A Little Leaven, Not For Heaven
8 And thou shalt bring the meat offering that is made of these things unto the LORD: and when it is presented unto the priest, he shall bring it unto the altar. 9 And the priest shall take from the meat offering a memorial thereof, and shall burn it upon the altar: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD. 10 And that which is left of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire. 11 No meat offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the LORD made by fire. 12 As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the LORD: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savor.
The baked meat offerings,
whether made in an oven, flat plate or frying pan, were treated in exactly the same manner as the unbaked flour. (For an explanation of verses 8-10 see my notes on verses 2 and 3.) They must be presented to the priest who burns a portion of them for a memorial and keeps the remainder for his own support.
There is a new stipulation added in the eleventh verse. The addition of leaven or honey to this or any offering that was to be burnt on the altar was strictly prohibited. Leavening and honey are both fermenting agents and thus symbolize corruption and sin. In Matthew 16:6, 12, Jesus warned against the corrupt doctrines of their time, calling them "the leaven of the Pharisees." In Mark 8:15, He referred to the corruption of Herod as leavening and, in Luke 12:1, it was the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that drew the analogy.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, saying, "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
The Old Testament laws have not been abolished, but they were only shadows of the things that were to come. Christ is our Passover Lamb, sacrificed for our atonement, and the lives that we offer to God as living sacrifices are our meat offerings and should be offered without the leaven of malice and wickedness.
As you study and meditate on this meat offering, think about the things in your life that tend to corrupt you and make you unacceptable to God. Pride is a good place to begin with that examination. Pride is like leaven it puffs you up in your own eyes and decreases your recognition of the importance that God plays in your life. Purge out the things that tend to make you feel proud and boastful. Then, begin to work on other areas of your life so that you will be an acceptable living sacrifice to God.
The idea can also be carried to the body of Christ. It is not good to allow sin to flourish within the body of the church. Proper discipline, as distasteful as it may seem, must be exercised to keep the image of Christ's perfect and sinless life. A little leaven will leaven the whole body.
Paul faced this problem in Corinth. "Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?" (1 Corinthians 4:18-21) Some of the people were confident that their sinfulness would prevail and that Paul would not come to exercise church discipline.
On the other hand, leavening and honey were allowed to be offered in an offering of firstfruits. Firstfruits were offered out of gratitude and as an acknowledgement that the abundance, which they enjoyed, was a gift from God. It was offered with the understanding that, although nothing in this world is perfect, only the best of it should be offered to God. These offerings were not burned on the altar, but were given to the priests.
Yes, it is true that your body cannot be a perfect living sacrifice to God until Jesus receives you unto Himself, so that you may always be with Him; but God accepts even your imperfections. The question you need to ask yourself is, "Am I offering my very best to God? Does He come first in my life? Am I trying to be holy as He is holy, so that I can fellowship with Him in the work that He has ordained for me to do?"
Before The Throne:
Pray for God to cleanse your heart and mind, so that you will not sin against Him in any way. Ask Him to accept your life as a sweet odor of love. Pray for your church. There are many things going on within the body of Christ today that are not acceptable to God and will infect the whole church, unless God puts a stop to them. Be careful not to be an accuser before the Lord, (That is Satan's position) but you can pray for the spiritual welfare of any sinner, any time.
For Further Study:
** a memorial: Lev 6:15; ** an offering: Lev 2:2; Exo 29:18; Psa 22:13-14; Isa 53:10; Zec 13:7, 9; Rom 12:1; 15:16; Eph 5:2; Phi 2:17-18
** no leaven: Lev 6:17; Exo 12:19, 20; Mat 16:6, 11-12; Mar 8:15; Luk 12:1; 1Co 5:6-8; Gal 5:9; ** honey: Pro 24:13; Pro 25:16, 27;
** the oblation: Gen 23:10-11, 17; Exo 22:29; 23:10-11, 19; Num 15:20; Deu 26:10; 2Ch 31:5; 1Co 15:20; Rev 14:4;
The Anointing Spirit
4 And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil. 5 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baked in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil. 6 Thou shalt part it in pieces, and pour oil thereon: it is a meat offering. 7 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baked in the frying pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
Just as we found
that God had made allowances so that people of every economic level could afford to make the burnt offering, there were similar allowances made in the laws of the meat offering. The wealthy might bring large quantities of fine flour for the offering, but the poor could not afford so much fine flour. Therefore, they could bring smaller quantities and compensate for the smaller amount by baking the flour, putting more of their personal labor into the offering.
Remember that the meat offering represented the consecration of the substance and work of a worshipper who had obtained atonement through the burnt offering. It was, therefore, a good thing for him or her to put some work into the offering by baking the flour. The cakes were to be made of fine flour mingled with oil or, if they were thin wafers, they were to be anointed with the oil. The baking process probably represented the heat of God's wrath or the purification of the people by trials and tribulation, while the oil, of course, still represented the anointing of the Spirit.
However, only the rich and middle class would have owned ovens. A person with less wealth might have to bake his cakes on a pan, or flat plate, made of earthenware. His cakes should then be divided into pieces and anointed with oil. There is no explanation for this, but Andrew Bonar speculated that, "This division into pieces may shew that every part of our substance is to be given up. We must allow God to divide and choose and appropriate as He pleases.
There is one other element introduced here, which was not mentioned earlier, but will be applied to all offerings in verse 11. The baked offerings must be unleavened. Leavening is used throughout scripture to represent sin, and we will discuss this in more detail when we study the eleventh verse of this chapter.
A person who was among the very poorest of society might have only a frying pan in which to cook. The law therefore specifies that it was totally acceptable for the meat offering to be prepared in such a vessel. The important thing to notice in all of these methods of preparing the meat offering is that the oil must not be left out, no matter how poor the person making the offering happened to be.
The oil represented the anointing of the Spirit of God, which is absolutely essential before anyone can be accepted by Him. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3:5-8)
A strong controversy is brewing in our churches today over the importance and working of the Holy Spirit. The scriptures about His work and gifts have been terribly misunderstood and abused by some churches in order to gain "members" through the sensationalism that accompanies such practices. At the same time, other churches, afraid of being compare to them, teach very little about the Holy Spirit and His work.
