#2 – Summing up the Ten Commandments

“Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Exodus 20: 18-19.

No kidding. I would be afraid too. God told Moses that the people weren’t even allowed to touch the base of the mountain or they would be put to death. The people told Moses that he would have to tell them everything God was telling Moses. They wanted him to be the go between or the mediator. I think this is what God wanted.  Could you imagine everyone up on the mountain, listening to God? There would be questions, people wanting to eat or drink, people needing to use the facilities, interruptions galore. I could just see the mayhem now. There is at least one or two people who just can’t sit still.

God came down to the top of the mountain in fire and smoke and clouds. That would be pretty intimidating. (Also, answers my question about is heaven really up there? The Bible definitely says God came down to the top of the mountain.) I also would wonder about God’s voice. What did it sound like? Moses was lucky enough to hear it. He also knew the rules and knew what God expected from him. A few other people got to go up the mountain but they were only at God’s invitation. It was all respected.

However, the people definitely did tell Moses to be their mediator. They weren’t going to take any chances. God said that no one could even touch the base of the mountain or they would be put to death by stoning or arrows. I can’t imagine either one of those being a fast or easy death. Not unless someone had a really good arm and could make the first blow or arrow the fatal one. Moses was willing and he became their mediator. The ten commandments were the first set of laws for the Israelites.

The ten commandments are still relevant to everyone today. In my previous blog, I said that we are all sinful and that keeping the ten commandments is difficult. Probably next to impossible. It isn’t just keeping the commandment. It is everything leading up to the commandment. All your thoughts and actions before the final act of disobeying the commandment.

We don’t have Moses today to be our mediator but we have someone that is the best mediator of all time. Jesus. We are so lucky to have Jesus on our side. He was on earth in human form. He knew exactly what it was like for us. He walked with us, beside us. Talked to us. Had all the same things happen to him physically (and more) that we are dealing with. It doesn’t mean that we are home free. We can’t just keep sinning and think, oh well. It’s okay. I’ve got Jesus on my side. It’s just too hard to keep obeying these commandments and doing the right thing. I’ll just do what I can and then at the end, beg for forgiveness and Jesus will give me a free pass.

I don’t think that is how it is going to work. I think at the end of your life, you will be held accountable for everything you did. I know at the end of my life, I will be asking for forgiveness. I will probably ask God that He spare all the people I love. A lot of people believe that at the end times, Christians will be taken up to heaven. I will be that person who tells God, I can’t go. I need to stay behind and make sure everyone I love is saved. Well, this is for another topic.

The ten commandments apply very much today. We all need to look them over and think about them with deep honesty. With our whole heart. We need to say, oh my! These commandments are difficult but I will honestly try. When I mess up, I need to ask for forgiveness. We are all so lucky that we have Jesus looking out for us. There is peace in that.

Summing up the Ten Commandments

I thought I might be able to sum up the Ten Commandments in one post. That is not going to happen. It might take a couple of posts to sum up the ten commandments.

I was surprised to see how many people got the order of the ten commandments wrong. I was also shocked to see how many people got the actual commandment wrong. The fifth commandment is NOT Thou shall not commit murder.

The ten commandments were written a long time ago in a time that was different from today. No television, reporters, radio, internet, computers and fancy electronics. No google either. They were written for the Jewish people while they were out wandering in the desert. They rested before Mount Sinai and Moses went up to listen to God and record the commandments. Those commandments still apply to everyone today. They are just as relevant, just as applicable to each and everyone of us.

I found out that the ten commandments are known as the Decalogue, meaning ten words. Although the commandments each are more than one word. It also goes with “And God spoke all these words”, Exodus 20:1. I also saw that the first four commandments govern our relationship to God, while the last six concern our relationships with one another.

We all know that as humans, we need rules, laws and/or help to be accountable to each other. Unfortunately, too many people want to be free to do what they want. People want a quick fix to make themselves happy. Those who do not recognize a higher or superior being think that we are here by coincidence. Just make the best of your life and do what makes you happy. Those people are never happy and are always looking for something better, the next quick fix.

When we recognize that there is a God, things fall into place much more easily and our understanding of how we need to let God lead us, let Him govern our lives and give our love to Him, makes life better. We are then content and not always struggling to find that next fix. As a Christian, our fix is God and Jesus. That is why we need the ten commandments. That is why we need to try and follow them.

