Understanding the Bible 05: The Ten Commandments

05_Moses_Descending“Thou shalt not…” is not a phrase we typically associate with love.   For most of us, the language of commandments or “the Law of God” conjures images of dispassionate judge at best, and a wrathful tyrant at worst.

But in the biblical story, Torah (the Hebrew word for Law) was understood at a gift – a direct expression of God’s care.  The Law provided instruction for life – a life that is fully satisfying  because it is in harmony with God’s intent.

Notice, for example, that – in stark contrast to the other deities of the Ancient Near East – the God of Abraham does not focus the Law upon himself – spelling out the details of sacrifice and ritual.  Rather, God’s concern is that we love one another and all creation.   “Thou shalt not murder…” is not a restriction on human freedom, but the fundamental assertion of human dignity.   “Thou shalt not covet…” is not a test of one’s commitment to religion – to see who is worthy of “heaven”; it simply sets the internal boundaries that keep us from pursuing what is not ours (and thus will lead only to harming ourselves or others).

In this episode we examine the role of the Law in God’s larger plan of redemption and why Israel is called to obey so strictly.  We also interpret the content of the Ten Commandments and thereby gain a deeper understanding of the true meaning of salvation.


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