The Ten Commandments of the Lord

God spoke the Ten Commandments to the assembly at Mount Sinai in the bible. He also wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to Moses to put into the ark. The Commandments or the testimonies of God were placed inside the ark of the testimony, and the book of the Law of Moses was placed on the outside of the ark. There is also biblical evidence that the Ten Commandments existed in the beginning of the world. Also, they are multi-faceted, in that they are commandments, a covenant, law, and testimony of God.

The 10 Commandments are recorded twice in the Bible, once in Exodus 20, and once again in Deuteronomy 10. The two versions are almost identical, but there are differences, with the version in Deuteronomy being somewhat longer. This is because Deuteronomy is Moses’ retelling of the events that transpired 40 years earlier with the addition of his insightful commentary. However, one very significant difference is in the fourth commandment. Because the Exodus version begins with “Remember the Sabbath,” and the Deuteronomy version starts with “Keep the Sabbath.” The rabbis say that both are accurate. God actually spoke the command to keep Shabbat (by desisting from forbidden work) and remember Shabbat (through declaring its sanctity) simultaneously, something incomprehensible to the human mind. The original 10 Commandments spoken by God is as follows.

Exodus 20:1-17

1 Then the Lord spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You must have no other gods before Me.

4 “You must not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 You must not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 “You must not take the name of the LORD in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you will labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD; in it, you must not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; thus the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD gives you.

13 “You must not murder.

14 “You must not commit adultery.

15 “You must not steal.

16 “You must not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house; you must not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The 10 Commandments Moses Wrote

There is much confusion about Exodus 34 because of the mistranslation of “he” in Exodus 34:28 by some bibles. This is a case of some bibles not rightly dividing the word of the Lord. The very first verse of Exodus 34 clearly identifies the Lord will write on the tablets and what the Lord will write on the tablets. Therefore, the “he” in verse 28 should be “He” in order to refer to the Lord in verse 1. Next, some people say that the phrase “the Ten Commandments” in verse 28 refers to the covenant in verses 10-26. However, depending on how you divide this covenant there could be ten, more than 10 or less than 10 commandments in it. And in verse 27, God clearly tells Moses to write these commandments.

Exodus 34

1 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Cut out for yourself two stone tablets like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets which you shattered. 2 So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. 3 No man is to come up with you, nor let any man be seen anywhere on the mountain; even the flocks and the herds may not graze in front of that mountain.” 4 So he cut out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.

5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. 6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9 He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession.”

10 Then God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles, which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you.

11 “Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite.

12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13 But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15 otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods.

17 You shall make for yourself no molten gods.

18 “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days, you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.

19 “The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. 20 You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed.

21 “You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest, you shall rest. 22 You shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is, the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. 24 For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the LORD your God.

25 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning.

26 “You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

The 10 Commandments Represent God

What is fascinating when you study the 10 Commandments is that many of the attributes or characteristics of them found throughout the Bible actually correspond to attributes and characteristics used to describe God. Moreover, there is something important we can learn from this. The obvious implication of these similar attributes is that the law of the Lord reveals the actual character of God. Therefore, when we study the law of God, we are learning the way God thinks and behaves. Furthermore, the New Covenant promises that the law of the Lord (God’s character) will be written on the hearts and minds of Christians through the Holy Spirit. (Ezekiel 36:27; 1 Corinthians 2:11) So God’s very own character is revealed in His law and therefore in His true servants. The following table shows some of the many similar attributes of God and the Ten Commandments.

