Sermon notes in a teaching series on Exodus 20:1-17
Paraphrases of Texts about the Law In Genesis 26:3-5, Yahweh made a promise to Isaac that He would confirm the oath which He swore to Abraham, and He said it was because Abraham listened to His voice and kept His mandate, His commandments, His statutes, and His instructions.
In Deuteronomy 7:9, Yahweh proclaims Himself as the faithful Mighty One who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Notice how love and commandment keeping go together.)
In Joshua 1:7-8, Joshua says that above everything, Yahweh's people are to be strong and courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction that Moses, the servant of Yahweh, commanded. Do not turn from it to the right or the left. This book of the law must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.
As King David was about to die, he instructed his son Solomon (in 1 Kings 2:1-3): "Be strong and brave, and keep your obligation to Yahweh, to walk in His ways and to keep His statutes, commandments, judgments, and testimonies. This is written in the law of Moses, so that you will have success in everything you do and wherever you turn."
In 2 Kings 18:6 we read that King Hezekiah trusted in Yahweh. He did not turn from following Yahweh, but kept the commandments Yahweh had commanded Moses.
Psalm 111 verse 10 tells us that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, and a good understanding have all they who do His commandments.
Proverbs 3:1-4 says you should not forget Yahweh's law, and let your heart keep His commandments. They will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being. You will find favor and high regard in the sight of Yahweh and man.
In Ecclesiastes 12:13, we read: "Listen to the conclusion of the whole matter: fear the Almighty and keep His commandments. This is the whole duty of man."
In Matthew 5:19 Yeshua says: "Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches people to do so, will be called least in the kingdom. But whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom."
In Matthew 19:17 we read that someone came up to Yeshua and asked him: Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life? Yeshua responded: If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.
In Luke 1:5-6 we read that Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptizer, were both righteous in Yahweh's sight, living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of Yahweh.
Yeshua said in John 15:9-10, "If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love."
1 John 2:3-4 says that we know that we know Yahweh, by keeping His commandments. If we say we know Him, but don't keep His commandments, we are liars.
1 John 3:24 says that whatever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
And 1 John 5:3 says: This is the love of Yahweh, that we keep His commandments, and they are not a burden.
Exhortation to Keep the Commandments This is just a short sampling of scriptures that emphasize the keeping of the commandments of Yahweh. We should probably have a little card in our wallet, with all these verses on them, when someone asks us: "Why do you think it's so important that you keep the commandments?"
There is no other way to live. There is no other way to carry on day-to-day life. There is no other way to do business. There is no other way to do anything there is to do. Keeping the commandments of Yahweh is always the right thing to do.
We may come up with all sorts of reasons not to keep the commandments, but they all go back to one reason: man thinks he knows better than Yahweh, and wants to do what he wants to do.
Your flesh; your carnal human nature, doesn't desire to keep the commandments. We all battle with the desires of the flesh. Sometimes the things your spirit man wants to do, you don't do. And sometimes the things your flesh man wants to do, you give in to. It is a constant battle that we have, because we think we know better than Yahweh.
But you are to instead trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.
It is not loving Yahweh to just believe the parts of the Bible that you want to believe. It is not loving Yahweh to pick and choose what you want to obey. It is not loving Yahweh to talk yourself out of keeping commandments, or precepts, or instructions that He has given. That's not loving Yahweh.
If you are a believer, Yahweh has forgiven you of all your sins. He has removed them as far as the East is from the West. He's had compassion upon you as man has compassion upon a little child he loves. He has wiped your slate clean. You are saved by His grace and mercy. You aren't saved because you made the first move. You are saved because of Yahweh, not because of you.
So how do we repay Yahweh? Well, we could never repay Yahweh. We could never earn Yahweh's love. We could never do enough good things to take away the bad things.
But... He has given us a way to show Him that we love Him. He has given us a way to say, "Thank you Yahweh. Thank you for everything You have done for me. Thank you for my life. Thank you for my family. Thank you for my friends." He's given us a way to actively say this to Him, and that way is by keeping His commandments.
You don't show Yahweh you love Him by telling Him, "I love you." That's okay to do, but that doesn't prove you love Yahweh.
You don't show Yahweh you love Him by how loud you sing to Him. You don't show Yahweh you love Him by how many words you use when you pray to Him, or how eloquent you speak. No... none of this proves anything. His love language is keeping His commandments.
When you follow His commandments, summarized in the 10 commandments in both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, Yahweh looks down and knows that you love Him. He says, "There is my child. I know she loves me. I know he loves me. I know they appreciate what I have done for them. I know they really mean it."
So many people in the world today will attempt to get you away from the commandments. They will pull on your heart strings in an attempt to say that some things Yahweh commands just don't go along with how we are supposed to love in 2018. They will pull out all kinds of man-made ideas, and false concepts of love.
And even worse, you have professing Christian pastors that downplay the commandments. They say that we don't have to keep the commandments. They call the commandments outdated, or bondage.
In light of all the scriptures I began with today, how could someone state such a thing? How could someone who claims to believe in the Bible think that keeping the commandments of Yahweh is not really necessary?
Like I said, the flesh often overrides the spirit. Sometimes Christian men can get de-railed due to pier-pressure, and cave into the popular ideology that goes along with the ways of the carnal world.
I want you to know today that I believe in keeping the commandments. I believe in teaching the commandments. By Yahweh's grace, I will never teach you to break a commandment that you have the ability to obey.
Now, I am not perfect. I have sinned against Yahweh in ways that I am ashamed of. I battle with my flesh everyday just like everyone else. But a righteous man falls seven times and gets back up. I am not going to give in. I am not going to give up. I am not going to stop running this race. I am not going to roll over and try to fit in with any ideology that teaches keeping the commandments really doesn't matter.
Today's lesson is an encouragement lesson to keep Yahweh's commandments, and it is also an introductory lesson to the next 10 weeks. Beginning next week, I will be teaching 1 lesson on each of the 10 commandments.
The 10 commandments are 10 ways to love. They are 10 ways to live. They are 10 goals to strive for. None of them are outdated. All of them are for us today, and if we are interested in loving Yahweh, we must be interested in knowing, understanding, and obeying the 10 commandments.
I don't want any of my children, or any child in here growing up and deciding to trash the commandments, because they never heard them taught by the pastor of the church. But if I teach the commandments, and you still walk away from them, I have done my part.
I will talk about how we have broken the commandments, and I will talk about how we can keep the commandments. I will teach both law and grace. I will teach both faith and works. I will teach the whole council of Yahweh. I love you all, and I want you all to love Yahweh. I want to love Yahweh. I want to love Yahweh more and more. The way to do that is by studying His commandments, and learning how to keep His commandments.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:1-3; Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Today we begin our study through the 10 commandments, looking at each of them in light of (1) our failure to keep them, and (2) the requirement to live by them.
The 10 commandments are not the only 10 laws in the Bible. If you are reading them as exhaustive details about how to live, you are reading them incorrectly. They are each summaries of broader law or categories of law.
It is similar to how Yeshua spoke of 2 commands (in Matthew 22:34-40). Yeshua wasn't saying Yahweh only gave 2 commandments. He was saying that every commandment can be summed up inside of those 2 (love Yahweh; love your neighbor).
The 10 commandments are more detailed than the 2, yet they are still summaries of the entire law. Each commandment contains within it a wealth of information.
The Command Itself The first commandment, which we read moments ago, is not just the first in order; it is also the first or primary commandment in rank. It encompasses everything in Yahweh's law. Yahweh says, "Do not have other gods besides me," (HCSB) or "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (KJV)
Some people read the words "before me" here, and conclude that other mighty ones do exist, but none are as high in rank as Yahweh. Others read the words as Yahweh saying "do not have other mighty ones before my face, or in my presence" because other mighty ones do not exist.
I believe that Scripture teaches that Yahweh is the All-mighty, but that there does exist other mighty ones in both the spirit realm and even in the fleshly realm.
This doesn't mean that any of the other mighty ones are equivalent with Yahweh in power, knowledge, and ability... but nonetheless they do exist.
For example: Exodus 15:11 says "Yahweh, who is like you among the gods (elohim)? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?" I don't think the question being asked is: "Yahweh, who is like you among the idols or non-existing deities," but instead, "Who among all the mighty ones of heaven and earth can be compared to Yahweh?" Psalm 86:8 says: "Lord, there is no one like You among the gods," and Psalm 136:2 says that Yahweh is the "God of gods" or Elohim of elohim. He's first place.
There exist other mighty ones in heaven and earth, but none can be compared to Yahweh. None have the authority that Yahweh has. None are able to make laws above or beyond what Yahweh has commanded. All authorities are subservient to Yahweh.
I Am Yahweh Your Elohim This is why you see a theme in the law of Yahweh, whereby laws begin or end with "I am Yahweh your Elohim." You'll find this over 30 times in the Old Testament, when Yahweh is giving authoritative declaration. He is declaring: "Because I am your Mighty One - your unique, sole authority - all other authorities bow to me. No one has the right to over-rule what I have commanded."
This is the first commandment. Yahweh is the Mighty One that stands above all others. He is the Mighty One that is to be first place in our lives, decisions, and in all that we do.
Putting Yahweh First Other authorities may exist in our life. Other mighty ones play a part in how we live. We have governments, parents, bosses, etc. We are called throughout Scripture to submit to authority structures. The key is that we understand that no authority structure would exist, unless Yahweh granted their authority.
A parent has authority over their child, but the parent was given such authority by The Supreme Being, Almighty Yahweh. This means that when the parent (or government, or boss) commands something contrary to what Yahweh has commanded, Yahweh still rules. There is no authority before (in front of) him, or beside (equivalent with) him.
It is alright to be devoted to others. I should be devoted to my wife and my children. I should be devoted to my family and my friends. There are levels of devotion though. For example: I am devoted more to my wife than anyone else in here. She's my best friend. I'm more worried about what she thinks of me, than what anyone else thinks of me. But as much as I love my wife, she cannot take top position in my life. Same goes for her with me. She has to be devoted to Yahweh in a stronger way that she devotes herself to Matthew.
Our Decisions vs. His Word In so many discussions, I've heard people say something like: "Well... I believe this, or that, or such and such. I think this is the way things should go," and they explain what they think is best or right, never looking to what Yahweh has said in His Word.
Anytime you come to a conclusion on what you think to be right or wrong, without looking to what Yahweh has commanded, you are having another mighty one in your life before Yahweh.
We grow up with ways to live and things to believe. We all inherit something from our parents and grandparents. Some of it is good, but none of it is infallible. It always bows to Yahweh's law. What a parent or grandparent says is always secondary to what Yahweh says.
We read some things in the Bible, and we think, "Ok... I can go along with that," but that's the wrong mentality. That's reading the Bible to see what we agree with, and trashing what we don't agree with. Reading Yahweh's law is supposed to transform us. We are to read it, and the many times it goes against what we think or want, we are to humbly submit to what Yahweh says.
Far too often people begin with their conclusion. I'm talking about Christian people; people who profess to believe in Holy Scripture. We decide what we think is best. We decide what we want to believe, because of various reasons: parents, grandparents, denomination, life experience, what makes us feel good, a dream we had etc. Then we go to the Bible to try and find something to back us up. That's beginning with your conclusion. That is the wrong way to read the Bible, and it is a violation of the first commandment.
Obedience means reading the Bible in order to come to a conclusion of what to believe; in order to come to a conclusion of what is right and wrong. You study, not caring what anyone else thinks, over and above Yahweh. It's not that you don't care about people; you do. You just don't care about people as much as you care about what Yahweh.
It is in the times when you are reading and studying Holy Scripture, and you come across something that goes against what an authority structure taught you, or something that isn't popular in main stream culture, or something that is looked down upon by society. You decide that you will submit to Yahweh, in spite of what anyone else may think of you. These are the times when you are loving Yahweh. These are the times when you are saying, "Yahweh, you told me not to have other mighty ones before You, so I'm standing on what You have said."
So you see how this command is the pinnacle and summary of all other commands. This one comes first because it is first. It is a call of ultimate allegiance to Yahweh above anything or anyone else.
The SHEMA I coupled this commandment with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to begin the sermon, the passage which begins with the Hebrew word SHEMA, translated as "hear" or "listen." The word SHEMA doesn't mean a mere hearing of the ear. Yahweh isn't saying to just listen to Him audibly. He is saying "Listen with the intent to obey." Oftentimes the word SHEMA is translated in your Bible with the English word obey, because that's what it means. Deuteronomy 13:4 says to keep Yahweh's commands and listen (shema) to his voice. Listen intently, so you know how to obey. He that hath ears let him hear (Yeshua said). Not hear physically. Hear spiritually, so you obey.
What are we to obey in the SHEMA? So many people read Deuteronomy 6:4, using it in debates on how many persons God is. I've been guilty of this myself in talking with Trinitarians. "The SHEMA says the Lord is 1, not 3" I've said. But this is not the original meaning of the SHEMA. I don't hold to the Trinitarian idea of Yahweh. I do believe Yahweh is one, single person. But that is not the point of the SHEMA.
Deuteronomy 6:4 is not a theological statement of belief. It is an oath of loyalty. It is a command to Israel to have Yahweh as the supreme Mighty One in their life. Listen Israel. Listen with the intent on obeying this: Yahweh is our Mighty One. Yahweh alone. That's how some Bibles translate it, and I believe that is the better sense of the passage in context. The SHEMA is not declaring monotheism. It is commanding loyalty.
When Moses penned that down, he wasn't debating Trinitarians. Yahweh was giving a command that the Israelites were to have Yahweh as their sole authority. They were to have no other mighty ones before Him. That is the command to us today as well.
