The Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1-21

Thursday, 16 September 2021




“Then God spoke all these words…….” -Exodus 20:1


Today’s reading known as the Mosaic covenant is a covenant made by God with the entire nation of Israel (Exodus 19–24) at Mt. Sinai where God Himself came and formalized His relationship with them. God presented to them a binding treaty, in which He would make certain promises to them and they would have certain obligations as His servants. [NKJV Study Bible]


In Exodus 19:5,6 God had made it clear that Israel shall be His own possession among all the peoples and shall be to Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, if they obey His voice and keep His covenant. Then God instructed Moses “These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel…” Having lost their identity in bondage in Egypt, God needed to bring in them a sense of identity as His people. They were almost ignorant of their God – that’s why Moses had to ask His name (Ex.3:13) when he was commissioned to go deliver them!! Being delivered from slavery, they were going to possess a nation for themselves! So far, they were ruled by a powerful kingdom; however, they now needed a system of governance. God desired that they be ruled by Him under His kingdom and He would be their perpetual King. [But this they later rejected as evident in 1 Sam.8:7.]


Obedience to the principles of the covenant God gave them would make them a distinctive people among all the peoples on the earth. Our key verse says “Then God spoke all these words…” God gave them the Moral Law (Exodus20:1-17), the Civil Law (Exodus21 -33) and the Ceremonial Law (Exo.25:1-40 & Exo.38). Coming back to the Moral Law (our reading today) there were ten of them- the Ten Commandments, written by the hand of GOD on two tablets which were made by God Himself!! There were two tablets – one interpretation is that possibly four commandments were on one and the remaining six on the other. The first four commandments reveal man’s duty towards God and the remaining six, man’s duty towards man. [adapted from Made According to Pattern by C.W. Slemming]


The Ten Commandments were given to God’s people for them to understand their sins and come back to God in obedience and trust, for a righteous life. However, they could not fulfill it …… Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two: Matthew 22: 37-40— Love towards God and love towards neighbor.


What is the relevance of the Law (Ten Commandments) and how is it applicable for us in the New Testament times? 1Timothy 1:8 says “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” Look at the Law’s relevance:

  • It reveals sin: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Rom.3:20)

  • It leads to Christ: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24

  • It was fulfilled in Christ: Jesus spoke in Matt.5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Romans 10:4 [AMP] says, “For Christ is the end of the law [it leads to Him and its purpose is fulfilled in Him], for [granting] righteousness to everyone who believes [in Him as Savior].” No man is able to fulfil all of the Law, though it definitely brings us to a realization of our sin and the need of a Savior! Christ has fulfilled it on our behalf, we are made righteous before God when we accept Him!


Friend, may your understanding of the 10 Commandments bring you to an awareness that you have fallen short of God’s requirements – but may it lead you to Christ who fulfilled it all for you!


Thought for the Day:

The 10 Commandments are summed up in these - Love towards God and love towards neighbor.

Matthew 22:37-40

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