I saw that, as humans, we will never be able to obey the ten commandments completely. We will fail. As soon as you think you have one commandment down pat, another one comes up and rears its head. Then you think, wow, I didn’t think this one would come and bite me. We need to remember that we can always ask Jesus to forgive us. That is why Jesus died on the cross for us. He took all of our sins to the cross and died for us. I keep thinking, He must really love us to have done that for us. Yes, He does. God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit want to be in a loving relationship with each and every one of us. I’m not sure how they can keep all of us straight but they do.

Once you realize that, as a human being, we are not in control. We have someone who loves us beyond all reason, beyond anything we could know, and He will do right by us. As long as you can say, I love you too, Jesus. I give my life to you, you are in the best hands possible. Following the ten commandments is difficult, but I would rather follow the ten commandments than anything else.

The Tenth Commandment

The tenth commandment. The entire commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17.

This is the only commandment that legislates thought. All the others legislate action. To covet is much more than just wanting something. The Hebrew verb, lachmod, means to want to the point of seeking to take away and own something that belongs to another person. That is just wrong.

There is nothing wrong with seeing something that someone else has and think to yourself, “Gee. I would like something like that too, so I am going to put money to the side and buy one for myself.” The problem happens when a person sees what another person has and wanting that item for yourself. When that happens, then how do you actually get that item? Steal it? Kill for it? Lie for it? You can see how covet means much more.

I think of coveting similar to lusting. A person is so filled with desire to own what another person has that they become obsessed with that item. All you can do is think about it. It fills your dreams and your day time thoughts. Lusting is not just limited to another person’s spouse. People have lusted or coveted after a car, artwork, jewelry, house, and the list does go on. People have murdered to possess someone else’s “goods”.

Whatever belongs to another person must be regarded as sacrosanct. This coveting thing started with Eve. Satan tempted her by telling her about the forbidden fruit. If she would eat it, she would be like God. She was not intended to have the fruit but she was envious and coveted the fruit.

Not all our desires are bad. Our desire to do something useful motivates us to work. Our desire for friendship moves us to become part of a community. Our desire for food motivates us to eat. Our desire for intimacy, including sexual intimacy, moves us to seek marriage. The deepest of all our desires needs to be to know God. To let God and Jesus into our hearts. Every person should have this desire.

Neighbor in this commandment goes beyond who lives in your neighborhood. It does mean anyone, anywhere. Even if it is a celebrity or someone you see in passing. When the commandments were written, people did not travel far. They only knew the people in their village. Today, our neighbors have reached much further with the internet and by all the social media we are able to tap into.

We need to be content with what we have. Too many of us start to wish “if only,”. Problem with if only’s is that there is always another one that follows. The if only’s spiral out of control. A person may think, but I want the best it can be. It was the best it could be in the beginning. You can drive yourself crazy thinking it could be better. Being content does not mean make do. It means be content with what you have. Strive towards getting to know Jesus better. He is everything you really need.

 

The Ninth Commandment

The ninth commandment is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16.

This commandment is far  broader than just dealing with the justice system. At the time, Hebrew laws were set up to treat people fairly. Apparently, the laws did not rely on just one witness. The judges tried to get two or three witnesses. However, if any one was caught not telling the truth, the punishment against the person who bore false witness was pretty strict. Some times it even led to death to the person who lied. This caught everyone’s attention and made them think twice about not being honest.

This commandment also deals with being honest. Do not lie. When you lie about someone, you are not just harming that person but you are disrespecting God. How many people are completely truthful today? We are surrounded by so many dishonest statements. How many people believe all the advertisements they see? The news media has stretched the truth so far that it snaps. What about politicians and lawyers? We have become a society of stretching the truth, as we like to think it. What can it hurt, we think.

It does hurt. Reputations of people have been destroyed within minutes. Everyone likes to hear the bad, not the good. Everyone likes to gossip. Gossiping has become the norm today. And as soon as a hurtful lie has been said about a person, it stays with them no matter how wrong it was. People remember the bad, not the good. Gaining back your good reputation is difficult.

Not only is the gossiper breaking the ninth commandment but the people who listen to the gossip are also breaking the commandment. It is so tempting to hear the juicy bad stuff. But it is wrong. I have fallen victim to listening. I try hard to say, I don’t want to hear this and I think it is wrong that you are spreading such news. The problem with saying this is that some times the gossiper then turns on you. Not an easy situation.

