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The Transcript of God's Character — Exodus Chapter 20

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

This blog post will cover the devotionals #87-109 for Exodus Chapter 20.


**Pictures will be added at a later date.


Please note that this devotional book WILL SOON be for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.


[#87] Exodus 20:1 (Part 1)

As we dive into Exodus 20, I feel it’s worth mentioning that, while probably the most commonly referred to set of verses in maybe the entire Bible, it’s also the most important. Because of the nature of the importance of this record, I’m going to go into detail over the course of several devotionals, to ensure that proper care is shown. As we saw in devotional #83, what God did here was the greatest revelation He would ever give to man—the ten commandments—the transcript (record) of His own character. I think the second greatest, which just barely shies of this, was Christ’s coming to the world to reveal God’s character. Why do I say this? Well, people tend to think that God the Father and God the Son have two different characters, but Christ clarified many times that His purpose in coming was to not only reveal God’s character, but to show that it was just like His own. Thus, (#1) the ten commandments were a spoken, and then written, record of His character traits (which, as we’ll see in devotional #90, are what God wants to fully reproduce in us). And (#2) Jesus—the Word (see John 1:1-3) or “God’s thoughts made audible”—was the spoken and, more importantly, living record of His character traits. In other words, He didn’t just think or speak, but put those thoughts and words into action. He was a living example of who He claimed to be (He talked the talk and walked the walk). In the Old Testament revelation, He concealed His glory (character, power, intensity, etc.) in massive manifestations. In the New Testament revelation, He also concealed His glory, but within a Man. However, the One that appeared on the mountain was Christ Himself. He is the One that was with them the entire time. In Exodus 3:14 (from devotional #17), we saw how the Lord that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (the same God speaking and working throughout the book of Exodus) was Christ Himself. He stated that His name was, “I AM THAT I AM”, and we looked back at what Christ said in John 8:58, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Thus, if Christ was the One giving the ten commandments on that mountain, then, in both instances it was Christ that was revealing the Father! In devotional #88, I want to dive deeper into this point because there are some serious claims concerning God and His law that need to be cleared up before we move forward.


[#88] Exodus 20:1 (Part 2)

In devotional #87, we saw that Christ was the One who came down on Mount Sinai to reveal God’s character through the ten commandments, just as He was the One who came down on Mount Calvary to reveal God’s character through the cross. Now, some might try to claim, “If it was Christ revealing God’s character on the mountain, and it was Christ revealing God’s character when He came to Earth four thousand years later—then wasn’t He revealing His own character?” I answer that with a hearty, ‘Yes, but…!’ If you want to go down that line, you must carry it all the way. What’s the main thing that people try to focus on when they claim that (#1) “God the Father and God the Son have two different characters”, and that (#2) at/after His death, “God [arbitrarily] decided to change the law (which He worked so diligently to instill in His people)”? The main thing they focus on is the apparent discrepancy between the ‘God of the Old Testament’ and the ‘God of the New Testament’. They try to show that the God of the Old Testament is a ‘God of war, killing, vengeance, and etc.—Who executes world-destroying floods, multiple city-destroying fires, and army-drowning waves; confusion, arbitrary rules and traps; hip-injury; giant, tyrannical bullies for enemies (including Himself); wrongful suffering (including enslavement and imprisonment) of His most righteous people; execution of innocent babies and animals; random, horrific plagues against man, beast, and land; treacherous wars’ (it goes on). This is all opposed to the ‘gentle, non-violent / non-aggressive, meek, loving, healing, helpful, non-defensive / turn-the-other-cheek Christ’ we see in the New Testament. Wow. Well, if you compare the two in that light (without context and proper interpretation)—it’d seem easy to believe there actually was a difference (and that it was all true). However, we can’t afford to lose sight of three very important facts: (#1) Christ is the God of the Old Testament and the New Testament. (#2) Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore, you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Thus, if Christ is the God of both the Old and New Testaments, He would’ve had to have changed His character entirely between His two ‘appearances’, thus rendering Malachi 3:6 a lie. (#3) Every single instance that I’ve taken you through (throughout the book of Genesis and the first nineteen chapters of Exodus, as well as any other Scriptures I’ve referenced)—which show / prove the true character of God (as opposed to what finite man described Him as)—would also have to be disproved as a lie.


[#89] Exodus 20:1-6 (Part 1)

As we begin looking at the first two commandments, I’d like to point out something so beautiful about God. Have you ever noticed before how, anytime God is going to give a command / law or ‘bad news’, He always prefaces it with ‘good news’ of Who He is and how much He loves us (whether implied in whatever the message is—or said directly)? Notice how Exodus 20:1, 2 introduces Him: “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’” In another words, God is showing the relationship He has formed with us before we’re asked / expected to return love, service, obedience, gratitude, etc. to Him. Yet, even the reciprocation He desires from us is not for Himself—but for us! We'll see, in Exodus 34 devotional #__ (after we’ve finished looking at the experience with the ten commandments), how these 'demands' are actually promises! Let’s dive into the first two commandments. Commandment #1 says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Commandment #2 says, “You must not make yourself any carved image or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above or on the earth below or in the water under the earth: you must not bow yourself down to them or serve them: because I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.” The first two commandments are for people of all time—but consider how relevant they were to them, so fresh out of Egypt. Remember that, not only were the Israelites incredibly exposed (and even connected) to the worship of idols and false gods in Egypt—but their multitude included many Egyptians who’d left with them (whether sincere converts or just curious or frightened onlookers). They were fully into worshipping fictional beings that resided in the sky, the river, etc. as well as the creatures or earthly elements themselves. It’s no wonder that God chose to start His commandments with these concepts. At first glance, this is a seemingly random ‘reason’ for why they shouldn’t worship idols. It looks like arbitrary punishment and blessing—but if we keep in mind the important points we’ve learned about how all things happen as a natural result / consequence of our thoughts and actions—it’ll make so much sense. Let’s look at verses 5, 6. The iniquity of those that hate God will be ‘visited upon’ their descendants for up to four generations, and thousands that love God and keep His commandments will receive mercy. In other words, those that love God and have His character traits reproduced in them will naturally have good results in their lives—but those that don’t will develop the opposite (unrighteous) characters—which will spread down the line, impacting their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This just goes to show the incredible influence that parents have on their children, and in turn, their community / society. We’ll dig deeper into this when we get to the fifth commandment in devotional #97. You’ve maybe heard the concise summary of the ten commandments in this way: the first four commandments are love for God, and the last six are love for man. However, based on what we’ve learned so far in just the first two commandments, I think it could be fair to include the fact that the natural ‘benefits’ (consequences / results) of loving God are actually great for man as well.


