When we speak of the Decalogue (a fancy name for the Ten Commandments), we speak both of the literal stone tablets brought down by Moses from Mt. Sinai and also the theological cornerstone of the faith of the Jewish people. What is relevant to note, as we finish up this week’s readings of acting on our faith, is how they are listed. The first three commandments set boundaries for our interactions with God. God is the one who rescued God’s people from Egypt, so it makes sense that they should honor God’s wishes first. These are excellent in establishing a relationship between God and God’s people. These rules remove the possibility for the people to forget who God is to them.
The fourth commandment, the call for sabbath, acts as a bridge between God and God’s people. Sabbath is our opportunity to connect deeply with God. Sabbath also protects us from overworking and setting other priorities as higher than God.
Finally, commandments five through ten are about our interactions with other people. What we immediately see here is how personal these commandments are and how valuable they are in setting a central foundation of how to live as moral human beings. We may not live in a literal wilderness like Moses and his people, but we do live in a variety of metaphorical wildernesses that can cause us trouble. If we listen deeply to God’s message of loving God, loving ourselves, and loving others, acting according to faith becomes a little less confusing.
God, who calls us to abundant life, even when we are prone to forget to follow you, kindly direct us through the witness of scripture and the gentle guidance of your love. With you and for you, we live and move and breathe. Amen.
As we continue in the season of Lent, we remember another important chapter in salvation history. Just as God established covenants with Noah and Abraham and their descendants, so did God renew the relationship with the Israelites by giving them the law. Obedience to the law was not the means of earning God’s love, but a response of love by the people to the love God had already shown them. The psalmist understands that God’s law creates a cause for rejoicing, for it is more valuable than gold. Both Paul and John address situations in which some had distorted the worship of God. Either they considered themselves too good for the gospel (1 Corinthians), or they had violated the covenant by altering proper worship for the sake of profit (John).
Read Exodus 20:1-17. How do you keep God as the central focus of your life? What draws you away from that focus?
Read Psalm 19. In what ways do you experience God’s laws as “sweeter . . . than honey”? When do you find yourself trying to resist God’s laws?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. What does it mean to you that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom”?
Read John 2:13-22. How do you respond to Jesus’ anger and actions in this reading? Do his actions fit with the way you generally picture Jesus?
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