“Laws of Love”
II.) Vs. 1-3 Who you are to love
III.) Vs. 4-6 How you are to love
IV.) Vs. 7 The conversation of love
V.) Vs. 8-11 A day set-aside for love
We last saw Israel preparing to hear from the Lord. If you think of this as a wedding ceremony; we have gone through the first part of the ceremony where people are sat down and music has played. The groom has been waiting for us (the bride) and we have finally arrived to where he is. Having done many weddings over the years the next part is where you welcome the people and let the bride and groom know that what you are about to say is very important. All of that has taken place now comes the call to commitment and the vows. You know the part, “Will you promise to love honor and cherish until death do you part?” God says His part in verse 2 and asks us to respond in verses 3-11. Then in verses 12-17 we demonstrate that we love God by the way we love each other.
The ten commandments or Decalogue literally means the “ten words”. These “ten words” form an introductory summary of all the law, which Moses will cover in the rest of Exodus and Leviticus and Jesus will sum up in two Matt. 22:37-40 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Several things jump out right away:
- They are a treaty: Archeologists have found that these “ten word” follow a style of writing which was consistent with a treaty that a King would make with his subjects. To Israel this would have looked like what a Great King would do in making a treaty with them. First he would state his identity (verse 2) outlining what he has done promising to protect them in the future. Next he would demand absolute loyalty (verses 3-5). Then there would be a list of obligations, (verses 6-11).
- They are personal: The word “you” which appears 15 times is singular not plural. The mood of the word is an exhortation. In other words, each person is urged to enter into this covenant personally. You could well put your own name instead of the you! “Dale, shall have no other gods before Me!”
- They are not new: You can find these same ten word, (four of which relate to how we worship and six on how we relate to our fellow man), implied in some form in the book of Genesis. For instance, in Genesis 35:2 Jacob tells his household to “Put away the foreign gods that are among you.” These words were written on hearts before they were placed on stone! Further more we find them written in other cultures as well accept without belief in the true God. It seems that these were if you will a code of ethics in many cultures to regulate social relationships. The difference with these “ten words” is two fold:
- Everything stems from what God has done for them, (Vs. 2).
- Everything socially is based upon Israel’s relationship with God. Or how we relate to others depends upon how we relate to God. If we love God and obey Him then we will also so love our neighbors.
- They are God’s standard for Israel’s culture: A nation is judged by its culture, clearly God was giving Israel a national character that would reflect His nature. A nature that was at it’s very core “Holy”, what we would today call moral. So then the law or “ten words” was to establish a new culture by which a world would be reached. Some one has well said that these “ten words” outline Israel’s “WORSHIP, WORK, and WALK”. If applied as a nation they would be a light to the gentiles.
II.) Vs. 1-3 Who you are to love
Vs. 1 “And God spoke all these words.” These are not the “ten suggestions, or the ten opinions” they are God’s words His commandments. With that said the first four deal directly with WHO and HOW we are to worship. The first and most important law is to love God, as Jesus would put it “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”. If you were to ask most Christians what our highest priority is most would be able to come back with the right answer, but few would be able to tell you just how to do so. How is our love towards God to be expressed? Yet before God instructs us on how to love Him, He reminds us of who initiated the love.
Vs. 2 The words “I am the Lord your God”, are repeated five times in this section. In verse 2 and then repeated five times God wants Israel to know that what He wants them to do is always based upon:
- Who He is.
- What He has done for them.
God sets Himself apart from every other so-called god and they can be assured of that by the way He has acted on their behalf. God alone can alter the coarse of history, He alone controls history. Further more God did so because of His love for them. God has singled you out to be the object of His love! Before He ever makes one commandment He reaffirms His love for them. They are just asked to respond to His love by loving Him alone. Because He has loved you alone.
Vs. 3 Now we come to the first “law of love” which begins to answer the above question of “How is our love towards God to be expressed?”
1.) EXCLUSIVELY: The relationship that we have to God is to expressed in a manor that excludes us worshiping any other thing. There are very few people who don’t want any thing to do with God. Most of them don’t want to reject God altogether instead they just want to add Him to the other things they already worship. So what’s the big deal about worshiping other things along with God? Well think of this in terms like a marriage relationship. Suppose your spouse came up to you and said, “Honey you know that I love you, but I want to love others as well is that Ok with you?” “I mean I will love you more then them but I still want to love them as well.” God wants an exclusive relationship with you and no small love towards something else is satisfactory. Is this because God is just insecure? No it’s is for our benefit that the relationship remains exclusive. Look at the how He words this, “You shall have no other gods (not god) before me.” Do you see that? God forbids the worship not of another god but other gods. God knows that we can not find a single replacement for Him instead we will substitute many things for what we really need, Him. The truth of the matter is that nothing else we worship will ever fully meet our needs. Further more if we try to worship other things along with God we will soon find ourselves not trusting the true God in some area thus we will be insecure. The exclusive relationship is for our benefit not His!
