Deuteronomy 5

As Moses spoke to the generation of Israelites who would go in and take possession of the Promised Land, he had them take a look back to remember where they had been (chapters 1-4). It was necessary for them to look in the rear view mirror before they could move forward. The lessons of past blessings and failures would serve them well as they crossed the Jordan to face the enemy.

But before they entered Canaan to begin a new life, they needed to be reminded of how to live it. The next 24 chapters record Moses’ restatement of God’s Law. This lengthy message addressed God’s holy standard for Israel’s worship, their moral code, their civil laws, and their interpersonal relationships. Loving God and obeying His Law would ensure His blessings and protection — they had His covenant word on it. Conversely, forgetting God and ignoring His Law would result in suffering and death.

Moses began his speech with the Ten Commandments. Here are four things to keep in mind as you consider “God’s Top Ten”:

[1] God introduces them with a reminder of what He had saved His people from — slavery in Egypt (v.6).

[2] The first four deal with how to properly relate to God: worship God exclusively (no idols), use His name respectfully, and observe the Sabbath (a day of restful remembrance of how God had saved His people, v.15).

[3] The last six deal with how to have healthy, redemptive relationships with other people, beginning with the family (v.16), the sanctity of human life (v.17), and marital/sexual integrity (v.18), and continuing with respect for personal ownership (v.19), honesty (v.20), and guarding one’s heart against harmful desires (v.20).

[4] These commandments simultaneously reveal the heart of God and the sinfulness of man. They show how badly we need a Savior and what a wonderful Savior we have.

Moses recalled that when he came down from the mountain with the two stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments, the people were (appropriately) filled with holy fear: they had seen the fire of God’s presence and the cloud of God’s glory and they had heard the thunderous echoes of God’s voice (v.24). The fear of the Lord is both grateful love and awesome respect. Israel had to learn the respect first, for if they lost it, they also lost God’s invitation to draw near to Him to express their love in worship.

In the giving of His Law, God was marking the boundaries of a “Highway of Holiness” for His people. Within those boundaries there was safety and protection. The highway led to life and peace (v.33). If only the Israelites (and I) could grasp the seriousness of God’s caution in verse 32: “You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”

Keep it between the ditches today — walk the Highway of Holiness and enjoy God’s peace and presence!

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