“God Spoke All These Words”


“God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery'” (Exodus 20:1-2).

The “Ten Words” (Exodus 34:28) or Ten Commandments are worth knowing by heart and keeping, because of the God who spoke them. These are not just “wise rules for good living.” They are God’s words to his people. This is reason enough to listen and obey. And this is the only good reason to listen and obey. The most important thing about these words is that they come from this God. That’s why a transgression of any single one of them is a transgression of the whole lot: because it is a personal offense against the God who spoke them all (see James 2:10-11).

This God has not left us to our imaginations when it comes to his identity. He has revealed himself to us, and this “preface” refers us to who he is and to our relationship with him as the foundation of our keeping his words. He is Yahweh, “the LORD,” the God who has made covenant promises, even by this early point in the Scriptures. He is not just the God, the only true God—he is “your God,” the God who has committed and given himself to his people for personal relationship. He has not only promised salvation by grace (Exodus 6:6), he has accomplished it through wonders and judgments that have revealed his character, righteousness, faithfulness, and power to save. He is a God who sets his people free from their self-inflicted slavery, because he loves them. For the original hearers of these words this meant deliverance from Egyptian slavery, the great paradigm for salvation until the coming of the Messiah. Now, this same God has set us free from slavery to sin through the gracious salvation that is found in Jesus Christ (John 8:34-36).

Keeping the words of this God is always a response to his gracious salvation; it is never an attempt to secure his favor. Only those who already know this God truly and personally to be their Savior can even begin to keep his words as he intended. Apart from a relationship with him by his grace—ultimately revealed through Jesus—any attempt to keep his words will be vanity, hypocrisy, a mockery of his words.

Why did God speak these words to his people? In what ways do you reject his words (licentiousness)? In what ways do you abuse his words (legalism)? What are some reasons you might try to keep God’s words? What resources do you look to in order to try to keep God’s words? Do you live as if God’s merely having spoken these words is reason enough to keep them? Why or why not? Why and how did Jesus keep all God’s words? What significance does that have for you? Why is it “vanity, hypocrisy, a mockery of his words” to try to keep his words apart from knowing him as your Savior? (Why isn’t it just “a well-intentioned impossibility”?)

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