New King James Version (NKJV)
The Ten Commandments
20 And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
15 “You shall not steal.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
The People Afraid of God’s Presence
18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”
Before I even delve into this, I want to say a few things. I can find many verses that say we are to follow the ten commandments, even though Christ died and was raised again, and I can find many verses that would lean toward the fact that we’re supposed to, but we don’t have to. Am I implying that if we don’t, we’re going to hell? No. Am I implying that if we don’t, we’re definitely going to heaven? No. What I am implying is that as true followers of Christ, we WANT to obey God in every way we can because we truly love God and want to please Him, and Him alone. So before you go throwing scripture at me, keep in mind that I know the scriptures both ways. I am looking at the Word of God as a whole, living being! Not in parts or sections, but as the whole person of God, as we are supposed to.
I will quote scriptures, which would seem I am looking at it in parts, but I’m not. The Bible does not contradict itself. Sometimes we are confused and it seems that the Bible contradicts, but it doesn’t. The only reason it seems to contradict itself to us at times is because we are looking at it in parts and not as a whole living unit. There are some things we can say we know for sure, but in truth, we don’t. Isn’t it better to do what we’re supposed to do and please God completely than to think we know for sure and take a chance? Time is short. Why live in any area of sin and take that chance? Let’s try to focus here on pleasing God and not getting into any debates about this.
When you clean your house, are you the type of person who just picks up and straightens? Or, are you the type of person who wants to get it clean, which involves dusting, scrubbing, throwing out garbage and clutter, bleaching the mold in the bathroom, and more? Do you just use a toilet bowl brush and cleaner when you clean the toilet? Or do you use the toilet bowl brush and a cleaning rag, getting all of the filth off completely? And afterward, do you wash your hands of the filth, or just plain forget? Furthermore, do you just clean it real good once, and go a long time in between before doing it again, which makes the job harder? Or do you keep up on it regularly? These are things to think about in your daily walk with God spiritually.
CONCLUSION & APPLICATION
What does the ‘land of Egypt’ mean for me? For us today, the land of Egypt is bondage. The Lord has delivered us from bondage when He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that when we TRULY repent for our sins (conviction, apology, cease the behavior) God could forgive us. When God came to this world in a body of flesh (Jesus Christ), He was delivering all flesh from any bondage. It doesn’t matter what is going on in your life. The Word of God tells us that you have already been set free! All you have to do is speak it, believe it, and say no to sin in your life, in Jesus’ name! He gave us freedom from bondage, and what you’re going to read next are the very guidelines God gave to us in order to keep us on that straight path of freedom as we live our lives in Jesus Christ!
You Shall have NO OTHER gods before Me! When you think of putting other god’s before God, you might be saying, “Whooh! I’m good on that one! I don’t serve any false religions or make idols!” Guess what? Many of us fail this commandment each and every day! Our god(s) can be television, internet, computer, sports, a person, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, homosexuality, our job, our boss, a friend, food, clothing, shoes, money, our kids… The list could go on. And yes, we can idolize our children and put them before God. Ever heard of spoiling?
And what about the big S? Know what that is? SELF. Anyone notice how many book titles there are about self? Something to think about.
If you’re partaking in an activity that you can’t see Jesus Himself partaking in, then you need to get it out of your life. If you’re not sure about it, stop doing it anyway…it’s better to be safe than sorry. On the other hand, if you’re partaking in activities that aren’t sinful in any fashion, but you’re making that activity (or person or thing) your priority above God, then you need to pray about it and move God into first place. Once we put God in the center of our lives, everything else falls in place.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Could this include images of angels, Jesus, bunnies, or anything? ANYTHING that is in heaven above, in the earth beneath, in the water under the earth? I know. You’re reading this saying, “Okay, that’s too much. There’s nothing wrong with all of the little Jesus statues I have all over my house! There’s nothing wrong with my angel collection. She is taking this way too far!” Am I? Hey, I didn’t write the ten commandments! God did! Read it again. Isn’t this the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow? He doesn’t change. Let us remember, Jesus didn’t change the ten commandments…He said we were not under the LAW…which is different. The laws are the things added to God’s laws by man (I discuss this in-depth here shortly, so please read on). Jesus Himself told us over and over in the New Testament to obey the commandments.