Now the word “gods” is really a name we use it to refer to a title. A person’s gods are that which are the master passions that governs their life. They are that which a person worships and serves. Most of the time they are worshiped for the benefits, which they produce. They are worshiped as a means to an end. They are worshiped for what they can do for me rather then who they are. Notice the words, “before Me”, it literally means “to my face or in opposition to Me”. The word before is even translated “hostility towards”. God says that to have other gods and to just add Him to those is an act of war against Him.
III.) Vs. 4-6 How you are to love
Vs. 4 Now we come to the second way we are to express our love towards God.
- Singularly: God not only wants us to love Him exclusively but singularly based upon His nature. Idols are used as a substitute for God and their worship was tied closely with images especially those that are idealized.
This commandment does not forbid making an image of something for artistic purposes; it forbids the making of an image as an aid to worship. There is no physical representation that we can make in nature that can fully represent the true and living God. Because He is Spirit and must be worshiped in Spirit and in truth. While a person may start out making an image that represents the Lord soon they will worship instead of the Lord! The idol begins to be a “rabbits foot”. We see this in the bronze serpent on the pole that Moses made, as well as the ark of the covenant as the Israelites began to worship both.
The Catholic Church has left this commandment out so that they can continue their image worship, but so they can continue to have ten they divided the tenth into two. Remember this is a prohibition against making an object the source of worship. It is interesting to go back into ancient cultures and see the little idols they made and what it was they represented in their lives. Even Israel fell victim to worshiping these little idols.
- There was Molech and he was the idol of pleasure
- There was the idol of the mind or intellect and he was called Baal.
- There was the idol of power and he was called Mammon.
We have not changed much have we. A lot of folks have carved out idols in their lives of pleasure, intellect and power. They are found in the hobbies, things, people, jobs, and clubs we rap ourselves up in. Nothing man made can ever do justice to Who God is. The created is always inferior to the creator, no image can ever fully represent or reveal God to man. In Hebrews 1:1-3; “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Vs. 5-6 Here we are told why they are not to make idols because He is a jealous God. But what does that mean? Well it does not mean envious of other gods because He knows that they are figments of people’s imaginations. God’s jealousy is love in action. He refuses to share the human heart with anything or anyone. He wants you all to Himself. Let me put it this way, “God is jealous for us, not of us!” Here as well we are told that if we turn away from God then there is a good chance that the next generations will turn away from Him as well. Yet if we continue to honor Him then there is a good chance that the next generations will as well.
IV.) Vs. 7 The conversation of love
Vs. 7 Now we come to the third law of love. So far we have seen that God’s laws of love dealt with not wanting to share us. This law of deals with our verbal worship.
- Whole heartedly: To understand this law of love we need to understand two things:
- The name of the Lord: His name includes His nature, His very person all that makes God Who He is. If you will His reputation. When you put another person down you are not criticizing the name on their birth certificate you are saying that they can not be trusted.
- Vain: This word means, empty purposes. We can do this why we use His name in a profane way. But we can also do this when we use His name to confirm something that is not true, “I swear to God”. Or to fill in gaps in out speech such as when we are surprised, “Oh my God!” Or when we use His name and not really mean it from the heart.
We are not to speak using God’s name in any way that does injustice to His character or nature. I hear folks, all the time saying well God led me here to do this or that and the only reason they do so is to give credence to what they wanted all along. When my wife says with a full heart, “Honey, I love you!” And then I turn around with out even thinking about it and say; “I love you too.” I’m taking her name in vain. Simply put God wants us to think about Him when we use His name.
V.) Vs. 8-11 A day set-aside for love
Vs. 8 Now we come to a day that God wants us to set aside for the specific purpose of remembering His love. If you look up the word Sabbath or, Sabbath’s you will find it mentioned some 172 times in the Bible. To understand this law of love we need to look at two verses that proceeded this dealing with the Sabbath.
- 2:1-3: Here you will find that God finished His creative work, rested and blessed it because He rested. The important thing to notice here is that no commandment is made in that passage.
- 16:22-30: Here we see God granting a seven-day week instead of the Egyptian 10-day workweek. God was giving them a day of to enjoy Him!
Then we came to this passage and to the fourth law of love, which is told us right in the first sentence.
- Remembering to Love: God clearly wanted Israel to remember the “wedding” day if you will. He wanted them to always realize how much He loved them and how they promised to be faithful. This day was to be especially set apart for worship.
Vs. 9-10 Every week they were to have an anniversary of their mutual love. There was to be a nation wide shut down so that they could celebrate their love. They were to plan ahead to that they would have their work done.
Vs. 11 They are reminded that the Lord made the heavens, the earth and all that is with in them. Israel ought not worship the creation but rather the creator. Instead they were to imitate Him in the act of creating. Israel was not to worship idols but they were to worship by being idol. It is wrong for us to worship God by making cheap imitations, but we are to worship Him by imitating Him.
In the New testament we are we are told that we are not under the obligation to observe the Sabbath because Jesus has fulfilled the purpose of the Sabbath. The rest we enter into today is to be experienced not just once a week but every day. So why do we worship the Lord on Sunday instead of Saturday? First it is the day Jesus rose form the dead. Second the early church meet on this day to worship instead of Saturday. Paul says in Col. 2:16-17 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” I personally think that we believers ought to make everyday our anniversary day with the Lord.