy in our marriages.  And as such, God, not the state and not the culture, sets the RULES for marriage.  And the BIGGEST rule is that you are to have sex, the most intimate experience possible in this world, with that ONE person.  Adultery is sexual expression with someone who is married and not married to you.  It was so serious in the Old Testament that Deut. 22.22 prescribes the death penalty, even for a king.  While I believe this is more than sex, you’d be a fool to believe that God doesn’t care about our sex—he cares. Sex is not just a casual matter, but it is integral to God’s creative order.  Monogamy was God’s purpose in creation. 


Our faithfulness to each other is faithfulness to God

AND, in a world that is trying to be defined by its sexuality, we see that those who love God live God’s way.  The changing opinions and views of culture are irrelevant to God.  The faithfulness to our spouses in heterosexual monogamous marriages as we see in the creation, demonstrates our faithfulness to God’s as given in Scripture. One’s entrapment to the physical lust for men or emotional lust for women has more do to with your relationship with God than it does with your relationship with each other—but that is where people often start (self-help marriage books) that don’t get to the heart of the problem.  ALL marriage issues are a result of FIRST breaking the first commandment, the 7th is just the next step. Marriages within God’s community should be an example to follow, but all too often they are a statistic to used against God’s plan.  Our community must honor, encourage, and celebrate godly marriage and help protect one another’s spouses and those future spouses among us.  



8th Commandment – OUR WORK

15  “You shall not steal. The commandment not to steal seems straightforward enough.  You don’t take what is not yours.  In many ways this commandment does speak to the basics of stealing, but Israel understood property to be an extension of self.  The theft of property usually called for a fine or some level of restitution where the injured party is restored to pre-theft position, sometimes further restitution was made.  Stealing also came to mean anything that I might take OPENLY or SECRETLY.  In other words, I could steal by actual robbery, or I could do it a bit more subtly through false or dishonest business or service—profit by fraud. Though I have had a radio stolen from my car, and banks are occasionally held up, good old fashioned theft does not seem to be today’s norm.  Theft takes on a more subtle form, like cheating on taxes and stealing from the government.  The news is replete with bankers and businessmen who have cheated their way to the top, abusing the hard earned money of those who trusted them.


God’s Planned for us to work

But why do we do these things?  We steal because it’s easier than working.  Stealing is a disruption of God’s original plan for us to work.  God had a job for Adam well before his fall—the cultivate the land and build.   When someone steals from you, it always feel like a violation because it is an attack on one’s dignity because it is related one’s work.  And God gives us work to do, from which they receive fruit from their labor.   Men steal when they don’t want to get down and dirty and work hard for themselves.  Our culture is full of get-rich-fast-no work-schemes that, in the end, lead us to steal from someone.  And it’s not just about wealth.  Have you ever been in a group, a team, a church, where one person doesn’t work as hard as everyone else?  It ticks you off because, in essence, they are stealing your time, energy, resources, a lot of different things.  We are called to work unto the Lord in all you do, and God promises to bless that work, stealing from men is in many ways stealing from God himself.  


GOSPEL – This commandment requires self-denial.  Though Jesus was a king, he lived and died penniless. He was tempted to cheat on the road to glory by Satan himself.  But he refused.  And for the next 3 years he worked solely for the glory of God to save us; even on the last day when he carried the cross used to kill him.  He worked so we didn’t have to.  _______________________________


9th Commandment – OUR WORDS

16  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. In a simple desert society, nearly all crimes were capital charges, successful ‘ false witness’ would be equivalent to murder.  To safeguard against this, a witness must also be an executioner (Deut 17.7) so he might incur bloodguiltiness if he was lying. First and foremost, we are to speak truthfully in all things.  Jesus taught the Satan was the father of lies.  When he tempted Eve to sin, he did so by challenging the truthfulness of God—of what he had said.  Those who love God, love the truth in all things.  They desire to truth to others and about others all the times. Genuine love of God is evidenced by what comes out of our mouths—Luke 6.43ff 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.   Such evil includes lies, gossip, and words that destroy.  The book of James says the tongue is a world of iniquity, and in this commandment, God says I CARE about your words.   

Why we lie

AND at the core of why lie is that, at that moment, we want ourselves to look better than what we are.  Our lying is, in fact, done to cover up a mistake, fault, or blemish as we fail to find our approval in God and look for it from men.  Sometimes, this BLIND pursuit of men’s approval, cause us to not only lie but sometimes be SILENT as we refuse to speak the truth when we should.  We want people to like us, we’re afraid that we might hurt their feelings we don’t want to be the outcast.  Genuine love for God means that you live your life for HIS audience and no one else.   





10th Commandment (Contentment) – OUR THOUGHTS

17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”  The final commandment is a little different than the others.  In many ways, it is like the junk drawer commandment that covers everything that we might address.  Our love for God results in a love for people that EXTENDS through our actions AND our thoughts.  Covering, the Hebrew ‘hammad’, means to desire.  It is a neutral word but becomes a “bad” desire when the object is something that is owned or possessed by someone else.  God cares not only about what we love other people with our behavior and our words, but also with our very thoughts.  This is the one commandment that will be a bit difficult to measure, difficult to check the box, difficult to every possibly say I have fulfilled.


And it is in this commandment that I see most clearly my own depravity and need for a savior.  It is too easy to desire what everyone else has.  It is too natural for me live in a state of discontentment when the world around me says—more more more.  At the core of it is a pride that says I DESERVE.  It is at the heart of what Satan used to tempt Eve telling them, God is holding out on you—there is so much more he just doesn’t want you to have.  Coveting is an attitude of the heart.  It is, much like the 1st commandment, broken before many if not all others.  Without covetousness disobedience probably would not occur because I am CONTENT with what God has given me and not given me.  It is this commandment, that reveals to me most of all I CANNOT SAVE MYSELF.  Even if I can control ALL of my behavior…I will never overcome the sin in me that makes a mess of my mind. 


GOSPEL – This commandment requires more than moral reformation, it must be complete transformation, total death, rebirth, and new life.  Jesus lived a perfect life to show what it meant to love God perfectly, he died to show what it mean to love people perfectly, and he rose from the dead to enable me to do the same.  Salvation is given by faith in Jesus and grace from Jesus alone.  AND by the power of the Holy Spirit, then, a Christian can fulfill all of the demands of the law.  God’s love for US causes us to LOVE God which enables us to LOVE others.


1John 4.13-21  13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother,

More in Exodus

July 19, 2009

Exodus 40: God's Dwelling

July 12, 2009

Exodus 37-39: God's House

July 5, 2009

Exodus 35-36: God's Builders