The Gospel According to Moses
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READINGS BY KIM HARRINGTON
WeekXV: 10 Commandments
Day 99: The Third Commandment
On Taking Godís Name in Vain
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
The third commandment is so commonly broken in our society that itís clear most Americans donít take it seriously. We generally interpret it as a ban on all cursing, swearing, and profanity. That means no calling on God to curse, or damn, someone; no using His name, or the name of Jesus in anger or frustration, as a swear word. Added more recently to the list of bad language banned under Commandment Number Three is use of profanity, dirty words describing body functions and sexual acts, etc. Many societies, including the world of the Bible, have no profanityóbody functions and sex arenít looked on as dirty, so no "four-letter" words ever developed.
The real thrust of this commandment is to forbid the casual use of Godís name. Donít curse people in the name of the Lord unless you really intend to have them cursed. Donít call out His name when you hit your thumb with a hammer, unless you want Him to listen to everything youíre saying, and respond to it. Donít even offer prayers to Him unless youíre doing it from the heart, fully believing, expecting Him to be listening and acting on your requests. A lot of what goes on in many churches could even be labeled as taking the Lordís name in vain, for people are praying and praising by habit or by rote, instead of in Spirit and in truth.
God takes His name seriously. He declares it often in the Old Testament, "I am the Lord thy God," or literally, "I am Yahweh your God." Thereís something deeper about names in the spiritual world than we modern folk realize. Weíve found that demons are fond of telling you their names. Jesus was given a name above every name that is named, in heaven, earth, or under the earth, Paul declares in Ephesians. Naming a name is honoring that person, declaring who and what they are, and what status and authority they have. Americans today rarely have meaning in their names; theyíre given certain names because they sound good together. Hebrew and Greek names meant something.
We have been authorized to use the name of Jesus when weíre acting on kingdom business. What a privilege and honor this is. We can receive answers to prayers, see people healed and delivered, by speaking in the name of Jesus. That kind of power is not to be lightly thrown around. His name is too magnificent, too precious, too awesomeóor as the angel of the Lord declared, "too wonderful"ófor us to idly throw it about.
So donít take the name of the Lord your God in vain. He will hold you to account if you do. Repent, and be cleansed now, if youíve been guilty. Have more respect, more awe before the Lord of the Universeóand more care in how you bandy about His name in the future.
Day 100: The Fourth Commandment
Keep the Sabbath Holy
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy...the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God...the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Remember the sabbath day...keep it holy. Often looked upon by Christians as an unnecessary commandment, or even a Pharisaical observation, yet nevertheless commanded by God right along with "thou shalt not kill" and the rest of the "Big Ten."
What does "holy" mean? Essentially, it means set apart for God. We are personally to be holy or sanctified, set apart for God. The sabbath is to be kept holy, set apart for God. The New Testament understanding of this commandment is contained in the fact that we are to be holy in everything we do. We are holyóset apart for Godówhether weíre in church, at home, or on the job... at least weíre supposed to be. Furthermore, weíre to be holy every day: not only Saturday (the literal sabbath), or Sunday (the Lordís Day), but every day of the week. Thatís why Paul was a bit ambivalent about the observance of holy days in the early churchóevery day was supposed to be holy.
Itís a bit like tithing. One tenth belongs to the Lord, right? Wrong. In the case of a New Testament believer, everything belongs to the Lord; he has laid himself and all that is his on the altar, a living sacrifice, acceptable to the Lord. Then again, how many of you give all your paycheck to the Lord each week? Not many? Of course not, and thatís why Jesus established tithing as a New Testament principle in Matthew 23:23. Itís hypocritical and ungodly for us to say that all we have is Godís and then not even give Him the tenth that the Pharisees did, so the Lord sanctioned tithes and offerings, to really get us to remember Him and keep Him holy.
