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CHAPTER 20 Feb.10 
Ten Commandments Given
God spoke all these words, saying, 2I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3You shall have no other gods before Me. 4You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate Me, 6and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love Me and keep my commandments. 7You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. 8Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9You shall labour six days, and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; 11for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy. 12Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you. 13You shall not murder. 14You shall not commit adultery. 15You shall not steal. 16You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. 17You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.
The People Are Fearful
18All the people perceived the thunderings, the lightnings, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled, and stayed at a distance. 19They said to Moses, Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die. 20Moses said to the people, Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, that you won’t sin. 21The people stayed at a distance, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. 22Yahweh said to Moses, This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23You shall most certainly not make alongside Me gods of silver, or gods of gold for yourselves. 24You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I record My name I will come down to you and I will bless you. 25If you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of cut stones; for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it. 26Neither shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed to it’.


20:4 Israel weren’t to worship any appearance of God or anything which claimed to be a representation of Him- He wanted them to worship Him directly, facing the utter reality of the fact that we can have direct contact with Him.
20:5 Jealous- The more love someone shows to someone, the more they are going to be jealous about them, especially when the beloved one has agreed to accept that love. God’s love for us is colossal, epitomized in the gift of His Son to die for us in demonstration of His love. He is therefore jealous over us, our thoughts, actions, feelings- for He sees all. It is painful for Him beyond words when we turn away to other gods- and it must be thrilling for Him to see us eagerly wanting to respond to Him, in a world which for the most part has refused His love or treats it as something ordinary.
20:7 His Name in vain- We take the Name to ourselves by baptism into that Name; baptism is a calling upon ourselves the Lord’s Name (Acts 15:17; 22:16). We aren’t to do this “in vain”, for nothing, but to appreciate the wonder of it.
20:17 Not covet- God’s law differs from human laws in that it criminalizes internal attitudes. It was impossible to prove the sin of covetousness, nor enforce the law against it- because it’s invisible to others. Yet the God who sees all stands in judgment upon our innermost thoughts and desires.
20:19 People prefer not to have a direct relationship with God, hence the hierarchies and pyramid structure of many churches. But God wants to have a direct personal relationship with us as individuals. They failed to see that Divine words given through another person really are the voice of God to us personally (Ex. 20:19). Perhaps our difficulty with appreciating an inspired Bible is similar; we know the theory, but do we really see the wonder of the fact that what we read is the awesome voice of God Himself to us?
20:24 We are made from the dust of the earth. God doesn’t want beautiful externalities, He wants us to worship Him from the heart, accepting us as we are. The Law of Moses recognizes so often that Israel wouldn’t be fully obedient, hence the next verse goes on to speak of how if they still insisted on building not an earth altar but a stone one, then even if they make use of God’s concession to human weakness, they must still abide by His principles.
I will come down to you and I will bless you- “You” is you singular in the Hebrew here. Wherever an ordinary Israelite offered sacrifice, God would come to them personally. Yet this is the very language of God coming unto Moses on the top of Sinai (19:20 “came down”)- as if to imply that the very pinnacle of Moses’ relationship with God, meeting Him on the top of the mount, is just as attainable for each of God’s people who truly sacrifices to Him.