How We SHEMA We are to love Yahweh with everything. His law is to be our guide. His law is to be in our heart. His law is to be in our conversation, and even written on the doorpost of our house and upon our gates. Writing His law on your doorpost and gates goes beyond just the writing; it means that Yahweh is the center of your home. He is the Ruler of where you live. What goes on - on your property - is governed by the law of Yahweh. Listen Israel: Yahweh is your Mighty One. Yahweh alone. Serve no other. Pledge your allegiance to no other.
Anytime we say something is a sin that's not condemned in the law, we break the first commandment. Anytime we say something is not a sin, when it is a violation of the law, we break the first commandment. Anytime we read our own bias or personal prejudice into the law we break the first commandment.
We all come to Yahweh with baggage, and we fight hard because we want to keep at least some of that baggage. We fight because we are prideful people that do not want to submit to His authority.
It ruffles our feathers so much when we see something Yahweh teaches that doesn't go along with what we think. We start proof-texting. I've seen it done so much. You scramble to find a way to justify your thoughts. You desperately look for something in the Bible to fit your own thinking. And if that's what you want, that's what you will get. If you want to serve yourself or someone else; if you want to have a mighty one before Yahweh, you will have that mighty one.
Yahweh knows how much effort and study you put in. He sees whether or not you are diligently seeking His will. He knows the intents of your heart. He knows if you are submitting or resisting. He knows when you have an elohim before Him.
I believe we've all broken the first commandment, and since we have... we've broken the most important commandment in the law. All other commands fall under this one, and we are all guilty of disobedience.
The key is that you recognize your sin, ask Yahweh to forgive you for your sin, repent of your sin, place your faith in His Messiah who did not sin, and then ask Yahweh to help you put Him first. When you pray, ask Yahweh to help you read His Word with a willing heart. Ask Him to help you not fight what He has said. Ask Him to help you let go of traditions, ideologies, ways of thinking... that don't align with His instructions.
Yahweh must be number 1 all by Himself. No one else gets that spot. Oh how I've fallen so short. I'm thankful He forgives when we repent. I'm thankful He gave His Son as a substitute sacrifice for my breaking the first commandment. Now... I want to strive to obey Yahweh fully. I don't want to have another mighty one before Him.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 4:11-19
We now come to the commandment concerning images and likenesses. In the KJV, the first part of this commandment reads: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything."
If the only passage dealing with this subject was Exodus 20:4-6, we might come to the conclusion that any images, statues, icons, paintings, drawings, etc. are forbidden. Some people throughout history have come to that conclusion. Others have read the same commandment, and focused on the second part in the commandment where we read: "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." This view says that it is ok to make an image, so long as we do not bow down to, or serve the image.
Orthodox and Catholic The Orthodox Church, along with the Roman Catholic Church uses images and icons in their worship. They explain their use of images by saying that they are not worshiping the images, just venerating or honoring God or saints through the medium of the image.
An Orthodox believer would say that you might carry with you a picture of your spouse or children in your wallet (or in these days on your phone). If you are away from your family for an amount of time, such an image would mean a lot to you.
I remember watching Hacksaw Ridge, the movie where Desmond Doss (a 7th Day Adventist) joined the military, but kept a picture of his sweetheart with him to look at.
So... you might even kiss such a picture if you're away from someone you love for a long time, but you know that the picture is not the person. You are not idolizing the picture, you are just using it to help you remember someone you love.
Catholics would say the same, and maybe even go a step further. Some Orthodox believers limit their images to 2-dimensional icons; paintings of Christ and saints who have died in the faith. Catholics allow 3-dimensional images or statues. You've probably seen a crucifix before; a cross with a statue of Christ hanging on the cross. A Catholic believer would tell you that the he or she is using such a statue as a medium through which to worship THE Christ. They would say, "I am not worshiping the statue, only venerating or honoring the statue. It reminds me of Christ."
Protestant Reaction In history, some men in the Protestant Reformation re-acted to the Roman Catholic view by removing all images and icons from their churches. One such Protestant, a Puritan in the 1600's by the name of Thomas Watson, said: "The Church of Rome is reproved and condemned, which, from the Beginning of its religion to the End, is wholly idolatrous. Romanists make images of God the Father, painting him in their church windows as an old man; and an image of Christ on the crucifix; and, because it is against the letter of this commandment, they sacrilegiously blot it out of their catechism, and divide the tenth commandment into two."
Thomas Watson got a bit excited when he wrote that, because it's not technically accurate. If you pick up a Catholic Bible you will find the commandment we read at the beginning of this lesson there. They didn't remove it. What they do is number the Ten Commandments differently. They see Exodus 20:3 and Exodus 20:4-6 as all going together for the first commandment, and they explain the part about graven images and likenesses as pertaining to worship, not just the making of the image.
Thomas Watson, among others, re-acted to Rome's theology of images and use of images by removing all images from the church and worship setting. So even today, if you enter into a Protestant Church, you probably wouldn't see any images or icons anywhere. Walking into a Roman Catholic or Orthodox Church, you'd see quite a few.
But should we take a position on this issue by simply re-acting to another's point of view? Sometimes we do that. Sometimes we see how people do things religiously, and we think they are wrong, so we get as far away from their view as possible, and we forget about studying the Bible.
Are Images Forbidden? (Examples) Does Yahweh forbid the making of any image or likeness? Well... this commandment is found in Exodus 20:4-6, and just five chapters later, Yahweh gives another commandment in relation to the building of the Tabernacle. In Exodus 25 Yahweh commands that two cherub of gold be fashioned to go on top of the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was the holiest tangible object in Israel's faith, and was housed in the holiest place on earth. In it sat a pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded almonds, and the Ten Commandment stones. On top sat a lid, sometimes called the mercy seat, and on the lid were fashioned two statues - cherubs, or angelic creatures with their wings touching each other.
Then, in Exodus 26 Yahweh commands that the curtains for the Tabernacle have a design of cherubim (plural) worked into them. These are living creatures in the heavens above, and Yahweh is commanding that images of them be made.
We also see later on in the stationary tabernacle, known as the Temple in Jerusalem, that king Solomon had two 15 foot cherubs built out of olive wood, and the temple walls had carvings and engravings on them of cherubs, palm trees, and flower blossoms. You can read about this in 1 Kings 6.
1 Kings 7 mentions a cast metal reservoir that held water used for ceremonial washing. Ornamental gourds encircled the reservoir, and it stood on top of 12 statues of oxen facing outward in a circle. You can also read here about water carts for the Temple. The carts were framed, and on the frames were pictures of lions, oxen, and cherubim.
In 1 Kings 9 Yahweh told Solomon that He consecrated this Temple that Solomon had built, and Yahweh never said one negative word about all the images and likenesses inside the Temple.
Catholic and Orthodox Christians point all of this out when talking to Protestants. They say, "See, it's not the images or likenesses that are forbidden, but the bowing down to them and the worshiping of them."
The Bronze Snake They would also point out Numbers 21. Let's go to Numbers 21 and read verses 4-9.
4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea to bypass the land of Edom, but the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against Elohim and Moses: "Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!" 6 Then Yahweh sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died. 7 The people then came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against Yahweh and against you. Intercede with Yahweh so that He will take the snakes away from us." And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Make a snake [image] and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.
Yeshua mentions this account when speaking with Nicodemus. He says (John 3:14-15): "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life." Yeshua is equating himself with that bronze snake. Just like the Israelites were healed of their snake bites by looking on the bronze snake, the Israelites will be granted eternal life by looking upon the Son of Man. (I believe the lifting up here of the Son of Man is speaking of him being lifted up on a pole or cross, just like the bronze snake was mounted on a pole.)
Again, an image was made at the command of Yahweh. This bronze snake was not worshiped here in Numbers 21, but it was looked upon in accordance with the command of Yahweh.
Turn over to 2 Kings 18:1-4 and let me show you something. Let's read:
1 In the third year of Israel's King Hoshea son of Elah, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah. 2 He was 25 years old when he became king; he reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in Yahweh's sight just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He removed the high places and shattered the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah [poles]. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for the Israelites burned incense to it up to that time. He called it Nehushtan.
Nehushtan simply means "copper." Hezekiah called it "copper" to remind the Israelites that it was just an object. It had no life in it. The people had taken it too far. They were burning incense to it, which was worshiping the image.
What's the Answer? In studying the Scriptures, it appears that the Catholics and the Orthodox have a pretty good case for what they do. They acknowledge the commandment, but in light of the totality of Scripture, they believe the commandment forbids worshiping the images made, not the making of the images themselves.
Here's what I think they miss. There is no positive example in Scripture of any image being made of Yahweh, and then using that image in the worship of Him. There is also no positive example of the early New Covenant church making images or icons of the Messiah to use in their worship of Yeshua. This is where I think the Catholics and Orthodox go overboard.
It can be argued that an image of Yeshua is permitted, seeing he is a flesh and blood human. I can't argue against that, but (1) we must still guard against how it is used, and (2) how do we know what he looked like?
While some Protestants are too strict to have any images inside of a church setting (which is not Biblical), some Catholics and Orthodox go to the other extreme, and have images of the Almighty and Christ in the church setting, and set a level of affection on such images that I don't believe Yahweh is always comfortable with.
They might always come back with the rebuttal: "We are not worshiping the icon or the statue." But at what point does it become worship and thus sin? At what point does the veneration of images and icons become the worship of the image or icon?
I once had the opportunity go to San Antonio Texas, and visit a Roman Catholic Church built in the 1500's. The architecture was stunning, and there was a giant crucifix at the center of the front wall in the main sanctuary area. A young man knelt on a kneeler gazing at the crucifix with great affection. I wondered how long he would kneel there. It seemed like forever. Was this a mere looking upon the crucifix, as the Israelites looked upon the bronze serpent? Or was this overstepping the bounds of looking at the crucifix?
Remember: in 2 Kings 18 the Israelites were burning incense to the bronze snake. Nothing is said about praying to it, or bowing down to it, yet it was still seen as sin, because they had taken it too far.
When a person can look at a statue of the Virgin Mary and say: "Hail Mary Mother of God, full of grace and truth," is that not crossing the line? When a person can kiss a crucifix in a religious setting, is that not overstepping the bounds of the commandment?
None of the images or icons in the Old Testament were used in the proper worship of Yahweh. The images were there. The cherubim were there. The oxen were there. The bronze snake was there. But the most we can say is that these images were looked at. They were not kissed. No one bowed before the image. They were not held in the hand while an Israelite prayed. They were simply there, and in this list of images, there was never an approved image of Yahweh the Creator.
Can we go above and beyond what Yahweh has commanded and approved of? I don't believe so. While some Protestants may be disallowing less than what Yahweh allowed, we can't go beyond what Yahweh allows. According to Scripture, we would be allowed to have an image or icon here in the church setting, but (1) only to look at for its artistic beauty, (2) to bring to remembrance a great person or occurrence in Scripture, and (3) never of Yahweh.
The moment we begin worshiping Yahweh contrary to how He has prescribed, we open up a box that cannot be shut. This is why you see churches today doing everything under the sun in their worship service. I saw two guys do a rap about the UGA-Alabama SEC championship in front of their church during worship service. Then there was this pastor dude that came down from the balcony on a wire in an attempt to depict Christ coming in the clouds.
What has happened is that people have decided how they are going to worship Yahweh, when Yahweh has already prescribed how worship towards Him should go. We don't get to come up with our own images - our own imaginations - as to how He should be worshiped. We don't get to make a calf and proclaim (Exodus 32), "This is the elohim that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" No. We are to worship Him in the manner He prescribes. The Israelites were not creating another elohim in Exodus 32, they were depicting Yahweh by the calf. In the ancient near east, the bull was a sign of strength and power. They made this image to worship Yahweh through.
If He allows images and likenesses in the Tabernacle, so be it. But that doesn't mean we can make an image or likeness of Him who is the Creator, nor does it mean we can go beyond looking at the images that He allows, else they should be smashed into pieces like Hezekiah did to the bronze snake.
There are lawful things we may do outside of a church context. You wanna' go zip lining? Knock yourself out, but don't zip line into the pulpit to preach. You want to paint a picture, or make a carving, or form a statue. That is fine, but don't make one of Yahweh, and don't bow down or pray to any of the ones you are allowed to make.
It's about what makes Yahweh comfortable. It's not about what you want, it's about what He wants. Yahweh decides how He is to be worshiped, and we should respect His decision. Do what He says. Allow what He allows. Don't go beyond it, and don't condemn someone who stays in the parameters of the law, even if you personally refrain.
Some Protestants I believe are too strict on images and icons. And some Catholics and Orthodox I believe are not strict enough. We should always examine our practices in light of Holy Scripture, least we be involved in adding to or taking away from Yahweh's law. This commandment says that Yahweh is a jealous Mighty One. Let's not provoke our Mighty One to jealousy with an image or likeness.
As the end of the second commandment says: "For I Yahweh your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, punishing the children for the father's sin to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands."
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
Read Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12
I was talking to a fellow one time about the Sacred Name, and he remarked how it grated on him to hear someone swear using God's name. He made a clever statement by saying, "God's last name is not damn." I chuckled, and said, "You're right... and his first name is not God."
In Exodus 20:7, the KJV reads: "Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy Mighty One in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who taketh His name in vain."
The Complete Jewish Bible gives an interesting take on this verse that I believe is good. It reads: "You are not to use lightly the name of [Yahweh] your Mighty One, because [Yahweh] will not leave unpunished someone who uses His name lightly."
The First Commandment teaches us that there is no higher authority than Yahweh. The Second Commandment teaches that we should not form idols to represent Yahweh, and that we should worship Yahweh on His terms. The Third Commandment goes right along with these two in teaching that the name of the Almighty should be held sacred. His name expresses who He is. His name is part of who He is.