The meat offering teaches us just how important the work of the Holy Spirit is in the regeneration of the saints. Peter called the people of God the "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." It is the Spirit who sets aside God's elect to receive the atonement which Christ made through His obedience and shed blood and to be consecrated unto the Father forever.
Before The Throne:
Examine yourself during this prayer time. Are you fully consecrated to God? Does He decide what you do with your time, money, possessions, and labor or is that mostly up to you? Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of your failures to serve your Lord and to mold you into the committed Christian that you ought to be. If you find that you are not committed to God, perhaps you need to seek Him more and pray that you can be born again. Jesus said, "Seek and ye shall find."
For Further Study:
** meat offering: 1Ch 23:28-29; Psa 22:14; Eze 46:20; Mat 26:38; Joh 12:27; ** the oven: Lev 1:11; 6:17; 7:12; 10:12; Exo 12:8; 1Co 5:7-8; Heb 7:26; 1Pe 2:1, 22; ** wafers: Exo 16:31; 29:2; Isa 42:1; 44:3-5; 61:1; Joh 3:34;
Lev 1:6; Psa. 22:1-21; Mark 14:1-15:47; John 18:1-19:42;
A Most Holy Memorial
2 And he shall bring it to Aaron's sons the priests: and he shall take therefrom his handful of the flour thereof, and of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof; and the priest shall burn the memorial of it upon the altar, to be an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the LORD: 3 And the remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron's and his sons': it is a thing most holy of the offerings of the LORD made by fire.
In the case of the meat offering
, the worshiper only had to present it to one of the priests. The priest would then take a handful of the flour and oil with all of the frankincense and burn it on the altar for a memorial. The largest part of the offering would belong to the priest.
Why was only a handful of the offering burnt, if it represented the total consecration of the person and his possessions to the Lord, while in the burnt offering all had to be burned? The difference is only in the way that God used the meat offering. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
If this offering truly represents the body, soul and possession of the worshiper who consecrates it all unto God, God certainly has a right to use it any way that pleases Him. In this offering and in others, God chooses to use the greater part of the offering for the support of His priests who have no other income. The frankincense was burned completely, because the priests would have no other use for it.
However, the frankincense was a very special part of this offering. It sent a sweet odor up with the smoke of the offering and represented the prayers of the saints. A passage from the Apocalypse gives us some beautiful details: "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." (Revelation 8:3-4; also see 5:8)
In the book of Acts, the angel of the Lord appeared to the centurion named Cornelius. "And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God." (Acts 10:4) So, we see that our prayers are not only a sweet savor for God, but that they serve as a memorial before Him. They affirm our faith, our complete consecration and our love for Him.
Because this offering represents the very special relationship between God and His saints that is made possible only through His Son, it is a most holy offering, literally, "a holy of holies offering." It is a relationship built upon their atonement for sins, which was made by Christ and represented by the burnt offering, and God's acceptance of the consecration of their souls and possessions, since they are now the body of Christ.
The faith and the prayers of God's saints are most holy to Him. They are God's special possessions and described as His treasures. So, we are called to maintain and grow our faith in Him. "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 1:20-21)
You cannot be consecrated to God by your own righteousness nor by any sacrifice. You must come to Jesus, drawn by the power of God's love, and be born again into the body of Christ. Then, you are no longer your own. You are God's. Jesus is the fulfillment of every sacrifice and offering described in the Old Testament. Therefore, you must die to yourself and live in Christ, if you want to be acceptable to the Father.
Before The Throne:
As you begin your prayer time today, take a moment to cherish the special relationship that you have with the Father through the Son. Pray with the knowledge and understanding that your prayers are like the smell of an expensive perfume to God. Do you think He would let them go unanswered? Let this time be as precious to you as it is to Him.
For Further Study:
** the memorial: Lev 5:12; 6:15; 24:7; Exo 30:16; Num 5:18; Neh 13:14, 22; Isa 66:3; Act 10:4;
** the remnant: Lev 6:16-17, 26; 7:9; 10:12-13; 21:22; Num 18:9; 1Sa 2:28; ** most holy: Lev 6:17; 10:12; 21:22; Exo 29:37; Num 18:9;
The Meat Offering
1 And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon:
The meat offering is defined
in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge as, "meat offering: Minchah, from the Arabic manacha, to give, especially as a reciprocal gift, a gift, oblation, or eucharistical or gratitude offering, for the bounties of providence displayed in the fruits of the earth. It is termed a meat offering by our translators, because the term meat in their time was the general name for food."
It is brought to the altar as a gift to Yahweh. There are three types of meal offerings mentioned in this chapter. The first is the offering of fine flour (v.1), the second is a baked offering (v.4) and the third is an offering of firstfruits (v.14).
The meat offering was only made after the worshiper had received atonement for his sins by means of the burnt offering. The atonement makes him acceptable to the Lord, and the meat offering represents the subsequent setting aside and commitment of himself and all his possessions to Yahweh.
Christ, in whose footsteps we are to walk, is our example. His work would not be accepted by the Father until He had made the ultimate blood sacrifice and served as the propitiation for our sins. He was not simply a human sacrifice but the best of the best. He was the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He is also the fine flour, sifted, white, perfectly pure and completely consecrated for the Father's use. He served Him with perfect obedience.
As Christ's church, we are also to be so committed to God. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1) This is how we fulfill the meal offering in the New Covenant.
Since the meal offering had to be of fine flour, it represented both the best of the grains and the labor of the worshiper. To be fine, the flour must be sifted and cleaned thoroughly, thus demonstrating that the worshiper committed everything to God including his labor.
The flour was anointed with oil, representing the work of the Holy Spirit upon the soul of that person to separate him for the Lord's purpose. The Expositor's Bible says, "Isaiah 61:1 is decisive on this point, where in prophecy the Messiah speaks thus: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord God hath anointed me to preach good tidings.' Quite in accord with this, we find that when Jesus reached thirty years of age, -the time for beginning priestly service,- He was set apart for His work, not as the Levitical priests, by anointing with the symbolical oil, but by the anointing with the Holy Ghost descending on Him at His baptism."
