Dave Burnette's Commentary

Exodus Chapter 20

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: The Record of God's Deliverance of Israel (c 1-40)
Theme: Israel at Sinai (c 19-40)
Message: The 10 Commandments  (v 1-26)

Exodus 20 Commentary

(20:1-17) The 10 Commandments - Why were the Ten Commandments necessary for God's new nation? At the foot of Mount Sinai, God showed his people the true function and beauty of his laws. The commandments were designed to lead Israel to a life of practical holiness. In them, people could see the nature of God and his plan for how they should live. The commands and guidelines were intended to direct the community to meet the needs of each individual in a loving and responsible manner. By Jesus' time, however, most people had come to look at the law the wrong way. They saw it as a means to prosperity in both this world and the next. And they thought that obeying every law was the way to earn God's protection from foreign invasion and natural disaster. They failed to see that keeping the law should be the means to fulfill God's ultimate law of love.

(20:1-6) No God's Before Me - The Israelites had just come from Egypt, a land of many idols and many gods. Because each god represented a different aspect of life, it was common to worship many gods in order to get the maximum number of blessings. When God told his people to worship and believe in him, that wasn't so hard for them; he was just one more god to add to the list. But when he said, Thou shalt have no other gods before me," that was difficult for the people to accept. But if they didn't learn that the God who had led them out of Egypt was the only true God, they could not be his people- no matter how faithfully they kept the other nine commandments. Thus, God made this his first commandment. Today we can allow many things to become gods to us. Relationships, money, affirmation, work, and pleasure can become gods when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning, and security. No one sets out with the intention of worshiping these things. But by the amount of time we devote to them, we can allow them to grow into gods that ultimately control our thoughts and energies. Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps these things from turning into gods.

(20:7) God's Name in Vain - God's name is special because it carries his personal identity. Using it frivolously or in a curse is so common today that we may fail to realize how serious it is. The way we use God's name conveys how we really feel about him. We should respect his name and use it appropriately, speaking it in praise or worship rather than in curse or jest. We should not take lightly the abuse or dishonor of God's name.

(20:8-11) The Sabbath - The Sabbath was a day set aside for rest and worship. God commanded a Sabbath because human beings need to spend unhurried time in worship and rest each week. A God who is concerned enough to provide a day each week for us to rest is indeed wonderful. Observing a regular time of rest and worship in our fast-paced world demonstrates how important God is to us, and it gives us the extra benefit of refreshing our spirits. Don't neglect God's provision.

(20:12-15) Commandments to Treat Others -  The first four commandments show us how to relate to God. The next six show us how to treat other people. The prohibitions against murder, adultery, and stealing require us to respect the life, personhood, and possessions and integrity of others. These are hallmarks for how God wants us to live today.

(20:12) A Commandment with Promise - This is the first commandment with a promise attached. To live in peace for generations in the Promised Land, the Israelites would need to respect authority and build strong families. But what does it mean to honor parents? Partly, it means speaking well of them and politely to them. It also means showing them courtesy and respect (though not obeying them if this means disobeying God). It means following their teaching and example when they put God first. Parents have a special place in God's sight. Even those who find it difficult to get along with their parents are still commanded to honor them.

(20:16) Bearing False Witness - To bear false witness means to lie in court. God knew that Israel could not survive unless its system of justice was incorruptible. We should be honest in our private dealings as well as in our public statements. In either situation, we bear false witness by leaving something out of a story, telling a half-truth, twisting the facts, or inventing a falsehood. God warns us against deception. Even though deception is a way of life for many people, God's people must not adopt it!

(20:17) Coveting - To covet is to wish to have the possessions of others. It goes beyond simply admiring someone else's possessions or thinking, I'd like to have one of those. Coveting includes envy- resenting the fact that others have what you don't. God knows that possessions never make anyone happy for long. Since only God can supply all our needs, true contentment is found only in him. When you begin to covet, try to determine if a more basic need is leading you to envy. For example, you may covet someone's success not because you want to take it away but because you would like to feel as appreciated by others as that person is. If this is the case, pray that God will help you deal with your resentment and meet your basic needs.

(20:18) God's Voice - Sometimes God speaks to his people with a majestic display of power; at other times he speaks quietly. Why the difference? God speaks in the way that best accomplishes his purposes. At Sinai, the awesome display of light and sound was necessary to show Israel God's great power and authority. Only then would they listen to Moses and Aaron.
(20:20) Fear Not - Throughout the Bible we find this phrase: "'Fear not." God wasn't trying to scare the people. He was showing his mighty power so the Israelites would know he was the true God and therefore obey him. If they would do this, he would make his power available to them. God wants us to follow him out of love rather than fear. To overcome fear, we must think more about his love. First John 4:18 says, "Perfect love casteth out fear.

(20:24-26) Building Altars - Why were specific directions given for building altars? God's people had no Bible and few religious traditions to learn from. God had to start from scratch and teach them how to worship him. He gave specific instructions about building altars because he wanted to direct the way sacrifices were offered. To prevent idolatry from creeping into worship, he did not allow the altar stones to be cut or shaped into any form. Nor did he let the people build an altar just anywhere. This was to prevent them from starting their own religions or making changes in the way he wanted things done. God is not against creativity, but he is against us creating our own religions.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

The Law and Sin

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Exodus with Chapter 20 and in today's text we see the giving the 10 commandments and man has a written word of the law which defines sin. What catches my eye is how these 10 commandments to this day cause such outrage. Those who refuse to acknowledge God will go to lengths to remove them from schools and government buildings. Why? I believe it is because these 10 commandments expose their sin and their need for a savior. The lost think if they can erase the law they can remove the conviction they feel when their sin is exposed. The law is still the law. We can not keep the law because we are sinners. Being sinners we are in need of a savior, That savior is Jesus-Christ. How about you? Have you been saved? Does the law show you - your need of a savior? If so repent, believe and receive the Gospel to be saved.


Exodus 20

Exodus 20

 1And God spake all these words, saying,

 2I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

 4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy 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;

 6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

 7Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

 8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

 13Thou shalt not kill.

 14Thou shalt not commit adultery.

 15Thou shalt not steal.

 16Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

 17Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

 18And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

 19And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

 20And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

 21And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

 22And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

 23Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

 24An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

 25And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

 26Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.