The sabbath is the same. In the New Testament it was gradually honored on Sunday, in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, but the principle was the same. You set apart the day for the Lord. You go to church meetings. You rest with your family and friends. You read the Word among yourselves. You give thanks. Honestly now, you donít really set aside every day as holy for the Lord, do you? So the apostles encouraged setting aside Sunday as the Lordís day. You shall do no work in it. You donít have to be nitpickingly legalistic about it; just remember this is not a normal working day. You donít engage in normal everyday duties. Youíre resting with your family and recognizing God in a greater way than usual.
Americans were great sabbath-honorers in the founding days of our country. Preachers preached it and people practiced it. Stores were closed, and farmers tended only the animals, ignoring the fields for one day a week. People got together for fellowship, in church and in more relaxed social settings, too. Newspapers printed the Sunday sermon in the next dayís paper, even in the larger cities. God was big news a hundred years ago. Would to God that this nation would honor Him again, and that His own people would remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
Day 101: The Fifth Commandment
Honor Your Parents
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
Honoring your father and mother is one of the most natural of instincts. They are your role models and your heroes from the time you can remember. Little boys want to dress like dad and go to work, and little girls walk around in oversize high heels, with lipstick smeared about their little faces, if given half a chance. You generally grow up to be pretty much the same kind of father or mother that your parents were, for there may be lots of different styles of parenting, but deep within your breast is the conviction that your parents did it the right way. Traditionally, one day your parents may come to live with you, or be supported by you, even as you were once supported by them. Throughout most of the world, the scenario Iíve just presented is the norm.
However, it sounds a bit like a fairy tale to many, even most, people in of our generation in the West. Children in America might spend most of their young lives rebelling against their parents. Some elementary schools teach them to judge parentsí behavior, instead of conforming their own behavior to their parentsí desires, and to dial "911" for the authorities if the parents should seem to slip up. By the time theyíre teenagers all respect for parents is lost; they want to run their own lives, and they resent any "interference" of mother or father.
Many frustrated and shocked parents have told me, "I donít know what to doóI wouldnít have dared to speak to my parents that way..." Their childrenís behavior is so outrageous that it leaves them without any reasonable way to respond.
Weíre only getting what we had coming, parents. Back in the Sixties and Seventies we challenged everything our parents stood for, we questioned their values, their work ethic, their sense of duty, their submission to "the system," and ended up rejecting most of what they held dear. Many of our generation are now experiencing the same thing from our children, only worse. You rejected your parentsí values, your children may reject not only your values, but you yourself. You are reaping what you have sown, and like any crop, the harvest is larger than the seed you planted.
The Bible, however, still holds true. It is still right on to honor your father and mother. Paul, in Ephesians six, adds "because this is right." Not because they are right, and not if and when they are rightóbut because it is simply right to honor your parents. God will honor those who obey with long life, and more, for if you sow righteousness you shall reap a large crop of that, also.
I believe the reason our society is in such a shambles today is because we kicked God out of our schools and government in the Sixties, and because we failed to honor our fathers and mothers, beginning at that same time. The only solution is heartfelt repentance, and begging for mercy. Who knows, He may yet hear and grant a little reviving to our families and our land.
Day 102: The Sixth Commandment
Thou Shalt Not Kill
You shall not murder.
I am often amazed at the balance and integrity of the teachings of the Bible, as compared with other philosophies and religions. For example, the Bible considers human life sacred. We are expressly forbidden to take another personís life. If we dare to disobey that commandment, the Bible commands capital punishment, a life for a life, executed by the society in which we live. The justice and logic of that has withstood the test of thousands of years of western history and has only been challenged in recent years as unscriptural value systems, like secular humanism, have crept into our society.
Other philosophies have very different ideas of the sanctity of human life. Hitlerís Germany, for example, undergirded by a fierce racism, insisted that some human lives were worth more than others. Pure Aryans were most valuable, and Jews were least. Less valuable humans could be used, and disposed of, like lesser species of animals. (This sort of belief was also held by some slave-owners in the American South before our Civil War.) Less valuable humans might also include the mentally retarded, the old and infirm, the terminally ill, or the deformed. Hitlerís medical researchers used many of these as laboratory animals.