A person who expects to do good works in order to please God will fail, if he or she has not been regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit, without which he or she cannot understand the things of God and will not be changed into a new creature in Christ.
The frankincense that is placed on the flour makes it smell sweet to the Lord. It represents the pleasure that God gets from His consecrated worshipers. Just as the burnt offering ascended to Him as a sweet savor, so does the meal offering. Jesus is God's precious Son who obeyed Him even unto death, and God was well pleased with Him. In like manner, everyone who is a part of the body of Christ is a sweet smelling gift to the Father.
There are two very important things that we must ask ourselves in applying this scripture to our lives. First, "Do I believe so thoroughly in the sacrifice that Christ made for my sins that I am ready to be consecrated completely to Him? Am I ready to present my life as a living sacrifice to Him without any hesitation?" Secondly, "Has the Holy Spirit so anointed me and changed me as to make me feel both compelled and excited about making this sacrifice, or does it seem like a difficult and tedious thing to do?"
If you cannot answer, "Yes!" to both of those questions, you have not been born again and will not see the kingdom of God. You should begin immediately to seek God with all of your heart through prayer, Bible study and counseling with a pastor. Jesus has promised that, if you seek Him, you will find Him.
Before The Throne:
This is a good time to examine your spiritual condition with the help of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to reveal the truth to you. There are only two persons who know whether you are saved... God and you. However, sometimes we even deceive ourselves. Salvation is not a decision that we make, it is the work of the Holy Spirit and the free gift of God. Pray and make certain your salvation. Then, pray and commit your entire life and possessions to His service.
For Further Study:
** meat offering: Lev 6:14-18, 20-23; 9:17; Num. 15:4-21; Isa 66:20; Joh 6:35; ** fine flour: Exo 29:2; Num 7:13, 19; Joe 1:9; 2:14; ** pour oil: Lev 7:10-12; 1Jo 2:20, 27; Jud 1:20; ** frankincense: Mal 1:11; Luk 1:9-10; Rev 8:3;
Where God Records His Name
22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. 25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. 26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
The worship of God is not something to be taken lightly. The children of Israel had seen God descend in a thick cloud from heaven and heard Him speak to them from the top of Mount Sinai. They had heard the thunder, seen the lightning, felt the earth move and listened to the power of His voice. Israel was more aware of the majesty, holiness and righteousness of Yahweh than any other group of people has ever been, and their only reasonable response would be to worship Him. But, how would they worship Him?
God repeated what He had said in the second commandment. They should make no images, neither of silver or gold nor of any other materials, to represent Him. It was clear, from what the people had seen, that God could not be depicted be any shape or image. He does not look like a calf, like a frog, like a tree, or like any other thing that people could imagine. The making of such images to represent God always results in the worship of the image. This is seen in those who bow down to images of the cross and of Mary, etc.
Sacrifices (He would soon give them the ordinances concerning them.) would be made to the LORD upon an altar. The locations where altars could be built were not limitless but were to be in places where God recorded His name, i.e. had done a special work. It was in these places that He would visit them and bless them for their faithfulness. Today, worship is very similar. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20) The evidence of God's great work is in the hearts of the believers and, when believers gather together, they have the authority of the name of Jesus Christ, and He is with them.
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." (John 14:21) God does not reveal Himself to us in a thick cloud or earth shattering tremors like He did on Sinai, but in a much more personal way. We see Him work, as he changes our very nature from one of sin to one of righteousness, and we see Him work through us as we impact the lives of people around us.
The altars were to be built of either earth or stone and were not to be high enough to require steps. The heathen built high altars and the scriptures repeatedly condemn their "high places." A mound of earth was a simple structure and was easy to erect quickly. It was not something that man would be tempted to make the object of worship. Perhaps it was made to represent the earthly figure of Jesus Christ. "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2)
Jesus is our altar. "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." (Hebrews 13:10) And, we are told to eat the bread of His body and to drink the wine of His blood in remembrance of Him.
The altar could also be built of stone but, again, it could be nothing special. The stones had to be used in their natural state and could not be shaped by the work of human hands.
Finally, God gave them a warning that their nakedness should not be revealed by going up to a high altar and risking someone being able to see up their skirts. Sexual impurity is not welcomed in worship, and the exposure of one's nakedness would cause others to lust or to be distracted from focusing on God. Our modern churches should learn something from this and prevent ladies from wearing tight, short, and revealing skirts while on the stage before the congregation. Such clothing is a deliberate attempt to draw attention to one's self and must be an abomination to the LORD.
God cannot be worshipped any way man pleases. God must be worshipped in a way that pleases Him and only Him. Worship must focus entirely on God. Whenever the music and musicians, the preacher and the sermon, the actors and the drama, or the method of worship gets more attention than the Lord, it ceases to be worship and becomes a vain exercise in entertainment.
Before The Throne:
You should spend the next few minutes in worship. Your prayers should not focus on what you want or on what you need but on God's desire for your life. Focus on who He is and on what He has done for you. Your only reasonable service to Him is to present your body as a living sacrifice. It must be holy, set aside for His service. It must be acceptable to God. Therefore you need to confess your sins and ask His forgiveness. You must also be available. Pray, "Here I am , Lord. Send me."
For Further Study:
(v.22) I have talked. De 4:36; Ne 9:13; Heb 12:25,26|
(v.23) Ex 32:1-4; 1Sa 5:4,5; 2Ki 17:33,41; Eze 20:39; 43:8; Da 5:4,23; Zep 1:5; 1Co 10:21,22; 2Co 6:14-16; Col 2:18,19; 1Jo 5:20,21; Re 22:15;
(v.24) ** altar. Joh 4:24; ** burnt. Le 1:1-17; 3:1-17; ** in all places. De 12:5,11,21; 14:23; 16:5,6,11; 26:2; 1Ki 8:29,43; 9:3; 2Ch 6:6; 2Ch 7:16; 12:13; Ezr 6:12; Ne 1:9; Ps 74:7; 76:2; 78:68; 132:13,14; Jer 7:10-12; Mal 1:11; Mt 18:20; 28:20; Joh 4:20-23; 1Ti 2:8; ** will bless thee. Ge 12:2; Nu 6:24-27; De 7:13; 2Sa 6:12; Ps 128:5; 134:3;
(v.25) ** And. De 27:5,6; Jos 8:31;
(v.26) ** thy nakedness. Le 10:3; Ps 89:7; Ec 5:1; Heb 12:28,29; 1Pe 1:16;
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God [was].
