As we work our way through the story of Exodus, we have already seen Israel enslaved, redeemed and rejoicing in God’s redemption. In chapter 16 God provides food for the people as they wander the wilderness outside of Egypt. In the beginning of chapter 17 God provides water. In the second half of chapter 17 God provides victory over those who treated them. In chapter 18 God provides wisdom for Moses as to how best to lead the people, as well as how to raise up leaders. The theme throughout is God leading and providing for His people.

But where is God leading them? In chapter 19 and 20 we discover that, before God leads His people to their new land, God is leading them to Himself. In chapter 19 God brings the Israelites to Mount Sinai. God calls Moses to ascend the mountain. On the mountain God meets with Moses, showing Moses more of who He is and giving Moses instructions for how He is to be approached and worshiped by the people.

Redemption, Then Command

The commands are far more than instructions on how to live. They are surely not the means by which the people are saved. Let us remember the order of events. God, by the power of His own hand, has already worked to redeem the people. God, in His abundant goodness, has already begun to provide for the people. It is then, after His redemption and provision, that God now continues to provide for the people by giving them the commands of His kingdom. The ten commandments give the people instruction on what life is like inside the kingdom of God, under His kindly rule.

The Heart of the Command

The commands give us far more than just the rules of the kingdom. They also show the people the character of the king. The commands don’t just show us what we should be like, they show us what God is actually like.

  • The first command says that the people must not have any gods before God. That means that God alone is worthy of worship. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is a reason that He along is exalted in worship.
  • The second command tells the people not to make idols. This tells us that God is not a created thing, nor can he be sufficiently represented by any created thing. God, Himself, as He is revealed in His Word, and not any thing that is fashioned by human hands, is to be the object of our worship.
  • The ninth command says that the people must not bear false witness. This shows us that God is a God of truth and order. His Word is sure.

Just like the laws of a land reveal the character of its leaders, so the ten commandments reveal the character of the Lord.

What did you see?

I would love to see your thoughts in the comments. What did you notice about who God is from the character of His commands?