Matthew 19:17, “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question–if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
John 14:15, ““If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Even though we are redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are still expected to keep His commandments. He made them for a reason. They are the backbone of our walk on earth with Christ Jesus. We have to call on Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As His followers, we are to make these our guidelines for our every day walk.
One thing is for sure; when in doubt, we can refer back to these for an answer.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. This one seems to speak for itself, does it not? Let’s take a closer look. Are you just thinking of the one word..yes..you know..THE ONE? How often do you hear people say “God!” Or, “Jesus!” Or, “Jesus Christ!” How often do we do this? I think I’ve even said, and quite a bit, in comments, “OMG!” Now, when we say these things, are we really calling out to God? Or are we saying it in a way to express an emotion of shock or upset? I would say the latter. So if we’re not really calling on God for something, we are taking His name in vain. We are instructed NOT to do this. I understand some words we speak are habit and it escapes our mouth before we’ve had time to realize it. Just ask the Holy Spirit to help you with this, and to bring it to your mind whenever you do it so you can correct it.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. What is the seventh day? Is the seventh day Sunday? No. The seventh day of the week is Saturday. In Arabic, the word for Saturday is Sabbath. In fact, Saturday is derived from the word Sabbath. So what about this commandment here? We have jobs and we have to work. God understands. Even though He commanded this for us, we must assume that His command can be altered in order for us to work. Right? Let’s have a closer look.
The scribes among the Pharisees created and transmitted the Pharisaic rabbinical traditions. The body of traditional law that they formulated, called the Halakah (preserved in the Mishnah), is extra-biblical. Although authoritative for Jews who follow Pharisaic tradition, much of the Halakah is not directly supported by Scripture, but is intended as a “hedge” about the law, to prevent any possibility of its being broken.
Ironically, in an attempt to ensure their law-keeping by putting a “hedge” about the law, the Pharisees were breaking the law, for God had said: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2; also 12:32). By adding the weight of their tradition to the law of God, they bound “heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matthew 23:4).
The Pharisees placed the authority of their traditions above that of Scripture itself, thus going against the word of God. Scripture scholar Joachim Jeremias affirms that for the Pharisees, the oral tradition was “above the Torah,” and that the esoteric writings containing scribal teachings were regarded as inspired and surpassing the canonical books “in value and sanctity” (Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, pp. 236, 238–239). Alfred Edersheim also points out that traditional law was of “even greater obligation than Scripture itself” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book I, 1.98).
What was the nature of these traditional ordinances? “The Halakah indicated with the most minute and painful punctiliousness [attention to detail] every legal ordinance as to outward observance.… But beyond this it left the inner man, the spring of actions, untouched.” Echoing what Jesus said (Mark 7:5–13), Edersheim continues: “Israel had made void the Law by its traditions. Under a load of outward ordinances and observances its spirit had been crushed” (Book I, 1.106, 1.108).
The sometimes-absurd contradictions within Pharisaic law are especially apparent in the rules of Sabbath observance. Edersheim writes: “On no other subject is Rabbinic teaching more painfully minute and more manifestly incongruous to its professed object.” Edersheim charges the scribes with “terribly exaggerated views on the Sabbath” and “endless burdensome rules with which they encumbered everything connected with its sanctity” (ibid., Book II, 2.52, 2.53). “In not less than twenty-four chapters [of the Mishna], matters are seriously discussed [regarding Sabbath observance] as of vital religious importance, which one would scarcely imagine a sane intellect would seriously entertain.” Yet “in all these wearisome details there is not a single trace of anything spiritual—not a word even to suggest higher thoughts on God’s holy day and its observance” (ibid., 2.778–779).
For example, the law included detailed regulations regarding what constituted a “burden” that could not be carried on the Sabbath; for example, pieces of paper, horses hairs, wax, a piece of broken earthenware or animal food. Generally a burden was anything as heavy as a dried fig, or a quantity sufficient to be of any practical use (e.g. a scrap of paper large enough to be converted into a note or a wrapper). It prescribed what might or might not be saved if one’s house caught on fire. Only those clothes that were absolutely necessary could be saved. But one could put on a dress, save it, then go back and put on another. One could not ask a Gentile to extinguish the flames. But if he did so voluntarily, he should not be hindered. One could eat food on the Sabbath lawfully only if it had been specifically prepared for the Sabbath on a weekday. If a laying hen laid an egg on the Sabbath, it could not be eaten. But if the hen had been kept for fattening and not laying, the egg could be eaten, since it would be considered a part of the hen that had fallen off! These regulations considered studying the Mishna on the Sabbath more important than studying the Bible. The Hagiographa (the Old Testament “Writings”) were not to be read on the Sabbath except in the evening. And there are many other similar examples.