[#90] Exodus 20:1-6 (Part 2)

One reason it’s so important for there to be no other gods before Him is because of what Isaiah 59:2 tells us. “Your iniquities have put a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, that He will not hear.” Sin separates us from God and having a ‘god’ before Him literally puts something between Him and us—which naturally hides His face from us. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with unhidden face as in a mirror, are changed into the same image from glory to glory…” In other words, viewing God’s glory (aka, His character) with unveiled, unblocked faces changes our character into His. How can we behold His face and be changed (and thus, saved) by it if we’re looking at the face (character) of another ‘god’? This is why Romans 1 goes so heavily into God’s ‘wrath’. Verses 16, 17 tell us that the gospel of Christ is the power of God to save everyone that believes—because it contains the righteousness of God—which is revealed from faith to faith. Isn’t it interesting that it says ‘revealed from faith to faith’ and 2 Corinthians 3:18 says ‘changed (by the revelation) from glory to glory’? It’s the revelation of God’s righteousness that saves us—if we accept by faith. However, what happens to those that reject this revelation (as Romans 1:18-22, 25 shows us)? “…the wrath of God is revealed…against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…because that which may be known of God is shown in them, because God has shown it to them; because the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen…so they are without excuse: because when they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish mind was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made resembling corruptible man, bird, four-footed beasts, and creeping things…who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…” This shows us that God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (especially worshipping something in place of God, whether creatures, materials, fictional beings, or self)—especially in light of the fact that He has made His character clearly known. What’s His wrath? Verses 24, 26, 28 say, “Consequently, God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts…for this cause God gave them up unto vile passions…and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to an unprincipled mind, to do those things which are not appropriate…” Three times in this passage, we see the cause and effect of man’s sin—the wrath of God is Him merely giving them up / over to their choices—in other words, allowing them to experience the natural consequences of their thoughts and actions. There are a couple of aspects from this passage that I want to point out. It says ‘that which may be known of God is shown in them because God has shown it to them, because the invisible things of Him…are clearly seen.’ Just as we saw in 2 Corinthians 3:18, this is showing us that God’s character is revealed in us because He showed it to us. We can ‘clearly see’ it, just as if we were looking in a mirror. It also says 'they became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened'. The Strong's Concordance definitions of the words in this phrase reveal the true meaning: 'They became empty in their reasoning, and their non-understanding mind became doubtful.' It goes on to show us that they exchanged God’s glory (character) for a corruptible image, and again, as 2 Corinthians 3:18 shows, what you behold with unveiled face is what you become. Thus, they became like the foolish ‘beasts’ (idols, gods, etc.) they worshipped.


[#91] Exodus 20:1-6 (Part 3)

In Exodus 20:5, 6, God says “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9, 10 tells us that “the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, Who keeps covenant and mercy to a thousand generations with them that love Him and keep His commandments; and repays them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hates Him, He will repay him to his face.” Notice two things: (#1) Exodus describes God as being a jealous God, while Deuteronomy describes Him as a faithful God (I compare and contrast the two because of the identical context of each verse). (#2) in Exodus, God shows mercy to thousands of them that love Him and keep His commandments, while in Deuteronomy, He keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to (for) a thousand generations. Let’s address this before the first part. As we saw that offspring of the unrighteous would naturally be affected by the sins of their parents for up to four generations, we can see that the offspring of the righteous will also be affected by the righteousness of their parents—but it’ll reach not only as far as four generations—but to a thousand generations! This shows us how righteousness has a much more powerful impact / influence over others than unrighteousness does! Romans 5:20 says, “Now the law entered, so that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace much more abounded.” Where the law is ‘kept’, grace is more abundant than sin. Thus, we’ll be able to see why the first part is so important. We see the concept of God’s ‘jealousy’ throughout Scriptures—but it isn’t the type of jealousy that we frown upon. In 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, Paul talks about his godly jealousy. He tells them, “…I have betrothed you to one Husband, that I may present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” He goes on to explain his jealousy—he fears that, by some means, their minds could be corrupted from Christ’s simplicity (like the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty). Strong’s Concordance defines ‘jealous(y)’ as ‘warm(th)’ or ‘hot (heat)’. I find this profoundly intriguing, because Deuteronomy 4:24 says, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” So, we see jealousy equated here to a consuming fire. We see this concept a lot throughout Scriptures. Exodus 3:2 says that “…the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” Does this not describe the righteous man? He’s purged with fire—he isn’t consumed with his iniquity—but purified. This is the consuming fire of God. He doesn’t consume the sinner, but the sin. The sinner is only consumed with the sin if he clings to his sin. God’s glory (character) is the consuming fire which purifies the character of the sinner who seeks after righteousness. Let’s bring this full circle then. Exodus 24:17 tells us that “the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” If we’re talking about the concept of offspring being affected (for good or bad) by the characters and choices of the parents, then we have clear evidence of some type of marriage being present. Those that are pure virgins are presented to Christ as their Husband. This union provides a righteous influence for the children it produces. Those that are corrupted from Christ’s simplicity choose Satan as their husband. This union provides an unrighteous influence for the children it produces. Thus, God’s glory (character) was revealed on that mountain for the express purpose of consuming the unrighteousness of the people so they could become Christ’s bride.


[#92] Exodus 20:7

You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain!’ I heard this a lot, usually in connection with using some version of God’s name in a negative, exasperated, mocking, flippant manner (or with a cuss word). While this is a rather disrespectful, careless, and displeasing use of God’s name—it’s not what commandment #3 refers to. What does it mean to take someone’s name? Married women (in certain cultures) exchange their maiden name (their father’s surname) for their husband’s surname (his father’s name). Here are some of the reasons. (#1) When marrying a man, the wife ‘no longer exists as herself’, but as the ‘wife of man’. In Genesis devotional #15, we learned that when God created Eve, Adam named her ‘woman’—coming from ‘wifmon’, meaning ‘wife’ (recall that it wasn’t until after they sinned that her name was changed to Eve). In the same way, when we ‘marry’ Christ, we ‘die to self’. We no longer exist as ourselves, but as the ‘bride of Christ’ (the Bible’s term for the Christian church). Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me…” Psalm 45:10 (among other verses) also addresses that a daughter must forget her own people and her father’s house. The name, ‘Christian’, comes from Christ’s name. When we become His bride, we exchange the surname of our ‘father of lies’ with that of our Husband’s Father. (#2) Before, the only way to prove someone was a man’s child was through their name which could only match the father’s name if the mother was married to him (otherwise, the child was a ‘bastard’). Luckily for the bastards, John 1:12 says, “But He gave power to all those that received Him to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name.” (See also 1 John 3:1, 2). (#3) The legal child (rightful heir) could only claim his inheritance, title, and property if he had his father’s name. How many times do we see Christ in the Scriptures speaking to His intention to make us His ‘brothers’ and ‘joint-heirs’? Romans 8:15-17 says, “…you have received the Spirit of adoption…we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ…so we may also be glorified together.” Christ wants us to inherit with Him, which is only possible if we have God’s name (character). Isaiah 4:1 tells of seven women taking hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: let us merely be called by your name, to take away our reproach.” ‘Reproach’ is defined as ‘something that makes the failings of someone else more apparent.’ In this case, the things they do has given them an especially bad name when contrasted with the good character of God. They’d like to continue doing their own thing, but hope to no longer be exposed (shamed) for who they really are by claiming to have the name (character) of God. This sounds an awful lot like the Pharisees. In other words, they want the benefits of going by (taking) his name, without the responsibility of it. This is what Satan wanted when he desired God’s throne. He wanted His power and authority without living up to His character. Being one person while claiming to be another is vain (‘false’, ‘useless’, ‘worthless’, ‘profitless’)—it’s meaningless. It really costs God a lot, because you’re claiming to represent Him while doing things that misrepresent Him—giving others a false idea of who God is. This is what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. But as Romans 8:19 tells us, “…the intense anticipation of creation waits for the revelation of the sons of God.” Satan claimed that it’s impossible to be like God, making God’s expectations seem unreasonable. Thus, God’s name (character) must be fully reproduced in us so that His name can be vindicated. It's only then that He can return to take us home. We’ll see more about what commandment #3 means in devotional #131.


