Posts Tagged ‘Ten Commandments’

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3

In case you haven’t noticed, our world has dramatically changed. It wasn’t long ago that it would have been unthinkable that nearly 40 million unborn children would be murdered in America. There was a time when kids could pray in public schools. Nativity scenes dotted the lawns of county courthouses and municipal parks—without protest. Marriage was strictly a guy-girl arrangement. And you could even pray in Jesus’ name at graduation ceremonies.

I’m not interested in being like the grump who said, “In my life I’ve seen a lot things change and quite frankly I’ve been against them all!” But if you are talking about changing the face of America to the point where God is out and everything else is in, then I have a problem with that kind of change. My problem is wondering how to handle my heart and attitudes. Wondering how to live and respond in a world where the foundations of righteousness are being eroded on nearly every front.

How do we, as followers of Jesus, process right and wrong in a world that tells us there are no absolutes? How do we proclaim that Jesus alone is what people really need—that He is the “way and the truth” (John 14:6)—when most people no longer believe that there is such a thing as true truth?

You don’t have to be an industrial-strength theologian to realize that the current thought patterns of most Americans fly in the face of what we hold to be true. If there are no absolutes, you can forget about the Ten Commandments. If nothing is ever right or wrong, there is no sin and no need for a Savior. It’s easy to see that believing in what God tells us about righteousness, truth, and godly living leaves us marginalized and outdated. So our hearts cry out with David: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

Let’s start with knowing what not to do. Notice that David didn’t wring his hands in despair. He didn’t “flee like a bird to [the] mountain” (Psalm 11:1). Instead, he decided to take refuge in the Unchanging One. His confidence was bolstered by the fact that God was on His holy throne and that His eyes were well aware of what was going on. Reminded of the ultimate judgment that God would pour out on wickedness, David knew that, in the face of unsettling change, staying on course with God is indeed the best and safest alternative. Looking at all the change from God’s point of view, he realized that though the change seemed overwhelming, God is still very much in charge and ultimately victorious.

Why would any of us want to go soft on God and His truth in order to feel more “with it,” when we know that the “with it” party train is headed for a disastrous train wreck? So, let’s quit all the hand wringing and feeling sorry for ourselves. Let’s cheer up, knowing that the things that can’t change—such as God’s righteous eternal reign—are still in place!

You can go with the change if you choose. I’m going with my changeless God!


  • Has the changing philosophies of our world changed your approach to life, sin, and righteousness in any way? Be specific.
  • What are some things that God loves and some things He hates? Do you love what He loves and hate what He hates?
  • Are you willing to take a few hits for God because you stand with Him and His truth? To what extent? In what ways was Jesus unwavering in His willingness to take a hit for you in this ungodly world?
  • Have you expected this changing, increasingly godless world to be a friend of Jesus? Read what Jesus had to say to us in John 16:33, and rejoice!


“Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger.” — Zephaniah 2:3

Consider this:  God chose Moses, a man who wasn’t good with words, to give over the word of God. He chose Mount Sinai, a mountain that was barely as big as a hill, as the place where the Torah would be given. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to choose a skilled orator and a grand mountain for such a spectacular event?

When God appointed Moses to be the spokesperson of the Israelites, Moses protested:   “Who am I that I should go?” (Exodus 3:11). God could have chosen Aaron, the older, more confident brother, who—as time would prove – was much more charismatic and beloved by the people.

But he chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and it was through him that the Ten Commandments were given to the world. For all that he lacks, Moses had the one trait that mattered the most. The Bible calls him:  “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

Mount Sinai was a mountain that was smaller than any around it. Tradition teaches that when God was about to give the Torah to mankind, other mountains wanted to be the place of such a holy event. They boasted that they were taller and more majestic. They were grandiose and awe-inspiring. But God chose Mount Sinai because it was small. Even the place of revelation was chosen because it symbolized humility.

Remember those funny mirrors from amusement parks? Some make you look short and fat, while others make you tall and skinny. The distortions make us laugh because we know what we really look like. But what if someone didn’t know that it was all a joke? Imagine if someone who was skinny thought she was obese, or if someone dangerously overweight saw a skinny person in the mirror?