Some religions tend to think of their god as a terrible and hateful being who is the enemy of mankind. They tremble at the thought of his presence and they make sacrifices, even human sacrifices, to ease his anger. To live a life built around the horror of a constantly angry god is not a very pleasant existence and it is certainly not the kind of relationship that the true God, Yahweh, seeks with His people.
"Fear not!" Moses wanted the people to understand that God had not come to harm them. He had set the boundaries around the base of the mountain for their protection. The kind of fear that had gripped the people was an unhealthy fear that blurred their senses, caused panic, and made any kind of relationship with Him to be impossible.
At the same time, they were right to fear God in the sense that their sins had made them unworthy to come too close to Him. He had come to prove them, to see if they would keep the words of the covenant that they had made with Him, to demonstrate their need for a mediator and to insure that they would understand God's great authority to execute justice.
Before they would enter the Promised Land, Moses would explain it to them. "And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do [them] in the land which I give them to possess it." (Deuteronomy 5:28-31) It was not God's desire to punish them, to condemn them or to harm them in anyway. He only desired to bless them and their children.
"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah." (Psalm 4:4) This is the principle that God taught the children of Israel. They were to stand in awe of His great majesty and power and, having a great respect for Him, they were not to break His covenant. Then, they would sleep in peace.
So, while the people stood afar off, watching, Moses was drawn near to the thick darkness by the presence of the LORD. While they ran, Moses approached; and while the people separated themselves from God, Moses was drawn nearer, because he knew the truth.
This is a scene that is played over and over again in the hearts and minds of people all around the globe. There are those people who fear God and separate themselves from Him. They are afraid of His word and the truth that it reveals about them, so they separate themselves from Him. They convince themselves that He does not exist, although they are without excuse, or they are certain that He could never forgive them. The end result is that they are running all of their lives from the only One who can give them peace.
On the other hand, Christians abide in Christ and, in Him, are made to sit with God the Father in heavenly places. We are not afraid to draw near, not afraid of the truth, and not afraid of having a close relationship with Him. We have accepted the truth that God loves us and we trust in that love to care for us through all eternity.
You can stop running today. If you have sinned, confess your sins and He will be faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, because forgiveness is a free gift, which we call grace. God only asks that you come as you are, stand in awe of Him, and sin no more.
Before The Throne:
As God drew Moses into his presence, He also wants to draw you nearer to Him. It does not matter whether or not you already know Him. You can still come closer to Him today. Confess your sins and receive His forgiveness. Express your love for Him and your willingness to serve Him. Submit yourself to God's will for you. He has a plan for your life, but you must be willing to follow it, if you want to reach your spiritual potential. Do not fear His presence, but thank Him for being with you always. Stand in awe of Him and His infinite ability to love.
For Further Study:
(v.20) ** Fear not. 1Sa 12:20; Isa 41:10; ** prove. Ex 15:25,26; Ge 22:1,12; De 8:2; 13:3; ** his fear. Ge 20:11; De 6:2; 10:12; Jos 24:14; Ne 5:15; Job 28:28; Pr 1:7; Pr 3:7; Isa 8:13;
(v.21) ** the people. Ex 19:16,17; De 5:5 ** thick. 1Ki 8:12; 2Ch 6:1; Ps 18:9,12; 97:2; 104:2; 1Ti 6:16;
The Need for a Mediator
18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw [it], they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
God spoke the Ten Commandments out of the thick darkness, out of the fire and cloud of smoke, and from the top of Mount Sinai. The people were anxious to see Him, and boundaries had to be set up to restrain them from going up the mountain. From the foot of the mountain, they saw the lightning and the smoke, they heard the thunder and the noise of the trumpet, and they must have stood dumbfounded at the majesty and power of it all.
Then, the people of Israel heard the voice of their God and it was more than they could stand. The fear of instant death set in, and the people ran. No man had ever heard such a perfect voice. Its power, purity of tone, and sense of perfect righteousness were frightening to those who were less than perfect.
The words which the voice spoke were the foundations of perfect justice. The sound of them reminded one of his sins, as they brought guilt upon anyone who heard them. The spoken commands proved that God does speak to men and that He is a living God. He is a vibrant God, a consuming fire, and the people knew that they could not endure His presence without facing death.
The people ran to Moses and asked Him to be the Mediator. The short manifestation of God's presence was enough to convince them of His perfect righteousness. Moses was the only one, because He walked by faith, who could spend time in the presence of God and still live. He had to be the mediator between men and God.
Yet, Moses himself had never looked upon the face of God, nor could he. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him]." (John 1:18) "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." (Hebrews 8:6-10)
Jesus Christ is our new Mediator and God's people have His laws written on our hearts and minds. The laws no longer create fear, we no longer run from the sound of His voice, and God is no longer hidden from us in a cloud of smoke. Now He "hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6) We come boldly into His presence through Jesus in whom we abide and who sits at the right hand of the Father. We look forward to the day when we can physically stand in His presence and we rejoice in His laws.
Our new Mediator has not only provided us with God's truths but has washed away our guilt and given us the New Covenant. Now, Yahweh is our God, and we are His people.
Before The Throne:
Give God the praise for having saved your soul. Thank Him for our new Mediator, Jesus Christ, who loves us and gave Himself for us. Thank Him for inscribing His word in your heart so that you can live by the Spirit of the law and not by the letter of it. Praise Him for wiping away your guilt and your fear. Promise that you will work harder to develop your relationship with Him and to mature spiritually.
For Further Study:
(v.18) ** And all. Ex 19:16-18; ** they removed. Ps 139:7,8; Jer 23:23;
(v.19) ** Speak thou. De 18:16; Ac 7:38; ** let not. Ex 33:20; Ge 32:30;
The Tenth Commandment
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour's.
More simply stated, "Thou shalt not desire anything that is not yours." If you do not have it, it already belongs to someone else or it does not exist. The neighbor's house, wife, servants etc. are merely mentioned as examples of what we should not covet.
