Yr B ~ Lent 3 ~ Exodus 20:1-17
We’re spending the Season of Lent in the Hebrew Scriptures looking at the theological concept called: covenant. Each week I’m exploring God’s covenant love with us, and focussing on a different aspect of how God loves us. First we did Relationship, then we did Identity, and this week my sermon is called “Covenant Love – Way.”
Way. Which way? Whose way? Well, God’s way, obviously. The way of Jesus.
Jesus said his Way was: Love God, Love People, Love One Another. Love, love, love – we talk about it all the time. ALL THE TIME!
But here’s a thought – where did Jesus get his Way from? Yeah, I know he’s quoting Deuteronomy and Leviticus – but I want to go back even further. All the way back to Exodus 20. There you’ll find the famous 10 Commandments. Well, one version of them anyway – did you know there’s 3 versions in the bible? (Check out Exodus 34 and Deuteronomy 5 for the others.)
But the 10 commandments. Famous, right? Great movie! The original Top 10 list!
One for each finger so they’re easy to remember. But do you? Remember? Can you name all 10? Maybe today will help!
So, let’s explore them. Yes, all 10. Yes, there’s a test after! (And yes, I’ll show you how to cheat!) We’re going to go through them one by one. I just couldn’t decide which ones to leave out! But don’t worry – I won’t spend more than 5 minutes on each one! [do the mental math!] And just for fun I’m going to read them from the old King James Version of the bible. They just sound more…commanding then. Oh, and it would help if you could imagine I was Charlton Heston. Here they are, God’s top ten! (in reverse order)
#10 – ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ Coveting has been an obvious reality in any and every society that has ever been. If there are only two people in town one will probably envy the other for some reason. But it isn’t just the desiring part that’s harmful. Coveting also carries the idea that you might actively plot or scheme how to relieve your neighbour of their car, or spiffy new phone, or hottie spouse. Coveting is all ego – me-centred. And ‘thou shalt nots’ sound negative, so let’s flip it and write all of these in the positive: How about this instead of worrying about coveting? Just ‘Be contented’.
#9 – ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.’ Be careful here: ‘Thou shalt not lie’….is not a commandment. That doesn’t mean thou shalt lie either, but it’s not what the 9th commandment is about. Basically it’s about honesty in court – but there’s another level. (There’s always another level!)
What about gossip? Or propaganda? In politics they used to call it spin! Now everyone calls it ‘fake news’. I guarantee fake news would have been on Moses’ tablets if TV had been invented back then!
What if we framed the 9th commandment like this: Speak genuinely.
#8 – ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ Before you think to yourself that you don’t generally put on a balaclava and go sneaking through windows to pilfer the belongings of someone therefore you don’t steal, you might ask yourself what stealing really means.
Is it too far a stretch to say that our quality of life is based on systematic stealing from people all over the world? Aren’t we stealing quality of life from those who work in sweatshops to produce our cheap sneakers and electronics? Aren’t we currently thriving upon land that was acquired by treaties that have rarely been honoured? God said “Thou shalt not steal!” Just because we’re not donning a mask and a gun doesn’t let us off this barb. Taken narrowly it’s an easy commandment to keep – taken broadly, well, let’s just say it starts to get murky. Maybe we can just agree that we’re commanded to acquire whatever we have honourably. Acquire honourably.
#7 – ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ (No, it’s not ‘thou shalt not admit adultery!’) read on