The Sacred Name I've used the name Yahweh in reading Exodus 20:7 from three versions of the Bible. This is because that is the name that belongs in Exodus 20:7. You'll find it rendered as "the LORD" in all capital letters in these Bibles. While "Lord" carries the meaning of Master or Superior, the letters there in Hebrew are yod, hey, waw, hey - coming over into English as YHWH. This is the Divine Name. This is the name that Yeshua spoke of in the prayer he taught us to pray: "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name."
During the second temple period, a Jewish tradition to not speak the Sacred Name came about. It started with a noble beginning. People were worried about violating the Third Commandment. They did not want to misuse the Name, take it in vain, or use it lightly. That's a righteous concern. The problem is, oftentimes when we place fences around the law, we end up violating the law in other areas.
You will never find any Patriarch, Prophet, or Holy Man in Scripture that felt this way about the Third Commandment. Psalm 99:6 says: "Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also was among those calling on His name. They called to Yahweh, and He answered them." At the burning bush in Exodus 3:15, the Almighty said to Moses: "Yahweh is my name forever. It is my memorial to all generations." The word memorial means "my remembrance." Yahweh is telling Moses, "This is how I want to be remembered." The NIV says here: "This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation."
It is important that we use the name of Yahweh, because it's how He desires to be remembered. We may say, "When I say 'the Lord," he knows who I'm talking about," but it doesn't matter how we think He should be remembered. What matters is what He wants, and what He commands.
The name Yahweh means "I will be who I will be" rendered in many Bibles as "I am that I am." The meaning carries with it the idea that He is the Creator. He is the Sustainer of the Universe. He is self-existent. No one brought Him into existence. He is the One who makes everything else happen. Every time we say "Yahweh" we are acknowledging His supremacy over the Universe. Yahweh is not just any name. It is the Supreme Name.
So a first way we take His name in vain is by not using it. The word vain means "nothingness, emptiness, to bring to naught or falsity." The Jewish tradition says: "If we do not speak the Divine Name, we will not have the possibility of mis-using the Name." The problem is: by not speaking it, we are bringing it to naught. We are removing from our vocabulary the very Name the Creator desires to be remembered by.
The Taking of Oaths A second way we violate the Third Commandment is by taking His name upon our lips in a vow or oath, and not keeping that vow. This is likely the primary meaning of the commandment in the days of old. Deuteronomy 6:13 says: "Fear Yahweh your Mighty One, worship Him, and take your oaths in His name."
In Genesis 24 Abraham required his servant to swear by Yahweh that he would perform a task. In Jeremiah 34 the Israelites are said to have freed their male and female servants in the year of release (the 7th year), but then to have changed their mind and enslaved these people all over again. Verses 14-15 of that chapter read:
Today you repented and did what pleased Me, each of you proclaiming freedom for his neighbor. You made a covenant before Me at the temple called by My name. But you have changed your minds and profaned My name. Each has taken back his male and female slaves who had been freed to go wherever they wanted, and you have again subjugated them to be your slaves.
Oaths were taken in the name of Yahweh to show forth the seriousness of the oath. No one else could really hold you accountable to an oath. But Yahweh says that he will. He will punish those who do not keep their oaths in His name.
When you promise Yahweh you will do something. When you pray to Yahweh and tell him you are going to do something, and then you back off of that, you've taken His name in vain.
In Matthew 5 Yeshua rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for developing a loophole in this law of swearing by Yahweh's name. Yeshua told them, "Don't take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is the Almighty's throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black."
Some have taken Yeshua's words as a command to not take oaths, even oaths in Yahweh's name, but that would contradict what Yahweh says in Deuteronomy 6:13.
What is happening here is: the Pharisees had come up with a way of taking oaths that did not technically hold them accountable. They would swear, but they wouldn't use the Sacred Name in their oath. They'd swear by heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem, or the hair of their beard, and then when they didn't keep their word, it would be ok... at least in their minds.
Yeshua is saying: "Don't take this kind of an oath at all. Your yes should be yes. Your no should be no." Oaths should be serious. We shouldn't have to go around swearing oaths all the time to prove our word. Our word should be yes and no on a regular basis.
When I was a teenager, I heard of one guy on the construction job site who would always tell a story and then say, "That's the God's honest truth y'all." When he said that, you knew He was lying. As soon as he brought God into it, it got sketchy.
You don't have to swear all the time to back up your word, but we should perform oaths in Yahweh's name, and then stick with those oaths. We have righteous examples of this in Scripture.
Using the Name Lightly A third way we can violate this commandment is by using Yahweh's name flippantly, in a joking or light manner. His name should be held Sacred. That doesn't mean we can't use His Name in our everyday speech. For example, in the book of Ruth, Boaz came out to greet His workers by saying, "Yahweh be with you." That is acceptable. It's okay to use Yahweh's name in your day-to-day speech.
What we want to make sure we do not do is use it lightly. Don't speak Yahweh's name in a joke. Don't use it half-heartedly, or Yah-forbid, in the midst of unrighteous anger or in a curse.
In Leviticus 24 a fight broke out between an Israelite woman's son and an Israelite man, and the woman's son cursed and blasphemed the Sacred Name. The young man was brought to Moses, and when Moses went and asked Yahweh what should be done, Yahweh told him to stone the young man to death. Yahweh told Moses: "If anyone curses his Mighty One, he will bear the consequences of his sin."
This brings me back to the beginning of my sermon where I talked about the man who said "God's last name is not damn." Now I do not believe that "God" is the name of the Creator, but I do believe that when people use the expression "God damn," they are blaspheming the Creator, because that is the intent behind the phrase. In their minds, God means the Mighty One spoken about in the Holy Bible. So when someone uses this expletive, they are violating the Third Commandment in principle. They are using an appellative for Yahweh in a demeaning way.
The Way We Live Life A fourth way we can violate the Third Commandment is by living a lifestyle that doesn't promote the ways of Yahweh. People who know us know that we stand for the name of Yahweh, and thus what we do shines a big, bright light on His name. If we use His name on our lips and then live a life of wickedness, it brings dishonor to His name.
The Apostle Paul wrote of the Sacred Name being blasphemed among the heathens because of the way certain Israelites were living. Paul rebukes hypocrisy. He says that some Israelites say they uphold the law, and boast in the Almighty, but do not practice what they speak. He says, "You then who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor the Almighty by breaking the law? For as it is written, the name of the Almighty is blasphemed among the heathen because of you." That's Romans 2:17-24.
We are to live in such a way that people see we are different in a good way. In our marriages, child-rearing, business, recreation, etc. People should see righteousness and truth. Our lives should bring honor to the name of Yahweh. People should trust us. People should come to us for help. People should ask us to pray for them. But when we half-heartedly serve Yahweh, or speak His name and then live the opposite way, we cause His name to be blasphemed among the heathen.
The Lord Spoke to Me A fifth way of violating this command is when people so casually claim the Lord spoke to them about something. It's like some people have a big red phone that they can call the Lord on. I'm not saying Yahweh can't speak to you, I'm just saying (1) I don't believe the majority of the claims, because they are much too frequent and nonsensical, (2) don't say it if you just felt an impulse while reading or studying, and (3) don't say it unless it actually happened.
There's only a handful of people in all of Scripture that Yahweh spoke to verbally. He's not just cavalierly speaking to people left and right today. If you claim He spoke to you, and it didn't happen, you've just used His name in vain. You've just attributed something to Him that is false.
Sin, Repentance, Forgiveness The first use of the law is as a mirror to show us our sin. Each time I teach on a commandment, if the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, you will be convicted of something. I want you to know that you can repent, and He will forgive you with open arms. He loves those who repent daily and seek to obey Him with their whole heart. While he will not leave unpunished those who take His name in vain, He will reward those who reverence and honor His name. May we be among those who have a high regard for His name, and be a special possession on the day He is preparing. May He have compassion on us as a man has compassion on his son who serves Him.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:8-11
There are hundreds of commandments in the Bible. Here in Exodus 20 we have a 10 point summary of them. It is difficult to say which of the 10 is your favorite, because they are all good and holy. But, if I had to pick one to call my favorite, it would probably be the 4th commandment.
The Sabbath is a weekly recharge of your natural and spiritual batteries. The old Puritan Thomas Watson said: "The business of week days makes us forgetful of God and our souls: the Sabbath brings Him back to our remembrance." It's not that we forget Yahweh throughout the week, but we become forgetful. We get involved in life's activities. We have busy schedules. We have things to take care of. The Sabbath brings all of that to a halt. We pause. We remember why we are here on this planet.
The command brings the Creator to mind. Yahweh is not asking us to do something that He doesn't do. He's asking us to follow His example. Genesis 2:2 says that Yahweh "rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done." We are called to do as He did.
Slavery vs. Freedom The Sabbath reminds us that we aren't slaves. Slaves of man are made to work hard and work all the time. Slave-drivers do not care about their slaves. We are servants of Yahweh, but He cares about us. He gives us a day off.
If you have a job you work hard at, and your employer says: "You're doing a great job. You've been working hard. You need a day off. Your job security is fine, I just want you to take a rest day each week." Would you think that employer was a slave-driver, or a nice guy? The allowance of a rest day equals a good boss.
Everyone Gets to Sabbath The Sabbath teaches us to respect everyone, regardless of their status. The command says "you must not to any work - you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates." Your children, your servants, and the foreigners get to keep Sabbath. The Sabbath was for anyone who joined to Israel. Isaiah 56 says that the foreigners who keep the Sabbath will be blessed.
Yahweh respects all life, right down to the animals. Horses were used for transportation. Cows and donkeys were used for plowing, or carrying burdens. But on the Sabbath, they all get a rest. We have a righteous Elohim that regards the life of even the animals.
Is the Law a Burden? It's amazing that people think and teach the law as a burden, when we have one of the Ten Commandments that says to rest for a whole day each week. How is that a burden?
And on top of that, Yahweh only asks for 1 day and gives us 6 days. We are to live holy everyday, but all days are not holy. The 6 work days are common, meaning we are to labor in them, and do our chores, errands, and mundane things. The 7th day belongs to Him. He blessed in the 7th day in Genesis 2:3, declaring it holy.
He could have asked for 6 days and given us 1, but He didn't. He only asked for 1 day. Is 1 too much? Are we so stingy that we won't remember to dedicate the 1 day that He has blessed and sanctified? That's 24 hours a week y'all. We have 144 hours to work and do what we want to do, within the confines of His law. He only asks for 24 hours to be dedicated solely to Him.
No Work at All The Sabbath is a day of no work. Not just commerce or gainful employment, but any work. Doing your laundry. Taking out the trash. Cleaning your home, etc. I'm not saying that if you make a sandwich you can't scrape the crumbs off the counter top. Or if your baby has an accident on the floor your can't get the Swiffer out. Let's not get Pharisaical here. Pharisees always complicate things. You get the picture. Stop working. Rest. Don't do what you normally do the other 6 days of the week.
Seeing that work stops on the Sabbath, the commandment includes that no buying and selling take place on the Sabbath. You aren't to work for someone else, and someone else should not be working for you. The clearest place we see this in Scripture is Nehemiah 13:15-22, which I'd like to turn to and read.
15 At that time I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in stores of grain and loading [them] on donkeys, along with wine, grapes, and figs. All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned [them] against selling food on that day. 16 The Tyrians living there were importing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah in Jerusalem. 17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them: "What is this evil you are doing-profaning the Sabbath day? 18 Didn't your ancestors do the same, so that our God brought all this disaster on us and on this city? And now you are rekindling [His] anger against Israel by profaning the Sabbath!" 19 When shadows began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave orders that the gates be closed and not opened until after the Sabbath. I posted some of my men at the gates, so that no goods could enter during the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and those who sell all kinds of goods camped outside Jerusalem, 21 but I warned them, "Why are you camping in front of the wall? If you do it again, I'll use force against you." After that they did not come again on the Sabbath. 22 Then I instructed the Levites to purify themselves and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, my Mighty One, and look on me with compassion in keeping with Your abundant, faithful love.
The Sabbath was a big deal to Nehemiah, because he knew the commandment. Sometimes people wonder why we make such a big deal about the commandments. The answer is simple: they are Yahweh's commandments. He's the Creator. He created us, and knows what is best for us. If He commands us to do something, or not to do something, it's a big deal. If it's a big deal to Him, it should be a big deal to us.
One time a Pastor and I had a conversation about the Sabbath. He asked me: "Don't you think you're being a bit legalistic (by keeping the fourth commandment)?" I asked him if he kept the 7th commandment (don't commit adultery). When he said yes, I asked: "Don't you think you're being a bit legalistic?" It's righteousness, not legalism, when we obey Yahweh's commandments.
Our Schedules The Sabbath reminds us that we live on borrowed time. Yahweh is the Creator of time. He makes everything tick. In Him we live and move and have our being. If time is His, we should make sure we are using His time, the life He gives us, to honor Him.
Have you ever thought about this? Whatever you schedule around is what is most important to you. When you get out your calendar for the week, and something is top priority to you, you make sure it happens. No matter if it's a ballgame, or your favorite show on TV, or something you need to do around the house. It's ok to have things on our schedule, but when the Sabbath rolls back around, it needs to be the main thing we are scheduling around, because you wouldn't even have any time if not for Yahweh.
If you love your wife, you'll spend time with your wife. And if you love the Lord, you'll spend time with Him. You'll schedule around His Sabbath. "Nope. I can't do this thing on that day, because it's the Sabbath day." "I'm sorry, but I won't be able to make it to that event, we have our holy convocation for the Sabbath then." The Sabbath should be the most important thing on your calendar.
The Sabbath Gathering Speaking of holy convocation, that's another aspect of Sabbath-keeping. Holy Convocation is an old, English way of speaking about a set-apart public gathering. The HCSB calls them "sacred assemblies" in Leviticus 23. It's what you might call a church service. What we are doing here. We have set aside a time for the Sabbath to have a weekly public meeting. We pray, we sing, we share testimonies, we read Scripture, and we have the teaching of the Word.