You can’t make your body better if you don’t know what you really look like. And you can’t make your inner self better if you don’t know who you are. That’s what humility means —knowing who you are. It’s only when you can admit your flaws that you can begin to overcome them. Only one who is humble can receive the word of God.

The prophet Zephaniah writes, “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land.” If you are looking for God, start by taking a good, honest look in the mirror. Be humble and acknowledge where you are lacking. By making yourself less, you open yourself up to becoming more.

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people . . .’ After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, ‘Prepare yourselves for the third day . . . ’” — Exodus 19:10, 14–15

In Exodus, as God was about to appear to the people of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, He instructed Moses to have the people prepare themselves for that occasion. In the book of Numbers, the word “prepare” appears more than 30 times as God gave His people detailed instructions for how the people were to prepare the sacrifices and themselves for worship. Clearly, being prepared is important to God.

In the Jewish tradition, the extensive, detailed preparation for the Sabbath and our anticipation of this special day are essential parts of its observance. Just as the Israelites prepared themselves physically and spiritually before receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, so we undergo a physical and spiritual preparation before experiencing Shabbat.

Listen to what the God says in the book of Exodus:  “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work” (20:9). Physically, we plan to finish all our work in six days. If we embrace this mindset and plan for the week, then we are both physically and mentally ready for Shabbat.

You’re probably wondering how that is possible in today’s demanding workplace, where, with today’s technology, we are able to take our work with us wherever we are?

The rabbis take this passage to mean that we should feel as if all our work has been completed when the Sabbath arrives. Our work undoubtedly will still be there when the work week begins again, but we are to greet the Shabbat in a spirit of peace, without anxious thoughts of what has yet to be done. Our hearts and minds should be focused on Him and all that His grace provides for us.

Is that how you approach the Lord’s Day? Individually, and then with your family, consider what steps you can take to prepare for your worship time. What can you do to ensure that you are greeting this day of worship in a true spirit of peace?

“I will walk about in freedom,        for I have sought out your precepts.”Psalm 119:45

Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw once penned, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” Think about that for a moment. Most of us would equate freedom with the absence of responsibility and the opportunity to do whatever we please. But for Jews, true freedom does include responsibility — a responsibility to serve God. And this concept of freedom is rooted in our celebration and observance of the Sabbath.

When God gave Moses and the people of Israel the Ten Commandments, He instructed them, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). The Sabbath is a sacred day set aside for us by God to remind us of the Jews’ slavery in and exodus from Egypt.

However, the freedom that was gained when we left Egypt was not intended to be total independence from all authority. This freedom — true freedom — included voluntary servitude to God. For this reason, the Bible states in Exodus 20:10 that on the Sabbath, “you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”

You see, every man and beast must be free, at least for one day in seven, to embrace something more supreme — something more — than just serving men. Indeed, even when not in bondage to other men, we can enslave ourselves to things that are not truly critical. Moses understood that true freedom from slavery did not mean that we may do whatever we please. Rather freedom from slavery is only true freedom if it leads to the acceptance of serving God.

By recalling the exodus motif on Shabbat, we are reminded of the true nature of slavery and freedom, and of our duty to bring spiritual purpose and meaning into our lives. Clearly, God had a higher purpose in freeing Israel from Egyptian bondage. He wanted them to work for, and with, Him.

A wise man once said that “we should always be running toward something, not away from something.” Celebrate your freedom today, as the psalmist says, by running toward God’s precepts and His word.

This is the third post in my blog series, titled: The Price of Liberty. You can read the first two posts here and here.

No country is perfect, but I choose to live in this country because there is no nation I love or respect more than these United States. And there is no other place where people have more freedom.

A fact to consider about the United States: There is no other place more hospitable or more caring.

People can point out the problems we have in this country such as homelessness and corruption in government. However, if we compare this country to the rest of the world, it would be hard to top this nation. Why is this so? The so-called goodness of this mighty nation is because it was founded and built for the honor and glory of God, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence.

