Today the children of Israel receive the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are basically a summary of the over six hundred commandments given in the Old Testament. The first four of the Ten Commandments relate to our relationship with the Lord, and the last six commandments relate to our relationship with one another. The purpose of the commandments is 1) for the people to realize their own sin, 2) to protect us from ourselves and each other, 3) to show God’s grace and mercy, and 4) to further reveal God’s holiness. No one can perfectly keep the commandments except the One to come, Jesus Christ. The Ten Commandments point us to our need for a Savior as Galatians 3:24 says – “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
The Lord instructs Moses to say to the children of Israel, “You shall not make anything to be with Me – gods of silver or gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves. An altar of the earth you shall make for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen.” God is making a way for His people to have a relationship with Him, but they must approach the Lord His way, through a blood sacrifice and trusting in the promise that He made in Genesis 3:15, that He is sending a Savior. It is our faith in the Lord that pleases Him as Hebrews 11:6 says – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Being a good rule follower does not save you; we are saved by grace through faith. We saw this with Abraham as he was declared righteous long before God gave these commandments (Genesis 15:6).
However, the closer you draw to the Lord, the more you desire to walk in obedience (1 John 2:5, 1 John 5:3). Anyone following Christ is on this sanctification journey, and no one is going to do it perfectly, but it will happen progressively. And although our righteousness is not based on works but solely based on faith, the Christian life is not a passive life. Later in the story, Paul say to Christians, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9).
Paul is also going to write, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is out of faith, a gift we have been given from the Lord, that we desire to exercise self-control, show kindness, add to our knowledge of the Lord, etc. Our faith drives us to active obedience, putting sin to death and walking in the Spirit.
In addition to the Ten Commandments, the Lord gives Moses instructions regarding the treatment of servants, personal injury cases, and the protection of property, which highlights that God is a just God and He values all life. We will continue to see how God is in the details of all things during the Exodus Era, so keep reading. (Exodus 20:1-22:15)