How about little white lies where the truth would actually hurt the person more than if you lied? For example, your friend just had her hair cut and she is absolutely thrilled with the style. You don’t really like it. What would be best? Tell her you are glad she really loves it? Tell her it looks fabulous? I think a small white lie is fine. Besides, even though it isn’t something you absolutely love, your friend does and you should not deflate her happiness. It’s just your opinion and it’s just hair. It’ll grow again.

We need to be more aware of how much we are not telling the truth. Once you start being dishonest, how easy is it to remember all the lies? The lies build one on top of the other until the truth is so far gone, you can’t even remember what the truth was. You are disrespecting God by being dishonest.

The Eighth Commandment

Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.” The eighth Commandment.

This one is pretty straight forward, right? Do not take anything from anyone if it isn’t yours. One author says that if you follow this commandment, then you are pretty much obeying all of the commandments. Murder is stealing a person’s life. You steal another person’s spouse when you commit adultery. When you are envious of another person’s possessions, it could lead to stealing the possession. If you don’t tell the truth, you are stealing justice from another.

We have all been given the right to possess property. No one has the right to steal anything that belongs to that person. The reasoning for this is that God has given us these material items in order to be good stewards for Him. Whatever we have, we are to happily and willingly give to others, especially the poor. The Bible talks about tithing 10% of what we have to God. Stealing from what God has given us, is basically stealing from God.

What about when someone steals something that isn’t material? Perhaps like a person’s good name or dignity, or an idea or song. That is stealing. God has given us all gifts or talents which are to be used for Him. God gave me the gift of writing. I know I don’t always use my writing for His glory but, dear Lord, how I try.

It is interesting that when Christ was crucified, He was placed in between two thieves. The first thief to be saved was the one who said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The thief knew. Jesus took all our sins upon himself and died for us. He died for thieves, so that every thief who trusts in Him will be saved. Is there any way we can possibly thank Jesus for this?

The Seventh Commandment

The seventh commandment is “You shall not commit adultery”. The first author I read, had it titled “Do not commit adultery”. The second author titled the seventh commandment as “The Joy of Sex”. Well, that one caught my attention.

I wonder if my adult children are reading my blogs. If they have, I wonder how many times they have groaned and hit their heads against a wall. My oldest daughter told me I share more than what she would share online. I forgot to ask where exactly she was talking about, but I didn’t. So I might as well just tackle this commandment the way I have everything else.

I have always wondered why God made our bodies the way He did. Why are we so sensitive in some areas and not in others? Did He make a mistake or was this His intention? All I know is that it has taken me until my current husband to realize the joy of sex in a truly loving relationship. There is nothing more beautiful when two people truly love each other to realize the full joy of having two bodies as one. This is in the Bible, dear one.

The Bible celebrates the sexual act of love. It has to be exclusively within marriage and it is a gift from God. Just read all passages in the Bible celebrating love. There are unashamedly erotic passages within the Bible. However, always between a husband and a wife. Sex is the superglue between a husband and a wife. It is a force for good. It has even been said that there is a close connection between our sexuality and our spirituality.

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine… Draw me after you; let us run! The king has brought me into his chambers.” Song of Solomon 1:2 & 4.

While having sex before marriage is wrong, marital infidelity is the worst sin. Even though you may think that as long as one doesn’t actually do it within their marriage, it’s okay. No it isn’t. Thinking about it, leads to looking, leads to flirting, leads to talking, leads to bam! It is just wrong. All of this involves whispers, lies, secrets, unknown futures, and hurts. If someone has no problem in deceiving their mate, then what else would that person not do? How could the wronged person trust their partner again? I just keep thinking about that. I keep thinking what else would that person hide from me?

As long as a husband and wife share romantic evenings, movies and sensual pleasures between each other, that is all within the superglue force in their marriage. Sorry – no threesomes or anyone or anything else. When a husband and wife love each other, having sex rejuvenates, restores and superglues the bond between them.

“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-4.

There you have it. I wonder how many phone calls I will get from my children. At least, I know they have read my blog. I should be happy about that.

The Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

This is the fourth commandment in its entirety. As I am typing this verse, I am wondering, what about the wife? Or does the you imply both man and woman? Husband and wife? Mother and father? That has to be the answer since the fifth commandment is to honor your father and mother. I better move on from this question.