Yeshua always attended synagogue on the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 says: "As usual, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day." The KJV says "as his custom was." The word synagogue means an assembly of people. It's the same as our word church, that doesn't just refer to a building we meet in, but also the people that meet together. We do this, right here, to encourage one another. Sabbath service is like pulling back into the gas station to fill up with gas. If you forsake to assemble yourself together with the brothers and sisters on the Sabbath day, you will slowly fade away into more and more of yourself, rather than more and more of Yahweh. The Sabbath gathering is a way to keep yourself in check. It is a way to have accountability in your life.
We come in here and hug one another. We smile at one another. We sing songs to and about Yahweh with one another. Some of us sing in tune, others out of tune, but we all make a joyful noise to Yahweh. We listen to a lesson taught from the Word, so that we are taught to obey the Word. We are here for Yahweh, but we reap the benefit. We are here to keep the commandment to assemble, but in keeping it, Yahweh grants us spiritual strength.
Hebrews 10:25 tells us we should not stay away from the assembly, as some people habitually do, but come together and encourage one another. We are here for Yahweh first, and each other second. We are here to promote love and good works. You can't do that if you always stay at home and never attend Sabbath service.
I stand by everything I've just said, but let me say this as well: I realize some people live in areas without fellowship. That's why we offer the call-in number, and live Facebook feed. If that's the best you can do, Yahweh understands. I also realize that people get sick or care for those who are sick in their family. I'm not referring to these people. Forsaking the assembly means that you have the ability to come to the Sabbath gathering, nothing is holding you back, but your flesh. When you do that, you are sinning against Yahweh
Overlooked There's much that can be said about this commandment. It is overlooked in our day and time. You'll often hear things like "The Sabbath has been abolished. Jesus is our Sabbath now. We don't have to keep a day holy, etc." But none of that is in the Bible. People derive that from certain verses they take out of context.
Yahweh kept the Sabbath. Yeshua kept the Sabbath. They still keep the Sabbath. Why in the world would we not keep the Sabbath? I can think of no better examples to follow.
Cooking? There are some intricacies in Sabbath keeping. There are some things that you will do as you grow and learn. For example, from reading Exodus 16 I came to conclusion years ago that we shouldn't cook on the Sabbath. Not all the people of Yahweh agree. Some of the brothers and sisters I've met over the years see that chapter as teaching against going out to gather on the Sabbath rather than cooking. I honestly can see and understand that position, but I would still say that some forms of cooking are work. There's a difference between making some coffee or a sandwich, and putting together a 3 course dinner. You could just decide to eat raw on the Sabbath, or even fast on the Sabbath, and then you don't have to worry about much of anything.
Details What you need to do is study the Torah portions about the Sabbath. Look up the word Sabbath in a concordance, and read every section in the Law and Prophets that talk about Sabbath-keeping. You will grow as you learn, and something you may allow in your life now may be disallowed a year from now, but that's how life serving Yahweh goes. He doesn't plop everything down on us at once. He's gracious to let us learn at a slow pace. This race we run is a marathon, not a sprint.
Never be so tedious about the Sabbath that you make it into a burden. The Pharisees did this during the days of Yeshua. They didn't want Yeshua healing anyone on the Sabbath. Some Sabbath traditions even later included making sure to tear your toilet paper before the Sabbath arrived. That's not the heart of the Sabbath. If you want to go outside and take a walk, breathe fresh air, and enjoy Yahweh's creation, that's fine. Don't put on your running gear... Lol, but go for a walk if you want to. If you need to use the bathroom, it's ok to tear the toilet paper. Yeshua teaches that it's also ok to take care of your animals on the Sabbath. They still have to drink and eat. And he healed people on the Sabbath too.
Life always takes precedent. There's been times where I've went and visited people in the hospital on the Sabbath. A hospital doesn't have to shut down on Sabbath. They are caring for the sick. People are in need. I've bought a parking ticket on the Sabbath so that I could sit with someone in the hospital who needed a friend. It's lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
When it comes to what you do and what you don't do on the Sabbath, first stick with what is written, and second check your heart. What is your motive? Ask yourself if something is necessary, or can it wait?
Always plan for the Sabbath. In Exodus 16, the 6th day of the week is called "Preparation Day." If we fail to plan we plan to fail. You can make a list of things you need to get done on Preparation day. Years ago I started working a half-day on Preparation Day, so I could get home and get everything ready for the Sabbath. Run those errands. Get gas. Prepare that meal. Take out the trash. Tidy up. The more you prepare, the more peaceful your Sabbath will be. Then when the Sabbath arrives, rest.
Conclusion Let me say that this sermon is not meant to be a detailed examination of how to keep the Sabbath, nor a rebuttal to the claim that the Sabbath has now been abolished. This sermon is a broad overview of the commandment. How the commandment is a blessing. What it means. How we can observe it.
There's also the matter of when the Sabbath is. Myself... I'm a lunar Sabbath man. I believe the Sabbath is regulated by the lunar-solar calendar. But if you're not at the same understanding, honor what you see at this time. I respect anyone who actually honors a Sabbath as they understand it. This message is not about Sabbath timing. That's for another message or series.
Don't forget the Sabbath saints. It's the only commandment in the 10 that Yahweh says to remember, but it's the commandment that is most forgotten. If you've been forgetting to keep it holy, you can start at this point in your life. You can commit to keeping this commandment, and you will be blessed for doing so. Yahweh will forgive you for all your breakings of the Sabbath if you ask him to, and repent. Yeshua died for your Sabbath breakings. He wants to renew you, and teach you his ways.
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:12
Loving Yahweh In the lessons on the first four commandments, we have looked at commandments that apply to our relationship to Yahweh. There is some overlap. For example, the Sabbath day is not just about our relationship with Yahweh, but also our interaction with each other. But for the most part, the first four commandments teach us how to love Yahweh.
If we desire to love Yahweh, he will be our primary authority (1st commandment). We will worship Him how He desires (2nd commandment), we will not use His name lightly (third commandment), and we will rest on the day He has sanctified (fourth commandment).
Loving Our Neighbor We come today to the 5th commandment, concerning honoring our father and mother. This begins a set of commandments that deal with our relationship with each other. This does not mean that these commands aren't about loving Yahweh. All commandment keeping shows our love for Yahweh. It's just that these commands deal more with person-to-person interaction. How we treat others.
Loving your neighbor doesn't mean you have warm, fuzzy feelings toward your neighbor. Loving your neighbor doesn't mean you love what they believe or the lifestyle they choose. Christians sometimes get bent out of shape when they hear me say to love all your neighbors. Your atheist neighbor. Love them. Your Muslim neighbor. Love them. Your gay neighbor. Love them. People get upset at such statements because they are equating love with an affirmation of the life choices of a person. That's not what love is.
Love is keeping the commandments of Yahweh (1 John 5:3). No more. No less. So... let's use our atheist neighbor. We are to love them. That means we respect them as a human being; an image bearer of the Creator. We speak kindly to them. We don't murder them or harm them. We don't steal from them. If they have a spouse we don't cheat with their spouse. We don't falsely accuse them of something. We don't covet what belongs to them. This is all loving your atheist neighbor.
You love your atheist neighbor by how you interact with them, and I will add, in hopes that through your love they will come to believe in Yahweh and Yeshua. Yeshua says that the world will know his disciples by our love. If your atheist neighbor does not receive love from you as a disciple of Yeshua, they will look for love from a disciple of the Devil.
This is what love is. This is what it means to keep the commandments. And this intro about loving our neighbor is a segway into the first command that deals with one way we love our neighbor: we honor our father and our mother.
Our Mom and Dad are Neighbors Our mom and dad are our neighbor? Absolutely, but be honest... you don't normally think of a parent as a neighbor. You think of them as... daddy and mama. But they are your neighbor; some of your closest neighbors.
The hardest people to love are the ones closest to us, because when you get close to someone you start seeing all of their flaws. You meet someone for the first time and you're all like, "Yeah, it's easy to love them! They're so nice and friendly. They're so outgoing. They don't even get mad." But you spend a week, a month, a year, or years with that same person, and the real person comes out to play. This is when we really see if we have love. Love bears all things. Love never fails.
Our family - our parents, our spouse, our children, our siblings - are our closest neighbors. Loving your neighbor begins with loving your family. Loving your neighbor begins with loving and honoring your mom and dad.
Disobedience Equals Moral Decline When a person, or a nation of people, stops honoring those who have already lived life before them, they are asking for trouble. When you don't see your parents and elders as worthy of respect, get ready for chaos to take place. Your parents are not perfect, and neither are you when it's your turn. Stop making perfection the criteria for honor. People make mistakes. People sin. When someone asks for forgiveness and repents, forgive them, and always give them the love you are commanded to give.
Your parents have already walked in your shoes. They've already been each age you are and will experience, no matter how old you get. You hit 10, 20, 30, 40... they been there, done that, got the t-shirt. No matter how old you get, your mama and daddy have already lived life through that age. They know what it's like. It's plumb stupid for you to think you cannot learn from someone who has already lived through and experienced life at your age.
The older I get, the more I respect my parents. I don't just respect them for my Christian upbringing, or for teaching me to believe in Holy Scripture, or for taking me to church every week. Yes, I absolutely respect them for those things, but I respect them simply because they are my parents.
It's becoming more and more accepted to dishonor your parents or the elderly. "They are old. They don't know what they're talking about. They don't keep up with the times." Get that corn outta' my face. That ain't Biblical. Biblical is: "Listen my son to your father's instructions, and don't reject your mother's teaching, for they will be a garland of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck." (Proverbs 1:8-9)
You Keep Honoring Your Parents Younger people are always to respect older people. I'm almost 38 years old, and the command to honor my parents still applies just as much now as it did when I was 10. I haven't lived with my parents for a long time. They no longer take care of me and provide for me. I'm an adult with 5 children, 2 of my children grown and married, and 1 grandchild, but the command to honor my father and mother still applies to me as a grown man.
If I'm at my dad's house, and he says, "Son, can I get you to help me with something?" I help him. I don't say, "I'm older now. I don't live here. Can't you get it yourself?" No, no, no, that's disrespectful. I do what he asks. Same with mama. If mama needs me to move something heavy, I move it. I don't say I'm too tired. I don't say I've gotta' leave. I move it for mama, because she's my mama. Not long ago my Grandaddy asked me if I would stay overnight with him at the hospital. The only answer to that question is: "Yes sir."
I was raised to talk with respect to my parents. I was raised to say yes sir and yes ma'am. I was raised to have a hickory switch comes across my calves if I disrespected my parents or grandparents. Grandmama made me pick my own hickory, and I better get a good one or else she would pick it for me. I was raised not to talk back; not to sass my elders. I was raised to respect people older than me, simply by virtue of the fact that they were older.
Some More Scriptures Exodus 21:15 and 17 says that a person who hits their parent is worthy of death. It also says a person who curses their parent is worthy of death. Those are crimes in Yahweh's eyes. We might think that such a penalty does not match the crime, but it doesn't matter what we think. It only matters what Yahweh says. He sees 5th commandment violation as a capital crime worthy of capital punishment.
Leviticus 19:32 says that we are even to stand up to honor the gray hair of a man. As people get older, their hair color changes. It's a sign of an elder. Proverbs 20:29 says "the beauty of the old men is the gray head." An elder walks into a room or into our presence, we rise. We rise because they've lived life for a long time. Gray hair is a sign of many miles on a pair of feet. Those feet have walked for a long time. Those hands are rough. They've worked for many years.
1 Timothy 5:1 says: "Don't rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father." The NLT says: "Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father." Us younger people shouldn't talk to elders like we talk among ourselves. Even when we think an elder is wrong, we should appeal to him or entreat him with great respect, never in rebuke or harshness. There is a way to properly discuss with an elder. There is a way to sit still and be quiet and wait our turn while an old man or woman talks. They get first say. They get first seat. They get first in line.
1 Timothy 5:3 says to support widows who are genuinely widows. Paul goes on to explain that a genuine widow is at least 60 years old. An elderly woman who has been faithful to Yahweh and to the church should be supported financially; first by her children, or if she has no children, by the church. She has worked for others her whole life, so now it's time that we work for her.
This is where the concept of senior discounts comes from. They get a discount because they've been living for a long time, and using their money longer than you and me. They've bought and bought, so now it's time for them to get a break. Senior discounts is one way to honor the elderly.
You Learn as You Get Older You see all this clearly as you get older. You realize it some when you are younger, even as a kid. If you're 16 and you have a sibling half your age (at 8), you expect your parents to treat you different than the 8 year old. You expect to have more privilege. You expect the 8 year old to even respect you at 16. Why? Because you are older. With age comes respect.
I remember when I had one child, then two, then three... up to 5... and the more Tisha and I had to parent and train and instruct our children; the more we had to be adults, work hard, pay bills, change diapers, take care of problems, take care of sick kids, rush kids to the emergency room, worry, and do all the other things... the more I was thankful for my parents.
There's been times in my life when I did not realize all the sacrifices my parents made. You just don't until you get older and do life more. I'm not sure you even have the ability to understand how much goes into being an adult and parenting until it's your turn to experience it.
Submit Unless... The only exception to you disobeying your parents or your elders is if they are attempting to command you to sin; to bring harm on others, or if they are going to bring harm on themselves. In all else submit. Whether you agree or not, submit. Whether they are right or wrong, submit. If you don't feel like doing what they ask, do it anyway. They are your parents. They are your authority.
I know some people haven't had good parents. I'm sorry. I'm not here to bring up bad memories or experiences in your life. But no matter who you are, somebody - someone older than you stepped in and helped you as a child. A parent doesn't have to be biological. A parent is whoever steps in and does the work. It might be a Grandparent, or an adoptive father or mother. It might be a counselor. It might be a pastor. Someone guided you and helped you as a child.
