When was the last time you thought about the Ten Commandments?
I mean, really thought about them…
God’s words, carved on stone by His own hand, a gift to His chosen people.
I sometimes wonder what it was like to be one of the Israelites rescued from the house of slavery by the undeniable strength of Almighty God.
Just three months after crossing the Red Sea on dry land and watching the torrent wipe out my masters, I find myself in the Wilderness of Sinai.
My leader has gone up the mountain to talk with his God, who is still a mystery to me.
Sure, I’ve heard the stories of my ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But they are just stories, right?
All I’ve ever known is the yoke of slavery.
If God loved me so much, why did He allow me to suffer for so long before rescuing me?
And now, our great leader has gone up the mountain to speak with his God and I fear he’ll never return.
Moses and this Yahweh brought me out to this desert—a strange and unfamiliar land—and now they have both deserted me.
Maybe Egypt wasn’t so bad a place after all?
Now that I think of it, I miss Egypt. The bright colors, the cozy quarters, the tasty food.
Everything familiar and safe has been stripped from my life and I am lost.
And I’m not the only one longing for Egypt.
I hear they’ve convinced Aaron to build a golden calf. They also fear Moses isn’t coming back.
Maybe I’ve mistakenly declared my allegiance to a calloused and uncaring God.
Maybe we’d all be better off returning to Egypt. Running back to the familiar.
I must constantly remind myself the Bible is full of stories of real people relating to a real God.
People just like you and me. Men and women with problems, fears, and insecurities.
They carry the past on their shoulders and sometimes fear overpowers their faith.
These characters remind me that faith isn’t prim and proper—simple black ink on the white pages of my Bible.
Faith is a technicolor word. A tie dye concept.
It’s colorful, messy, and complex.
Faith demands we trust what we cannot see, believe what we cannot confirm, and venture into the desert when every cell in our body is longing for Egypt.
In order to walk by faith, we must find courage to believe it’s better to follow God into the desert than return to slavery.
I’ve spent the last eight months reading the Old Testament. (I’ve been working my way through this Blue Letter Bible reading plan since January.)
As I’ve tried to understand God’s complex relationship with the wandering Israelites, I’ve been convicted by how my own….
Heart often rebels against the words of God (Psalm 107:11)
Spirit is not faithful to God (Psalm 78:8)
Ears are not willing to listen to God (Ezekiel 20:8)
Mind fails to remember God’s wondrous deeds (Nehemiah 9:16-31)
When I really think about it, I’m not so different from the former slaves who grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
I long for ease and comfort. I worship created things rather than the Creator. I have a wandering heart and achy feet.
I am an Israelite.
And I desperately need God to lead me through this desert and into the promised land.
I need the words carved on stone by the hand of God; words meant to separate and sanctify God’s people.
God gave Moses the Ten Commandments because He loved the people of Israel.
He wanted to set them apart unto Himself, so that no nation on earth could deny the power and provision of the God of Israel.
The Ten Commandments
You shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make idols.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet.
Had they only followed these simple commands. Trusted these simple instructions. Applied these simple truths.
They’d have been spared much heartache—much pain and confusion in the desert.
And I wonder, sweet friend, if the same could be said about us?
We are the Church.
Set-apart for God’s glory.
His Son’s and Daughters.
Then why? Why don’t we follow His commands? Why do our wandering hearts long for Egypt?
The God we serve is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
In the words of Jesus Christ, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew:5:17-19).”
Grace reigns, but it doesn’t negate the law!
God’s commands were not just for the Israelites. They are also for you and me.
Not to be carried like a yoke of slavery, but to be cherished like a gift from our Beloved.
God’s law is for our benefit!
It reminds us He is holy. It teaches us how to live. It guides us through the desert. It shapes us into His image.
This is the #1 reason Christians need to revisit the Ten Commandments.
Not to better understand the law, but rather to better understand the Author of the law.
God gave His law to the Israelites because He loved them. He wanted to protect them, to bless them.
They didn’t treasure it like they should have, and they suffered greatly for this choice.
Will we repeat their mistake?
A Closing Challenge
I started signing off the internet for the Sabbath this summer.
It may seem a small thing to you, but for me it is one of those brave things I’ve always wished I had the courage and self-control to accomplish.
Years wasted wishing I were stronger, when all I had to do was ask God to supply the strength I lacked.
As I contemplated the true meaning of the Sabbath, I felt convicted by my utter disregard for this divinely institued day of rest and worship.
Sure, my family attends our local church on Sunday morning, but beyond that Sundays are just like any other day.
Full of projects, cleaning, and a dozen other distractions.
My Iphone and computer topping the list.
I know it sounds silly, but somehow my internet connection was preventing me from entering into sacred rest.
The whole world at my fingertips keeping me from the One who reigns above it all.
So I courageously unplugged my heart from the world, and experienced the most glorious Sabbath I’ve ever known.
7 days later, I did it again. And again. And again. And now I can’t stop!
I don’t want to stop.
When I choose to unplug from the world, I’m free to plug my whole heart into the One True Power Source.
He revives my soul in a way the world never will.
When God rested on the 7th day, He was setting a divine example for His new creation.
He was showing us rest is part of His design.
“Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13
Listen, I know we aren’t the Israelites. I know we live under the new covenant. I know we don’t have to keep the Sabbath.
But if it was important enough to God to include in the ten commandments, maybe we need to treat it with a bit more respect.
Maybe by choosing to keep the Sabbath holy, we will show the world Whose we are!
So I am asking, no challenging you, to consider joining me in signing off for the Sabbath this weekend.
Just try it.
Maybe the experience will transform you as it has transformed me.
I gave God one full day, and in return He gave me something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
A glimpse into the kind of life He designed just for me.
Exquisite. Peaceful. Awe-inspiring. Sacred.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.” Exodus 20:8