AttributeGod10 Commandments
EternalRomans 16:26, Deuteronomy 33:27Psalms 111:7-8, Luke 16:17
GoodNahum 1:7, Luke 18:19Romans 7:12, 16, 1 Timothy 1:8
Holy1 Peter 1:15, Psalms 99:9Romans 7:12, 2 Peter 2:21
JustIsaiah 45:21, Romans 3:26Romans 7:12
LifeJohn 14:6, Psalms 36:9Matthew 19:17, Proverbs 3:1-2
Light1 John 1:5Proverbs 6:23
Love1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14
PerfectMatthew 5:48James 1:25, Psalms 19:7
Pure1 John 3:3, Job 4:17Psalms 19:7-8
RighteousPsalms 145:17, Jeremiah 23:6Romans 9:31, Psalms 119:172
SpiritualJohn 4:24Romans 7:14
Sure2 Timothy 2:19Psalms 19:7, 111:7
The WayJohn 14:6Psalms 119:30-32
TruthDeuteronomy 32:4, John 14:6Psalms 119:142, 151
UnchangingMalachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8Matthew 5:18, Psalms 111:7-8

The 10 Commandments of the Way

The Lord wants His People to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice. (Genesis 18:19) This is because His ways are everlasting just like He is. (Habakkuk 3:6) Therefore, His testimonies are righteous forever. (Psalm 119:144) Moreover, His testimonies He has founded forever. (Psalm 119:152) Also, every one of His righteous ordinances is everlasting. (Psalm 119:160) Therefore, the 10 Commandments help form the foundation of the way of the Lord because they are righteousness. (Psalm 119:172) Moreover, because the Ten Commandments of the Lord are righteousness, this means that they are also everlasting. The following scriptures show how important righteousness is to the Lord.

(1) All Your commandments are righteousness. (Psalm 119:172)

(2) Righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 10:2, 11:4)

(3) He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life. (Proverbs 11:19)

(4) In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death. (Proverbs 12:28)

(5) He loves one who pursues righteousness. (Proverbs 15:9)

(6) He who pursues righteousness finds life. (Proverbs 21:21)

(7) When the son has practiced righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 18:19)

(8) If a man observes all My statutes and practices righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:21)

(9) When a man practices righteousness, he will save his life. (Ezekiel 18:27)

(10) Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions, which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:28)

(11) If a man walks by the statutes, which ensure life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 33:15)

(12) None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him. He has practiced righteousness; he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 33:16)

Therefore, part of the way of the Lord is His righteous laws. The bible says it is better not to know the way of righteousness than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment (the 10 Commandments). (2 Peter 2:21) Furthermore, it teaches, (1) Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves’ (Deuteronomy 9:12) and (2) And I saw that you had indeed sinned against the Lord. You had made for yourselves a molten calf; you had turned aside from the way, which the Lord had commanded you. (Deuteronomy 9:16) Therefore, the Bible makes it clear that the 10 Commandments are part of the way of the Lord.

Christ and His disciples according to the following scriptures taught the way of the Lord.

And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.” (Matthew 22:16)

They came, and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God.” (Mark 12:14)

They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God.” (Luke 20:21)

And he asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men, and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2)

This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John. So he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. However, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:25-26)

But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. (Acts 19:9)

About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. (Acts 19:23)

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that, is by the Law and that is written in the Prophets. (Acts 24:14)

Earlier in Acts 24, it states, we have found this man a real pest. He stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24:5) Therefore, this sect is simply followers of Christ. Much earlier Christ had lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23) When a certain man heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out. (Mark 10:47) Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (John 19:19)

So the sect of the Nazarenes were followers of “the Way”. The Way refers to followers of the way of the Lord. But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off.(Acts 24:22)

Therefore, it is important to note that the way of the Lord is taught throughout the Bible. It is also important to note that the way of the Lord is taught long after the resurrection of Christ. Furthermore, even the dragon was enraged with the woman; and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God. (Revelation 12:17) Moreover, in Acts 13 we read that the devil is the enemy of all righteousness. (Acts 13:10) Why do so many servants of the Lord side with the devil? Why do so many servants of the Lord reject some righteousness of the Lord? It is, therefore, a testament to the power of the spirit of iniquity. Moreover, the whole history of the human race is filled with them giving in to the spirit of iniquity.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.

No Covenant Can Change The Way Of The Lord!

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