All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Ten Commandments
Based on Exodus 20–24

As God prepares to give His covenant to Israel, He calls Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders of Israel to come up Mount Sinai. “And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.”

Notice that sapphire stone is blue as “the very heavens,” and in Ezekiel 10:1 sapphire has the likeness of God’s throne.

God calls Moses up farther to receive the Ten Commandments He gave him in Exodus 20. These are written on stone tablets (signifying permanence) by God’s own finger. The Hebrew literally says they are “tablets of the stone,” (Exodus 24:12), and since this stone is sapphire, the Ten Commandments are blue, emphasizing that they’re from God, since blue is imagery of Heaven, where God dwells. It also stresses that the Ten Commandment principles are the same as the foundation of His government.

Those who go up the mountain with Moses are Israel’s leaders, and they confirm the covenant of grace by eating and drinking in the presence of God—the ancients’ traditional custom to finalize a covenant.

Covenant Elements

To correctly understand the Ten Commandments, we must realize that they’re only one part of the Divine Covenant. Exodus 20:2 demonstrates this covenant context when the first two elements of the covenant are given. “I am the Lord your God” is the covenant preamble, stating Who is giving the covenant. “Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” is the covenant historical prologue, giving the history of the relationship between the covenant-giver and the covenant recipients.

Before God expects the Hebrews to keep any of His commandments, He first redeems them from Egyptian bondage. In Scripture, freedom from bondage is often used as imagery of freedom from sin. Therefore, God has saved them before He expects them to keep His commandments. If they try to keep the commandments without recognizing they’ve already been redeemed, then they’re earning salvation by works, and not by grace!

Relational, Not Legalistic

Our understanding of law is inherited from the Greeks, who made law very legalistic. However, God’s covenant is primarily relational, and not legalistic.

The Hebrew word for law is Torah, from the root, “to teach.” The law teaches the realities of God’s government. In light of the fact that God has already freed us by grace from bondage, surely, out of gratitude, we won’t want to disobey any of His commandments and affect our relationship with Him.

The first four commandments affect our relationship with God; they are four in number, and therefore universal. The last six deal with our relationship with God’s family; they are six in number because they deal with our relationship with humans, using the imagery of man being created on the sixth day.

Since these commandments are first given to the ancient Hebrews, who have been in Egyptian pagan bondage for so many generations, they are listed very simply. In the New Testament they’re summarized as two great principles to the more mature: Love for God, and love for our fellowmen.

These commandments are emphasized as God’s commandments because He prepared the stones, He wrote them, He delivered them, and He used sapphire as imagery of Heaven and His government. He also used two tablets, stemming from the imagery that two witnesses guarantee truth.

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