In practical application, humans who have no way of expressing pain or directing attention to their sufferings may also be abused, and denied an equal value in life. The unborn, still in their motherís womb, are every bit human, but are denied human rights in much of the world. Murder by abortion is the leading cause of death in America.
Other philosophies, like Hinduism, regard all life as sacred, not just human life. Therefore many Hindus are strict vegetarians. But where do you draw the line between sacred and non-sacred life? I may very religiously abstain from eating the flesh of animals, and may even refrain from killing rats or flies in my home, as many Indians do, but what if I accidentally step on an ant in the street? The Jains, another religious sect, actually wear gauze over their mouths to keep from possibly inhaling a gnat, and sweep the street ahead of them to keep from stepping on a bug. Here is where the sanctity of life gets to the point of the ridiculous. Yet even a Jain kills thousands of smaller, microscopic animals. Incidentally, abortion is quite legal and available in India.
The Bible says "You shall not murder." All human life is sacred, regardless of race or ability. It is not up to us to determine whose life is valuable and whose isnít. It isnít based upon mental abilities or physical handicaps, but on the fact that man was created in the image of God. Even unborn people are created in His image. We have been given dominion over the other species on this earth, and we should exercise a benevolent and gracious dominion, not causing undue suffering to the rest of creation. But fellow men are not ours to buy, sell, use, abuse, or kill. They belong to God, and God will deal with him who takes the life of a fellow man.
Day 103: The Seventh Commandment
You shall not commit adultery.
The Apostle Paul summed up the ten commandments in Romans 13:9 with the sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," (Lev 19:18). Basically they tell us to be good to our fellow man. Donít kill each other, donít steal from each other, donít envy your brother or sisterís blessings, etc. Rather, love each other. Follow the law of love; if you love someone you surely wonít be afflicting them with pain or loss.
One of the most devastating sins we can do against another human is to commit adultery. If someone steals from us, we can replace the stolen object perhaps, even if it costs a great deal and takes a long time. If someone lies to us, we can learn the truth, and make the proper adjustments. But if someone betrays us, it is difficult to recover, and there is no greater betrayal than adultery. I can handle a business associate betraying me, I can handle slander from other Christians, though it may sting deeply; I can even handle a close friend suddenly deciding to be my enemy. But my spouse? That is the most sacred of relationships. This is the person youíve chosen above all others to spend you life with, to share with, and to trust above all. If my wife betrays me, I can never trust another human being.
Iím not being melodramatic. Itís true. If the marriage trust is broken, it is difficult, bordering on impossible, to trust someone again. It may take years to recover, and even then, some idle word or incident may trigger a whole flood of insecurities, anger, and bitterness. You may think, "but thousands have gone through adultery and divorceóitís as common as can be these days." True, and those people donít trust others anymore. Theyíve been hurt more deeply than anyone should ever hurt another. Thatís why this law is in the Ten Commandments. Itís an important one!
Much of growing up has to do with learning how unreliable people can be, and how to live successfully in spite of pain and heartache. But a husband or wife is supposed to be true, reliable. This is not to be one of the "iffy" aspects of life. As a result, no one is capable of hurting my wife as much as I am, and vice versa. I cannot say I love my wife, and then betray her in such a terrible way. If I love her, I will discipline myself in regards to temptations in this area, and I will be found faithful. Itís expected of me, and I expect it of her. It doesnít matter how evil the age is, or how the world may peck away at our resolve with all the wiles of the devil himself. If I love others enough to refrain from stealing, killing, or lying, I can certainly love my chosen life-partner enough to not commit adultery.
Day 104: Fornicators & Adulterers Shall Not Inherit the Kingdom
You shall not commit adultery.
These days adultery and fornication arenít taken very seriously by a great number of people. A new outlook on morality has swept our land, and for the last three decades or more weíve been encouraged to go with our feelings. If you see someone youíd like to sleep with, go for itóthere doesnít have to be any big commitment; that kind of talk is old-fashioned, irrelevant, and unnatural. If you donít love your present spouse any more, find someone you can love, and move on with your lifeóthereís no point in being bound to an unhappy relationship. Life is shortómake the best of it.
