DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 5.
The Repetition of the Decalog.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AS GIVEN ON SINAI. — V.1. Add Moses called all Israel and said unto them, he intended his voice to reach as many as possible and to make the announcement as impressive as possible, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep and do them, watch carefully to perform them. After this brief introduction, Moses immediately launches forth in the repetition of the Decalog as it was given by the Lord on Mount Sinai, Ex. 20, 2-17. V.2. The Lord, our God, made a covenant with us in Horeb, in the third month after their departure out of Egypt. V.3. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, with the patriarchs, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The covenant which the Lord made with Israel as a nation differed from those made with Noah and Abraham, especially as to the extent and inclusiveness of the obligations imposed. V.4. The Lord talked with you face to face, as one Person might talk with another, but not in visible form, in the mount out of the midst of the fire, Ex. 20, 22, v.5. (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, Ex. 20, 21, in the capacity of mediator, to show you the word of the Lord, that is, to make it known to them; for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, Ex. 20, 18, and went not up into the mount,) saying, v.6. I am the Lord, thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. There is here a reminder both of the fact that they were a peculiar people to the Lord and that a typical part of His redemptive work had been accomplished in delivering them out of their position as slaves. V.7. Thou shalt have none other gods before Me, either over and above Him, or by His side, or beneath Him, as subordinate gods; He is the one and only God. V.8. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, a carved or hewn picture or statue of wood, stone, or metal, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth, chap. 4, 15-17. V.9. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for that is the real point of the prohibition, the prevention of idolatry; for I, the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, if the children follow their sinful parents in their iniquity, in their wicked behavior, v.10. and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep my commandments, since it pleases the Lord to make His grace and mercy known in much more abundant measure than His wrath and justice. The love toward God is a fruit of faith, itself a gift of God, and this love shows itself in keeping His commandments. V.11. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain, not use it in a foolish, fruitless manner; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. Such a person cannot plead innocence; his transgression will invariably be charged to his account and will be demanded of him with a sharp reckoning. V.12. Keep the Sabbath-day to sanctify it, observe it as a day set apart for the worship of Jehovah, as the Lord, thy God, hath commanded thee. V.13. Six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work; v.14. but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates, that thy man-servant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. Cp. Ex. 20, 8-11. V.15. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord, thy God, brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched-out arm, an expression denoting the exercise of God’s almighty power; therefore the Lord, thy God, commanded thee to keep the Sabbath-day. The fact that Israel was the redeemed people of God and thus distinguished by Him above all nations was to be brought out in their Sabbath observance. The Sabbath-day, as a day of rest by God’s command, has been abrogated in the New Testament, and we Christians do not transfer to any other day the special ceremonial prohibitions which attached to the Sabbath of old. Cp. Matt. 12, 8; Mark 2, 28; Gal. 4, 9-11; Col. 2, 16. 17. But the principle of the commandment is in force to-day as it ever was. It has been most succinctly and successfully stated by Luther: “We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.” V.16. Honor thy father and thy mother, as the Lord, thy God, hath commanded thee, that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee in the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee. The New Testament form of this commandment is given by Paul, Eph. 6, 2. 3. V.17. Thou shalt not kill. V.18. Neither shalt thou commit adultery. V.19. Neither shalt thou steal. V.20. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor. V.21. Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s house, his field, or his man-servant, or his maid-servant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor’s. The fact that the last commandment, or the last two commandments, differ slightly in form from the corresponding precepts in Ex. 20, 17, is due to the special object in view at this point, when Israel was about to enter upon its possessions. The Law is in force to the end of time. It assists the regenerate in overcoming the temptations of the flesh, and serves as a rule and guide in showing them the holy will of God. It leads the way in sanctification.
ADMONITION TO HEED THE LAW. — V.22. These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice, Ex. 19, 16-19; and He added no more, only the Decalog was given in this manner. And He wrote them in two tables of stone and delivered them unto me, Ex. 24, 12; 31, 18. V.23. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes and your elders; v.24. and ye said, Behold, the Lord, our God, hath showed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire; we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth, chap. 4, 33; Ex, 20, 18. 19. V.25. Now, therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord, our God, any more, then we shall die. The consciousness of their sinfulness would rest upon them so heavily as to make them die for fear and dread of God’s majesty. V.26. For who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire as we have, and lived? Flesh in itself, natural man in his inherited sinfulness, to which is added the guilt of the many transgressions in thought, word, and deed, is opposed to the holiness of God, is conscious of the fact that the punishment upon sin is death, John 3, 6. V.27. Go thou near and hear all that the Lord, our God, shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord, our God, shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it and do it, Ex. 20, 19. They were altogether ready to accept the service of Moses as mediator between the Lord and themselves. Note that the speeches are here given in their full form, since Moses was speaking to the children of those who actually spoke these words at Mount Sinai. V.28. And the Lord heard the voice of your words when ye spake unto me; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken unto thee; they have well said all that they have spoken. Their plea had been prompted by the consciousness of their unworthiness before the Lord; it showed a condition of the heart which was peculiarly receptive to the precepts which Jehovah was about to give. V.29. O that there were such an heart in them that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! The state of mind which Israel showed here is best adapted to heed the commandments of the Lord and to follow the directions of His holy will. But even here there seems to be a show of apprehension concerning the lasting qualities of the professed feeling. V.30. Go, say to them, Get you in to your tents again, since their petition was granted. V.31. But as for thee, stand thou here by Me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. In this way Moses became the formal mouthpiece of the Lord, the recognized mediator between Him and the people, at their own request. V.32. Ye shall observe to do, therefore, as the Lord, your God, hath commanded you; ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. V.33. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord, your God, hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. The picture is that of a straight road, every deviation from which will plunge the wayfarer into destruction. It will be the aim of every Christian to follow the narrow pathway and to enter in at the strait gate which leads to eternal life, through the mercy and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.