For more than 100 years following the Declaration of Independence, this nation continued on its godly path. In 1892, the Supreme Court’s decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States said:

Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, and in this sense and to this extent, our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian … This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.

The Court ruling continued:

We find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth . . . These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that is a Christian nation.

After reviewing the Court’s ruling in 1892 and considering some of the Supreme Court’s rulings in the last 40 to 50 years, we need to ask: Why has the great dream of our Founding Fathers turned into a nightmare?

  • Why has Christianity in America become the object of ridicule?
  • Why do our governments take on such enormous levels of debt?
  • Why is sexual immorality rampant in the entertainment industry, while out-of-wedlock births soar and traditional families decline?
  • Why do our young people turn to drugs at such alarming rates?
  • Why is the rise of Islamic extremism treated with such complacency and ignorance?

To answer these questions and others about our current problems in America, we need to turn to the Bible. Some 4,000 years ago, God called the nation of Israel to be His chosen people and made the same promises to them that He made to our founding fathers. These praises are set forth in Deuteronomy 28:1-6:

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

Deuteronomy 28 also contains the curses that follow if the people refuse to follow God and walk in obedience. Verse 15 makes clear: “If you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”

The curses are spelled out in the remaining verses of 28.

In the Old Testament, the people understood that to keep the covenant meant life. To break or disobey the covenant meant abandoning it and facing certain death. America’s Founding Fathers, by signing the Declaration of Independence, were actually covenanting with God.

Throughout the 200 years that ensued, the nation went through good times and bad, and made its share of mistakes. However, in recent times, our nation has deliberately and systematically chosen to drift away from God in the following ways:

  • We willfully broke the covenant of the Founding Fathers
  • We tampered with God’s absolute standards – the Ten Commandments
  • We ridiculed Christian believers while acquiescing to Islamic demands and ignoring Islamic misdeeds and oppression
  • We began to tolerate the same sin that brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah – calling it an alternative lifestyle
  • Our courts that once legislated against immorality began to grant freedom to everyone. And “everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 17:6)
  • Our courts have allowed murder on demand—what can we expect?
  • Our courts have expelled prayer from schools, so we should not be surprised at the problems that replaced it: drugs, teen alcoholism, teen pregnancy, promiscuity, and children killing children at school

Sadly, these problems no longer shock many in our nation. Jeremiah’s words ring true: “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15)?

America has forgotten what it is to blush, and our eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness. Yet the most distressing situation is that whenever someone tries to point out the root of these problems—

  • He is labeled old-fashioned
  • He is labeled a bigot
  • He is labeled intolerant

We should be intolerant to the ills of our society, and we should be especially intolerant of godlessness and wickedness.

The reason that this great nation is beset with problems and corruption is because our lawmakers and courts have deliberately and systematically distanced themselves from the covenant that the founding fathers made with God. We must recognize that this is the disease that ails us before we can hope to turn things around.

In my next post, we will consider Jeremiah’s message to the people of Judah after they had succumbed to a spiritual breakdown, and how his message is relevant to us today.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

In Romans 13:8, Paul sums up how to live the Christian life. “Love your neighbor,” he writes, “and you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” He then illustrates this fact by citing four prohibitions from the Ten Commandments. His point? If you love others, then you won’t commit adultery with them. You won’t murder them. You won’t steal from them. And you won’t even covet their possessions. Here is the Christian life in a nutshell: Love your neighbor!

I expect that 100% of my readers know this already. The call to love our neighbors isn’t new. In fact, it wasn’t new when Paul wrote it in the late 50s A.D. And it wasn’t new when Jesus said it. We find the command to love our neighbors all the way back in Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” So today you’re not getting new information.

Rather, I want to ask you a simple question: Are you doing it? Think about it. Pray about it. Allow the questions below to get you thinking…and loving.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you loving your neighbors? Are you letting this fundamental principle actually guide your life each day? When was the last time you paused to reflect on how you might better love the people in your life? How can you love your spouse today? Your children? Your parents? Your siblings? Your roommates? Your colleagues? Your employees? Your boss? Your waiter? Your literal neighbor next door? What can you do today to put into practice the command to love your neighbor?


