"God's Free People at Worship and Work" Bible Study on Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
October 1, 2020, 9:41 AM

Dear Members & Friends:

I invite you to read the following passage from Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 (Common English Bible).

Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

You must have no other gods before me.

Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.


Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses God’s name that way.

Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy.

Six days you may work and do all your tasks.

Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Do not kill.

Do not commit adultery.

Do not steal.

Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.

Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the horn, and the mountain smoking, the people shook with fear and stood at a distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we’ll listen.  But don’t let God speak to us, or we’ll die.”

Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid, because God has come only to test you and to make sure you are always in awe of God so that you don’t sin.”

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen the Israelites consumed with matters of wilderness survival: food and water.  God has graciously, miraculously provided those basic necessities.  Now the focus is upon God's expectations for this new people and on the peculiarity of their identity as God's chosen people.

In Exodus 19, God told the people that if they agreed to the stipulations of the covenant, they will be God's special possession, "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6).  In this new nation of priests, everybody gets to be a priest, everyone is holy, commanded by God to show the world what God can do with people who walk in God's way.  In Exodus 20, we have the content of the covenant.  Previously, when God spoke of the "covenant," there weren't many specifics.  Now we get the particulars of what God requires.

But do not make the mistake of thinking that The Commandments are just a list of onerous rules that people are to follow..  Here is a guide for how this new nation of priests is to worship God in the land that God is giving them.  By walking in this way -- not the ways walked by many of the peoples around them -- they will become an alternative community, a showcase for what God can do with a people who are determined to worship Yahweh God rather than other false gods.  This new community is held together not by a majority vote on common goals but rather through common worship of the one and only God.  Our text begins with "I am the LORD your God" (Exodus 20:2) and ends with the focus upon "your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17).  The Ten Commandments are the means for guilding Israel in this twofold connection:  worship God and love your neighbor.

Thus, the Law of God is not only what we do on the Sabbath (Sunday or Friday for our Jewish neighbors) but also how we live our lives the rest of the week.  So, the Ten Commandment become a guide for grateful living.  That is why our God refuses to recognize a distinction between our lives in worship and our lives in the world.  Our God wants more than our beautiful words and songs: our God believes that God owns all of us.

God has risked a great deal for the Hebrew slaves.  God has gone head-to-head with the Pharaoh over who will determine the fate of the Hebrew people.  And now, God graciously gives a practical, everyday guide for how they are to live our their freedom.

Perhaps many people define "freedom" as the ability to live their lives anyway they want.  The God of Israel and the Church defines freedom as the freedom to be who God has created us to be.  We're now freed by being bound to God.  We are free from having to concoct our lives on our own.  We're now freed into the service of the God who makes our lives mean more than we could make them mean on our own.  We need help and guidance on life's journey.  We need God.  Therein is true freedom.

Blessings on the Journey,

Pastor Greg Rupright


10-01-2020 at 8:28 PM
Pat May
Lots to think about in your last few sentences...
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