10 Commandments Series – 6: “Do Not Murder” Exodus 20:13

Now we are getting into the easier to repeat, oft quoted, rarely taken at more then face value, commandments.  At the top of the list is this one,

“You shall not murder.”  Exodus 20:13  (ESV)

It’s really simple.  Don’t murder.  Yet for all its simplicity, there is a bit of controversy around it, and it is often ignored.

First some controversy.  I won’t spend much time on this.  The Hebrew word used clearly means, and is used for, ‘murder’, not ‘kill’.  A different Hebrew word would have been used if the command had been ‘You shall not kill,’ or it had meant both.  Unfortunately, many of the older English translations use the word ‘kill’, and some people then take this and form theology and social norms from it.  But the word is ‘murder.’  You can easily verify this if you want.

But how is this command ignored?  Most of us haven’t murdered anyone or even want to… or have we?

Yeshua (Jesus) said:

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:22 (ESV)

Yeshua pointed out that the commandment is deeper then just physically murdering someone.  He pointed out that it can be done with words also!

To take this a bit further, what about when we choose to not help someone or to not encourage someone when the need is right in front of us.  There are many passages in the Bible exhorting us to help and encourage others.

So, flip this command around and look at it from a positive viewpoint.  If ‘do not murder’ is stating the command from the “don’t do” perspective, how would it be stated from the “do this” perspective?  By the way, looking at a command from a ‘positive’ viewpoint is a very Jewish way of looking at the commands of God.

Help to live; encourage; assist; have positive words and deeds.

When we pass up opportunities to help someone to live; to encourage or assist someone; or to have positive words or deeds, then we are, in a way, helping to ‘murder’ the person who otherwise would have benefited.

So, look at the command to ‘not murder’ from Yeshua’s (Jesus’) viewpoint, and act accordingly.  It’ll bring joy to both you and the one being helped, and Yehovah (the LORD) will smile!

Shalom!  – Yosef

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10 Commandments Series – 5: “Honor Your Father and Mother” Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

This we are commanded to do.  It also makes a lot of sense.  But do we follow it?

The first thing to realize is that the command isn’t targeted at children.  Sure, they are included, but it is targeted at adults!  And if I were to rate our society as a whole (Christians included), I’d have to say that we fail miserably.  There is little respect for age anymore in our western culture.  The older one is, the more one is seen as a ‘burden’ on society and the family.  This backwards view of how to treat people as they get older can be shown to be one of the root causes of many of the ills in our society (but I’m not going to do so here.)  And these problems start with how we treat our own parents.

We are commanded to ‘honor’ our parents.  Interesting that the command isn’t to ‘love’ them.  Yeshua (Jesus) made two good illustrations of what it means to honor your parents.

In Matthew 15:4-8, Yeshua (Jesus) shows that honoring includes financial support.

In John 19:26-27, Yeshua (Jesus) made sure that his mother, Mary, would be taken care of after he was gone.

And there is something interesting to learn from the Hebrew word used for ‘honor.’

“We are not commanded to love our parents, or even to like them.  The Hebrew” word used is ‘kabed’.  “The word ‘kabed’ is an imperative verb, and it is related to the noun kaved, or heavy.  There should be some heft to the way we feel about our parents.”  “The Grammar of God” by Aviya Kushner, pg. 134.

Here are a couple more verses that are relevant:

“You shall rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.” Leveticus 19:32 (ESV)

“…and they [the parents] shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Deuteronomy 21:20 (ESV)

To sum up, we should have our parents’ wellbeing in our mind, and be doing what we can for them.  We should be listening to their advice, and honoring them and all older folk around us!  (Did you notice that the verse in Deuteronomy 21 is talking about a grown son?  One wouldn’t be accusing a child of being a drunkard.)

We should take honoring our parents as a serious duty in our lives.

Our lives, and the culture, will be better for it.

  • Yosef

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10 Commandments Series – 3: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.”

