Bible Reading / Book By Book: Genesis to 2 Samuel
Day 19 / Exodus 20
After crossing the Red Sea, the people walk in the direction of Sinai. They run out of both food and water along the way, and God miraculously provides both. They are also attacked by the nation of Amalek. When Moses has his hands up, the people of Israel win; when his hands are down, they lose. This provides clear evidence that God is really the one determining who wins and not their own strength. When they arrive at Mount Sinai, God points out the ways he has protected them and asks them if they are willing to enter a covenant, or binding agreement, with him to obey his commands. They agree to do as God says.
Our chapter today gives the Ten Commandments that serve as the basis for the relationship between God and the people of Israel. Israel responds to God’s presence with fear.
It’s easy to fall into the same trap as Israel. God asked them to obey him because of how he had cared for them, but instead they become afraid of God. It’s wise to realize that when we disobey God, we could face dire consequences, but we need to also see his loving care for us. God much prefers obedience based on gratitude.
Exodus 20 (NASB)
The Ten Commandments
Then God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall 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 shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, 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 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.
8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall 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; therefore 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 your God gives you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall 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.”
18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. 23 You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves. 24 You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it. 26 And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it.’