Of special interest to us are the laws regarding harvesting and healing on the Sabbath. Even the slightest activity involving picking grain—removing the husks, rubbing the heads, cleaning or bruising the ears or throwing them up in the hand—was forbidden. Yet if a man wanted to move a sheaf on his field, he had only to lay a spoon on it; then, in order to remove the spoon, he might also remove the sheaf on which it lay!
It should be noted that, unlike the Pharisees (whose numbers were relatively few), most Jews of Jesus’ day paid little attention to these petty rules.
When the Pharisees complained about Jesus’ disciples plucking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus (as He often did) was able to point out the contradictions in Pharisaic law. Jesus noted how David and his followers, famished and fleeing for their lives, ate the shewbread when no other food was available, though it was normally only for the priests to eat (Matthew 12:3–4; Mark 2:25–26; Luke 6:3–4; 1 Samuel 21:1–6). Even the Pharisaic law agreed with the original written law on this point, vindicating what David chose to do when his life was in danger (Edersheim, Book II, 2.58). Jesus simply said: “Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:6–8).
Of course, the Sabbath commandment is in a separate category from the sacrificial ordinances. Yet since Jewish law permitted the feeding and watering of animals on the Sabbath to relieve unnecessary suffering, this principle would logically and naturally extend to human beings—in this case, Jesus’ disciples—who were partaking of the only food readily available at that time.
This controversy would never have been possible were it not for the Pharisees’ exaggerated views about actions forbidden or allowed on the Sabbath. The priests in the Temple worked on the Sabbath, yet were guiltless (Matthew 12:5). The scribes knew this, but apparently did not clearly understand why it was so. Somehow, they missed the point that God instituted the Sabbath not only to give human beings rest from physical labors, but also to give them a time to devote to God by doing His works and serving Him. The disciples’ actions were “clearly not a breach of the Biblical, but of the Rabbinic Law” (Edersheim, Book II, 2.56). Jesus said that the Pharisees, not understanding the law, had “condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7). Clearly, the disciples were falsely accused, and were not guilty of breaking the Sabbath as charged.
Since healing might entail work, Pharisaic law permitted it on the Sabbath only if necessary to save life or prevent death. Thus a plaster might be applied to a wound if the object was to prevent it from getting worse, but not to heal it. Yet, contrarily, a splinter might be removed from the eye, or a thorn from the body, though no immediate danger to life was perceived. Furthermore, an animal might be removed from a pit, or taken to water, on the Sabbath.
When the Pharisees accused Jesus of violating the law by healing on the Sabbath, He again was able to reveal their hypocrisy by using their own contradictory rules. First, we will examine Jesus’ acknowledgement that He had been working. The Sabbath law is, in part: “Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work” (Exodus 20:9–10). Notice that the work forbidden by the Sabbath law is “your work.” The law does not forbid works of service towards God. Indeed, the very reason we are commanded to cease from our own works on the Sabbath is so we may devote the time to the work of honoring and serving God; that we may “turn your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words” (Isaiah 58:13). Here it is clear that it is our own works—the course of our everyday business—that we are to avoid on the Sabbath. On the other hand, we are to honor God on the Sabbath. Giving honor to God often entails work—”good works.”
A careful reading of Scripture reveals that we are to cease and rest from common or profane work on the Sabbath, so that the time may be devoted to God’s holy purpose. But implicit in the Sabbath command is that we do the work necessary to fulfill the spiritual aim and meaning of the Sabbath. On the first Sabbath, God rested from His work of physical creation, but He did the work of creating the Sabbath, blessing and sanctifying it (Genesis 2:2–3; Mark 2:27). The weekly Sabbaths and the annual Sabbaths were proclaimed to be “holy convocations”—commanded assemblies for the purpose of gathering to hear God’s word taught, and for congregational worship (Leviticus 23:2, 4). This includes the “work” required to travel to the place of assembly, and to listen, learn and participate in the worship service. Those commissioned to teach did the work of reading and explaining God’s word. On such occasions, people customarily did the work of eating and drinking, sharing and rejoicing in the holy day and in the truth of God’s word (Nehemiah 8:1–12). Other work implicit in the command was done, too: even on the most solemn day of the year—the Day of Atonement—the priests did the work of slaying animals and offering sacrifices before God, according to the requirements of the law (Leviticus 16).
