1. And God spake all these words, saying...
18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. (AV/KJV)
A. We are to consider in the ten commandments, the preface, the substance of the commandments themselves, and several reasons annexed to some of them, the more to enforce them.
Q. 101. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.
Next Sunday we’ll be looking at the preface to the Ten Commandments. All too often, people overlook the preface and focus on just the Commandments themselves. They just begin by examining the 1st Commandment and then go on from there.
Without the preface, however, we’re liable to miss the whole point of the law.
But today, we’re going to examine just the preface to the preface. The preface to the preface sets the whole tone for the Ten Commandments. It tells us that “God spoke all these words...”
In other words, what follows, in the preface and then in the Ten Commandments themselves, is directly from God’s mouth!
Now we realize that all of the Scriptures come from God. The whole Bible is “God-breathed” and is God’s inspired Word to men. But most of God’s revelations to men in the Bible come to us mediated through the prophets of God.
Well, the Ten Commandments, also referred to in some places as the Ten Words, were spoken directly from the mouth of God. In fact, they were probably thundered forth from the mouth of God, since we read in Exodus 19:16-19, “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”
That last phrase can also be translated, “Then Moses spoke and the thunder of God answered him!”
God’s voice is like thunder!
We also read, in Exodus 20:18-19, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’”
Not only were these Ten Words spoken (or thundered) directly from the mouth of God, but this is also the only part of the whole Bible that was also written down directly by the finger of God!
Exodus 31:18 says, “When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mt. Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tables of stone inscribed by the finger of God.”
Exodus 32:15-16 says, “Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.”
And again, after Moses, in his anger, smashed the tablets on the rocks because of Israel’s sin, Exodus 34:1 says, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.”
If there’s any reason to consider The Ten Commandments of God to be especially important, surely this is such a reason!
This summary of God’s holy law, the Ten Commandments, was thundered directly by God to Moses and to Israel, and it was also written down directly by the finger of God, not just once, but twice over!
An old TV commercial once declared, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen!”
Well how much more so, “When God talks, people should listen as well!” Nothing is more important than the very words of Almighty God!
So if “God spoke all these words...” then certain things necessarily follow:
First of all, since God spoke all these words, we must take care to hear them all.
Sinful men have a tendency to hear only what they want to hear. Many Roman Catholics, for example, virtually eliminate the 2nd Commandment which forbids both the making and the worshipping of images or representations of God. They do this by joining the 1st and 2nd Commandments into one Commandment and dividing the 10th into two Commandments. In this way, they don’t need to give up their idols and images and statues of Christ (not to mention idols of Mary and the saints). I should also add, they have no qualms about representing Christ in human form in movies. We’ll talk more about this when we get to the 2nd Commandment.
Abortionists refuse to hear the 6th Commandment against murder because they think it doesn’t apply to killing unborn babies.
Homosexuals are deaf to the 7th Commandment against adultery because they think that it doesn’t have any implications for other types of sexual sins in the Bible.
Those who refuse to tithe or to attend church services close their ears against the 8th Commandment against stealing and against the 4th Commandment which requires keeping the whole Sabbath Day holy.
We all hear what we want to hear. But if God spoke all these words, then we must take care to hear them all.
But we must not only hear all these words…
Second, since God spoke all these words, we must reverence them all.
The giving of the Ten Commandments by God was accompanied by fearful signs and wonders, as we just saw in Exodus 19:16-19 and 20:18-20. We must all realize Who we’re dealing with when we consider the Ten Commandments. We’re hearing nothing less than the very words of Almighty God! We mustn’t take these words lightly. We mustn’t underestimate these words. They come from the awesome and holy God Almighty, Himself!
Not only must we hear all these words, and reverence them…
Third, since God spoke all these words, we must remember them all.
Such important words from such an important Person are certainly worth remembering! This summary of God’s moral law must be deeply ingrained in our hearts.
There are some things in life a person just never forgets. You don’t forget your own name. You don’t forget your own birthday. (And just a word to the wise, as an aside, you probably had best not forget your wife’s birthday or your anniversary either!) You don’t forget where you live, who the president is, which hand you write with, or which side of the road you’re supposed to drive on.
But remembering the Ten Commandments of God is of much greater importance than all of those things put together!
Yet very few people, even very few pastors, for that matter, can list the 10 Commandments. I was downtown for a city council meeting, very soon after we moved the church to Palm Springs North. Several members of the PSN Civic Association were there debating some zoning issue. Anyway, I had lunch with one of them, a Jewish fellow by the name of Mr. Toby. He was a wealthy man who lived in one of those estates over on the west side of PSN. When he found out I was a pastor, he couldn’t wait to ask me a question.
“I’d like to ask you a question, if you don’t mind,” he said. “I’ve asked every pastor I know this question, so I’m curious to see if you know the answer. ‘What are the Ten Commandments?’ I’m not asking you to quote the whole passage of Exodus 20 from memory. I just want you to list them. You don’t even have to list them in order.”
So I proceeded to go through them, one at a time, in order, using most of the language of Exodus 20. I couldn’t believe he was actually impressed with such a simple task as that. But he said I was the first minister he’d ever met who could actually recite all Ten Commandments! What a sad commentary on the state of the church in our day!