It is the desire (lust) for the things that we do not have that breeds evil thoughts, which lead to all the other sins against our neighbors. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15)
One of the greatest problems with covetousness is that things can never satisfy our lust for them. "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this [is] also vanity." (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Jesus said that our life does not consist of how much we possess (Luke 12:15). Yet most people spend their entire life trying to accumulate more possessions and wealth. Ask someone what they desire for their children, and they will probably answer, "I want them to have more than I had." Such statements tell us that possessions are the focus of their lives. They live in the sin of covetousness.
Covetousness inspires the sin of pride. Anyone who is focused on obtaining wealth will be very proud of that which he has already obtained. "For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, [whom] the LORD abhorreth." (Psalms 10:3) Yes, the wicked look up to the covetous person. The recent interest in the TV series called The Apprentice was primarily spurred by the fascination with Donald Trump's wealth and with the young apprentices who desired to get a piece of it. We all coveted as we watched the shots of Donald's penthouse, private jet, country clubs, helicopter etc. But, while we may idolize the covetous person, the scripture says that God abhors him.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1Timothy 6:6-10) Those people who call themselves Christians, but have built their lives around the love of riches, have erred from the faith, having lost the peace and satisfaction that comes from godliness and contentment.
They are called hypocrites. "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness." (Ezekiel 33:31) The churches are full of them. They are more interested in building large, elaborate, beautiful and comfortable buildings than they are in saving souls. As members of the church, their covetousness is translated into pride for the buildings that they erect in God's name. Their hearts are not directed toward their neighbor's dilemma. They do not take the time to tell him about Jesus. They are not affected by the fact that he is condemned to hell. In fact, the neighbor can see their beautiful buildings and it is up to him to come and find out about Jesus.
That is not God's idea of church. "[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." God wants His people to focus on His work of reconciling the world to Him. We have no need for things, because we have the promise that He is always with us and that He will never abandon us. We must be, first and foremost, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. He will see to it that we have all of the "things" that we need.
Before The Throne:
No one is innocent when it comes to the law against covetousness. Ask our holy and faithful God for forgiveness. Ask Him to help you examine your life and to weed out this sin, which He abhors. Pray that He will give you a contented heart. Ask Him to increase your love for Him and your concern for the eternal future of others. Let your love be more than words. Praise Him for always being present with you and for supplying all of your needs.
For Further Study:
(v.17) ** thy neighbour's house. Ge 3:6; 14:23; 34:23; Jos 7:21; 1Sa 15:19; Ps 10:3; 119:36; Ec 4:8; 5:10,11; Isa 33:15; 57:17; Jer 22:17; Eze 33:31; Am 2:6,7; Mic 2:2; Hab 2:9; Lu 12:15; 16:14; Ac 20:33; Ro 7:7; 1Co 6:10; Php 3:19; Col 3:5; 1Ti 6:6-10; Heb 13:5; ** wife. 2Sa 11:2-4; Job 31:1,9; Pr 4:23; 6:24,25; Jer 5:8; Mt 5:28; ** is thy neighbour's. Mt 20:15; Ac 5:4;
The Ninth Commandment
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Of the seven things that God hates most (Proverbs 6:16-19), two have to do with lying. He hates a lying tongue and a false witness. "Hate" by itself is a pretty strong word, but God abhors these things; they are an abomination to His soul. The use of such strong language ought to be sufficient warning for anyone who is tempted to lie.
When we become Christians, we are called to lay "...aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings." (1Peter 2:1) If we did these things, we would never have the need or the desire to lie about our neighbors, for lying comes from a hateful and wicked heart.
Slander and backbiting are the two forms of lying against our neighbors that are most often done. People who do these without repenting, without a sincere change of heart, will never see the kingdom of heaven. "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes [shall be] upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD." (Psalms 101:5-8)
A heart that is changed and molded by the Spirit of God could never be involved in this hateful type of activity. God is love, and the people in whom His Spirit lives must be loving and caring people who are honest and truthful for the benefit of everyone who hears their voice. They are people who do not need to swear an oath, because it is well known that their "Nay" means "Nay" and their "Yes" means "Yes."
Yet, one of the worst enemies of the church is the backbiting and talebearing that goes on within the body. This activity, more than any other, helps us to identify the hypocrites among us. Jesus called them the tares among the wheat and said that we could not get rid of them until the harvest. However, when our Lord returns there will be a great weeding out of these tares, and His church will live in peace for all eternity. "Where no wood is, [there] the fire goeth out: so where [there is] no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." (Proverbs 26:20)
Is there such a thing as a little white lie? The scriptures do not distinguish between different degrees of lying. Every lie, no matter how harmless it may seem, has the capacity to harm someone. It is an abomination to God, and we should resist the temptation to speak it. God's children, above all peoples, should have a perfect reputation for dealing honestly with everyone, in every situation, and at all times.
As a Christian, you represent the kingdom of God. What do unbelievers think of that kingdom when they speak or do business with you?
Before The Throne:
Do you have many lies that need to be confessed? Little white lies? Incidents where you stretched the truth just a little? Repent and confess them to God right now. Pray for those hypocrites within your church. Ask the Lord to give them a changed heart. Pray for all of the talebearing and backbiting to come to an end. Finally, pray for those who have been the victims of lies. Ask God to help them clear their reputations, to reveal the truth about them, and to expose the hypocrites who have attacked them. Ask Him to comfort them and to give them peace in the midst of a stressful situation. pray that they will respond to the lies in a Christian manner.
For Further Study:
(v.16) Ex 23:6,7; Le 19:11,16; De 19:15-21; 1Sa 22:8-19; 1Ki 21:10-13; Ps 15:3; 101:5-7; Pr 10:18; 11:13; Mt 26:59,60; Ac 6:13; Eph 4:31; 1Ti 1:10; 2Ti 3:3; Jas 4:11;
The Eighth Commandment
15 Thou shalt not steal.
Stealing is another one of those sins that we should not have to spend a lot of time on, yet people seem to be very good at justifying various thefts. While no Christian would legitimize an armed robbery, a burglary, shoplifting, or a mugging, many are involved in other kinds of theft.