[#93] Exodus 20:8-11 (Part 1)

Let’s look at commandment #4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor and do all your work in six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it, you shall not do any work—neither you, nor your son, daughter, manservant, maidservant, cattle, nor the stranger within your gates: because the Lord made Heaven and Earth, the sea, and all that is in them in six days, and rested the seventh day: so the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Strong’s Concordance defines ‘hallowed’ as ‘appointed’, ‘consecrated’, and ‘dedicated’. That means that it was set aside for a special reason. We looked at this in Genesis devotionals #9 and 10. This commandment is very clear. God set an example within Creation using Himself. He worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. He expects Creation (humans and animals) to do the same. To keep the Sabbath is to do no physical or secular work or activities that day. This includes even our thoughts and conversation. Why does it mention ‘the stranger within your gates’? Even if someone else doesn’t keep the Sabbath themselves doesn’t give you the right to ‘force’ them to break the Sabbath by laboring on your behalf. This means that going out to restaurants on Saturday (for example) is still breaking the Sabbath—because, even though you’re not working, your presence there requires the workers to be present working (in fact, as we saw in devotional #71, people weren’t even supposed to cook for themselves on the Sabbath—but prepare the food the day before). If nobody went to restaurants on the Sabbath, they’d have no reason to be open and working. People try to split hairs saying, ‘I’ll pay ahead of time (or let someone who doesn’t keep the Sabbath pay on my behalf) so I’m not technically doing business on the Sabbath’, or ‘they don’t believe in Sabbath-keeping, so it doesn’t make a difference to their salvation whether I go and allow them to serve with along with everyone else,’ etc. God doesn’t view it that way. The Pharisees made such strict rules about Sabbath observance that it became intolerably burdensome. The Jews weren’t allowed to even light a candle on the Sabbath—making them depend on the Gentiles for things they were forbidden to do themselves. They didn’t consider the fact that, if these things were sinful for them to do—then employing others to do it for them was just as sinful. This happened because they believed that only Jews could have salvation, and that others were already hopeless enough that nothing they did (including breaking the Sabbath) could make their ‘condition’ any worse. But just as God’s commandments and salvation aren’t restricted only to certain religions, denominations, etc. today, the Gentiles in those days could’ve also kept His commandments and been led to Salvation (and many were!). God expects us to be an example for those who don’t yet know or believe that way. We saw that God Himself set an example in His own ‘work week’—but we know that all the ‘work’ God did was simply thinking and speaking things into existence (except for mankind—which He knelt down and sculpted in the dirt). And at that, He basically created ‘one thing’ per day. In other words, His labor wasn’t strenuous, but He still took a day off to rest. In devotionals #94 and 95, we’ll dive into some connections to points we made in past devotionals (concerning the Sabbath) to bring it full circle. I highly recommend going back through devotional #71 to get a refresher on just how important the Sabbath is to God—and the lengths to which He went to help His people understand it.


[#94] Exodus 20:8-11 (Part 2)

In these next two devotionals, I’d like to reference back to previous ones to make some connections. Let's first look at the difference between serving God and serving man in our labors. We learned, in devotional #27, that Israel had disregarded Sabbath in their bondage (and their taskmasters made it virtually impossible to keep), but they were reminded of the necessity of obeying God’s laws if they hoped for deliverance. They made efforts to restore Sabbath worship, so Pharaoh reprimanded them for causing the people to rest from their burdens. He feared they’d started scheming to escape his service. He knew that idleness produces disaffection, so he’d remove time for worship and plotting, as well as hardening their labor to get rid of their independent spirit. Imagine how different it would be to serve an Authority who—instead of punishing us for resting from heavy labor / burdens and making them even heavier—would require us (‘by law’) to rest from our labor, and take on the burdens Himself. Imagine a Ruler who doesn’t worry that rest would create rebellion against His authority, but knows that rest would only create more loyalty and contentment. Imagine a Leader who—rather than crushing our independent spirit—does what He can to give us a sense of independence! We work so hard (many people seven days a week) to support ourselves and survive (we’re enslaved to our jobs and money), but God wants to support and provide for us so that we can have balance, peace, and freedom. We'll see, in devotional #95, how Pharaoh's idol worship has such a powerful parallel with other Sabbath-related issues that are coming in the near future.


[#95] Exodus 20:8-11 (Part 3)

Now, as we saw in devotional #37, Egypt’s worship of idols (particularly the sun god) was a major offense to God—and still is to this day. Sun worship (which can be shown to be directly connected with Sunday worship—or reverence of Sunday over the true, Biblical Sabbath) is the test that’ll come at the end of time to determine those people who’ll be sealed by God (Sabbath-keepers), and those who’ll be sealed by the beast (Sunday-keepers). If you doubt that, keep an eye out for the coming Sunday Laws and their implications! In devotional #48, when we discussed the Lord’s Passover, we saw that a similar sign—the blood on the doorposts (a signature of God’s ownership over them) would signal to God not to let the plague destroy them because they accepted Christ’s sacrifice to save them and their children. Revelation 14:1 tells us about the 144,000 standing with the Lamb on Mount Sion with His Father’s name written in their foreheads. This is opposed to those from verses 9-11 who worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark of his name in their forehead or hand. “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God…and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…in the presence of the Lamb…and they shall have no rest day nor night…” We’ve learned what this actually means (God’s wrath is Him giving them over to their choices)—and their choice here is to keep Sunday instead of God’s Sabbath). This is while they’ll have no rest! As we saw in devotional #17, the Sabbath is a memorial of Creation, and a witness to the authority of God as our Creator—identifying Him as the only name (and the only god) worthy of our praise and worship. Thus, to change (and/or acknowledge / accept the change of) the Sabbath from Saturday to a different day (such as Sunday, the first day) or to not keep it at all, would be to (#1) claim that someone else (in place of God) has His authority and is worthy to be worshipped and/or (#2) to deny Creation altogether (as is done in many scientific theories such as the big bang, evolution, etc.). Thus, commandment #4 is the most important out of all of them, and why it’s the only commandment that was removed / changed by man. They claimed Christ changed the Sabbath by resurrecting on Sunday. The reason Christ rose on Sunday was because He was resting on the Sabbath. However, a deeper look into Scripture (how His followers continued keeping the Sabbath, etc.) proves that Sabbath never changed to Sunday. Though this is what the church claims is the reason for the change, there have been prominent church leaders throughout the centuries who actually acknowledge(d) that it was changed by the Roman Catholic church for the sake of their traditions. Now we’ve learned that, while this seems to be a thing designed simply for convenience (people are less ‘restricted’, etc.), it has a much deeper and darker underlying motive. We could go much deeper into this whole thing, but that’s for another time.