It has been said that this commandment is the longest and has three parts to it. Verse 8 tells us what to do, then verses 9-10 specifies how we are to do it and verse 11 explains the why.

God has explained that we are to work or labor for six days of the week but on the seventh, we are to rest, give God glory and show mercy. Apparently, we were made to work or labor. We are to work for God’s benefit. Any task that we undertake, should be done with happiness and mercy. Every person needs to be working, whether you are employed, unemployed, a student, an at home caregiver, retired or disabled. Each one of us is meant to be able to work at something.

I like those affluent people who think they need to work seven days a week. Some have said it isn’t efficient to believe in God because it takes away from their business. Perhaps they would have a better business if they took one day a week off and observed a day of rest, gave honor to God and spent time with families. Or perhaps doing community work. I just think they are being greedy in wanting more.

Now for those people who provide emergency services, they are needed on Sundays. They are showing mercy to others by attending to those injured or those who need help. These people then do need to take another day off for rest and honoring God.

However, Christians today are just so busy and rush from place to place, job to job, one commitment to another. People are so wrapped up in themselves that they tend to forget others. The day of rest is to honor God, show mercy and spend time with family and loved ones. The biggest issue, these days, is time. Everyone has so little time. If someone infringes on that time, then there is a feeling of desperation. Not being able to finish everything. Do Christians not see that by giving themselves one day off to rest and honor God, this will give them a fresh start to the rest of the week? Just my thoughts.

 

 

The Third Commandment

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7.

On the surface, this commandment looks pretty simple. Don’t swear using God or Jesus as a swear word. Really. There are so many other swear words which are so much better. Unfortunately, today’s society seems to keep using their names in vain. I also every once in a while, forget myself and use it. Some authors have suggested that any one who uses their names in vain, deep down inside know that there is a God.  That would include intellectual atheists/agnostics, activists, seeker-agnostic, anti-theist, non-theist, and ritual atheist/agnostic. I had to look up the list of terms that are now used for non believers. Then, all these people who have turned their backs on God, are knowingly acknowledging that there is a God.

It doesn’t end here though. Taking God’s name in vain applies to Christians. So many times, Christians will say, “Praise the Lord”. Unless that person is using it with their heart and truly thinking of praising the Lord, this is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Any person who attends church, sings songs, sits through a sermon without totally involving their head and their heart in the service, is taking the Lord’s name in vain. Actions without conscious effort and thought and involving the whole heart, is blasphemous.

Perhaps that is why I hesitate finding a church home. I have visited too many churches and not continued because of the lip service I see. There have only been two or three churches that have truly made an effort to welcome newcomers. As I stand and look at the congregation, many people are distracted by their children, their phones, their friends, etc. They are not paying attention and giving full heart to the service. It has become more a thing for people to be seen going to church. Then as these people leave church, they are in a rush to get to their next destination and finish all their tasks of the day (which is breaking the fourth commandment).

People taking actions in the name of the Lord is also breaking this commandment. Terrorists who think they are promoting their cause by killing others in the name of God, are breaking this commandment. Any one who says they are fulfilling a prophecy and taking action on it is a false prophet. Anyone who does not commit an action without truly praying about it and having their heart filled with love, is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

These are all actions I already knew were wrong. Readings by various learned theologians have shown that I was on the right track. Now I know how to categorize these actions. Jesus has said that anyone who comes to heaven declaring His name, could be turned away and sent to hell as He will know who truly has the Lord Jesus in his heart. Bottom line is don’t use the Lord’s name in vain.

The Second Commandment – You shall have no other Gods

The second commandment in the long form is “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 4-6

So what did the people do at the base of the mountain while they were waiting for Moses? They were bored with the waiting so Aaron took their jewelry and made a calf out of gold. Really? I guess they didn’t know about this commandment because when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets, he threw them down in frustration at these people. I don’t blame him. He is up on some mountain with God, who he can’t really look at. We don’t know how long he is up there and he is without food, water and shelter. I would be ticked too if I came down after listening to God and find these people partying it up with a golden calf.

As I am reading up on the ten commandments, I realize that we cannot just take the commandments at face value. Like this one. Do people think that just because they don’t have some idol or make some idol that they are free and clear? I don’t think so. There is more to this commandment (and all the others) that meet our eyes.