Thatís not how God sees it at all. As we said yesterday, adultery is the greatest betrayal possible in life, and it always devastates people, even though they usually survive physically and carry on with life. Something deep inside has been scarred, very often irreparably.
What about those who arenít marriedóare they bound by this commandment, too? Is it legitimate to experiment until you find the right person? No, it isnít, not sexually that is. Sex is an intimate act reserved only for those who make the proper commitment, and that commitment is marriage, until death do us part. I realize that sex is not so precious and intimate in many peopleís lives todayóitís been cheapened by being offered to many passers-byóbut my point is that God hasnít changed His mind, and we should put a higher price tag on it: marriage.
Fornication, as sex outside of marriage is called in the Bible, is expressly forbidden by God, in the New Testament as well as the Old: "Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals...shall inherit the kingdom of God," (1 Cor.6:9,10). If you have sex with someone who is not your spouse, whether theyíre single or married, youíre taking something very sacred and precious that is not yours. Youíre stealing from the person that is meant to be their spouse. Itís still adultery, and itís robbery on top of it. Not robbery of something small and worthless, but of something so valuable itís priceless.
Thatís how God sees it, and how He sees it is ultimately what counts, for He will judge every one of us some day... Hebrews 13:4 says "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." Weíve already seen how He will judge them, too, in the verse we read from 1 Corinthians: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, the effeminate, and homosexuals shall not inherit the kingdom of God. He takes it very seriously even if we donít. Itís a crime punishable by deathósecond death, eternal destruction.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery."
Day 105: The Eighth Commandment
Thou Shalt Not Steal
You shall not steal.
Stealing, like all of the other sins forbidden in the Ten Commandments, shows an utter disregard for other peopleís feelings, lives, and labors. In a few momentís time, a thief can bring to nothing all the hopes and dreams of a lifetime. You can pinch and save, work hard, and finally get a few things youíve always wanted, only to come home one night and find your home has been violated. Somebody broke in and took everything of valueóand sold it to somebody else for a fraction of what it was worth, not to mention the sentimental value to you.
Children and teenagers sometimes go through stages where they steal things just for kicks, just to taste the forbidden fruit, to see if they can get away with it. Notice all the cars these days without hood ornamentsóitís just a little craze thatís going on right nowóbut I sure became frustrated when I came out and saw that mine was gone!
The average adult is usually more subtle when he or she steals something. They donít do anything thatís really likely to land them in prison, but the forms of stealing they practice are nevertheless evil in Godís sight. Many cheat on their income taxes, for example, by just failing to claim some income that nobody has any record of anyway... who will ever know? Just you and the Lord. Iíve even heard of some who refuse to pay taxes at all, supposedly because of conscience. They are stealing the rights of citizens in this land: to police protection, armies, law and order at every level. The able-bodied man who is too lazy to work, and gets on general assistance, is likewise stealing hard-earned money right out of his tax-paying neighborsí pockets. Sure itís legal, but is it moral? Should the rest of the people pay for your laziness? The welfare system is meant to help those that are truly in needóyouíre also stealing from them if you could be working, but arenít.
Speaking of work, most Americans donít put in an honest dayís work on the job nowadays, either. If your boss pays you by the hour, but you spend a portion of that hour not working, or if you actually get about half as much work done in that hour as you should have, youíre stealing from him.
What about when the clerk at the store gives you too much change, or forgets to ring up some item and you go home with it? Is this just your lucky day, or are you a thief if you donít go and rectify the situation?
Itís a lot easier to steal if the victim is a big company, the government, or some other faceless entity. But every company and government is still made up of individuals who are hurt, who lose money right out their own pockets because of theft in one form or another. Something that should have been theirs has been taken from them. Thatís stealing, no matter what justification you may put on it, and the eight commandment still reads, "Thou shalt not steal."
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless marked otherwise.
Copyright © 2005 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.