Who Is This God?

October 18-22


The God Who Commands: Ten Words

And God spoke all these words, saying, – Exodus 20:1 (ESV)

In The Gospel and the American Dream, historian Bruce Shelley writes, “In one hand Liberty holds the torch of freedom and in the other the tablet of law. The torch challenges the forces of darkness and tyranny. The tablet of law reminds us that liberty degenerating into license is but another form of slavery. True freedom for others is only possible in a community of civic virtue.”

That is the message of the Ten Commandments. God brought a despised group of people out of bondage. They would not experience true liberty, however, by merely trading one form of bondage for another. Deliverance from Egypt’s tyranny could easily be replaced by servitude to self and personal passions.

God is no cosmic killjoy. His Ten Commandments were not given to limit and destroy the freedom of His people. The purpose of God’s law is deliverance, not domination. Obedience does not subjugate; it saves! The Ten Commandments are God’s “statutes of liberty.” (Dan Jackson)

God’s law is a good gift from a good God. The Ten Commandments are technically called “Ten Words.” They stand as a strong reminder that none of us measure up to God’s standard of holiness and righteousness (Ro. 3:10, 23). God has spoken through His law to demonstrate His holiness and our sinfulness. Though the law cannot save us, it points us to the One who fulfilled it and through Whom we can have life. God’s law draws us to God’s grace.


The nation of Israel had broken almost all of the Ten Commandments before Moses could get back down off the mountain with the tablets. Jesus taught if we break even one of God’s commands in our hearts we are guilty of breaking the entire law. How does it make you feel knowing you are guilty of breaking all of God’s law? How does it make you feel about God’s offer of grace knowing you’ve broken God’s law?


Thank God for loving you enough to show you your need for forgiveness. Praise Him for His offer of grace.


The God Who Commands: God First

“You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3 (ESV)

American humorist Sam Levenson once said about the Ten Commandments: “Different people look for different things in the Ten Commandments. Some are looking for divine guidance, some for a code of living, but most people are looking for loopholes.”

So many of us want to love God and love other things as much if not more than God Himself. Yet, in the very first commandment, God reminds us that He deserves first place in our lives. The commands in Exodus 20:1-11 all have to do with keeping God first. Consequently, God states, “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides Me” (Ex. 20:2-3), and as his name indicates with the personal pronoun “your”, God has a place of prominence. It is the word “your,” indicating that God who is essential to all of life, the redeemer, the first among all wants to be known in a personal way.


The truth is everybody has gods.  A god could be defined as anything that will have first place in your life. Martin Luther remarked, “Whatever thy heart clings to and relies upon, that is properly thy God.”

Are you an idolater? That sounds like a harsh question. The reality is, we are all prone to idolatry. Though you may not make hand-carved idols or swear using God’s name, we easily allow things in our lives to become ultimate for us. A good test is to look at your checkbook and your calendar. In many cases, the ways you spend your time and money will tell what is ultimate in your life. If you are allowing anything but God to have first place, everything else will be out of order as well.


Praise God for being worthy of being first in our lives. Ask God, by His grace, to help you live with Him in the first place.


The God Who Commands: Getting Along With Others

12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving 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 is your neighbor’s.” – Exodus 20:12-17 (ESV)

The Ten Commandments are the foundation of our legal system. So much so that James Madison said, “We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon . . . the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” While the commandments have been debated, you can still find them engraved on the walls of the US Supreme Court.

Exodus 20:12-17 reminds us that God’s design is for man to be rightly related to others as a result of being rightly related to God. Sandwiched between the commands related to loving God and the commands related to our relationships with others is the command related to honoring our mother and our father. It is in the home where God designed us to learn how to love God and how to love others. A society where the family breaks down is a society that’s destined to break down.


Are you struggling in your relationships with others? If so, it is not ultimately an interpersonal problem but a spiritual problem. In order for us to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must first love God with all that we are. My inclination to be jealous, angry, bitter, or unforgiving to my brother is an indication that God does not have first place in my life. Ask God to help you keep Him in first place, enabling you to love others as yourself.


Praise God for creating the family unit. Thank God for showing our families grace where they have broken down. Pray God would strengthen and protect the families in our church.


The God Who Commands: Love God

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family’s housekeeper: It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. “Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.” “He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him.” “Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.” “No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you.” When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. “Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.”(Houghton Mifflin)

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me you will keep my commandments.” Jesus also boiled the Ten Commandments down into two overarching ones – love God exclusively with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself. That is a picture of God’s divine design – man living in unhindered fellowship with God, which results in man living in unhindered fellowship with others.


God isn’t interested in us being religious. God desires a relationship with us. What does your level of obedience to God say about your love relationship with God? What areas of your life might cast doubt on your love for Him?


Thank God for the privilege of having a love relationship with Him. Ask Him for the power to reflect your love for Him in every area of your life.


The God Who Commands: Love Others

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to “honor” your father and mother, she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without hesitation, the little boy answered, “Thou shall not kill.”

Those of us with siblings can relate to the challenges of living out the command to love others at home. The commands to love God and to love others sum up all the other commands. If we get these two things right we get everything right. If we get these two wrong we get everything wrong. 1 John 4:20 teaches, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Our love for others is actually a test of salvation.


Can you think of any relationships where God expects you to be loving but you are not? Matthew 5:23-24 teaches us if we come to worship God and realize someone has something against us, we should first go and try to make things right with them and then bring God our worship offering.


Praise God for the way He delights in mercy and reconciliation. Thank God for healing relationships in your life that need healing.