[#96] Exodus 20:8-11 (Part 4)

There’s a theme in the New Testament about ‘doing good’ on the Sabbath. We learned, in devotional #93, that the Pharisees were legalistic when it came to keeping Sabbath—so extreme that they condemned even good acts of service, such as healing someone. We see, in Matthew 12:9-14, Jesus visited a synagogue, where He saw a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees devised a question to trap Jesus: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” Jesus, as He often did, answered their question with another question. “Who among you that has one sheep will not grab it and lift it out if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath day? How much better, then, is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.” At that point, Jesus told the man to stretch out his hand, and it was made whole again. Despite the clear reasoning of Jesus’ answer, the Pharisees were still enraged and went out to plot His destruction. It's hypocritical to condemn someone for healing on the Sabbath and then turn around and plot to injure someone on the same day. He used the example of pulling an animal out of a pit in Luke 14:1-6, where he healed a man with the dropsy (edema). In Luke 13:10-17, He addressed not only helping an animal, but even leading it to water, on the Sabbath. This time, there was a woman who was so hunched over that she couldn’t lift herself up straight. She’d been like that for eighteen years. When He healed her, she glorified God, but the synagogue’s ruler became extremely displeased, saying she should’ve come back a different day to be healed. Another famous incident is the Pharisees catching Jesus’ disciples eating grain in a field on the Sabbath. In Matthew 12:1-8, they were passing through a corn field and were very hungry. Jesus consented to them plucking ears of corn and rubbing them together in their hands so they could eat the grain. The Pharisees were horrified, as they viewed this ‘plucking’ as an act of ‘reaping’, which was work / labor—unlawful on the Sabbath. They tried to get Jesus to rebuke them, but He met them with a scenario in which David and his men did something unlawful without guilt. Leviticus 24:5-9 explains that the shewbread was sacred and was only to be eaten by the priests in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary. 1 Samuel 21 shows David (currently on the run for his life from Saul) going to Ahimelech the priest and asking for bread for his starving men. The only bread available was the Holy shewbread, and the priest obliged and gave it to him. In a similar way, we see Jesus (and His men) being ‘hunted’ (by the Pharisees themselves), and in a position of hunger. Just as God didn’t condemn David for eating something he shouldn’t have, Jesus didn’t condemn His disciples for gleaning grain in their hunger on the Sabbath. Jesus was giving a powerful statement to the Pharisees about their roles in the parallel, but they were too hard-hearted to understand it. In Verses 5-8, He pointed out the priests’ ‘blameless profanity’ of the Sabbath in the temple, referencing the allowance of hard work done in the temple on Sabbath. Because killing sacrifices, kindling fires, etc. was done in the temple as a part of the divine service, it wasn’t considered a desecration of the Sabbath. The sacredness of the temple and service exempted this work from the bounds of the law. Jesus went on to say that there was in that place (the corn field) Someone greater (more sacred / divine) than the temple, and that “the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” He told them they wouldn’t have condemned the innocent if they’d understood the meaning of the phrase, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” If it was unlawful for them to eat this way, the Pharisees could’ve given them lawful food to eat. Jesus placed the health of man over the strictness of the law in these scenarios.


[#97] Exodus 20:12

The first four commandments are considered ‘love for God’. The last six commandments are considered ‘love for man’ (see Romans 8-10). Let’s start the second section off with commandment #5, which says, “Honor your father and your mother: so your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Leviticus 19:3 says, “Every man shall fear his mother, and his father, and keep my Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.” Comparing the two scriptures, we can see that one of the meanings of ‘honor’ in this commandment has to do with ‘fear’ (which the Bible mostly uses to mean ‘reverence’—or to regard / treat with deep respect). Ephesians 6:1-3 expounds on this commandment. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: because this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise); so it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” If children are raised properly, they will learn to appreciate their parents’ care and cherish helping them. The more closely biblical principles are followed in the home, the greater the children’s influence will be outside of the home. Jesus Himself was an example of this in His own home and to children around Him. If children these days followed His example, their days wouldn’t be so shortened. The responsibility of parents is great. Submitting / surrendering to Christ is the greatest lesson to teach a child. If a parent isn’t surrendered to God, then there can be no expectation that a child will honor, respect, and obey his parents, and himself submit / surrender to Him. The commandment says to obey your parents—but specifies ‘in the Lord’. Just as a wife is called to submit to her husband as her head—as long as he submits to God as his head, a child is called to submit to their parents as their head—as long as they submit to God as their head. If you’re called by your husband or parents (whether by command or by example) to do something that’d dishonor God, then you can’t follow them into that. Thus, Ephesians 6:4 shows a type of ‘condition’ that’s also placed on the parents. “And, you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Likewise, Colossians 3:20, 21 instructs children to obey their parents in all things (which pleases the Lord well), but fathers aren’t to provoke their children to anger, or else they’ll be discouraged. Parents shouldn’t exasperate their children (in other words, don’t antagonize them), but nurture (‘train’) and admonish (‘warn’) them in the Lord. This is amazing because Proverbs 22:6 describes this perfectly. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” In other words, nurture (train) him in the path he should follow through old age (aka, his days will be long), and he won’t depart from it (he’ll avoid the paths you warned him against). On the other hand, if you provoke your children, they’ll depart from the way of the Lord. We saw a great example of the parents’ responsibility in steering their children towards blessings in life in Genesis devotionals #77 and 79, where we saw God talking about Abraham in Genesis 18:19, “…I know him—that he will command his children and household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; so the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.”


[#98] Exodus 20:13 (Part 1)

Commandment #6 is a tough beast to tackle, as killing in the Bible is probably one of the hottest topics of debate out there. We’re told not to kill, but the Bible appears to show God telling men to kill others or doing the killing Himself. If the ten commandments are the transcript (record) of God’s character, but He Himself breaks even one of the laws, then He wouldn’t be who He says He is. Think about the stories of the wild west. The bad guy (outlaw) wreaks havoc, and the good guy (sheriff) is sent in to put an end to the killing spree. How's this usually done? The good guy in all white has a gun duel with the bad guy in all black. Usually, the good guy puts an end to the bad guy (aka, the ‘good’ guy uses the same method (killing) to end the same method (killing) of the ‘bad’ guy). How are the two different from each other? Sure, the good guy’s motive’s different from the bad guy’s, but the only way to tell the two apart is by looking at the color of their clothing. The same could be said of God (righteousness) and Satan / sin (evil)—or light and darkness. If God used the same methods to end those of evil, He would be no different than the evil itself, even if He claimed to be righteous. Consider John 16:1, 2. Jesus said “…the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he does God service. And they will do these things to you because they have not known the Father, nor Me.” In John 15:20-22, Jesus says that if He has been persecuted, we will too, but they’ll do all these things to us for His name’s sake, because they don’t know Him that sent Him. In other words, they kill in God’s name, believing they’re doing His work—but that’s only because they don’t know who He is (they don’t know His character). He goes on to say that if He hadn’t come and spoken to them, they wouldn’t have been in sin, but they no longer had a cloak for their sin (in other words, they no longer had exterior ‘white robes’ to mask the black garments underneath). Thus, if they kill because they don’t know God’s character, then it’s clearly implied that God’s character leaves no room for killing—as recorded in commandment #6. Let's look at this in the bigger picture—specifically between God and Satan. In Genesis devotional #49, we looked closely at how God (the Sheriff) dealt with Satan (the outlaw) after the war (duel) he started in Heaven (the wild west). ‘Outlaw’ is defined as ‘someone who has broken the law, especially one who remains at large or is a fugitive’ and ‘someone who is deprived of the benefit and protection of the law.’ ‘Fugitive’ is defined as ‘a person who has escaped from a place, or is in hiding, especially to avoid arrest or persecution.’ Interestingly, as we learned in Genesis devotional #22, Satan wasn’t kicked out of Heaven, he fled from there. If he fled to avoid ‘arrest’ or persecution, he had a serious misunderstanding of the governmental authority there, as well as the omnipresence and omnipotence of God—because there’s nowhere in the universe he could’ve hid or fled to where God couldn’t have found and overtaken him. But we learned that, not only did God not kill Satan, or even simply stop sustaining him, but He actively continued sustaining his life. If God had decided to not create Lucifer (or man) or destroyed him after doing so—to prevent sin from coming or staying—He wouldn’t have given every single one of His creatures the freedom of choice. Furthermore, if He had stopped sustaining his life, the universe wouldn’t have been fully convinced that his claims about God’s character were wrong (revisit Genesis devotional #23 for a refresher on that). If God doesn’t kill the killers, then there must be a different way in which they’re dealt with. As we’ll see in devotional #99, those who kill die by the same means—and thus, the outlaw will eventually experience the results of being deprived of the benefit and protection of the law.