The third statement (commandment) is this:

“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.”  Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

Okay, this begs the question, “What is His name?”  If you answered, “Lord”, “LORD”, “God”, “Adonai”, “Jesus”, “I am”, or a variety of other possibilities, then you aren’t correct.  God gives us His name in Exodus 3:16.  Unfortunately, English translations hide His name with the word “LORD”, and Christian English translations further confuse His name with “I AM”.

The word “LORD” is used to hide the Hebrew word that has the four letters, yud, hey, vav, and hey.  This is known as the ‘Tetragrammaton’ and is used over 6800 times in the Tanakh (“Old Testament”).  It is His name and basically means, “I was, I am, I will be”; an ‘impossible’ combination of past, present and future.   (On a funny note, the fact that Christianity chose to obscure His name by using “LORD” is showing that even though Christianity is, at its core, anti-Jewish, it copies some things Jewish).

Why is His name so hidden?  One reason is a literal understanding of this verse.  Over the decades and centuries, the Jews were using His name less and less so as to avoid accidentally using His name ‘in vain’.  As time went, His name was used less and less.

However, in the past, His name was used in greetings (see the book of Ruth) and in taking vows  (Deuteronomy 6:13), such as when saying, “as the LORD lives… .”

But what does it mean to take His name in vain?

One understanding is “don’t make His name common.”  In other words, don’t make His name a common word in your speech.  If you consider the word “God” or the name “Jesus Christ” to also be addressed by this command, then our culture’s prolific use of the two terms would be a perfect example of making a name common.

Another understanding in Jewish thought is that the command has to do with vows made unto Him.  It is an injunction to don’t make foolish, spur-of-the-moment vows to God, and be sure to fulfill the vows you do make.

“If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay in fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin.  But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin.”  Deuteronomy 23:21-22 (see also 23).

When we take a vow “unto the LORD”, God takes it seriously.

Even Yeshua (Jesus) refers to this.

“Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. … Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ anything more than this comes from evil.”  Matthew 5:34-37 (ESV)

So, before you ‘swear’ to do something (or not do something), think about this.  God takes such oaths very seriously.  Yeshua (Jesus) pointed out that it applies even when we don’t explicitly use His name!

Let your speech be always edifying of others, and stick with ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Shalom,

  • Yosef

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Deuteronomy 4 and 5: Hearing and Doing

In Deuteronomy 5, we have Moses retelling about both the giving of the “10 Statements” (10 commandments) and the 10 Statements themselves.  About the only time one hears about the “10 Commandments” in our culture now is when some people get upset that a government institution is removing them from public view.   Are they even important any more?  Should we pay attention to them?  Here are a couple points to ponder.

The 10 Statements themselves are the only words written by Yehovah (the LORD) Himself!

That fact should make them very, very important in your thinking.

How the 10 were given is also significant.  God’s voice was heard by several million people.  Group psychology would dictate that out of such a large group, if the event didn’t actually happen, someone would have said so.  Yet nowhere in any historical accounts is this episode doubted.  This is a powerful testimony to the truth of the Bible!

The 10 can be summed up, but not replaced, by this statement from Yeshua (Jesus). The 10 build on this statement.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)

Further on in Deuteronomy 5 we see the Israelites responding with the comment, “we will hear it [God’s words] and do it.”  This is, unfortunately, a far cry from how Christianity looks at God’s word.  If this statement were to be uttered by many in the churches today, it would read like this:

We’ll hear it [God’s words], and if we understand it and agree with it, and we don’t consider it ‘law’, then we might do it if it fits into our “statement of belief.”

When did God ever say that we had to understand and agree with what He asks before we should obey it.  Every chance we have of doing something commanded in His word is a chance to worship and love Him!  Let’s start with obeying the 10 Statements.  Read them (found in two places, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).  Think about them!  Discuss them with others (comment in the blog)!

When we hesitate to ‘do’ the Word of God, or talk with others about it, we are robbing ourselves of a chance to worship God and of a chance to grow in sanctification. 