The unauthorized use of your employer's copy machine for personal or even for church business is a form of stealing. Wasting time on the job for which you receive an hourly wage is also theft. We often do these and similar things and think nothing of it, but we are breaking the eighth commandment.
One very popular form of theft is through the internet. I recently read an article which claimed that Christian youth are involved in downloading pirated music over the internet and I know that many adults illegally download free software that is still under copyright protection.
Governments steal from the public by using monetary systems in which the value of their money can fluctuate. It is called inflation. A dollar is a specific weight of silver, but it may cost ten dollars to purchase that weight in silver today and tomorrow it may cost eleven. "Divers weights [are] an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance [is] not good." (Proverbs 20:23) This refers to the weights that were used to measure gold and silver for monetary purposes. By altering the weights, merchants could steal a little extra profit. Inflation accomplishes the same thing for our governments.
It puzzles me that modern preachers do not tell their congregations the truth about usury. Usury is the charging of interest on money that is loaned to someone. Our law has redefined usury to mean the act of charging unfair interest, but that is not its biblical meaning. "Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it." (Deuteronomy 23:19-20) Foreigners (I would think that includes corporations.) may be charged interest on the money that they borrow, but it is a violation of the eighth commandment to charge your neighbor, especially if he is poor.
Finally, many Christians engage in the worst theft possible... they rob God. "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings." (Malachi 3:8) If we have the nerve to rob God of His tithes and offerings, how can we expect to have a society with any kind of moral foundation? If God's own people are a bunch of thieves, what voice can we have in the building of an honest and just society and what blessings can we expect God to bestow upon us?
Before The Throne:
Have you been robbing God? Your employer? Your friends? It is time to repent. Christians must be above these things. Pray for forgiveness. Ask God to place someone in our government who will have the courage to give us an honest monetary system. Pray that you will have the courage to tell your friends about the ways that they might be breaking this commandment. Pray for those whom you know are stealing. Pray for all of the people in your church to bring their tithes into the storehouse so that the work of the Lord can be more easily accomplished.
For Further Study:
(v.15) Ex 21:16; Le 6:1-7; 19:11,13,35-37; De 24:7; 25:13-16; Job 20:19-22; Pr 1:13-15; 11:1; Am 3:10; 8:4-6; Mic 6:10,11; 7:3; Zec 5:3,4; Mt 15:19; 19:18; 21:13; Lu 3:13,14; Joh 12:6; 1Co 6:10; Eph 4:28; 1Th 4:6;
The Seventh Commandment
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Just as God values human life more than animal and plant life, because man was made in His image, He also values the marriage contract, because it is made in the likeness of His covenant with Israel. This is made clear throughout scripture where the LORD refers to Israel's idolatry as adultery. However, His marriage to His New Testament church is different. "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD." (Hosea 2:19-20)
Adultery is defined by the scriptures as sexual intercourse between a married man and any woman other than his wife or between any married woman and any man who is not her husband. But, how does the scripture define marriage? Although the Hebrew people and those of most heathen tribes had an elaborate wedding ceremony, the scriptures never demand any kind of wedding ceremony and there are no wedding vows. Adam and Eve were considered married when they came together for sexual intercourse. They became one flesh. Rachel gave Jacob "Bilhah her handmaid to wife" (i.e. to have intercourse with) and Leah gave him her maid Zilpah to wife. (Genesis 30:4,9) Obviously God considered Jacob to be married to Bilhah and Zilpah or He would not have worded the story that way. That kind of polygamy was common in those days, but God overlooked it, because He had not yet given them His law.
Now, if God considers a man and a woman to be married by the act of sexual intercourse, it must be concluded that any kind of sexual promiscuity would be a violation of this commandment. Young unmarried people who go from one sexual partner to another are committing adultery and people who have divorced and remarried have committed adultery. "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (Matthew 5:32)
Divorce, therefore is not a legitimate answer to marital problems, except in the case of infidelity. The institution of marriage was established by God and symbolizes His covenant with His people. Jesus said, "Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:4-6)
Jesus also made this commandment much more difficult to obey by making the violation of it more than just a mere physical act. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28) It seems like our young people today are dressing with the sole intent of causing someone of the opposite sex to lust after them. Everything on television today is also designed to appeal to our sexual desires. Young people would literally have to withdraw from society completely, if they were to have any hope of keeping this commandment.
There can be little doubt of the seriousness of the sin of adultery when we read the Old Testament. "And the man that committeth adultery with [another] man's wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)
God does not take the sin of adultery lightly, and there would be little hope for most of us if He had not provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sins. Jesus told the woman who was about to be stoned for her sins that she was forgiven. "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:11) He would go to the cross and pay the penalty for her sins, your sins, and my sins. We should receive His forgiveness and go and sin no more, but with this caveat:
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)
Before The Throne:
Don't be foolish. Come before the Lord Jesus and confess your sins. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:10) Pray for God to give you the strength in this adulterous society to resist the temptation of adultery, lust, fornication or whatever you want to call it. Ask Him to protect our youth from the wicked attacks that the media is making against their innocence. Pray for better marriage counseling and education in our churches where the divorce rate now exceeds that of the rest of society. Pray for the protection of the marriage institution in a society that wants to redefine it to legitimize the sins of homosexuality and polygamy. Praise Him for sending His Son to make a way for the church to be reconciled to Him and to be faithfully united with Him in true holy matrimony.
For Further Study:
(v.14) Le 18:20; 20:10; 2Sa 11:4,5,27; Pr 2:15-18; 6:24-35; 7:18-27; Jer 5:8,9; 29:22,23; Mal 3:5; Mt 5:27,28; Mr 10:11,12; Ro 7:2,3; Eph 5:3-5; Heb 13:4; Jas 4:4; Re 21:8;
The Sixth Commandment
13 Thou shalt not kill.
One would think that it would not be necessary to devote an entire devotional study to this commandment. It is straight forward and simple: "Thou shalt not commit murder." This was not a new law for Moses and the people of Israel. Remember that Moses was in hiding for forty years because he was wanted for murder. Even the most primitive heathen cultures have laws against the act of murder, and yet some of the greatest "intellects" of our day just don't get it.