Their Mistakes Don't Exempt Us Parents make mistakes. We all do. No one is always going to do the right thing. But your mama and daddy are still your mama and daddy. Your honoring them and respecting them and taking care of them is not giving them a pass on their failures. You aren't honoring them due to their perfection. And your kids will not honor you due to your perfection. It is age we are honoring. It is experience we are honoring. It is the school of hard knocks we are honoring. It is time that we are honoring.
Taking Care of Your Parents This command will become mega-applicable when my parents reach the age or stage where they can no longer take care of themselves. There will come a day when that happens, and the roles will be reversed. I was once a little child, and my dad and mom took care of me. I couldn't care for myself.
I would have died as an infant or toddler if my parents wouldn't have taken care of me. I probably would have died as a teenager had they not been there, lol. There will be a time when they need me like I needed them. The older a parent gets the more this is seen. At that point, this commandment takes on another level. It's not that this part of the command hasn't been there, it's just that the honor must be given in a different way.
You may have to bathe your mama or daddy. You may have to feed them, or make sure they eat. You may have to sing to them like they sang to you. You may have to drive them places, or take them to get a hair cut. You may have to do all the things that they can no longer do, just like they did for you when you were little.
When that time comes, you have to forget about yourself. It's not time to take trips, or worry about what you want to do. If you live far away from your parent, it's time to move close to them, or take them into your home. They need you, just like you once needed them.
Elderly people often live out their last years in isolation and loneliness. I sometimes do jobs for older people, and you can tell that they never get any company, because they get excited about the septic tank man coming out to work on their septic tank.
I once had an 83 year old man help me dig up a septic tank, pump it out, cover it back up when I was through, and then say: "Let me get us something to drink and we'll sit right here for a second." I was by myself that day, and I was busy, but I stayed there and drank that sweet tea with that old man, because I could tell he was enjoying himself. And... what is life if we don't live it to bless others? So what if I got behind in my schedule. This man likely worked hard most of his life, and he missed working, and missed having company. We just sat there, and I listened to him talk.
The Promise Ephesians 6:2 says: "Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land."
A parent's instructions to children are for their good. Within the instructions are embedded blessings for the child. Obedience causes prosperity. Disobedience causes problems.
This doesn't mean people who obey their parents don't have problems, or that everyone who obeys the command lives to be 120 years old. The promise simply means that with obedience to the commandment, comes a more prosperous and longer life than otherwise. Both for the child and the parent.
A parent who gets old or sick will live longer when their child is taking care of them. A child will be more blessed by paying attention to and heeding the instruction of their parent. They will have less trouble by listening to wise counsel.
We learn here that commandment keeping earns something. We aren't earning salvation, but we are earning blessings. The blessings aren't something that comes after the commandment is kept, but are embedded within the commandment. Your life will be better lived by following Yahweh's instruction manual.
Law and Gospel As I put this lesson together, I had memories come up where I did not honor my parents. Where I thought I knew better than them, or rolled my eyes at their instruction, or lied to them about a certain situation, etc. It made me repent all over again.
The good news of the gospel is that we can ask for forgiveness, be forgiven, repent and do better. Meditating on the 5th commandment this week has reminded me of the need for evaluating how I can honor my parents, and honor the elderly in general, even at an adult age. This is why we are studying the commandments. Studying them causes you to repent, bringing each instruction to the forefront of your mind and heart.
May we honor our fathers and our mothers.
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:13; 21:12-14
We come today to the commandment that deals with the sanctity of human life; how much life is to be protected, and treasured, and honored.
Life is the greatest of all the commandments. You are allowed to break Sabbath to save life. You are allowed to lie to save life. Nothing comes before life.
The old story of the lake with the sign in front that says "Do Not Swim" comes to mind. A child breaks the law and decides to swim in the lake, but begins to drown as he gets out into the deep. On a walk you come across the lake and see the child drowning. Do you obey the law, or swim out into the deep to save the child? You save the child, because the child's life matters more than the law of "Do Not Swim."
We experience how blessed and treasured life is when someone dies or gets deathly sick. It's not that we don't know it before, it just comes to light in a stronger way when someone we love is sick in the hospital. We wonder if they will make it or not. We sit by their side. We pray with them. We read to them. We see with new eyes that life really is precious, and not to be taken for granted.
When King Hezekiah became sick unto death (in 2 Kings 20), he was told by the prophet Isaiah: "Get your house in order. You are going to die, and not live." Hezekiah turned his face to wall, prayed to Yahweh, and wept bitterly. He wept because he did not want to die. Being faced with bad news like that brings everything to the forefront. His life flashed before his eyes. Life is sacred. Life is to be appreciated.
Ways of Murder Murder is malicious intent to take a person's life for any reason that Yahweh has not defined as lawful. The obvious kind of murder is when we hear or see on the news that someone gunned down a person, or stabbed a person out of anger or envy or just in a senseless act of violence. We all know that is wrong. Even pagan, atheistic society knows that is wrong. I believe they know it's wrong because they too are created in the image of Yahweh. They deny the Creator, but in their Yah-given conscience they get this law right, because you just can't deny it.
Plotting or Planning But there are other ways to commit murder. You don't have to shoot someone with a gun, or stab someone with a knife. You can plan for someone to be murdered, and you are complicit in the act. Queen Jezebaal did this to a man named Naboth. In 1 Kings 21, Ahab, Jezebaal's husband, coveted the vineyard of Naboth. Jezebaal (in an effort to take away his vineyard) set up two false witnesses saying that Naboth had cursed the Almighty and the king. Naboth was stoned to death, and Jezebaal never threw one stone, yet she was guilty of murder. Plotting, or being in on planning a murder, is murder.
Hatred and Jealousy You can hate someone in your heart for no reason, just out of envy, strife, bitterness, jealousy... and it is murder, because it is where murder begins. 1 John 3:15 says: "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him." Yeshua explains in the Sermon on the Mount that this commandment isn't just one forbidding taking someone's life, but it also forbids hating people. Having hatred in your heart, or wishing ill will on a person is murder of the heart.
Cursing, Speech Cursing someone, calling someone a fool, or a moron, or an idiot, is murdering them with your tongue. James 3:9-10 says that our tongues are a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With them we bless Yahweh, and yet with the same tongue we curse men who are made in Yahweh's image and likeness. My brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be.
The Image of Yahweh That verse in James reminds me of why it is wrong to murder a person. It's not just that you are taking away a life, else murder would be something you could do to an animal. But in scripture the killing of an animal is not penned down as being murder. I believe we should respect animal life. I don't believe in hunting for sport. I believe a righteous man cares for the life of an animal. But when we kill an animal for meat, or when an animal was sacrificed as a burnt offering, it is never considered murder.
Murder is taking away the life of a human being, and that is because human beings are made in the image and likeness of the Almighty. When you murder a human being, you are murdering the image of Yahweh. When you curse or slap a human being, you are cursing or slapping the image of Yahweh.
Genesis 9:6 mentions this by saying: "Whoever sheds man's blood, his blood will be shed by man, for the Almighty made man is his image."
Capital Punishment We get the concept of capital punishment, for murder, here in this text. Capital punishment, the taking of a murderer's life as punishment for what he or she has done, is not murder. Yahweh allows for this, and sanctions this. Murder is a capital crime. There has to be punishment for such a crime, else crime will run rampant. The punishment Yahweh gives is death. Why? Because as Genesis 9 says: "the Almighty made man in his image." When a murderer does his deed, he is murdering the image of Yahweh. Therefore his punishment is that his life be taken away.
Capital punishment upholds the sanctity of life. It says: "You can't take an innocent person's life and not suffer severe punishment. You must pay for what you have done." I believe that neglecting capital punishment in cases of murder, is a violation of the 6th commandment. The old Puritan writer Thomas Watson said it nicely: "A felon having committed six murders, the judge may be said to be guilty of five of them, because he did not execute the felon for his first offence." Denying capital punishment for a convicted murderer is not protecting life. It is spitting on life. It is saying: "I don't really care about life. This crime is not that bad."
Summarizing the Command So... murder means more than just killing someone with a weapon out of hatred. We are seeing that "do not murder" includes to save life. Cherish life. Take care of people. Help people. Do good to others. Safety first. Don't harbor hatred and bitterness. Be kind. Love. Speak gently. All of these concepts are incorporated in the simple one line command "do not murder."
Stepping In, Protecting Life Here's another aspect of this command... you see someone getting beat up on the side of the road? Step in and help protect life. You see someone in danger? Call the police. You see a woman being raped in an alleyway, or wherever, you are obligated to do whatever is in your power to stop the crime. Just walking by a situation like these and doing nothing is considered partaking in the crime. You may not be the active participant, but you are a participant, because you did nothing to stop the crime.
Deuteronomy 22 speaks of a woman being raped out in a field. The law says that this woman cried out, but there was none to save her. The implication is that if the woman cried out, and a passerby heard her cry for help, he would have stepped in and done everything in his power to stop the rape. Stepping in to help someone who is being harmed is protecting life, and thus part of obeying the 6th commandment.
We are all Guilty So these are all ways we commit murder. Murder can be a crime (whereby innocent life is physically removed from this earth), but murder can also be by the heart, or by the tongue, or by plotting, or by not protecting, or by not helping. I think if we examine our hearts, we will find that while we may not be guilty of committing the crime of murder, we are indeed guilty of the other offshoots that fall under this command. May we admit our sin, ask Yahweh to forgive us for where we have failed Him, repent of our sin, thank Yahweh for sending His Son to remove our sin, and then strive not to practice such sin, but instead to live like the Messiah.
The Abortion Issue I would like to spend the remainder of this sermon discussing the issue of abortion. Abortion is a hot topic in our country at the moment, and should be a top priority topic at all times. I think the word abortion is an adequate word explaining the termination of a pregnancy, but the word does take the edge off what is happening. If what is inside of the woman is a human being, then to take the baby's life is not just "abortion," but indeed murder.
Development is Still Life It is not different at 10 years (like my son David), or 10 days or 10 weeks. The development of the human being inside the womb is just not as far along. But even David at 10 years outside the womb is still developing. He'll get bigger, and taller, and change in appearance as he keeps growing. That doesn't make him less human at 10 years. A baby that is 10 days old or 10 weeks old isn't less human because he or she is less developed. They are growing just like David. They will grow into a more developed human, but they are still human inside the womb, just less developed.
Scriptures on Children Inside the Womb Scripturally speaking, when a woman becomes pregnant, what is inside of her is a living, breathing human being. It is not potential life, it is life. It is not anything less that a person.
In Genesis 25 the Bible says that Isaac (Abraham's son) prayed to Yahweh on behalf of his barren wife. Yahweh heard his prayer, and Rebekah conceived. The text says that "the children inside her struggled with each other." Yahweh told her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two people will come from you." Being inside a mother's womb does not mean you are not a person. Your location doesn't negate personhood.
Exodus 21:22-23 says that when men get in a fight, and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely, but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman's husband demands from him, and he must pay according to the judicial assessment. If there is injury, then you must give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.
What is inside of a woman is called a child, and is able to be injured. An unborn baby is a life. He or she develops a tiny nose and fingers and toes. They wiggle around inside that womb. When a woman goes to get her first ultrasound, and the tech shows that little baby up on the screen moving around, the mama gets excited and often cries tears of joy, because they know what is inside of them is their child.
Listen to Psalm 139:13-16: "For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began."
Legal does not Equal Lawful Those verses are not hard to understand. I believe every single person, Christian and non-Christian, theist and atheist, knows what takes place inside a mother's womb. Some have just deceived themselves into thinking that if it is legal it is okay. Brothers and sisters, everything that is legal is not lawful. There have been many unjust things pronounced legal in history. Slavery and abuse of black people was once legal in this country. That doesn't make it lawful. Abortion is legal now, in some states up to the day of birth. That doesn't make it lawful.
Everyone Knows I honestly do not believe that anyone thinks what happens inside of a woman's womb isn't a human life. I think everyone, even the most staunch abortion proponent, knows that what is growing inside a woman is a baby human. My reason for thinking this is not hard to see, because when anyone tries to get pregnant, and gets excited when a pregnancy test shows up positive, what are they excited about? What does an atheist actress or singer who gets pregnant, and poses as pregnant for a magazine; what does she get excited about? A clump of cells? Something that is not life? Something that doesn't matter?
Does Choice Change Things? The way the abortion argument is framed ends up with this way of thinking: "If you want the baby it's a baby. If you don't want what is 'growing inside of you,' it's not a baby." They leave it up to the choice of the woman. Does anyone really believe the choice of an adult woman decides whether what is growing inside of her is a baby or not? No one really believes that. People just suppress knowledge. They deny what they know deep down inside to be true.
Pro-Life Outside the Womb "Well if you are against abortion then you need to be helping mothers with babies, and adopting unwanted children." Okay... I agree. How does that argument go in favor of abortion? No one person or one family can help everybody, but we can all do our part. In our communities we can help struggling families, or single mothers (financially, watching babies, welcoming them into church, etc.) Christians are actually the greatest percentage of people who adopt. Twice the number of Christians (in the US) choose to adopt, when compared to the number of all other people.
The answer to such a statement about being pro-life outside the womb, is to be pro-life outside the womb. The answer is not to start being anti-life inside the womb.
It's My Body! "Well it's my body!" No, it is not. You are created. You belong to your Creator. Your Creator gave you your body. He formed your body. You may only do with your body what He allows you to do.
The argument that "it's your body, so you can do with it what you want" ultimately leads to an acceptance of suicide and euthanasia. Someone wants to take their own life? It's okay, and it's okay to assist someone else who wants to die in taking their own life. Is that the road we want to go down? Do we want to start playing Yahweh?
