As promised in part one of this series, stay to the end to see as we will reveal the top two commandments and the ultimate sin.
Exodus 20:2-17 Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
Two weeks ago, we started our what was supposed to be a two-part series on Our Laws that turned into three. We learned that the Ten Commandments are split into two parts. The first week we studied Part one which are those commandments related to our relationship with God. These included:
- We have one God
- We are not put anything before God
- Never to use the Lord’s name in vain
- To keep the Sabbath day Holy
Last week we started on the first of those commandments that deal with relationships with each other. These included:
- Honor your father & mother
- No Murder
- No Adultery
Today we start with part three which are the last of the commandments related to our relationship with others.
How many of you have gone grocery shopping, or any kind of shopping, and the cashier gives you the wrong change? Now when you realized it, did you take it back?
Would it interest you that an impromptu survey came out 50-50. If the shoe was on the other foot, you be blazing mad if the cashier gave to little change, wouldn’t you? Is it stealing, the book is still out on that.
The Hebrew verb used here, ganav, is ambiguous—the object of the theft is not definable. Just as in modern law, punishments for theft in the Old Testament laws have varying degrees of severity.
Deuteronomy 24:7 If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.
Most theft is punished by restitution. This lack of specificity makes the distinction between this command and the last command unclear. This law likely speaks to personal property rights but may involve more.
Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbors’.
No False Witnesses
The wording points to a judicial proceeding intended to determine the truth or falsehood of a criminal accusation. The integrity of ancient legal proceedings depended entirely on the validity of witness testimony. The command to be truthful was essential for maintaining a stable society, which required confidence in the court’s ability to render justice.
Think of when Jesus was put on trial!!!
Old Testament law required at least two witnesses to establish guilt or innocence.
Numbers 35:30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
Bearing false testimony would result in “eye for eye” punishment—that is, a lying witness suffered the same penalty that a guilty criminal would have received. In the case of capital offenses, the witnesses initiated the execution; the punishment for lying in such cases would be death.
Deuteronomy 13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Since the context for the command is judicial, it cannot be used to condemn God Himself for using deception.
1 Samuel 16:1-5 And the Lord said unto Samuel, how long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, how can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, take a heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee. And Samuel did that which the Lord spake and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and called them to the sacrifice.
Or to condemn those whom God rewards for lying or using deception particularly when human life is at stake.
1 Kings 18:4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took a hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
Yearn to possess or have (something). How many times do we think about things we want, sometimes when we can’t afford it, other times because a neighbor or a relative has it. How many times on television do we see the advertisements that make us want something.
How about strong desire? Ancient usage. The Hebrew word translated “covet” is chamad which is commonly translated into English as “covet”, “lust”, and “strong desire.” The Hebrew Bible contains several warnings and examples of negative consequences for lusting or coveting.
However, the Hebrew verb used here, chamad, does not condemn the general acquisition of possessions or the desire to collect things. It speaks to obsession or a desire so strong that it compels someone to violate another person’s property.
The command, however, speaks to more than just an internal disposition.
Proverb 6:25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; Neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
Parallel passages indicate that the act of theft is associated with this command as well as the earlier prohibition against stealing. Consequently, the relationship and distinction between the two commands is not completely clear.
Exodus 34:24 For I will cast out the nations before thee and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year.
All the above includes all the items inside a house or owned by another household.
As promised back in part one, we will now reveal the worst sin. A sin is a sin and with that no sin is different than the other and God will forgive all sins. However, any sin that you commit, you have committed against God and that makes its worse.
In closing, you could summarize the 10 Commandments given to Moses and the two “greatest commandments” given by Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.” As Jesus continued, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Happy Memorial Day – Give God the Glory