Oct 8 – 18 Pentecost
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-2
The Ten Commandments
Background: The book of Exodus chronicles the search for Israel’s identity. One could say that Exodus is Israel’s response to and explication for the questions “Who are you?” and “To whom do you belong?” Israel is on its way to establish its covenant relationship with God at Sinai. The people have survived grumbling at God because the lacked bread, meat, and water. God’s providence has been demonstrated countless times during their journey.
Theme: Today’s scene signals the fulfillment of the promise made to Moses in his first encounter with God on Mount Sinai in Exodus 3. Moses goes up on the mountain to get the 10 Commandments (10 words in Hebrew). The Commandments are a sign of the relationship between God and the people of Israel – what God expects from Israel and what God promises in return. This covenant is typical of ancient Near East covenants.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20. Review what is “missing” in the text, vv. 5-6, 8-11, for context.
* Place this reading in context; where does it take place, who are the characters, what is the relationship between the characters, etc.?
* For what reason might God offer these commandments or directions as the outline of faith and practice for the Israelites?
* For what reason would God begin the description of orthodoxy with the self-revelation in verse 2?
* Why is God’s self-identification of importance to the Israelites? To us, especially considering we have Jesus on our side?
* What do you find troubling about these 10 commandments? How do we know how to act in the manner described in these 10 relational phrases?
* If these are commandments or laws why is there no punishment associated with each of the 10 commandments?
* Why might there be only 1 of 10 commandments, referring to verse 12, that has a consequence for upholding the commandment? Of what importance would “long days in the land” be a blessing?
* How does God’s self-revelation shape the practice of the Israelites religion? How does God (1) calling Israel to be God’s people and (2) bringing Israel safely from bondage in Egypt into the promise land shape the practice of the Israelite people? How should those facts shape our practice of faith?
* Why do you think it was important for God to point out the “obvious” in verse 2 and 3?
* To whom do the commandments apply, i.e. the First Commandment is between Israel and God, the Tenth Commandment describes the communal relationship in Israel, etc.?
* What do you think the “punishment” is for not observing God’s commandments as laid out in these 20 verses?
* In verse 16, why would bearing false witness be an issue in Israel?
* Do you think Moses “made up” the statement in verse 20 considering there is no statement by God that says these commandments are a test?
* What would the impetus be to follow these commandments, especially since we no longer live in a society where people are critically connected to their neighbors?