PRAYER: Gracious Heavenly Father, I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor. This isn’t new. But I must confess that I can easily forget this simple commandment. Or I can allow myself to belief that if I’m generally “nice,” this counts as love. Forgive me for neglecting something so central to discipleship as the call to love.

Help me, dear Lord, to love my neighbors today. Give me eyes to see how best to care for them. Give me ears to hear what they’re really saying. Give me a heart of compassion, so that I might extend your love to them. I ask especially for fresh insight for how I might love those closest to me: my wife, my children, my colleagues, my extended family, my brothers and sisters at church.

As I care for people in tangible ways, may your love flow through me to others. Make me a channel of your love, dear Lord. Amen.

Is America still the land of the free and the home of the brave? Or is our nation dangerously adrift on a sea of complacency and immorality? Too often we are content to think only of our families and ourselves, and ignore the world around us. We pay little attention to the continual changes taking place in governmental policies.

Like the frog in lukewarm water—unaware that the water is boiling until it is too late for him to leap—we, too, may be in more danger than we realize. When more than 3,000 babies are aborted every day, the Bible and the Ten Commandments are removed from the classroom, and prayer in the school is forbidden, it is time to assess where we are as a nation.

Psalm 33:12 states: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”

We should ask ourselves, however, whether the Lord is still America’s God—or, like the children of Israel, are we now pursuing other gods? Although our Founding Fathers based America’s important documents—such as the Declaration of Independence—on Christianity and the Bible, through indifference, ignorance, and neglect of biblical principles, we are in danger of losing our precious freedoms. However, it is yet possible to reclaim what we’ve already lost if God’s people will awake and rise up.

As an immigrant—now a naturalized citizen—to this great country, I would like to share some of my concerns for America. I have come to love America and its rich heritage. This country means so much to me because of the persecution I experienced in my birth country of Egypt. I know firsthand what it is like to be persecuted for one’s faith, and I understand the process that takes place in a country to get to that point. When I observe these telltale signs rising everywhere in our country, it causes me great alarm.

Imagine with me the following scenario. Due to my kindness and hospitality, I decide one day to bring a young man into our house. He needs food, shelter, and a job—all of which we gladly provide for him. He also needs an identity, so we let him use our family name—giving him all the privileges and responsibilities of being in our family.

After a few years, the young man decides he doesn’t like the arrangement of the furniture, so he rearranges it without regard to the rest of the family. Then, over our vigorous protests, he decides that family devotions are offensive to him, so he insists that our family must stop praying together. Moreover, he decides that having too many Bibles in the home is offensive to him, so he takes the Bibles away.

Finally, he tells me, “If you ever talk about your religious views publicly, I will have to take you to court because I find your views offensive.” His attitude is reflected as follows, “You brought me into your family, you gave me all of the privileges and legal rights of being a member of the family. Therefore, you have lost your rights to continue living your biblical and moral lifestyle because I don’t like it.”

He continues by saying, “I may be one of seven in this house, but because I believe that your belief system is out of date, I demand that you be silenced while I pillage and reinterpret your faith for you. I demand that you accept my new understanding of the foundational principles of your life.”

You are probably thinking, I can’t imagine a worse nightmare for my life and for my family’s life than that.

But something much like that has been happening in our own country of late. From my past, I know what it is to grow up in a family that has been subjected to socialism. I know, too, what it is like to lose family property. In fact, overnight, family, and friends lost the company that had belonged to their families for years. In the 1960s, they lost everything they had worked for because the government seized their property and possessions. The argument, of course, was that the government knew how to handle these businesses better. We were told that it was only getting the rich “to pay their fair share.”

Let me caution you that these same things have been happening in America for the past several years. It is time for us to become fully aware of the path our beloved country is following. There are reasons why we are experiencing so many problems as a nation.

For the next several weeks, I’ll be exploring those reasons and how we have turned away from God’s protection and blessing. Only by first becoming aware of the significance of our flawed path can we take the necessary steps to reverse course.