(EXODUS 20:1 – 17)
The Ten Commandments were divided into two major parts.
- Duties towards God (Ex 20:3 -11) – the 1st 4 commandments about the relationship between God and man.
- Duties towards man (Ex 20:12 – 17) – the last 6 commandments about the relationship between man and fellow man.
Duties to God
- It means that God is only one.
- There was need to remind the Israelites that he was the God who brought them out of Egypt and cared for them in the wilderness.
- The Israelites were to worship him alone.
- Any attempts to consider anything else God is wrong.
- We have one God who is the creator and sustainer of all things
- Anything we cherish more than God has become a god.
- It prohibits against Polytheism i.e. “The Lord is one” Deuteronomy 6:4
- This is prohibition against idolatry because God is invisible. (Ex 19:19, Deut 4:12 – 16)
- Any representation of God is wrong because it might tempt us to worship it which is disrespect to God.
- Yahweh was not like the Egyptians or Canaanite gods which were depicted in images.
- It prohibits against taking the name of the Lord in vain/ swearing.
- This commandment forbids the use of God’s name in a careless manner without regard to his holiness.
- One should not swear in God’s name.
- In Mathew 5:33 – 37 Jesus stresses that Christians should be honest, sincere and always speak the truth.
- We need then to respect God’s name and the greatness of his name.
The Sabbath Day was instituted by God at creation God rested on this day after creation thus we should not work or involve ourselves in any work.
- It is time to rest/ relax and reflect on what God has done.
- People are expected to honour it by worshipping God.
- Reminder of God’s sacrifice.
- They remembered the day God rested after his creation.
- Day for worship/ thanksgiving/ prayer.
- It is in obedience to one of the commandments.
- Day for rest/ leisure.
- Holy day dedicated to God.
- Shows that man has his origin in God and is therefore responsible to God.
Duties towards man
God’s gift of life is passed on through our parents as they take care and bring up children. God takes care of us through our parents.
- Dishonor to parents leads to disgrace.
- The family is the foundation of the society.
- Good respect to our parents leads to right conduct.
- Obedience to parents leads to long life and prosperity in the land.
- Parents deserve honour; respect and children should help their parents.
It is God alone who gives life and it should be Him alone to take it. The life of a person is sacred. Christians are called upon to preserve, respect and protect life.
- It is wrong to have sexual intercourse with somebody else’s wife or husband. Such an act sows discord in the community.
- This command safeguards marriage and family.
- Purity is demanded of Christians both in their outward life, thoughts and desires.
- Affirms that God is the one who provides us with all that is required to maintain life.
- Stealing indicates lack of trust in God’ providence.
- This command prohibits theft.
- It is protection against property.
- False accusations destroy respect and love among God’s people.
- Christians should show love, honesty, faithfulness and truthfulness.
- The need for justice in courts.
- Prohibition against covetousness. Desire for that which belongs to another Num 11:11.
- This commandment condemns greed of any nature.
- Greed is motivated by selfishness and hence leads to sin.