Thinking About the 10 Commandments
Studying Exodus 20 the other day, I came across an interesting point worthy of consideration. The Ten Commandments are spoken of in the Bible as “the covenant” between Israel and God. For instance, Exodus 34:27-28 says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” See also Deuteronomy 4:13.
People often perceive the Ten Commandments as universal, timeless law; whereas the Bible perceives them as the foundation for the exclusive relationship (covenant) between God and the Jews. Certainly we can learn much from the Ten Commandments about God’s character and expectations for us His people today, just as we can learn from any part of the Old Testament. The point is that we are “servants of a new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:6) through the blood of the Son of God (Luke 22:20), and thus the covenant of the Jews (including the Ten Commandments) does not define the terms of our service to God. This is especially important regarding whether or not Christians need to observe the Jewish Sabbath day. In light of Christ’s glory, why would we want to return to the Old Covenant?
“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?...But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor. 3:7-8, 15-16).