Before there had been any rule making, Abel murdered his brother Cain and knew that it was wrong. He tried to cover up his crime with the now infamous question, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Hundreds of years later, God made it very clear to Noah and his family after they came out of the ark. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." (Genesis 9:6) Here is the reason for the commandment. God made man in His own image and, therefore, man's life was given greater value than the life of any other living thing. Scripture has no law against killing a deer, a hog, or a goat, unless it happens to be someone else's property, but any man who commits murder is to be judged and killed by his fellow man.
The atheists and humanists of modern society, however, have determined that they are smarter than God. Their logic says, "If we redefine human life, we will be able to eliminate those people whom we do not want or need." So they said that African Americans were not persons under the law and redefined them as property. How easy it was, or so they thought, to outsmart God. Then they did the same thing with the Jewish people, preborn children, and the elderly who could no longer care for themselves.
Who will be next? Perhaps it will be you, the Christian. You know that you do not have the ability to think logically, as they do, and you cannot be conformed to the image of this world, so you will always be a problem. If you are not like the others, it will be easy to redefine what you are and legally get rid of you. They are so clever!
But let's not get too judgmental! Jesus said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:21-22)
Yes! You and I are just as guilty as anyone else. Each time that we speak angrily about another, we demean that person's life. We contribute to the idea that people are disposable. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:15)
Even our enemies were created in the image of God, and we are commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ to love them. Though they may try to define us as something less than human, though the may persecute us and treat us horribly, and all though they may look for ways to exterminate us, we are commanded to love them.
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." (1 John 3:18-19)
Before The Throne:
Pray for the innocent preborn children who are being slaughtered every day and for the little ones who are caught in the middle of wars and famines. Pray for the helpless and the weak, for they are closest to the heart of God. Ask the Lord to forgive you for every time that you spoke or thought about someone with hatred in your heart. Pray for the leaders of our country to rise above the pressure from special interest groups and stop the killing of the unborn. Pray that God would forgive us for the national sin of abortion on demand. Pray for those mothers who have felt the need or desire to terminate their pregnancies.
For Further Study:
(v.13) Ex 21:14,20,29; Ge 4:8-23; 9:5,6; Le 24:21; Nu 35:16-34; De 5:17; 19:11-13; 2Sa 12:9,10; 2Ki 21:16; 2Ch 24:22; Ps 10:8-11; Pr 1:11,18; Isa 26:21; Jer 26:15; Mt 5:21,22; Ac 28:4; Ro 13:9; Ga 5:21; 1Ti 1:9; Jas 2:11,13; 1Jo 3:12-15;
The Fifth Commandment
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
God lays an awesome responsibility on parents. Children belong to God, but He has entrusted their nurture and care to the parents. They must provide for all of the child's physical needs, which is hard enough, but they are also responsible for his or her spiritual, moral, and psychological well being. In fact, the parents function as their child's god until he/she is old enough to understand, love and obey the true God on his/her own.
The fifth commandment, then, instructs us to render unto the parents the honor that they ought to deserve for carrying out these responsibilities. However, there is no conditional clause in this commandment. Parents should earn the honor of the child by carrying out their responsibilities faithfully and diligently but, should they utterly fail or neglect their duties, they are still to be honored. There is nothing anywhere in all of the scriptures that even implies that we can be released from this obligation.
Having proper honor and respect for our parents also involves showing respect for all of the people whom they honor and love... their parents, their brothers and sisters, etc. In fact, it is not unreasonable to assume that this commandment also requires us to honor the people who run our governments. They also have a God given responsibility for our care, are honored by our parents, and are held accountable for their duties by God.
Honoring our parents unconditionally prepares us to love and honor our God. We cannot judge Him simply because our present circumstances are not what we think they should be, because He sees our lives from a much better and larger perspective than we do. He loves us and knows what is best for us at any given moment. We must learn to trust in that fact and to honor God unconditionally, as He has loved us.
"A son honoureth [his] father, and a servant his master: if then I [be] a father, where [is] mine honour? and if I [be] a master, where [is] my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?" (Malachi 1:6)
Our parents took us to the doctor to get a measles vaccine, which we thought was painful, but we did not stop loving them for it. Likewise, we learn to trust in the fact that unpleasant circumstances are nothing more than God's way of inoculating us against something that could be more devastating and we love Him all the more.
The fifth commandment is the first commandment that carries a promise. Paul rephrased the commandment in order to make it understandable and applicable to the Ephesians. "Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." (Ephesians 6:2-3)
Compare Paul's version to Deuteronomy 5:16. Both promise us prosperity or happiness ("That it may be well with thee...") and a long life. This is not an unnatural expectation. Any man or woman who is at peace with his or her parents, family, government and God is more likely to be prosperous and happy than someone who is not. The prospect of happiness and long life should be sufficient motivation for us to honor our parents. It is God's way of repaying them for the burdens they have carried by being cast into the role of parents.
Before The Throne:
Thank God for the blessings of your parents. Confess to Him all of the wonderful things that they have done for you. If your parents are still alive, pray for their spiritual health, for their physical health, for their happiness and for their prosperity. If you are a parent, ask for God's help to be a good one. Pray that your children will grow up to have good reasons to honor you until the day you die. Begin by praying for your children daily. God will honor your prayers.
For Further Study:
(v.12) ** Honour. Ex 21:15,17; Le 19:3,32; 1Ki 2:19; 2Ki 2:12; Pr 1:8,9; 15:5; 20:20; Pr 23:22-25; 28:24; 30:11,17; Mal 1:6; Mt 15:4-6; Lu 18:20; Eph 5:21; 6:1-3; Col 3:20; ** that thy. De 4:26,40; 25:15; 32:47; Pr 3:16;
The Fourth Commandment
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: 11 For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Israel was told to remember the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath was established on the seventh day of creation when God ceased from His work. That neither implies that God was tired and needed a rest nor that He stopped working altogether. "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding." (Isaiah 40:28)
Jesus also said to the Pharisees, "My Father has been working until now, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17 ISV)
However, God had finished the work of creation and set aside the seventh day to celebrate that accomplishment. He blessed the seventh day and set it aside to be used as a day of worship.