It's Dependant on Me! "But what's inside of me is dependant on me! Therefore I decide whether it lives or not!" Is that how we normally treat things dependant upon us? My grandson Bowen is dependant upon his Mama to live, and he's almost 8 months outside of the womb. If she stopped taking care of him, and left him in an abandoned field he would die. Does the fact that he is dependant upon her now, mean his life doesn't matter?
Do we normally treat people or even animals that are dependant upon us with neglect or care? We care for them. When someone depends upon us, we give them extra care, going above and beyond to help them, and protect them. If what is inside of a woman depends upon the woman for life, that should be an argument in favor of doing everything possible to take care of that little, bitty human.
Problems with the Baby What about finding out there is something wrong with the baby in a womb? Women in my own family have been told by doctors that something could be wrong or that something was wrong with their baby. I don't want to make light of this. It is devastating, at any stage of a child's life, for the mother (and father) to find out that their child may be sick, or disabled, or have special needs when they are born. It's devastating because we want our children to have the best life possible. We don't want our children to suffer in any way.
But let me ask you? Why would we NOT want to give a special needs child life? Sure, they may not be able to hear, or see, or talk. They may have to be pushed around in wheel chair. Some are not able to stand. But some of the most special moments I've ever seen, is when parents with special needs children care for their children.
I'll never forget the time I saw a daddy lift his two special needs daughters from a van into wheelchairs, and push them into the movie theatre to enjoy a movie. You think that daddy doesn't want those girls? Special needs people are people, and they are special people. Oftentimes special needs people are vastly more appreciative of life than someone who is entirely healthy. They need a shot at life too. We shouldn't decide to take it away from them.
The Mother's Life? What if the mother's life is in danger? This is an argument you hear a lot from the pro-abortion side, as though it is the main reason they want abortion to be legal.
Did you know that cases of the mother's life being in danger are less than 1% of abortions? This isn't the primary reason behind the legality of abortion in our nation or other nations on the earth.
That being said, there are some extreme cases where the difficult choice must be made between the life of the mother, and the life of the baby. I realize that there have been people that have had to make such a decision. And such a decision would be so awfully hard to make. If Tisha and I had been faced with that decision, it would have been done in the midst of sorrow, and weeping, and utter devastation. I don't know what we would have done, but regardless, I hurt for any mother, and father, that has had to go through that. I do not treat it trivially, and if anyone listening to this sermon has gone through such, I am terribly sorry for any loss you've had, whether mama or baby.
But this is not the primary concern for lawmakers that are pro-abortion. We recently had a pro-abortion bill passed in the state of New York, that allows for a mother to abort her baby up to the time of birth. And when it passed, there were cheers... and claps... and smiles. That's disgusting. Had such a bill been passed with sorrow and weeping... then I would believe that such lawmakers were genuinely concerned with the unborn life. But such is not the case.
Forgiveness As I close let me say something to the women who have had an abortion in the past, and now regret it. You've prayed over and over for forgiveness. You wished you had made a different decision. You long to hug your child in your arms now. You long to be able to teach your child to say mommy and daddy. You wished you could sing to your child, and hear them laugh. Dear mother... you are forgiven. The blood of Messiah cleanses you from this sin. Yahweh sent Yeshua so that we could be forgiven of this sin, and many other heinous sins against His law. That's the gospel. That's the good news. If we confess our sin, and repent of our sin, the blood of the Son of Yahweh cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
I know it's hard, because in spite of me trying to reassure you of your forgiveness in Christ, there are some days you don't feel forgiven. I know this, because it happens to me to. I know I've been forgiven of my sins. But some days, I just don't feel forgiven. The weight of my past sins in my conscience haunt me. I don't feel like getting out of bed. I don't feel like going to work. I just feel like laying there crying, because I hurt my Creator, and my neighbor, and I want a do-over. It's just something I deal with, so I know how it feels, to feel un-forgiven.
So... I preach the gospel to myself, just like I preach it to other people. We are far away from Yahweh, but through the blood of Messiah we are brought near. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve. He has not repaid us according to our offenses. He's removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. He forgives us, because His perfect Lamb paid the penalty for our sins, was resurrected from death, and went to heaven as our high priest.
I'm not saying your hard days will ever end. I have stretches of time, sometimes months, that I'm good, but then a hard day comes. I'm not saying some kind of magic words will make it all stop. I'm just saying that when these days come, and you don't feel forgiven, know that salvation is not dependant upon how you feel, but upon what Yahweh the Savior has done for you in and through His Son Yeshua. Salvation is not a feeling. It is a reality in spite of bad feelings.
Mother... if you've confessed your sin, and repented of your sin, you are forgiven of your sin. I say that as a minister of the gospel. I love you, and most importantly Yahweh loves you.
THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:14
I want to discuss this commandment today from a slightly different angle. We read the "thou shalt not's" and our focus is mainly on what we should NOT do, and we should focus on what is forbidden. But we sometimes forget that just as much can be learned by focusing on the positives of the commandments.
With this commandment, "do not commit adultery," the positive is: cherish and respect marriage. Honor the sanctified relationship that Yahweh created to take place between male and female. Honor the commitment. Honor the vow. Honor your spouse. Love marriage. Love intimacy within the marriage bed. Focusing on all of these things will give us a disdain for adultery. We will see the ugliness of adultery, and the harm that adultery brings on individuals, families, and society as a whole.
The Beginning of Marriage So I'd like to turn to Genesis 2, and focus on what Yahweh created, ordained, and commanded from the beginning, beginning at Genesis 2:18:
18 Then Yahweh Almighty said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is like him."
In Genesis 1, we have the days Yahweh advances upon the heavens and the earth, and at the end of each day we read that He saw it was good.
Here in Genesis 2 where we get more detail about the creation of man back on the 6th day, we have Yahweh saying that something is not good. "It is not good for the man to be alone." Yahweh saw Adam alone, and he said "This isn't good. I'm going to make him a helper. I'm going to give him a counterpart."
The old, KJV of the Bible says "a help meet for him." Not a "helpmeet" with just one word, but two words, "help... meet." The word meet carries with it the idea of similarity, but opposite. Comparable, but not the same. A compliment. The Amplified Bible gives a good rendition of this verse: "Now Yahweh Almighty said, 'It is not good (beneficial) for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [one who balances him -- a counterpart who is] suitable and complementary for him."
So then in Genesis 2:21 we are told what Yahweh did:
21 So Yahweh Almighty caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. The Almighty took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. 22 Then Yahweh Almighty made the rib He had take from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.
The counterpart who would be complimentary to Adam, was made from a piece of Adam, yet it was made into something different than Adam. Yahweh didn't make another man for the man. Scripture calls who he made for the man "woman." Notice the word man is still there, but there is something different about the word. The word has something added to it. Wo-man. It works the same in Hebrew. Man is iysh. Woman is iyshah. The same, but different.
The text says that Yahweh brought the woman to the man. I don't think people always see it this way, but this is the first Father of the bride, giving her to her husband.
I realize this is the beginning of everything, and Yahweh didn't biologically father Eve like men do today. But Yahweh did create Eve, and he created her for the man. He created her to be a helper comparable to, but balancing out the man, because us men need balance!
Look what the man said when the woman was presented to him:
23 And the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man. 24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.
Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh. These are familial terms in Scripture. When someone is your bone and flesh, they are your physical family. They aren't just a friend anymore. When you get married, you go beyond friendship. You go beyond just hanging out or spending time with each other. You go to the next level. You become one flesh, as verse 24 stated. Yeshua quoted this section of Genesis in Matthew 19:4-6, and he commented on it by saying, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."
No longer two? If you stand my wife and I up next to each other, you will count 1, 2. There are two of us, yet Yeshua says, "They are no longer two." It's because in marriage there is a oneness that takes place. There is a bond that takes place. There is a joining together of mind, heart, will, purpose. You no longer live for yourself. You live for each other.
My Experience in Marriage I've been married now for over 21 years, and Tisha is my absolute best friend. I'd rather be with her than anyone else. I love spending time with her. I love reaching over in the middle of night and feeling her laying next to me. She loves putting her cold feet on me to warm them up. Lol
I love holding her hand while we walk down a street, or through a store. I enjoy talking to her, and seeing her smile. We've grown closer to each other every day that we've been married. We've been through a lot. We've had good times and bad times. We've had mountains and valleys. We had times where we've laughed together, and times where we've cried together. We've had times where we've repented together, holding hands, in tears. I'm one flesh with my wife. We are no longer two. We haven't been two for a pretty long time.
This is marriage. This is what the 7th commandment is about. Do not commit adultery includes everything I've just said. Do not commit adultery is a commandment that is saying, "Love marriage. Be faithful to your spouse. Don't abuse your position. Serve your husband ladies. Honor your wife husbands. Be intimate and close with the one you've married. Don't go outside that boundary. Don't look elsewhere. Be committed to who Yahweh gave you."
Adultery Defined Anything outside of what Yahweh ordained, created, and designed is adultery. I know we often speak of adultery as cheating on your spouse, or more specifically lusting after or sleeping with another man's wife. There are texts that speak of adultery in that way. Adultery is that, but it is not limited to that. Adultery is anything that adulterates or pollutes what Yahweh has ordained and created in marriage. So yes, cheating on your spouse is adultery. Sneaking around, or going behind the back of the one you committed to is a pollution. Nothing good comes from that at all. I've seen it done, and it does so much harm and wreaks so much havoc on people's lives.
Adultery is a sin that has a vast amount of effect and consequence. It harms the people immediately involved, but it also brings harm to children, and to family, and to friends. It makes a mockery of marriage, and it is the arch-nemesis of marital righteousness. The effects will be felt for years and years to come.
Be Extra in Your Marriage One way to prevent adultery from happening is to be extra in your marriage. I realize some people are going to run around and cheat regardless, because they just have an old, stony heart, but I do believe we can do things in marriage to cultivate a better relationship, and prevent wandering eyes and roaming hearts.
So, married couples... don't stop being "lovey dovey" with each other. Don't let yourself go, and quit caring. Us men need to keep holding doors open for our wives. Keep holding her hand. Cherish her as a fine ruby. Keep kissing her and looking into her eyes and telling her you love her. The same goes for the wife to the husband. Us men like to be served and flattered. Don't deny it. We like to feel like a strong protector. I love to hear my wife say, "I sure love how you take care of me." That makes me want to buck out my chest and grunt a little bit. Lol
But seriously, don't stop making extra effort. Go out on dates. Take each other out to do things. Surprise each other, and it doesn't always have to be big. Big is good. Sometimes big is needed, for special occasions, but small is good too.
Tisha and I will sometimes go to Home Depot together, alone, to get materials for a project. Oh she just lights up about that. That's her favorite place, lol. She loves projects. We walk through Home Depot in our tattered work clothes, sometimes with paint in our hair or on our arms, and we're just holding hands enjoying ourselves. Then I take her to Arby's or Chick-fil-a or wherever (I'm a high roller, lol), and we sit down together in a booth and eat lunch. We hold hands and pray after we've eaten. I walk her to the car. Sometimes I open the door for her, sometimes I forget.
I'm talking about marriage. All of these things are adultery prevention. The same things you did before you were married. When you felt madly in love. Those things don't have to stop. You might have to put some more wood on the fire. You might have to pour a little gasoline on the fire to get it going, lol, but do it. Do what you have to do.
Have a Lot of Sex 1 Corinthians 7:34 says, "A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. Equally, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does." When you get married, you belong to your spouse, and you are called by Yahweh to nurture, and care, and serve your spouse. This isn't a call to overpower or abuse your spouse. This is a call to recognize you are not your own, and this call goes just as much to the man as it does to the woman.
This same chapter says that intimacy in marriage is a strong way to prevent infidelity or adultery. It says that a husband is not to deprive his wife of intimacy, or the wife her husband. Any times of abstinence are to be agreed upon, only for a time of devotion to prayer and fasting, and then you come back together again in the marriage bed, lest you be tempted elsewhere, because of your lack of self-control.
One of the reasons Yahweh created marriage was for our pleasure. It is ok and even righteous for a husband and wife to enjoy intimate, romantic pleasure. Yahweh did not make it pleasurable for no reason. It is something to delight in, but in the confines of marriage. It is a way to become close with your spouse, over and over and over again.
Marriage Under Attack Marriage is being attacked around the world today. Even the male/female distinction is being attacked. Some people are saying and teaching that there is no such thing as biological gender. Everything is just subjective. If a man wants to be a woman, he can act like a woman, and even do things to his body to look like a woman. They teach the same for women as well. The world thinks it's okay for a woman to want to be a man, and then walk around acting like a man. Then you have men going with men and women going with women, and calling that love.
Let me say this in the plainest of terms: this is nothing but Satanic, demonic, lust of the flesh. It is an abomination to neglect the Yahweh ordained differences between male and female. It is an abomination for a man to be intimate with a man, or a woman to be intimate with a woman, and try to call that a marriage. It flies in the face of Yahweh's law, and it flies in the face of natural, common sense.
Yahweh created male and female with different anatomy for a reason. A woman compliments a man. That is something a man cannot do for another man. A man and woman pro-create. They make babies together. The command to be fruitful and multiply cannot be carried out by two men or two women laid up in a bed somewhere acting like they are married, because an anti-Christ state gave them a marriage license. All of that is adulterating the marriage bed.
Sleeping around does the same thing. When people are out there sleeping with different men and different women on different nights of the week, or different weeks of the month, with zero commitment and fidelity... there's nothing righteous about that. That's not what Yahweh ordained in Genesis. Illicit, loose sexual activity is having an act of intimacy with someone you aren't going to devote your life and time to. It's sharing a special, precious act with a stranger. If you aren't interested in marriage, don't fool around with someone's emotions and life, and keep your britches zipped or your skirt on. Sex is designed for marriage. It is something special Yahweh created to be enjoyed and cherished between a husband and a wife.
