Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 145:8)
The ppeople of Israel met God at the Mountain Sinai. God led them through the miracles – the ten plagues in Egypt that made them free from the bondage of the miserable slavery, and parting the Red Sea that saved them from the swords of the Egypian Army who changed minds and chased them. Then the Israelites walked on dry land through the Red Sea, but the Egypian Army were drowned in the Red Sea. The people of Israel shouted for joy and praised the God of mighty. However, only three days later, they complained to God because the water that they found was bitte. (It is unthinkable to most of us. Complaining to God only three days after the miracle of parting the Red Sea to save them from the Egyptian Army). God changed the bitter water to sweet for them to drink. Soon they complained to God for food because they were hungry in the middle of the wilderness. They even thought that even God could not feed them (about two million people in total) in the middle of nowhere. But God rained the manna from heaven to feed them. They ate the manna and were satisified. It was not long before they again complained to God because there was no water. For this time, they were hostile enough to stone Moses while telling, “Why did you bring out here in this wilderness? We’d be better off in Egypt as slaves.” Even so, God made water gushed out of rock, and they drank the water from the rock. Why? God was merciful, compassionate, and most of all, dearly loved them.
Indeed, God told again and again, “Listen and obey My Word,” but they did not hear. They saw those mircles and His mighty hand, but they could not see the true nature of God. What they saw and felt was always bigger and greater than God, who is invisible. Therefore, God had to correct this wrong behavior. Out of His love, God introduced a really time-critical threat – the invading warriors of Amalekities. They realized that it was not time for whining and complaining to God. Thus, rather than complaining to God as they used to, upon the quickly approaching danger, they rapidly united as one while completely trusting God. Yes, they bravely went out and fought for the Armaleklites against the odds – the ex-slaves of the Israelites vs. the well-trained warriors of Amalekites. Moses prayed to God. His prayer did not stop till the end of the battle. It was a long battle. Aaron and Hur stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. What a beautiful scene before God! God saw their faith, and gave the huge victory. The bunch of ex-slaves defeated the warriors of Amalekites. The Israelites experienced God’s mighty hand. In fact, it was God’s love.
God then showed up Himself to reinforce their faith and encourage them. Yes, God always patiently worked on their lives to grow in faith. Finally, their hearts was also ready for the next step. God called up Moses to the mountain. For the first time, God directly provided Ten Commandments as His covenant to the people of Israel. Upon receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses went down, and gave the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
1. “You shall have no other gods before me.
2. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
4. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6. “You shall not murder.
7. “You shall not commit adultery.
8. “You shall not steal.
9. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:1-17)
The first four commandments are about for our relationship with God. God dearly loved the people of Israel, and God commanded them to love God. God never changes. As He loved the people of Israel, He loves us because we are His people and His children. Then how to love God? As His beloved children, we show our love by listening to Him and keeping the His Law wholly. That is, first believe God who is the only one and true God, and worship Him only. Don’t make nor worship idols. Don’t carry His name in vain before the world and the unbelievers, and be His faithful people. Remember God’ creation and join His rest to dedicate our lives to worship Him rather than indulging in on our own lives.
The rest six commandments are about for our relationship with others. Honoring parents and not harming others are beginning of our quest to love others. God taught the people of Israel like a baby. He gave them step by step instructions by listing out what the people of Israel had to do to love others. For example, how can we say we love others if we harm them? Yes, not giving harms to other is our first step to love others.
Jesus was friend of those who were poor in spirit, hunger in righteousness, suffering, and/or persecuted. Jesus blessed them, and people came and took rest in His comfort and peace of Heaven. Those who were comforted by Jesus felt that Jesus’ teaching was completely different from what was taught by their religious leaders. Jesus explained that His teaching was not new, different from the Law, nor replacing the Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments given by God to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. Jesus clearly explain them. All of the Law and the Prophets would be fulfilled: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18) Indeed, Jesus’ mission on earth was to fulfill the Law of Moses, i.e., Ten Commandments, and other writings of the prophets given by God to guide the people of Israel.
Since Moses received the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel made every effort to keep the law and the other writing of the prophets wholly. However, due to the fallen nature of human beings, the people of Israel could not keep all of the Law and the Prophets wholly. Despite of every best effort, nobody was able to keep the Law. Sadly all were ended up becoming lawbreakers and sinners. In other words, nobody could not be righteous before God by keeping the Law, because it was impossible for any human being to keep them all wholly. This impossibility is still true to all of us today. This is the reason why Jesus Christ came to this world to save us as our true and only one Savior. Give thanks to God, who gave Jesus Christ as sacrificial lamb to save us from our sins. This is His love that we cannot fathom.
Soon Jesus was questioned by one of the religious leaders at that time, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus clearly answered that there is no commandment in the Law will be ignored or omitted. All of them will be fully accomplished before the heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:17-18). Jesus directly and plainly explained the God’s true intention:
1. Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Can we really love our God and our neighbor as ourselves? No, again, déjà vu like the people of Israel. We cannot love God whole heartedly. We all know that we love God, but one part of our hearts loves our sinful nature, and craving for sinning, which is our fallen nature.
Apostle Paul lamented, Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:24) This struggle is not just for Apostle Paul but real for everyone on earth. Even so, Apostle Paul proclaimed His victory in Christ by telling, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25a)
Yes, we cannot win the battle against the sins in us if we only fight with our own might. The outcome is sure – our defeat, which is truly miserable. However, if we are in Jesus Christ, we win this battle through the power of the Jesus Christ, and His blood on the cross. Yes, Jesus accomplished the Law by nailing Himself on the cross as our sacrificial lamb to wash away all our sins. This is the love of Jesus Christ. God, Our Father, did not spare His own Son and gave Him up for us all. This is the love of God, Our Father. Let’s say loud and shout: God, who created heaven and earth, dearly loves us. Then what can we fear on earth? Surely, in all things, we will come out as more than conquerors through Him who loves us! Praise God!
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)