Nowhere in scripture, be it the “old” or the “new testament”, does God ever get upset with someone who is following His word!  Nowhere!  We do, however, find Yeshua (Jesus) getting upset at those who were ‘adding’ to His word.  What do you think Yeshua (Jesus) would say to those subtracting from His word?  Here is what God says:

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it…” Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV)

I think Yeshua (Jesus) would be just as confrontational with Christian leaders who subtract from God’s word just as he was confrontational with the Pharisees who were adding to God’s word!  Christianity as a whole takes away from God’s word!  Am I wrong?  Think “Old” Testament.  Even that name, “old”, implies it should be disregarded.

… Oh, and to those protesting the removal of the 10 Statements (commandments) from public view, I ask, are they posted in your church?  Your house? Anywhere you abide?  If the answer is ‘no’, then you have no business protesting or being surprised that the government is removing them from public spaces!

– Yosef

(Okay, this post is a bit confrontational.  It’s not meant to offend, but to challenge!  If you have a different opinion on the topic, please share it!  Or if you agree, let me know!)

10 Commandments Series – 2: “You shall have no other Gods before me.”

“You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I Yehovah (the LORD) your God am a jealous God…” Exodus 20: 3-5 (ESV)

Without knowing who is speaking (see part 1) the above statement would be fairly useless.  But we know who is speaking because He just told us.  And it is followed by this:

“…visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:5-6 (ESV)

Well, there is a quite a bit in these verses.  This post will deal with the ‘have no other gods before me’ part.  The rest of the verse, in my opinion, deals with a culture and how it raises its children.  Back to ‘not having any other gods before me.’

If you have been in Christian circles for any length of time then you have most likely heard this verse quoted and then everyday activities listed that can become as ‘other gods’ in our lives.  That is not how I am going to approach the subject, though there is validity to much of what is said in those discussions.  Rather,

Tradition!  Tradition.  (pause)  Tradition!!! Tradition.  (think “Fiddler on the Roof” and the song “Tradition”.  If you haven’t seen the film, you are missing an excellent film.)

There is nothing wrong with traditions as long as they are honoring to God, either directly or indirectly by not going against His word.  God left us a huge amount of room to make our own traditions around His word.  If you study God’s “Appointed Times” (the “Feasts” – see Leviticus 23)), you will see only a few things that are required.  The rest we get to make up!  And boy have we!  (Unfortunately, much of what was ‘made up’ is ‘get rid of it all together – but that is for another post.)

When the Israelites were entering the promised land, God made it very clear that they were not to copy anything the peoples were doing.  They weren’t even to look into their practices (see Deuteronomy 12:29-32).  God repeatedly stated that He did not want the Israelites to copy anything the peoples of the land were doing, nor worship Him in that way.

“And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you… ” Leviticus 20:23 (ESV)

“Learn not the way of the nations…” Jeremiah 10:2 (ESV)

“… and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? – that I also may do the same.’  You shall not worship Yehovah (the LORD) your God in that way…” Deuteronomy 12:30-31 (ESV)

To put that in today’s language, the verse says,

Don’t bring any part of pagan practices into your worship or traditions, and then think that I’m okay with that simply because you put the phrase, “In Jesus’ name” on the practice; or think that I’m okay with it because I have been silent about it for generations.  It’s not okay. Time and phrases do not change the Word of God!

We need to check our own traditions and practices and, whenever it stems from pagan practices, get rid of it!  God gave us already a bunch of ‘holidays’ around which we can form all sorts of traditions, and when we do so, the nations will see that we are ‘set apart’ (holy).

Honoring God is also a form of worshiping Him.  Obeying is a form of worshiping Him.  Be like Yeshua (Jesus) and only follow those traditions that truly honor God the Father!

So, can you think of any traditions that are common in Christianity (or Judaism) that violate this command of God?  I can think of quite a few…

  • Yosef

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