The Circular Ten Commandments

October 31, 2014
Exodus 20:17; Colossians 3:5

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.  And they are displayed in abbreviated form in many public buildings around this great country.  Here is the abbreviated list:

    1.  You shall have no other             5.  Honor your father and
        gods before Me.                              your mother.
    2.  You shall not make for               6.  You shall not murder.
        yourself any carved image.        7.  You shall not commit
    3.  You shall not take the                    adultery.    
        Lord’s name in vain.                   8.  You shall not steal.
    4.  Remember the Sabbath            9.  You shall not bear false
        day, to keep it holy.                          witness.
                                   10. You shall not covet.

When artists and sculptors render Moses holding The Ten Commandments, he is seen holding two large “…tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” (Exodus 31:18).  Actually, those stone tablets were probably much smaller than usually depicted.  The Ten Commandments written on those tablets are properly rendered in a linear list – one to ten.

Here are the first and the last Commandments in full from Exodus 20:2 through 6 and 17:
    I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of
    the house of bondage.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall
    not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is
    in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under
    the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.  For I, the LORD
    your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the child-
    ren to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing
    mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments….
    You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neigh-
    bor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his
    donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

There is a special relationship between the first Commandment and the last, and Paul brings this out in Colossians 3:5:  “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth:  fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  The apostle tells us that “…covetousness…is idolatry…!   According to Webster, covet means “to desire ardently (especially what another person has).”  What are we to desire ardently above all else?  In Matthew 22:37 and 38 Jesus gave the answer:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.”  If something else – or someone else – takes that first place in our lives, that is considered by God Himself to be idolatry!

This ties the last Commandment right back to the first!  Does not this make them The Circular Ten Commandments?  And does not this point to what James says in James 2:10 and 11?

    …whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty
    of all.  For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not kill.”  
    Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a
    transgressor of the law.

If you have broken one of The Commandments, you have broken them all!  No wonder we are all sinners before God!  And no wonder we need the cleansing blood of the Savior!

The tenth Commandment is really a catch-all.  All the others involve coveting in one way or another, because it boils down to “This is what I want to do!”  And this is coveting your own will before that of God’s!  And when you put anything before God and His will, this is idolatry!

One more thing – I included Exodus 20:2 in the scripture above:  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  God’s demand of our complete devotion is based on what He has already done for us.  

•    For the Israelites, it was that He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt to make them a nation unto Himself.  His plan is put forth in Exodus 3:8 and Deuteronomy 11:21 –

    I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to
    bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing
    with milk and honey….that your days and the days of your children may be
    multiplied in the land…like the days of heaven upon the earth.

•    For us – according to what Jesus said in Luke 19:10 – He has sought us and saved us who were lost by the sacrifice of His own Son on the cross.  He has given us…life…and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

Doesn’t what Paul wrote in Romans 12:1 then apply?  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

It is reasonable for us – His children by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – to heed the first and last of The Ten Commandments.  May we be careful not to allow covetousness into our lives!  We then will not be guilty of idolatry! 

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