Exodus 20:1-26

Daybreak for Students

Exodus 20:1-26

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK
Exodus 20
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. — Exodus 20:1-2

A growing relationship with a friend is a treasure! When Patty came to work at our office, I first noticed her beautiful smile and unpretentious charm. As one pleasant moment together built upon another, our friendship grew. We began to share good books and great talks. We split desserts and browsed garden centers. We planted tulip bulbs together and prayed together. We encouraged each other, supported each other, and cheered each other on. When illness struck, we hoped together and coped together in prayer. As I learned to know Patty better, I loved her more. 

If a growing connection with a special friend is something to be treasured, think how much more precious is a growing relationship with God. That was the case in today’s text — God was drawing Israel into a closer relationship with Himself. God had first made a personal covenant with Abraham, and then continued that covenant through the patriarchs. The family group expanded and became a nation — the people that God had delivered from bondage in Egypt. 

In today’s text, God was not only revealing more of Himself, but for the first time, He was revealing His laws to Israel. The people’s relationship with Him was growing as He taught them more about how to serve Him. How privileged they must have felt! Here was Almighty God, in their presence, with direct instructions for them. What an awesome time this event on Mount Sinai was, as God displayed His power and revealed more of Himself!

Why did God unveil His laws? It was so that His people might know Him better. With the revelation of God came the possibilities of blessings never before attainable. A closer communion and better fellowship with God was possible if the people would obey the laws He set before them. A deeper understanding of God always brings more exacting requirements, but a better knowledge of God also brings a more precious fellowship with Him.

As we examine how God has unveiled His plan through the ages, allowing successive generations to become more intimately acquainted with Him, we find a concept that applies to us individually. It is simply this: as we walk with God, we should be growing in Him; we should be discovering more about our Savior. God will reveal more and more of Himself to us in our personal lives as we obey in the smallest details and continually seek Him. 

If we do these things, there will be better things ahead in our relationship with our Redeemer!

BACKGROUND

The Children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai, where God established a covenant with them and, with His own finger, wrote His commandments upon tablets of stone. The covenant that was entered into followed a form of treaty well known in the ancient Middle East that established a relationship between a ruler or king and a nation. However, this covenant would be like no other, for instead of an agreement between a man and a nation, this covenant would establish a relationship between Almighty God and His people.

The Ten Commandments and the remainder of the Law that God gave became a guide for Israel whereby they would be able to remain in His favor and obtain His blessing for generations to come. This Law was unique in that, while codes of law in other countries depended on the power of men, it relied on the power and authority of God. 

Summarized, the commandments are:

  1. Have no other gods (verse 3). The words before me could be translated “in addition to me.” The Lord did not want the Israelites to incorporate heathen deities into their worship. God is the one true God, and the only One to worship.
  2. Make no graven image (verses 4-6). God did not want His people to make or bow down to idols.
  3. Do not take God’s Name in vain (verse 7). The Lord’s Name is to be reverenced and not used casually or as profanity. 
  4. Keep the Sabbath holy (verses 8-11). God wanted His people to set aside one day a week to rest from their labors and worship Him. 
  5. Honor your parents (verse 12). Obedience and respect for parents was instructed. This was the first commandment with a promise attached.
  6. Do not kill (verse 13). When Jesus referred to this commandment, He said, “Thou shalt do no murder” (Matthew 19:18). God’s further instructions to the Israelites did include allowance for warfare and punishment. 
  7. Do not commit adultery (verse 14). God wanted His people to be morally pure.
  8. Do not steal (verse 15). The Lord’s people were not to take what did not belong to them.
  9. Do not bear false witness (verse 16). God’s people were to speak the truth. 
  10. Do not covet (verse 17). This commandment addressed the attitude in the heart. The people of God were not to desire what belonged to someone else.

The Ten Commandments are often called the Decalogue, from the Greek word that means “ten words.” Though more than three thousand years old, these laws are still relevant today. Their moral value cannot change, because they originated from God and His eternal character. 

AMPLIFIED OUTLINE

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The revelation of the Law to Israel
      B.   The commandments (20:1-26)
            1.   The preamble (20:1-2)
            2.   The Decalogue (20:3-17)
            3.   The fear of the people (20:18-21)
            4.   The warning against idolatry (20:22-26)

A CLOSER LOOK

  1. What did Moses say was God’s purpose in giving the people His Law?

  2. What is the focus of the first four commandments, and what can we discern about God’s character in them?

  3. What are some of the blessings that will come to us if we obey God’s laws?

CONCLUSION

The Israelites had the written Law of God before them with His promised blessing if they would obey it. We have God’s complete and inspired written Word with His promised blessing if we will endeavor to know what He requires and do it.