Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 (NRSV)
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
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 your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”
If you have children, you’ve probably participated in the following scenario: Parent tells child to do something only to receive the response, “Why?” The parent then responds “Because I said so”.
I can imagine asking God the same question, “Why the Ten commandments?” Perhaps God would simply answer, “Because I said so.” But I suspect that God might have a better answer: “That you may not become the very thing that you despise.”
In Egypt the Israelites had suffered in a political regime that enslaved and oppressed them based upon their ethnicity. The King of Egypt successfully created a division between Egyptians and Israelites, between “us” and “them,” making one group believe that the other was dangerous. Through fear and demonizing of the Israelites, the pharaoh created a political and social system that exploited a people group for his nation’s gain.
God freed these slaves from Egypt, led them into the desert, and constituted a new nation. These commandments were the beginning of the Israelite law that will ensure that they did not become a new Egypt. The commandments existed not just “because God said so,” but because God had a vision for humanity that did not enslave or exploit others.
Be careful, lest you don’t become that which you despise.
Saving God, you hear the cry of the oppressed and the suffering, you rescue us from the chains of sin and evil, and you call us into new life. In your mercy, save us once more today from harm caused to us and harm caused by us. We confess that you alone are God, you alone can save us, and you alone can lead us to eternal life. As your covenant people, we commit ourselves to loving you and living in your way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Go with God.