I struggled with understanding the purpose of the Ten Commandments for years, so one night, during Bible week (where we studied the story of the Bible) during discipleship training school, I prayed about it. Before I went to sleep, I said, “Lord, I don’t get why you’d give all these rules. They seem harsh. They seem controlling and mean. Help me to understand it. Amen.” Well, that is basically what I prayed and went to sleep.
And then, at 3 a.m., bam! I woke up to this revelation: … because He loves us! Simple as that, and with those four words I realized that every single commandment God gives us is for our own good. They’re all common sense, really: love God, and don’t do bad stuff. It was so apparent I felt stupid for not realizing it before. I realized another thing, though, which really nailed it home for me. God tells us not to harm others, yes, because that causes pain to others, but more than that, it causes pain to us. Whether we feel guilt or remorse immediately after breaking a commandment or 40 years down the road, God does not ever, ever, ever want to see us in that kind of torment and heartache. Remember, Jesus sums up all these commandments later with one word – love. But to really add some finesse to it, he also says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” YOURSELF. The commandments were written to shield YOU from heartache (and others, too, of course), but the main purpose is to shield YOU. Because it all starts with YOU. And ME, of course. And when we obey the commandment to love, it all just kind of works, doesn’t it? In theory, anyway. Sigh.
Speaking to the Israelites
In the latter half of the chapter, after Moses reminds the Israelites of the Ten Commandments – and that God himself spoke to them and lived among them, we finally see a possible reason why God doesn’t do that anymore. The Israelites were scared out of their minds! Moses tries to tell them what an honor and privilege it is to have God right there in their midst, but they’ll have none of it. “We’ll die!” they screamed. They’d seen it before. So, God finally just throws up His hands and says, “Alright, have it your way. When I’m with you, I scare you. When I’m not with you, you stop talking to me. You just don’t get it, do you?” So, he left a note (the commandments) and hoped it implied that he loved them.
I love that he wrote the commandments down – and that, at their core, they are obvious, but as a whole unit, they are a bit obscure. Art at its finest. That God, he’s clever, isn’t he? Up until this time, as far as we know, God’s words had been passed down by word of mouth only. I wonder if that’s what God and Moses discussed for so long on that mountaintop. Was God up there teaching Moses reading and writing skills so that he could record the first stories? Was this when Moses discovered his passion and gifting for writing creative non-fiction?
Writing prompt: find the sum of a lesson
Write a short story (1,000 words or less) about a teachable moment. Then sum it up in one word. (And if it’s love, don’t feel like you’re doing something ordinary. 😍)