Until Exodus 16:23, however, there had been no mention in the scriptures of the Sabbath day. When God caused the manna to fall from heaven, He used the occasion to teach Israel to observe the Sabbath. Now, He was giving them a commandment to remember it and to hallow it.
This commandment does not require man to work six days a week but rather limits man's activities to six days. The seventh day belongs to the LORD and He wants that day used for worship, prayer, and the study of His word. No physical labor is to be performed on that day, and every man is responsible for enforcing that rule in his own household. Strangers and foreigners living within the camp were also expected to obey this rule. Later, the Jews invented many ways to get around this commandment saying, for example, that it was acceptable for a servant to work on the Sabbath as long as his master did not require it of him.
The wording of this passage of scripture strongly supports the literal six day interpretation of Genesis 1, for it is God Himself who makes the six day rule based on the time of creation.
Adam Clarke's Commentary on these verses says, "Because this commandment has not been particularly mentioned in the New Testament as a moral precept binding on all, therefore some have presumptuously inferred that there is no Sabbath under the Christian dispensation. The truth is, the Sabbath is considered as a type: all types are of full force till the thing signified by them takes place; but the thing signified by the Sabbath is that rest in glory which remains for the people of God, therefore the moral obligation of the Sabbath must continue till time be swallowed up in eternity."
Indeed, Hebrews 4:9-11 tells us, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4:9-11)
The Sabbath serves as a time when we can draw closer to God and to our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a day when we can set aside our busy schedules and focus on Him. The Sabbath helps us to get back on track for the coming week, to rejuvenate our desire to serve God, and to renew our awareness of His constant presence in our lives. Without Sabbath observance, the temptations of the flesh and the pressures of the world around us would quickly influence us to fall away from our faith.
Christian people need the Sabbath more than ever so that we can continue working to enter into the final rest, which God has prepared for us.
Before The Throne:
For what activities have you been using the Sabbath day? ...Golf? ...Picnics? ...Football games? We are all guilty of misusing God's hallowed day. Begin by confessing your failure to the Lord and receive His forgiveness. Pray that He will help you to resist the temptation to use the Sabbath for your own pleasure. It is true that the Sabbath was made for man, but that means it was made for your spiritual benefit and growth, which is the most important thing that you need. Ask God to guide you in planning a weekly Sabbath that is focused entirely on Him. Pray that you will be able to lead your household to keep the Sabbath as God intended it to be kept. Thank Him for setting that day aside to spend more time with you.
For Further Study:
(v.8 ) Ex 16:23-30; 31:13,14; Ge 2:3; Le 19:3; 23:3; Isa 56:4-6;
(v.9) Ex 23:12; Lu 13:14;
(v.10) ** the seventh. Ex 31:13; 34:21; ** thou shalt. Ex 16:27,28; Nu 15:32-36; Lu 23:56; ** thy manservant. De 5:14,15; ** thy stranger. Ex 23:9-12; De 16:11,12; 24:14-22; Ne 10:31; 13:15-21;
(v.11) Ex 31:17; Ge 2:2,3; Ps 95:4-7; Mr 2:27,28; Ac 20:7;
The Third Commandment
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Although there is no way to visually represent the image of God, He has depicted Himself to us by many names, which are found in the Bible. The most common of them are Yahweh, the eternal and self-existing one, and Elohim, the ruler and judge. Each of God's names tell us something about Him and should invoke in us the proper feeling of awe, love, and respect that is due to Him. The way in which we use God's name will tell how we respect Him and will determine how others think of Him. Therefore, we must be careful to use His name reverently.
In verse 7, the word "take" is from the Hebrew word nasah and means "to lift up, advance, raise, carry, swear, or wear." It covers every possible way that we might use the name of God.
The word "vain" (Hebrew, shav) means "desolating, evil (as destructive), uselessness, vanity, falsely, emptiness of speech, lying."
Thus the third commandment actually has two distinct meanings, which are detailed in the following: "And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD." (Leviticus 19:12)
Swearing falsely on God's name shows absolutely no respect for Him. It makes the statement that we neither love Him nor fear Him and that His honor is worth less than our own selfish desires. Jesus expanded this part of the commandment in Matthew 5:33-37 to say that we should not swear at all. As Christian people who wear the name of God, every word we speak should be truth or we are taking His name in vain. Therefore, we should not take oaths. Instead, our word should have the reputation of being so reliable and true that we never need to swear an oath.
Furthermore, anyone who wears the title of "Christian" has an obligation to live his entire life in a way that will bring honor and glory to God. Anything less profanes the name of Christ and violates the third commandment.
There are other subtle ways in which we all profane the name of God. When we pray meaningless, mechanical prayers in His name, we use it in vain. So many Christians are used to invoking His name as a means of expression. "Oh, my God!" is just one common but dangerous example. Some people repeat the name of Jesus over and over in their conversations almost as though they are trying to demonstrate how holy the are.
Gods name is holy and must be used with great care and respect. The commandment says that He will not hold anyone guiltless who takes His name in vain. In other words, there is no acceptable excuse for taking His name in vain, and the offender can be certain that he will be punished.
We can praise the Lord that there is no condemnation to those of us who love Him and have stumbled at this commandment. Nevertheless, it is our love for Him that should motivate us to guard the honor of His name more carefully.
Before The Throne:
Confess to God the many times that you have used His name in vain by saying empty mechanical prayers, by spontaneous exclamations, or by calling yourself a Christian and not acting in a way that honors Him. Pray that He would make you more aware of His constant presence and the reverent nature of His name. Ask Him to help you be a person who brings honor to His name. Pray that He would use you and everything you do to glorify His name in all the earth. Ask Him to show you what you can do today to glorify Him in the eyes of someone who has never known Him.
For Further Study:
(v.7) ** take. Le 19:12; 24:11-16; De 5:11; Ps 50:14-16; Pr 30:9; Jer 4:2; Mt 5:33-37; 23:16-22; 26:63,64; 2Co 1:23; Heb 6:16,17; Jas 5:12; ** guiltless. Jos 2:12,17; 9:20; 2Sa 21:1,2; 1Ki 2:9;