Unfortunately, knowing the Ten Commandments doesn’t mean squat if you don’t obey them. Mr. Toby felt quite superior to all of those ministers he interviewed because he knew the Ten Commandments and they didn’t, but at least they were believers and worshiped God on Sunday. He didn’t.
Just prior to Israel’s entering the promised land to conquer it, Moses rehearsed the law of God for the Israelites, to remind them of it. After reviewing the whole law at that time, he said, in Deuteronomy 32:46, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you – they are your life.” [They’re not the Ten Suggestions!]
Don’t ever forget God’s Ten Commandments! “They are your life!”
Isaiah 49:15 asks, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?”
Jeremiah 2:32 asks, “Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornament? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.”
You see, to forget God’s law is to forget the God Who gave it. So remember these Commandments. “They are your life!”
Not only must we hear all these words, and reverence all these words, and remember all these words…
Fourth, since God spoke all these words, we must believe them all.
That means, if God says you’ll be disciplined if you disobey, you’ll be disciplined if you disobey! If God says you’ll be rewarded if you obey, you’ll be rewarded if you obey! Believe it! Count on it!
Earthly parents, on the other hand, don’t always keep their promises or their threats. That’s quite fortunate sometimes, for example, when an angry, frustrated parent says, “If you talk back to me one more time I’ll lock you in the closet for a week!”
Sometimes, we, as parents, make idle threats, just to show we mean business. But God always means business. When God gives a promise or a threat, He’s not bluffing. He’s not kidding around. Believe Him!
Not only must we hear all these words, and reverence all these words, and remember all these words, and believe all these words…
Fifth, since God spoke all these words, we must love them all.
As Deuteronomy 32:46 says about these words, “They are your life.” They teach you how to avoid the disciplines and chastisements that come upon those who do evil and they teach you how to gain the blessings and the rewards and the happiness that come to those who do good.
That’s why Psalm 119:97 says, “Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”
That’s also why Psalm 119:159 says, “See how I love your precepts.” And v. 72 says, “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than a thousand pieces of silver and gold.” And v. 163 says, “I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law.”
Since God spoke this law, if we love God, then we’ll also love His law because that’s how we express our love to God.
Since “God spoke all these words,” then we must love these words more than we love our wives or husbands, more than we love our parents or children, more than we love our life itself, for these Commandments, said Moses, “They are your life.”
Not only must we hear all these words, and reverence all these words, and remember all these words, and believe all these words, and love all these words…
Sixth, since God spoke all these words, we must teach them all to our children.
As we said, Moses reviewed the whole law of God prior to Israel’s entrance into the promised land. After Moses finished reviewing the Ten Commandments, in Deuteronomy 5, he said, in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
From the time children are little infants, most parents are very careful to give them milk when they’re hungry and to give them various other kinds of foods as they grow older. Parents usually take care that they give their children a healthy diet so they’ll be strong and grow properly.
Well the spiritual nourishing of our children should be of even greater importance to parents than feeding them physically. We need to teach them the law of God. We need to nourish them with the Ten Commandments, those very words of God by which we live. As Moses put it, “They are not just idle words for you – they are your life!”
And finally, not only must we hear all these words, and reverence all these words, and remember all these words, and believe all these words, and love all these words, and teach all these words to our children…
Seventh, since God spoke all these words, we must obey them all.
If our parents speak, we pretty much know that we need to obey them. Otherwise we might suffer certain “consequences.”
If our civil governing authorities speak, we pretty much know that we need to obey them as well. Otherwise, we might suffer certain “consequences.”
But obviously, there are times when we can get away with disobeying our parents or with disobeying the civil authorities. Some of you probably disobeyed the speed limit on your way to church today and you got away with it. Some of you children probably disobeyed your parents sometime today and you got away with it.
Neither the civil government nor our parents always enforce every law they give us. Sometimes they don’t know we’ve disobeyed, and sometimes they simply don’t prosecute us for our disobedience.
A judge may decide sometimes to issue a subpoena and other times not. A subpoena, meaning, “under penalty,” is simply something that forces us to appear in court “or else.”
Well God always binds us with a subpoena whenever we disobey His law. If we disobey God’s law, we’re immediately “under penalty.” And God always enforces His subpoenas. He always dishes out the penalty that our particular sin deserves, whether upon us, in Hell, or upon Jesus Christ, Who suffered Hell for us. Either way, every sin gets punished. And God also often disciplines His Christian children in this life in order to help them to learn obedience.
So if God spoke all these words, then we must be very careful to obey them all, in order to avoid God’s discipline for sin, and in order to receive God’s rewards for obedience.
Of course, no man can do all that – hear, reverence, remember, believe, love, teach, and obey all these laws perfectly, except for Jesus Christ. And even Christians can’t do all these things, even imperfectly, apart from the working of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ in their hearts.
But if we’re children of God, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and trust in His obedience for our salvation, then His perfect obedience becomes ours and our penalty becomes His. And if we’re in Christ, by faith and by covenant, then we also have His Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And the Holy Spirit in our hearts enables us to hear, to reverence, to remember, to believe, to love, to teach, and to obey all these laws to the best of our ability. And that’s because “God spoke all these words!” and “They are our life!”