[#99] Exodus 20:13 (Part 2)

Consider all the discussion we’ve had concerning God’s character, and how Jesus came to reveal God’s character to the universe. We learned that Jesus has the exact same character as the Father, and that Jesus Himself was the God of the Old Testament. We discussed the fact that, despite what He appears to do differently between the Old and New Testaments, He has, in fact, never changed. If we want to get a good idea about Christ’s view on killing, or even violence, for that matter—we can take a look at instances from His time on Earth as a man. Again, I ask, is killing to end killing the way that God works justice? Leviticus 19:15 says not to do any unrighteousness in judgment. In John 18, we see Jesus and His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane when Judas betrays Him into the hands of the Pharisees, and something happens with Peter. Verses 10, 11 show him drawing his sword and striking Malchus, the high priest’s servant, and cutting off his ear. Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Put up your sword into the sheath: shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” The cup Jesus was given was to die. Christ Himself didn’t get violent, even in self-defense. Matthew 26:53 shows Jesus further telling Peter that, if He prayed to His Father, He would immediately give Him more than twelve legions of angels. He didn’t defend Himself for a reason, but even if that reason didn’t exist, He still demonstrated that He would’ve depended on God for His protection before He would’ve resorted to violence. Verse 52 adds to the rebuke: “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Would you say that Peter was merely trying to protect His master? Of course! Was the motive of his violence good? Yes! And yet, Jesus still told him it was wrong. Killing and/or violence is still killing and/or violence, regardless of the motive. Another way of looking at it can be seen in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood shall be shed by man: because God made man in the image of God.” We saw this, in Genesis devotional #64, and learned that to kill a man is equivalent to killing God (the Son of Man). Interestingly, then, Peter’s act in trying to protect Jesus would’ve been equivalent to hurting Jesus Himself! So, if we’re not to punish or prevent evil from happening by using the same methods, then how is it that someone who kills with the sword will die by the sword? Let’s look at one example in the Bible. 1 Samuel 31 and 1 Chronicles 10 tell of King Saul’s last battle. 1 Samuel 14:20 and 2 Samuel 1:12 show how Saul and his men came to battle and every man’s sword was against his fellow, and later how the people mourned for Saul and his men because they fell by the sword. There are two ways the Bible describes how Saul died. 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14 says that Saul died for his sin against the Lord and for counseling with a necromancer (a witch who ‘spoke with dead people’) instead of God, therefore, He killed him and gave the kingdom to David. To put it short, it says God killed Saul for his sins. Yet, if you go ten verses earlier, we see another story. In verse 4, “Saul said to his armor bearer, ‘Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, so these uncircumcised do not come and abuse me.’ But his armor bearer would not…so Saul took a sword and fell upon it.” Verse 5 goes on to say that when the armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he repeated the same act and died. Thus, we can see that God didn’t actually kill Saul—he killed himself, and God was credited with the act (as we see so much throughout Scriptures). The reality is that God allows people to kill each other, kill themselves, or die by accidents, calamities, etc.


[#100] Exodus 20:13 (Part 3)

Temptation isn’t sin until it’s entertained in the mind. You can’t control what the enemy puts in your mind—but you can control what stays there (by Christ). If you allow sinful ideas to stay, and enjoy or consider them—you entertain sin in your mind. If this isn’t clear, look at obvious examples in the Bible. John 8:44 says the devil was a murderer from the beginning. Satan’s way of killing is different than ours, but he’s still considered the biggest murderer of all 'time'. He was so jealous and angry that he not only wanted the exaltation of himself and the downfall of God (Christ) and humanity—but also their eternal death. It took over four thousand years to put Christ on the cross, but he was a murderer (in thought) from the beginning. He also prompted men to kill each other, and the violation of commandment #6 became integral in their religion (human sacrifices, etc.). Likewise, the Pharisees murdered Jesus in their minds before ever putting Him on the cross. Joseph’s brothers hated him. When an opportunity arose to kill him, it appeared spontaneous but was clearly premeditated (whether planned ahead of time, or just considered / desired). Sin starts in the heart / mind as thought(s) long before it becomes an action. Thus, hatred is equivalent to murder. 1 John 3:15 says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” We don’t weigh hatred and murder equally, but God views hating someone the same as murdering them. In fact, Jesus equated the results of that with even just being angry at someone without cause. Matthew 5:21, 22 says, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘You shall not kill’; and ‘whoever kills shall be in danger of the judgment’: but I tell you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…” In Genesis 4:5-8, God told Cain he had no cause to be angry (he was so angry that he physically killed his innocent brother). The sin of murder started in his mind with hatred or unreasonable anger. Interestingly, we can see a unique and opposite relationship with this connection of hatred and death versus love and life. John 12:25 says, “He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Now, this isn’t referring to lacking contentment or suicide—but it’s bringing out an important point. Those who love their life and protect it at any cost will lose it, but those who ‘hate’ their life (aka, ‘love [it] less’, as Strong’s Concordance defines it) in this world will have eternal life. Imagine what would've happened to Satan (quicker than it will, eventually) if he was exalted and God ceased to exist, as he desired—he would've too (God sustains his life)! So, in one situation, hating [someone else’s] life is murderous and costs eternal life, and ‘hating’ your life (valuing your own less than that others') gains eternal life. How? 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we perceive the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we should lay down our lives for the brethren.” Christ’s life was infinitely more important than any of ours, but He loved Himself less than us—to the point that He gave His life so we could have eternal life. His example shows how we’re to value others over ourselves. This can only be done by having Christ in us—and thus, as 1 John 3:15 implies—those who are the opposite of murderers (even by just love and hatred) have eternal life present in them, which is possible because of John 17:3. “And this is eternal life, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” We saw, in devotional #98, that those who kill ‘in God’s name’ do it because they don’t truly know God. Thus, those that do know Him would never kill (or even hate) because they’d be conformed to His character—and thus, will inherit eternal life.


