I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:2)
Preamble To The Ten Commandments
When Moses delivered the law to the people of Israel, He gave them a covenant that would bind them to the Lord God and determine their success or failure. The Law of Moses would become the foundation for every part of the lives of the Hebrews. This law included not only the criminal adjudications but also laws concerning what they were to eat, dress, how to handle disease, relationships within the family, community and worship; a hosts of regulations that would impact every corner of the day to day lives of the family. The Ten Commandments would become the summary of the law given to them from God in their dealings with Him and with their fellow man. Before giving the people the ten words of the covenant, God reminded them of why He was in a position of authority to command these words.
Law requires authority. Without the right to impose a law upon someone else, there will be no impact and the law becomes invalid. God makes His case in the beginning of the law when He reminds the people who He is and why He can demand their allegiance. They must remember the only reason they stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai was because of the power of God. It was only a few weeks before they were in Egypt bound under the cruel hand of the Pharaoh. The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the Egyptians as He demonstrated His power in the plagues that destroyed the economy, religion and will of the nation. All of the Hebrews had been spared the onslaught of God’s wrath upon the Egyptians and they should never forget His love for them. Leaving Egypt, the people had feared for their lives as they stood at the edge of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army behind them. An east wind blew all night dividing the waters before the eyes of the Israelites as God delivered the people of Abraham from the fear of the Egyptians. They walked across on dry land. Their eyes saw the sea crash upon the army of Egypt destroying the might of Pharaoh’s power. As they stood before the Lord at Sinai He wanted them to remember how they were saved by His power and grace.
None of the Ten Commandments would have any meaning if they did not accept the grace of God first. Having no other gods before Him could only be understood from a people that knew their salvation came from the hand of the Lord God. Putting away any carved image like the Egyptians worshipped was a sign the people acknowledged only one true god. Revering the name of God, keeping the Sabbath holy and honoring family and their fellow-man must first begin with the recognition that God was the Lord and only by His power they lived. They had been in bondage and could not save themselves. The people could never say they were saved by their own power. As rebellious a people as they became it is difficult to understand why the Lord saved such an ungrateful and irresponsible people. They did not deserve such love. Fulfilling a promise made to Abraham many generations before, a compassionate God delivered the people from bondage and set them free.
The people of the Lord have commandments to keep. In Christ all the spiritual blessings of God are realized. There has been no greater love and no greater sacrifice than the gift of Jesus on the cross. Throughout the writings of the New Testament the necessity of obedience is emphasized with clear detail. Like the keeping of the Ten Commandments and all the words of the covenant given by Moses that day, the people of God in Christ must first realize whom they serve. We were in bondage to sin and there was nothing we could do to effect a change in our depravity. There was nothing in us that deserved the gift of God’s Son to die on a cross for our sin. In the incredible gift of God’s love He showed His power by sending His only begotten Son to this miserable world of darkness to bring a light of salvation. The answer of man was to kill His Son. God demonstrated His power by raising Jesus from the dead releasing the bondage of sin from man. He did that. His power brought us out of bondage.
Obedience to the law of God is not because we are law-keepers as if the only thing we had to do was keep a bunch of laws. We are saved because we first recognize that without God’s grace and His power we are nothing. Keeping the Ten Commandments meant nothing without first realizing the reason why. Following the commandments of the Lord today will have no meaning if we do not first realize the reason why we are in Christ. Serving the Lord can only come from a thankful heart for the undeserved mercy given to us by God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thank God for His power.