The Gospel for the Broken Now I've spoken with so many people over the years since I've been ministering, and I know that so many of us have failed in this area of obedience to the law. Sexual immorality is rampant in the world, and it is attractive to our fleshly man or woman. But it brings nothing but heartache, problems, and strife. It makes a lot of promises that it doesn't keep, like all sin does. It looks good, and is pleasurable for a short season, but in the end in stings like a viper and bites like a serpent.
I want you to know today that no matter how far you may have gotten off track in marriage, or in sexual immorality, Yahweh can deliver you from it all. What Yahweh promises is prosperity. I'm not talking about the prosperity gospel hogwash, but Biblical law-keeping prosperity. It begins with the gospel message; that good news that you can be forgiven of your sin by repenting of your sin and placing faith in the Messiah who lived for you, died for your sins, and was then raised from the dead, victorious over sin and death.
Then it continues with the beauty of the commandments. The commandments that bring health to your body and marrow to your bones. That bring joy, and peace, and goodness, and love into your life. Yahweh can make all things new for you. It's not too late to change your mind. It's not too late to say I'm sorry. It's not too late to get on your knees. It's not too late my friend. It's not too late. Yahweh can and will forgive you of all your sin and filth if you admit it to him, repent of it, and confess Him and His Son for salvation. He is that merciful.
He's so merciful that a practicing adulterer or fornicator can be forgiven. A porn star can come clean and experience the forgiveness of Yahweh. A person involved in a homosexual relationship can repent and be forgiven. Someone who is cheating on their spouse can stop, repent, and be forgiven. Yahweh can wipe all of that uncleanness away, but you must admit and confess your sin, and repent of your sin, and place your faith in Christ. Devote your life to Christ. Vow your ways and your conduct to him. He is all you need. He is more than enough.
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:15 So we open today with a simple, straight-forward Scripture. "Do not steal," or "You shall not steal." People read that and think, "Ok, I shouldn't take my neighbor's wallet," or "I shouldn't rob a bank." Seems pretty simple.
And yes, in one way, this is a simple command, like all the commandments. I believe all ten of the commandments are straight-forward. But, we must not forget that the ten commandments are not an exhaustive list of Yahweh's commandments, but rather headings or summaries of hundreds of laws that fall under each of the ten. Ten categories or principles, we might say.
While "you shall not steal," definitely means I'm not to sneak up beside my neighbor and pick-pocket their wallet, there's more to it than that. There are other ways to steal from my neighbor. There are ways I can take something that doesn't belong to me.
Property Rights At the start, we should recognize that the 8th commandment assumes the property rights of an individual. One person can own something that belongs to him or her, and no one else. Or, a family can own something that belongs to that family, and no one else.
Property rights means that you are not obligated to share what you own with just anyone who wants you to share. If someone who is a reckless driver asks to borrow your car, you don't have to let them. It is not stealing to refuse to lend your car to someone who will damage it.
It is the same with money. You are not obligated to give money out willy-nilly. Just because someone asks for it doesn't mean you're required to give. You may have someone who has the ability to work, yet chooses not to, because they free-load or mooch off of people. If they come up to you asking for 50 bucks, you don't have to give them the 50 bucks. You might think of and share the Bible verse with them from 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12: "In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: If anyone isn't willing to work, he should not eat. For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others. Now we command and exhort such people by the Master Yeshua Messiah, that quietly working, they may eat their own food."
My point is: we all own things that are solely ours. Basic property rights are assumed in the 8th commandment, you shall not steal. Being commanded not to steal doesn't make sense if we are obligated to share any and everything with everybody.
Stealing Someone's Time Here's a verse you may not have thought of before in relation to this command, Deuteronomy 24:5 - "When a man takes a bride, he must not go out with the army or be liable for any duty. He is free to stay at home for one year, so that he can bring joy to the wife he has married."
Israelite men were exempt from the military for the first year of their marriage, or from anything that would permanently take them away from their wife. This doesn't mean the man could not go out to work or do day labor, although it is probably not a bad idea for a man to save up enough before marriage to take the first year off, (a honey-year instead of a honey-moon). What this means is the man should not be made to remove himself for a long period of time from his new bride for a particular duty. He is to spend that first year especially, getting to know her better and cheering her up.
To send the man away from his new bride, as is done sometimes in our modern American military, is to steal this year from this man and his wife. You aren't stealing gold, silver, or money. You aren't stealing an object that belongs to the man. You are stealing his time.
So in principle... to tell someone you will meet them at a certain time, and then not show up, is stealing. I once came home early, and waited for fellow to show up to my house for 4 hours. I could have kept working, or ran needed errands in town. Never got a call, a text. Nothing. My time was stolen.
To say to a person, "I'll be there at 5," but not make it until 6, is stealing. You may justify it by saying, "Well I was running late," or "there was traffic," and at times that might be the case. But, a phone call or text is in order in such cases. Things come up, but we need to respect our neighbor's time.
For an employee to "ride the clock," or goof off during his hours of work is stealing time from the employer. I remember someone telling me about a guy on a construction site who would just stop working when the boss wasn't there. When you asked him what he was doing, he'd say "I'm ridin' get in!" He meant he was riding the clock. Let's say he was paid $12 an hour, and sat there for 2 hours doing nothing. That's $24 he got for free when he was hired to work, and agreed to work.
Stealing Livelihood Look at verse 6 in the same chapter (Deut. 24): "Do not take a pair of millstones or an upper millstone as a security for a debt, because that is like taking a life as security."
A pair of millstones were used to grind grain to make bread. It was a common household item to the ancient Israelite. So common that in Jeremiah 25:10, the sound of the millstones are mentioned with the light of a candle. Millstones were used to provide food for the family. You had the base stone (which stayed stationary), and the upper millstone which moved. As the grain was dropped into a hole in the top stone, the top stone was moved (by a hand crank) and the grain was ground into flour.
Sometimes a person would need a loan, and you could give them a loan, and you might take something of there's as security for that loan. Security was to insure that they would pay you back. So lending and borrowing was practiced in the community of Israel, but Yahweh here says that you are NOT allowed to take a person's livelihood as debt security. That's stealing. Even though you can take some things for security, a man's livelihood is out of the question. He needs that to continue supporting himself and his family.
It would be like you taking a family's stove or oven for security, or a man's work truck for security. That's what he uses to get to and from jobs, and to carry his tools. You take that from him as security, and he can't keep working.
Stealing Dignity Look down to verses 10-11 (Deut. 24): "When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not enter his house to collect what he offers as security. You must stand outside while the man you are making the loan to brings the security out to you."
Here we see a command against stealing a man's dignity. I realize loans are common today, but it used to be looked upon as more of a degrading thing to have to take out a loan in order to move along in life. Men worked hard, and counted it as righteous to always provide for themselves with whatever they needed. So when a man had to take a loan out, it was somewhat saying, "I can't do this without someone else's help."
Yahweh realized this and forbid the person making the loan to enter into the man's house to receive security. Yahweh was saying, "Respect the man. It's still his house, and he is still a decent human being. Let him bring the debt security out to you."
It would be like you loaning some money to someone and agreeing that they pay you back by a certain date next year, but you call them up every single day to remind them they owe you money. It lowers a person's dignity to hound them when they still have time allotted to pay back the debt.
I will add here that the borrower shouldn't have to be hounded when the money is due. If you owe someone something, you should pay them on time. To neglect to do so, and then make yourself hard to get in touch with, is also stealing. Psalm 37:21 says: "The wicked man borrows and does not repay, but the righteous one is gracious and giving."
In certain cases, if something truly came up and you just couldn't make the payment on time, a simple phone call explaining your situation is the decent thing to do. We are all human, and run into hard times. Being open and honest with your lender is righteous.
Stealing a Man's Comfort Look at Deuteronomy 24:12: "If he is a poor man, you must not sleep in the garment he has given as security. Be sure to return it to him at sunset. Then he will sleep in it and bless you, and this will be counted as righteousness to you before Yahweh your Mighty One."
A poor man may only have one blanket, so to take that garment from him permanently until he pays off his debt to you, would be stealing his comfort and warmth at night. We are required to respect and take care of the poor, and in this case, it is stealing to not give him his means of peace for a good night's sleep, even though you hold it for security during the day.
Notice something else here. This poor man is taking out a loan, and he is giving something in security (to the lender) to pay back that loan. A righteous poor man is not a moocher. He doesn't expect to just be a couch potato and receive hand-outs. He works if able and when able, and even pays back loans.
Stealing a Man's Pay Day The next verses (14-15) say: "Do not oppress a hired hand who is poor and needy, whether one of your brothers or one of the foreigners residing in a town in your land. You are to pay him his wages each day before the sun sets, because he is poor and depends on them. Otherwise he will cry out to Yahweh against you, and you will be held guilty."
There are a couple things to notice here. First off, like I was saying, the poor people were required to work (if able). This law shows that a poor brother or foreigner is working daily and earning a daily wage.
Secondly, a poor day-laborer must be paid daily, because he's counting on that to get him by. To not pay a poor laborer at the end of a day's work, could mean him possibly not getting to eat that night. You are stealing what rightfully belongs to him.
You are not allowed to make a decision to withhold his pay if he needs it at the end of the day.
There's a parallel text to this in Leviticus 19:13: "You must not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning."
I believe that we have a principle here where we are required to pay someone on a daily basis if they need it or ask us to. It doesn't appear that this text in Leviticus is only dealing with a poor person.
I realize that this doesn't go over well with big businesses and commerce. But that's a problem with commerce. We get so caught up in the rat race that we begin to ignore Yahweh's righteous way of doing things.
I'm not saying a boss can't have an agreement with their employee to be paid once a week. That's pretty common in our day, and some people like to be paid weekly. Some places pay out once every two weeks, and I've talked with people before who get paid like this, and they've told me that it stretches them thin at times. If a boss is withholding pay that an employee has worked for, and needs, it is stealing, even if there's an agreement for weekly pay. When a man works a day, and needs his money, you give it to him.
My children have pulled this verse out on me at times when they've done some work for me that I agreed to pay them for, and I forgot to pay them that day. I think it was Elijah that said to me once, "Am I going to have to pull Leviticus out on you dad?" lol... And you know what? He's right. A laborer is worthy of his hire, and if he wants to be paid at the end of the day, he is to be paid. It's his money.
Stealing Food from the Poor Look back with me now to the end of Deuteronomy 24, verses 19-22: "When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the foreign resident, the fatherless, and the widow, so that Yahweh your Mighty One may bless you in all the work of your hands." (Also the edges of the field, Lev. 19:9-10.)
In ancient Israel you had gleaners. They were the poor in the community who would come behind the harvest workers and pick up what had been left. Notice again that the poor are working when able. They are physically going out to gather. They did not plant the field. They did not take care of the garden. But, they did go out to get what they need. It was not brought to them.
This text shows us that we are to be mindful of those who do not have as much as we do. Particularly the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow.
A foreigner may be looked down upon by a local community, because they don't look the same or sound the same. If they are a law-abiding citizen, they are to be treated the same as the local law-abiding citizens. There is to be no difference in the native-born Israelite and the foreigner who joins himself to Israel. You are to watch out for him and his well-being especially.
And the same goes for orphans and widows. Orphans have no parents. They've been abandoned by someone who hasn't done their duty. Widows have lost their husbands, and need provided for, especially older widows. Psalm 68:5 says that Yahweh is a father of the fatherless and a champion of the widows. Exodus 22:21-24 says that if we mistreat any widow or fatherless child that they will cry out and Yahweh's anger will burn against us.
When we do not take special effort to look out for the foreigner, orphan, and widow, we are stealing. No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone. Those of us whom Yahweh has blessed with more than enough (which is probably all of us) should actively look for poor people to help on a regular basis. Part of your earnings should go to help someone in this category.
Stealing by Charging Interest I just mentioned Exodus 22, and in verse 25 of this chapter we are commanded against charging usury to our poor brother. In Deuteronomy 23:19 it appears that Yahweh commands against charging any brother usury. It just says: "Do not charge your brother interest on money, food, or anything that can earn interest." I think it's safe to not charge any brother interest, but especially look out for those who are poor.
So if you loan a brother $100 for something, you aren't to require him to pay back $110, or even $101. You just require the $100. The same goes for anything that can earn interest, as the law says. It's stealing to charge usury to a brother. Psalm 15:1-5 says the man who does not lend out his money on interest will live on Yahweh's holy mountain. Ezekiel 18:8-9 says that the righteous man does not lend at interest or for a profit.
It must be stated here that lending to a stranger or unbeliever with interest is not stealing according to Deuteronomy 23:20. This doesn't mean you have to lend to an unbeliever with interest, but you are permitted to do so.
Stealing by Not Allowing Snacks Look at another one in Deuteronomy 23, verses 24-25. "When you enter your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you want until you are full, but you must not put any in your container. When you enter your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads of grain with your hand, but you must not put a sickle to your neighbor's grain."
One, it's stealing to not allow your neighbor to come by and have a snack off your garden. But likewise, you are allowed to go have a snack from his garden. Two, it's a sin to go to your neighbor's garden and start harvesting. The garden doesn't belong to you (remember, property rights). You can have a snack, but you can't start harvesting.
Stealing by Keeping Something You Find Look at Deuteronomy 22:1-3: "If you see your brother's ox or sheep straying, you must not ignore it; make sure you return it to your brother. If your brother does not live near you or you don't know him, you are to bring the animal to your home to remain with you until your brother comes looking for it; then you can return it to him. Do the same for his donkey, his garment, or anything your brother has lost and you have found. You must not ignore it."