[#101] Exodus 20:14

Commandment #7 is another hot topic. “You shall not commit adultery.” Adultery is breaking wedlock—a married person having voluntary sexual relations with someone other than the spouse or (as Matthew 10:11, 12 says) a married person divorcing the spouse and marrying another. As with killing, this sin is a physical act, but also—as hatred is equivalent to murder—lust is equivalent to adultery. Matthew 5:27, 28 says, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘You shall not commit adultery’: but I tell you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” To ‘lust’ (aka ‘covet’, ‘desire’, ‘fain’, etc.) is defined as ‘to have a very strong / passionate sexual desire for someone’. Thus, even if you never have intercourse with them, it's still adultery if it happens in your mind. I love how Job puts it in Job 31:1. “I made a covenant with my eyes; so why should I think upon a maid?” The context is unclear—he could be speaking of his marriage covenant with his wife (Job 2:9, 10) or with God. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘commit adultery’ as ‘apostatize’ (which is defined, ‘to renounce religious or political belief or principle’. The definition of ‘apostasy’ makes it clearer: ‘an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith’ and ‘abandonment of a previous loyalty’). Throughout Job’s terrible experience, he never apostatized (he never stopped obeying / trusting God, nor did he curse Him or give up his faith—which is clear especially in Job 1 and 2)—in other words, nothing could tempt him to commit adultery against his spiritual Spouse. We discussed commandment #2 (in devotionals #89-91), about worshipping false gods. This is spiritual adultery. However, since marriage is a sacred institution created by God—committing adultery against your spouse is also spiritual adultery. Either way, men combined regular adultery with spiritual adultery. As with commandment #6, Satan led men to violate commandment #7 as part of their religion. Heathen worship included abominable and licentious rites (promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters). The ‘gods’ were impure, and their worshipers let their baser (animal, lustful, depraved, corrupt) passions control them. They had festivals distinguished by open, universal impurity. There’s also the matter of polygamy (having more than one spouse at a time) which was wiped out in the flood, but again became common afterwards (which we discussed in Genesis). Satan worked hard to pervert marriage (undermining its obligations and sacredness) because it was the best way to damage the image (character) of God in mankind—which leads to misery and vice. Note that adultery isn’t just about extramarital relationships (cheating in marriage). The Bible discusses pre-marital sex also. Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 and Exodus 22:16 say that if a man sleeps with a woman who isn’t engaged / married, then he must marry her because he’s humbled (violated, defiled) her. A woman isn’t defiled if it’s within marriage—which means that anything outside of marriage is defilement. Thus, any sexual relations outside of the bounds of marriage aren't only destructive to the relationship between man and God, but to mankind itself. When we subject our noble powers to our base passions (even within marriage, we shouldn’t use each other as tools to fulfill our lusts), we’re no longer surrendered to our noble God, but to a corrupt slave-master whose only purpose is to destroy us. Proverbs 23:7 says a man is whatever he thinks in his heart, thus Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our hearts with diligence because from it come the issues of life. Falling into sin doesn’t make a man evil—it develops and/or reveals the evil hidden inside his heart. If his heart’s full of Christ, there’s no room for evil.


[#102] Exodus 20:15 (Part 1)

Commandment #8 is more straightforward but still more involved than what meets the eye. “You shall not steal.” Stealing / robbery / theft pertains to taking anything that belongs to someone else without permission or legal right (especially without the intent to return it). Strong’s Concordance defines it, ‘to secretly bring (away)’ or ‘get by stealth’. Interestingly, this doesn’t just refer to objects. In Matthew 26:55 and Luke 22:52, 53, Jesus spoke to the multitude who came in the middle of the night to arrest him secretly. He pointed out how they came with swords and clubs to get Him as if He were a thief, even though they never tried to arrest Him publicly when He sat in the temple everyday teaching them. He then said something impacting. “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” No amount of dignity or self-control could keep the priests and elders from leading a mob—this shameful association violated the obligations of their titles. He showed them that their objective was achieved by the same means as the plotting that led up to it (as we saw in devotional #100)—the nighttime and darkness was better suited for the work that they were doing. The Bible says that the thief comes in the night, and Jesus was here revealing that they were the ones acting like thieves. Why’d they come at night to arrest Jesus? If He was truly guilty as they pretended He was, they wouldn’t have hesitated to arrest Him in broad daylight—which He’d given ample opportunity for. Because He wasn’t guilty—if was done that way, everyone could’ve witnessed the trial and turned it for His acquittal (declaration / judgment of innocence). Their act in taking Him under the cover of darkness was an acknowledgement of His innocence and an attempt to avoid—especially as Passover was upon them. Furthermore, a court without jurisdiction can’t legally give a verdict / judgment—and to convene and act at an unlawful hour takes away the court’s jurisdiction. It was unlawful for capital / criminal trials to be held at night, especially because the evidence couldn’t be examined as clearly as in daylight. There was also the requirement for two trials of a case. These things were an issue because they had no evidence of wrong-doing, and they feared the crowds’ opposition and that Rome might take away their authority for executing an innocent man. Thus, Strong’s Concordance has another definition of steal: ‘to deceive’, which we define as causing someone to believe something that’s not true (usually to gain some personal advantage). This sounds like a lie more than a theft, but it’s extremely fitting. Throughout the Bible, we see the concept of Satan (or his agents) working through deception to steal that which rightfully belongs to God. In Genesis 3:13, Eve claimed the serpent beguiled (meaning ‘deceived’—see also 1 Timothy 2:14) her, leading her to sin. In a sense, Satan ‘stole’ mankind from God. By deceiving them to sin, they lost their freedom to choose God, and were thus enslaved (‘owned’) by Satan. Jesus described a similar situation in John 10:1-10. The one who doesn’t enter the sheepfold by the door (but climbs up a different way) is a thief, but he that enters by the door is the shepherd. He is the door of the sheep (and all that came before Him are thieves), and that if any man enters in by Him, he’ll be saved, go in and out, and find pasture. He clarified the thief’s purpose is only to steal, kill, and destroy—whereas, His purpose's to ensure they have life—and more abundantly. This is exactly what Satan did—he snuck in and acted like he was God (see Mark 13:5, 6)—or at least like he was better than Him. Another example of this is where Jacob deceived Isaac to steal something that belonged to Esau (even though God meant it for Jacob ultimately, and would’ve worked it out for him if he’d trusted—it still ‘legally’ belonged to Esau at that point).