Every time I go to a church, I wonder about the cross that is always at the front of the church. What about all the crosses that are made into jewelry? I, myself, was given a beautiful cross on a necklace and I wear this necklace a lot. But I wonder how much emphasis we are placing on the cross. We all know Jesus died on the cross for us. For me, the cross is a reminder of Jesus being punished and put to death in the most horrific way. To be crucified by the Romans was to be a deterrent to everyone. If you commit a crime, or step out of line, this is how you will pay. I know that if people look at a cross and remember what happened with it, then it is a good reminder. However, when people seem to pray before and kiss the cross, is this crossing the line?

I also wonder about Catholics and their reverence for Mary. There are so many pictures, sculptures, images, etc. of Mary that it is all overwhelming. I know she is a holy woman and what she went through with Jesus is mind boggling. But she was a human woman who obediently served God. I need to ask the Catholics, isn’t Jesus more important than Mary? It feels, to me in my opinion, that Mary is placed over Jesus. That is just wrong. All the rosary beads, which I don’t understand, the figures of the Virgin Mary with pictures, feel like she is being worshipped.

Years ago I was in Rome and was able to tour St. Peter’s Basilica. My ex husband embarrassed me with how he, as a Catholic but not a practicing one, touched everything that was made of gold and cried over all of it. I walked through St. Peter’s thinking, what would Jesus think about all of this? I felt so uncomfortable in this church. The opulence was sickening to me. How many people lived in poverty, while the church was being built and were still expected to tithe to the church to make this church happen? How many people today make do without to tithe to this structure?

Worshipping something other than God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not just limited to what I have talked about but it also means what about career worshipping, money, sports figures, move actors, singers, material items that your neighbor has and you want. The list could go on.

It isn’t just the face value of the actual commandment, you shall have no other gods before me, it is everything leading up to it as well. We are human with desires, wants, needs and we sin. A lot. It kind of has one think that we can’t measure up. You are wrong. That is why God sent Jesus to us. Jesus died for all our sins. His death was enough. It doesn’t mean that we can go on living recklessly without thought. We still need to try and live with love in our hearts for everyone. But we need to place God in our hearts and love Him with everything we have.

Purgatory?

I am now married to a Catholic man. However, he does not attend a Catholic church. His mother and sisters do regularly attend a Catholic church.

I have been confused by the term purgatory and everything that surrounds it. Also, a friend of mine, who was once a Catholic, said to me that the belief in purgatory means that Catholics do not believe that Jesus’ death was good enough.

I looked up the term purgatory. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. (from gotquestions.org).

This made me stop and take a step back. All along I thought that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all our sins. I had to research this. I was right. Jesus did pay the penalty for ALL our sins. So are the Catholics saying that we still have to suffer for our sins and that Jesus’ suffering was not enough? How can this be?

Apparently, the Catholics look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:15 for the evidence of purgatory. It is argued that the Catholics have misinterpreted the passage to be the believer passing through flames when it should be the believer’s works passing through flames. The argument is also that Catholics misunderstand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient for all of us.

I had to look up the history of the Catholic church. Now I am even more confused. The Catholic church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The church considers its bishops to be the successors of Jesus’ apostles. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. The Bishop of Rome was appointed by Jesus and he was the sole successor to Saint Peter. This Bishop ministered to the people in Rome. I know Jesus told Saint Peter that he was building His church on a rock.

Well, doesn’t this make one think? The Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christians. The Catholics fail to see that when Jesus died, that was good enough. Is this something that the Catholics failed to see later in time? Did they misunderstand what was said in 1 Corinthians?

It just makes me see how we humans can mess things up. I know the disciples messed up things a lot. They were also filled with doubt even though they were with Jesus. Perhaps the Catholics thought that the people would just party it up if they thought Jesus had paid for their sins. I mean, what would keep them living like good Christians and obeying the church if at the end, they would be saved? Perhaps to keep the people in line, the Bishops decided to tell them all about purgatory. Wouldn’t purgatory scare them into submission? And this is how I can wrap my head around all of this.

Now I have a better understanding of purgatory and the beginning history of the Roman Catholic church. I am not a college graduate. I did not have the privilege of attending college although I am applying now, with my husband’s support and encouragement. I am curious by nature. I also wonder about the Catholics veneration(?) of the Virgin Mary but that is for another blog.