There's no "finders keepers, losers weepers" with Yahweh. When you find something someone lost, it is theft to take it and act like nothing ever happened. We have set up modern day lost and found boxes for cases like this. Our family has placed things we've found in the lost and found, and found things we've lost. This is a lawful practice.
You might say, "Yea but the person's coat I found or hat I found... that person is so hateful. He or she doesn't deserve to get it back." Look at Exodus 23:4-5, "If you come across your enemy's stray ox or donkey, you must return it to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, and you want to refrain from helping it, you must help with it."
Yahweh covers everything doesn't he? It's stealing even if the person is someone you don't get along with, or who hates you. You are to respect their property too.
Judgment for Stealing How are we to handle it if someone does commit theft? Yahweh's law says that the thief is to make restitution. Not to the government. Not by staying in a prison cell. But by paying back the person they stole from. Exodus 22:1 says, "When a man steals an ox or a sheep and butchers it or sells it, he must repay five cattle for the ox or four sheep for the sheep." Verse 3 says, "A thief must make full restitution. If he is unable he is to be sold because of his theft." In other words, he is to work off his restitution, so that the person he or she stole from is completely compensated according to Yahweh's standard. Verse 4 says, "If what was stolen - whether ox, donkey, or sheep - is actually found alive in his possession, he must repay double."
Why the different amounts of restitution? Well, in the case of verse 4, the thief is found with the object that he stole, so the object itself isn't lost. By the way, this isn't just for animals. This is case law that applies to any object. Animals are being used here because ancient Israel was predominantly a farming society.
So, in a case where a sheep was stolen and then sold or butchered, the owner completely lost that sheep. Sheep provided clothing from their wool for people. Goats provided milk. Both sheep and goats provided meat. Cows provided milk and meat as well, but they could also be used for plowing and pulling. This is probably why the restitution is 5 ox for an ox and 4 sheep for a sheep. An ox was like a work truck (with tools) compared to a simple car for transportation.
But the point is that some form of restitution to the injured party is the judgment. You might ask, "Well what if the thief is caught, and refuses to make restitution?" Ha. Well...
Deuteronomy 17:9-13 teaches that a thief who refuses to obey any righteous judgment the law demands is to be put to death.
I think if a thief is given the option of death or restitution, he will pick restitution, even if it means he is an indentured servant for a few years to the person he stole from.
The Positive Side Every negative commandment has a positive. Do not murder means to regard and save life. Do not commit adultery means love your spouse. And do not steal means work, labor, and give when you are able.
Ephesians 4:28 (NLT) says, "If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need."
When a thief repents his lifestyle changes from a taker to a giver; from a free-loader to a worker. A repentant heart does not desire to take what doesn't belong to you, it desires to work diligently in order to have things, and then use some of what you earn to bless others, especially those who don't have much.
Conclusion There's a lot more to this commandment than we initially think huh? It's like that with all the commandments, and I'm only scratching the surface with one sermon on each of them. May Yahweh bless us to be able to respect each other's property, to take care of the poor, be gracious in our lending, and be generous with what we have.
THE NINTH COMMANDMENT
Read: Exodus 20:16, Ephesians 4:22
In Exodus 20:16 we read: "Do not give false testimony against your neighbor." The older KJV reads "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor." The specific commandment here is to not speak something about your neighbor that is dishonest or untrue. Whether in general, or in a court of law.
This is why courts make people swear to tell the truth prior to giving a testimony. I'm not against swearing or taking an oath, in Yahweh's name. The Torah actually commands such. After such oath, to bear false witness is to commit perjury, which means lying under oath.
The point of this command is: tell the truth. As Ephesians 4:22 says: "Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another." Zechariah 8:16 says: "These are the things you must do: speak truth to one another; render honest and peaceful judgments in your gates. Do not plot evil in your hearts against your neighbor, and do not love perjury, for I hate all this, declares Yahweh."
As I've said with all the negative commands there is a positive side. If we are commanded against being a false witness, we are commanded to be a true witness. If we are not to lie to harm others, we should speak the truth to help others.
The Small Tongue Our tongue is a small part of our body, yet it can be the most damaging part, or the most healing part. James 3:2 (NLT) says: "For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way." The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. The tongue can start a tiny spark that sets a great forest on fire. James also says that if you think you are religious without controlling your tongue, you are deceiving yourself.
I was taught this little saying growing up: sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. I think whoever came up with that was trying to make their self believe that words didn't matter. You have to force yourself to believe that, because the reality is: words matter a lot. How we speak. What we say. Blessings or curses. It all begins with our tongue.
Proverbs About the Tongue Proverbs 10:31 says: "The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out."
Proverbs 12:18 says: "There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
Listen to that. Your words can heal someone who is hurting. Your words can make a person who is having a bad day (or a bad month) turn around and begin to think positive, good thoughts. Or... your words can pierce someone through like a sword to the gut.
Proverbs 15:4 says: "The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit."
Proverbs 18:21... listen to this: "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." You can literally speak life into a person, or speak death into a person. You can build a person up, or you can tear them down. You can help them make it through the day, or make them want to crawl back into bed.
My Wife Encourages Me Sometimes my phone will ring and I'll see Tisha's name and picture pop up. She's my best friend, and I love her, but I'm not always having a peachy day if you know what I mean. Stuff happens. It's hot outside. I'm pouring sweat. I'm out of breath. I'm tired. And she'll call.
There's been many times I've answered the phone and said, "Hey honey," and she'll answer back with an enthusiastic "Hey! How's my handsome husband doing?" Or "Hey sweety!" And when she says that, it just brightens up my whole day. I'm sure she doesn't always feel peachy herself, but she uses her words to encourage me so often, and it helps.
The Gentle Answer You have, right there in your grasp, a power that Yahweh has given you to bring forth life or death. To heal or to kill. It's right there in your mouth. You say, "Really brother Matthew?" Absolutely. Listen to this verse in Proverbs 15:1: "A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath."
I think about this Scripture often, and I try to remember to obey the gentle answer part, but I don't always do the best that I could. But I can assure you that it works. You can have someone who is hell bent on being upset, and you just begin apologizing and speaking gently, and they may want to keep being mad, but they can't. They calm down because of the gentle answer.
It is good for us to examine ourselves whenever a conflict arises in our life. I realize that sometimes you may be the person in the right and the other person in the wrong, but surely that can't be in all cases. Usually, honest self-examination helps you see that there is always something you could do better on. This will help you give those gentle answers.
All of this falls under the 9th commandment. Any Scripture that has to do with the proper or improper use of the tongue hangs off of "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor."
False Accusations Let's talk about falsely accusing your neighbor. In Luke 3, when the soldiers listening to John the Baptizer asked what they needed to do, John said: "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely." We are not allowed to just make accusations against others without proof that they have committed a wrong.
Yahweh's law forbids a person to be convicted unless there are 2 or 3 witnesses to a crime (Deuteronomy 17:6). He does not allow a person to be put to death by the testimony of just 1 witness. Even if Yahweh in heaven knows the person is guilty, a single witness upon the earth is not enough to charge a person.
Why? This is both the wisdom and the mercy of Yahweh. He knows that all men are liars by nature. Paul said "Let the Almighty be true, and every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). It is easy for 1 person to rise up and claim that someone committed a wrong. It is more difficult to get 2 people or 3 people to rise up and make that same claim. It is even more difficult to get 2 or 3 people's testimonies to agree with one another.
One of the best ways to determine if people are conniving with each other in a lie is to separate them and question them. You can examine story lines and pertinent points. You can't do that with a single witness, so Yahweh is so merciful that he lets guilty people go free here on the earth, in order to protect innocent people from being falsely accused by a single witness.
1 Timothy 5:19 picks up this principle by saying: "Don't accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses." Ruling church elders are the subject here, but this goes for anyone. You shouldn't accuse someone of something without witnesses. You also shouldn't receive an accusation against another person unless there are eyewitnesses. You can harm a person's name that way, sometimes to no remedy.
It is just as wrong to listen to a false accusation as it is to speak a false accusation. If someone comes to you wanting to accuse another person of a sin against them, or a crime, your first reaction should be: "Are there witnesses to this?" If the answer is no, it should be stopped immediately.
Better to have your wallet stolen, or the goods from a family store, than your name. And if you want your name protected from being tampered with, then you do the same for your neighbor. Even if you personally saw your neighbor commit a sin, and you were by yourself, you are only 1 witness. You aren't allowed to make it public. According to Matthew 18:15, you should go to them in private to offer help and hopefully provoke repentance. Our goal should always be a person's repentance, not a person's downfall.
The Love of Bad News It's such a shame that we love bad news more than good news. It's awful that we feel vindicated if our neighbor gets in trouble or caught doing something wrong. It puffs up our chest, and makes us feel good to not be the one that got caught. You know you've done wrong things in your life, but not gotten caught. Shame on us for feeling proud instead of sorrowful when our neighbor gets caught up in a sin, and it is found out.
Stand Up for Your Neighbor When we see a brother or sister, or even an unbeliever, be falsely accused, this commandment requires us to stand up for them. We must take up the torch of Yahweh's law and speak out for those who are unjustly spoken against.
When the Apostles were accused of being drunk on new wine in the book of Acts (2), Peter stood up and said, "These men are not drunk as you have supposed." He spoke the truth for his fellow brothers. When Saul went on an unlawful manhunt for David, Jonathan (David's best friend) told his father Saul (1 Sam. 19): "Don't sin against David. He hasn't done anything to you. Why would you seek to kill him for no reason?"
When you see or hear of a brother or sister having their name drug through the mud, take up for them. A lot of people today love to talk down about others, in order to make them selves look good. Some people make a habit of it. If your neighbor is being talked about rudely, unseemly, or just down right dirty, speak up for your neighbor. Don't allow that false witnessing to take root.
Study to Be Quiet I think a lot of us talk too much as it is. We could refrain from a multitude of sins if we studied more to be quiet and peaceful. If we took time to concentrate on ourselves rather than other people. If we spent more time praying, or meditating, or reading our Bible. If, when our neighbor does do us wrong, we took it to Yahweh in prayer, rather than to our other friends in gossip.
Gossip Brings Trouble And I guess I shouldn't leave gossip out of this sermon. That's a sin of the tongue as well, and we are all guilty of that sin. We get caught up in that filth and don't want out, so long as the gossip isn't about us. Did you hear what she did? Did you hear about what happened to him? There we are again loving that bad news because it makes us feel better about the things we do in secret.
Even if the gossip is true, how in the world is sharing it with another person in secret going to help the situation? How is having your friends over for coffee and sitting around and talking negatively about people going to help anything? You know what that's called? Meddling in other peoples affairs.
If someone gossips to you about somebody else, they will also gossip about you to somebody else. "Oh brother Matthew... talk about stealing some more. I'm not guilty of that. Talk about murder, so I can feel better about myself because I've never murdered anyone. Please don't preach on gossip."
A Repentant Attitude Let me say something else here in general about the commandments. If you hear the commandments be preached, and it doesn't drive you to repentance, you're not listening properly. If you just sit there and think, "Grace got me covered. I'm good," you might not be a child of Yahweh.
I believe in grace and mercy. I believe that Yahweh receives us in spite of our flaws. But Yahweh's children are repentant, penitent people. Part of heart-felt obedience is hearing the law, and repenting of sin, not continuing in it. I hate it that I sin. After it happens, after I catch myself using my tongue in a wrong way, I hate that I just did that. I don't think, "Well that's what grace is for." I think, "I shouldn't have done that. Yahweh forgive me, and help me do better." Sometimes it takes a day. Sometimes it takes weeks. But the child of Yahweh will not just sin and holler "Here's my grace card!" That's not how life serving Yahweh works.
More on Gossip Back to gossiping. I know you thought I was through with that, lol. Proverbs 11:13 says: "A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but the trustworthy keeps a confidence."
You ever had someone tell you something in confidence and then you spread it to someone else? Sin. You just lied to the person who trusted you.
Proverbs 16:28 says: "A contrary man spreads conflict, and a gossip separates friends." Don't be the person that keeps a conflict going. Be the water that stops the fire. Proverbs 26:20 says: "Without wood, a fire goes out. Without a gossip, conflict dies down."
Proverbs 20:19 says: "The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth." No commentary needed.
Take Your Pick We have a choice to make. We have this small member of our body called the tongue, and it has power. We can wake up each day and use it to speak truth, bringing peace, comfort, healing, wisdom, kindness, and hope. Or, we can wake up each day and bear false witness causing destruction, pain, wounds, stupidity, meanness, and despair. It's up to you.
Double Your Encouragement Brothers and sisters, sometimes things need to be said to your neighbor that hurt, but there is always a way to say them more gently. Sometimes we need to give a person constructive criticism, but there is always a way to do it where we don't crush another's spirit.
I have fathered 5 children. It is not easy. Anyone who says it's easy is breaking the 9th commandment. They lying through their teeth. I have made many mistakes. I have had to apologize to my children. But one of the things I've learned to do is speak positive to my children. Tell them I love them. Tell them I'm well pleased in them. Send them a good text to encourage them.
You have to discipline children so they learn, especially when they are little, but for all the discipline and chastisement and constructive criticism we give to them, we should give double the amount of positive, healing words of encouragement. Nobody wants to just hear about what they do wrong all the time. They need to be encouraged. Encouraging our children, and speaking well to people in general for their good qualities will help them work on their bad qualities.
Conclusion This is all the 9th commandment, and I believe everyone one of us here today needs to repent of something in regards to this commandment. I sure know I do. I want to do better, but the only way I'm going to is make a conscious effort everyday to use power of life that Yahweh has given me.
May we all use our speech wisely. May we learn to be more quiet than we've been. Help us Yahweh to shut our mouths more than we open them. May we use our words to heal instead of kill. That is my prayer, for me, and for everyone here.