[#103] Exodus 20:15 (Part 2)

The Bible discusses some other actions that God equates to stealing. James 5:4 says, “Look, the laborers who have reaped your fields, whose hire is kept by you by fraud, cry: and the cries…enter the ears of the Lord…” Likewise, Leviticus 19:13 says, “You shall not defraud your neighbor, nor rob him: the hired man’s wages shall not stay with you all night until the morning.” In other words, don’t wrong another man. If you hired the man—do not retain his pay. If you keep (or even hold onto) it (like Laban often did to Jacob)—you’re stealing what’s rightfully his. And just to settle that this is true, we can see that Jesus clearly connects ‘defrauding’ someone with ‘robbing’ someone in Mark 10:19 when He mentions a few of the ten commandments. This also pertains to God Himself. Malachi 3:8-11 discusses what it is to rob God. “You have robbed Me…in tithes and offerings.” I love what God instructs to be done—and the conditional promise He makes: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove Me now by it…if I will not open to you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be enough room to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground…” So not only does God promise to provide for those who honor Him with their tithes and offerings, but He promises to end the curse (the natural consequences) of loss by the devourer (thief). Another scenario equated to robbery is revealed in Isaiah 10, where unrighteous decrees are made that take away the rights (or ignore the destitution of) the needy and poor. The magistrates were responsible for protecting the helpless, but they too, turned a blind eye. These types of people—though not directly robbing or oppressing the people—would be considered partners in crime with the thieves. Proverbs 29:24 says, “Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own soul: he hears cursing and does not expose it.” In other words, oppression (and to some extent, neglect) is the same as theft when God judges that. This is much like what we see happened with the tax collectors taking excessive amounts from people who already struggled to pay what they actually owed. I’d even suggest that those in high offices in businesses, churches, politics, etc. today who take massive paychecks at the expense of tax-payers—especially in the face of extreme poverty, etc. are also thieves according to these passages. Isaiah 3:14, 15 says, “The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and its princes: because you have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. ‘How is it that you beat My people to pieces and grind the faces of the poor?’ says the Lord…” Strong’s Concordance defines ‘ancients’ here as ‘elders’ and ‘senators’. Thus, as with the scribes and Pharisees, God doesn’t excuse these thefts—even if done ‘legally’ or by those with authority in church, state, etc.


[#104] Exodus 20:16 (Part 1)

Commandment #9 is often repeated simply as, ‘You shall not lie.’ Reading it fully, it says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This could be taken literally, as in, falsely witnessing / testifying against someone (especially in court), but I think it’s rather general and broad. Any lie you speak concerning someone else is false witness. Interestingly enough, one of the Strong’s Concordance definitions of ‘bear’ in this phrase is, ‘eye or heed (pay attention to)’ or ‘respond’. Thus, bearing false witness isn’t just telling a lie, but also listening or responding to one. Exodus 23:1 says, “You shall not raise a false report: do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.” It’s like someone who gossips and someone who listens to gossip. The listener’s no less unrighteous than the speaker if they don’t shut down the gossip and/or seek out whether it’s the truth. Psalm 40:4 says that the man that puts his trust in the Lord is blessed—he doesn’t respect the proud or those that turn aside to lies. Deuteronomy 19:15-20 gives a clear statement of how this situation is to be handled. “…in the mouth of two…or three witnesses shall the matter be established. If a false witness rises up against any man…then both the men…shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges…and the judges shall make diligent inquiry: and look, if the witness is a false witness…then you shall do to him what he had thought to have done to his brother: so you shall put the evil away from among you. And those who remain shall hear and revere, and shall from then on commit no such evil among you.” You can’t help but become a liar when you take part in someone else’s lies (even just by listening, etc.). In John 8:44, Jesus told the Pharisees, “You are [children] of your father, the devil, and you will do the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of lies.” Satan was the first to lie, and he did it in Heaven first. He lied to himself and to the other angels. Some (a third) were deceived by his lies. The rest weren’t—but they were impacted (they couldn’t be sure he was lying until the cross). Then he lied to others. He lied to Eve and told her that God had lied to them. People tend to project their own sins onto others (if I lie, they also must lie, etc.). It’s done out of fear (as Cain believed others would kill him if they found out he’d killed)—but especially to hide in fear. If you can point at someone else, you can divert the negative attention from yourself. This is what the scribes and Pharisees did. They even tried to hire false witnesses against Jesus, but the only ones they could get couldn’t get their stories to agree (see Matthew 26:59-61 and Mark 14:55-59). As we see in Proverbs 19:5, 9, liars won’t get away with it, whereas, the man that listens intelligently will speak righteousness consistently (see Proverbs 21:28). It's amazing that someone’s life can literally be in the hands of a witness—whether an honest one or a false one. Proverbs 14:25 says that “A true witness delivers souls…” and Proverbs 25:18 says that “A man that bears false witness against his neighbor is a mallet, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.” I can’t help but see that this verse calls false testimony leading to innocent death (etc.) the same as murder. Psalm 57:4 and Jeremiah 9:3, 8 associate the mouth (teeth and tongue) with a sharp sword and a bow and arrow. It’s interesting how this looks like the scene of the mob coming after Jesus in the night (as we saw in devotional #102) with their swords and clubs.


[#105] Exodus 20:16 (Part 2)

Another way of lying addressed by God is when someone ‘enables’ sinners to keep sinning by excusing or justifying their sins. Ezekiel 13:22 says, “…You have made the heart of the righteous sad with lies…and strengthened the hands of the wicked by promising him life, so he should not retreat from his wicked way.” Jeremiah 23:14 speaks to this similarly. “I have also seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: they commit adultery and walk in lies: they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so none retreats from his wickedness: they are all as Sodom, and its inhabitants as Gomorrah to Me.” We’re seeing this a lot today, especially within the churches and government. Pastors, priests, and elders themselves are molesting children, excusing immorality in others, and so on. Those that preach that people will be saved regardless of what they do also strengthen and enable people to continue in sin. Thus, this type of false witness also leads to the death of others (as we saw in devotional #104). Bearing false witness isn’t just speaking, though. Being a false witness (aka, a false example) is just as bad (and maybe even worse). Think about someone who claims to be a Christian, but doesn’t act like one. Is his false spoken testimony more detrimental, or is his false example of God’s character? Think about the seven women (from Isaiah 4:1) who wanted to bear the name of the man but continue wearing their own clothes and eat their own bread (to get rid of their bad reputation but continue doing the things which got it in the first place), which we discussed in devotional #92. They took the Lord’s name in vain by claiming to be like Him (have His character) but acting very differently. As a result, those that witness their behavior get a false testimony of who God is—which only leads down a negative path for them. In devotional #90, we discussed people changing (and worshipping) a corrupted image of God (Romans 1:18-23)—however, it’s more than that. Verse 19 makes it clear that God revealed Himself to them, and that they’re to manifest (reveal) Him to others. But they go on to exchange His truth for a lie. This ‘non-verbal’ misrepresentation of God’s character is equivalent to slander (‘the crime of making false and damaging statements about someone—ruining their reputation’)—a form of defamation of character. Not only will the liars naturally be affected by this—but others will be impacted by their influence as well. Those that aren’t religious will be especially impacted (degraded / corrupted) by those claiming to be Christians, but exhibit a worldly religion.