The work of honoring and worshiping God is not forbidden on the Sabbath. Indeed, it is the object of the Sabbath. That is why the priests could work on the Sabbath and not be guilty. Their work was a necessary part of the congregational Sabbath duty of honoring and serving God. It was, in that sense, not their work but God’s work that was being done. On a Sabbath day early in His ministry, Jesus announced in summary form the work He had been sent to perform. His work was preaching the gospel, healing [both physically and spiritually] and liberating from oppression (Luke 4:18–19). The works Jesus did were not His works, but God’s works, which He had been sent to perform (John 4:34; 9:4; 17:4). Healing was an integral part of Christ’s ministry. In perfect harmony with what the Sabbath rest pictures—and with the gospel message—Jesus’ healings typified the physical and spiritual healings that Christ will perform during the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth (see Isaiah 35:5–6, 57:16–20; Jeremiah 30:10, 17; Ezekiel 47:8–10).
When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He was not breaking the Sabbath, but fulfilling it, because one is not at rest when afflicted, oppressed and bound by disease or infirmity. As many scriptures show, God delights in redeeming and restoring the afflicted, and giving them the rest exemplified by His Sabbath. God “hears the cry of the afflicted. When he gives quietness [rest], who then can make trouble?” (Job 34:28–29). Bound by their false traditions, the Pharisees did try to make trouble for the Messiah, condemning Him for giving those whom He healed rest from their afflictions.
Instead, they should have offered praise. Speaking of ones afflicted and at death’s door, the psalmist wrote: “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing” (Psalm 107:19–22).
Jesus answered those who accused him of breaking the Sabbath: “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:23–24).
As we have seen, when John wrote that Jesus “broke the Sabbath” (John 5:18), he was describing Jesus’ actions from the Pharisees’ perspective (compare 9:14–16). Those who say Jesus did actually break the Sabbath are agreeing with Christ’s enemies—His accusers—that Jesus’ miraculous works of healing were a breach of the Sabbath law. They are agreeing with Jesus’ accusers that He was a Sabbath-breaker. To be consistent, they must also agree with the Pharisees when they said of Christ: “We know that this man is a sinner” (v. 24). The blind man who had been healed knew better than that, saying that “we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (v. 31).
When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He was not violating the law of God. By His actions, He demonstrated the true application of God’s laws—rather than Pharisaic traditions—that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:12). The “law” that Jesus violated was a man-made rule that was itself against the principles of God’s law.
Remember: Had Jesus Christ actually broken the Sabbath, He would have been sinning. But the Scripture says that He “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22). Had He sinned, He could not be our Savior. But He, being undefiled and separate from sinners, offered Himself without spot and without blemish to God for our redemption (Hebrews 7:26; 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18–19). No, Jesus did not break the Sabbath. He spent the Sabbath preaching, teaching, healing, honoring God and doing the good work of His ministry—the work of God.
The record of Scripture is that Jesus kept the Sabbath faithfully, as God intended it to be kept. In doing so, He set us an example. “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
So when we were told in the New Testament we were no longer under the law, we were no longer under the law of man…but only of God. Man is the one who added all of the details, thus making it next to impossible to fulfill. If you have a job that requires you work on Saturday, go to work that day praising God all throughout your day, pondering His scripture and keeping a merry heart while you do it. Tell others about the Lord as often as you can on this day, and keep it holy (we’re supposed to always do this anyway!). Then you will be fulfilling the Sabbath commandment.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. Simple enough? You would think. Honoring your father and mother means that, not only do you obey your parents, but you take care of them by serving them. In so doing, we always put God first. If your parents are asking you to do things that are ungodly, you still respect them, but you have to go back to the first commandment: have no other gods before God. We must ultimately, in all things, put God first. If we are ever told by someone in an authority position to do something that goes against God, we are to respectfully refuse it, explaining that it goes against what God tells us to do. In the same breath, we are still to love, honor, pray, respect, admonish, and care for our parents, while remembering to always put God first.
Attributes and recognition: Did Jesus Break the Sabbath?
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