[#106] Exodus 20:17 (Part 1)

We’ve reached commandment #10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…nor his wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” We briefly touched on the topic of coveting (sometimes equivalent to ‘lusting’) in devotional #101, when we discussed commandment #7. ‘Covet’ is defined as ‘yearn to possess or have (something)’. Its synonyms include ‘desire’, ‘crave’, ‘want’, ‘fancy’, and ‘have one’s heart set on’ (this last one really puts the concept of ‘lusting after something in your heart’ in clearer terms!). So, simply wanting something (even if it’s a good thing!) is considered coveting if it belongs to someone else! The definition that catches my eye the most though is from Strong’s Concordance‘to delight in’. Why does this strike me so? This commandment mentions several things (among many) that we’re not to delight in. However, the Bible mentions several times what it is that we should delight in. Many verses (especially in Psalms) talk about delighting in the law of God—His statutes, testimony, ways, word, etc. I like Psalm 119:35, 36 the best here, because it contrasts a good delight with a bad one. It says, “Make me go in the path of Your commandments, because I delight in them. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness.” Some verses say to delight in God Himself—which would be consistent, considering that His law’s the transcript (or record) of His character. Thus, by delighting in His law, you automatically delight in Him—and vice versa. As Psalm 40:8-10 says, if we delight in doing His will because His law’s in our hearts—then we won’t hide His righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, lovingkindness, or truth within our hearts from others. In other words—we’ll do His will in sharing His character (that we love) with others. Another great thing about hiding His word in our hearts and delighting in Him is that we’ll be greatly blessed by it (not as an arbitrary act of God, but as a natural consequence (also see Psalm 1:1-3, Isaiah 58:2, 13, 14, and Job 22:25, 26)). Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” If we’re delighting in God, rather than coveting for (desiring) other things—He’ll give us the things we desire in a righteous, and maybe even miraculous, way. For example, there are things that could never be as good for us as they would be by going through difficult situations (of lack, etc.). Psalm 119:70-72 says that while others’ hearts are as fat as grease, we should delight in His law—it’s good for us to be afflicted, because we’d have the chance to learn His statutes. Thus, the law of His mouth is greater than gold and silver.


[#107] Exodus 20:17 (Part 2)

I’d like to look at this commandment in another way also. How did sin start? Lucifer coveted something that wasn’t his. Isaiah 14:13, 14 says about him, “You have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will also sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” Lucifer wanted something that couldn’t be his, because he wasn’t God. He wanted God’s power, authority, and worship—but not His responsibilities and character. A throne (sitting) symbolizes the reign of someone over a kingdom. Lucifer said he’d exalt his throne—but not only did he not have a throne—he didn’t even sit. Lucifer was a covering cherub—he stood by God. His role was to share the light of God’s character with others—to delight in God. The angels were neither paid nor forced / compelled to serve God. There were no ‘laws’ that they were commanded to obey. They had no motives—their service to God was out of their love for Him and His principles—and their righteousness was a natural trait in their characters. Their will was in line with God’s—thus, everything they did / do in their Heavenly service is out of delight in God. Lucifer had one of the highest positions in Heaven—and was also given the most beauty and talent. Yet, it wasn’t enough. As described in Job 34:9, “…he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.” Lucifer coveted God’s seat and His house. The Bible often depicts the mind at the seat / throne or house / temple of God (or His Spirit)—and Satan has attempted for roughly 6,000 years to usurp that place. In other words, he coveted his Neighbor’s house. He next coveted his Neighbor’s manservant (and maidservant). When Satan deceived Eve (and then Adam chose to sin with her)—they lost their ability to choose God as their Master—they were no longer His servants, but the slaves of Satan and sin. However, Satan realized that, in order to truly claim Earth (and potentially Heaven) as his kingdom, he had to do more. Thus, he coveted his Neighbor’s wife. The Bible describes the church (Christians) as the bride of Christ. It wasn’t enough to get a third of God’s angels and all the heathens on Earth under his rule and will—but to truly conquer this Kingdom—he needed to get those who were still loyal to God—and he had to use subtle means to achieve it. Matthew 24:24 says that “There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and they shall show great signs and wonders; to the extent that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”


[#108] Exodus 20:18-21

Now that we’ve finished looking at the ten commandments themselves, we should look at how the people responded to their presentation. Israel witnessed the thunder and lightning, the noise of the trumpet, and the smoking mountain (it was burning)—and they pulled back. Deuteronomy 5:22-33 reveals why God called Moses up to the top of the mountain. They (including their elders) came to Moses saying that God had shown them His glory and greatness, and they’d heard His voice out of the midst of the fire—which showed them that God does talk with man, and He lives. Then they told him that if they heard God’s voice anymore, they’d be consumed by the great fire and die because, what other man had heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the fire like they had and survived it? Thus, they wanted Moses to approach God to hear Him (out of their earshot) from then on, and to relay God’s message to them—which they’d hear from him and do. What they told Moses revealed their unbelief. God wanted them to hear and reverence His voice so that they wouldn’t be tempted to sin, but they were too afraid. They didn’t understand the truths about God—how it was that they were supposed to approach Him. The people wanted Moses to be their mediator—but that was Christ’s job. They thought that by having Moses speak to God on their behalf, they’d be saved from death—but that could only be accomplished by Christ speaking on their behalf. They didn’t understand justification and the sacrifices that represented it. They didn’t understand that the principles given in the ten commandments would set them up for salvation because they’d no longer excuse sin. Their minds were so blinded and degraded by slavery that they couldn’t yet appreciate the principles in the ten commandments. When we look at Exodus 34, where Moses goes up and gets the two tablets of stone (with the ten commandments written on them by the finger of God), we’ll see how his face shined so brightly that they required him to wear a veil, and what this meant spiritually. After the people expressed their wishes, God told Moses He had heard their words and directed that they should return to their tents. Thus, Moses approached God in the thick darkness.


[#109] Exodus 20:22-26

God provided extra precepts (commandments or principles) illustrating and applying the principles of the ten commandments so that the people could truly digest them. These were given to Moses privately—to tell the people—as they’d requested. Some of the things discussed can be seen in Exodus 20:22-26. God made it clear that He knew the people knew it was Him that spoke to them from Heaven, and thus, they had no excuse to make gods of silver or gold. They were instructed to make a dirt altar to God, on which they were to sacrifice their burnt and peace offerings, sheep, and oxen. He told them that wherever He recorded His name, He would come and bless them. If they made a stone altar, it shouldn’t be made with hewn stone because using their tools on it would pollute it (see also Deuteronomy 27:5, 6). The reason for this is that man isn’t supposed to create things to represent Heavenly things (mingling the sacred with the common). They were also not to go up steps to reach the altar, because their nakedness would be revealed. In direct disobedience to these precepts (as we’ll see in Exodus 32), while Moses was up on the mountain getting the ten commandments written on stone, the people made a golden calf, made an altar to it, and worshipped it as the god that brought them out of Egypt—and were naked (see Exodus 32:25). Why did God give such specific instructions about sacrifice and altars? This service had mostly been done away with because of their Egyptian bondage. Their concepts concerning sacrifice had been shaped by Egyptian ideas, who, ironically learned of sacrificial altars from Israel when they’d first arrived to Egypt. However, Egypt mixed truth and lies (Godly sacrifice with idolatry), and the practices in their heathen altar worship were extremely indecent—and thus, Israel needed to be clearly reminded of how sinful idolatry is, and why sacrifice became a necessary aspect of repentance for sin. When Adam made his first sacrifice for sin, it was an extremely painful experience for him to take the life of an innocent being—especially because he knew it represented the life of his Savior Himself. This was the point of sacrifices to begin with—to help people remember the effect of their sins and how it wouldn’t have been necessary if they’d not sinned. However, the sacrifices and the remembrance of His name also gave a glimmer of hope amid the terrible future and its ultimate end.

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