by: Zola Levitt Ministries

Exodus 20:2 
"I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Many of the Jewish Sages taught that the greatest of all the Mitzvot (commandments) is the very first commandment, "I am the LORD your God" (Exodus 20:2). Why?  Until we are willing to accept Adonai as our God, the rest of the commandments are unlikely to be obeyed.  The God of Israel calls us to obey the glorious truth that He is our only God.   Are we willing to obey? 

Exodus 20:3 
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

The second of the ten Mitzvot (commandments) is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."  Why does Adonai command us not to have other gods before Him?  First and foremost, because He is a "jealous God" (see Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24), which suggests that He watches us both lovingly and closely, like a faithful and passionate bridegroom watches over his betrothed.  He loves us and has given Himself to us passionately; He is completely committed to our relationship with Him. 

Exodus 20:7 
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." 

The third of the ten Mitzvot (commandments) is,
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain" (KJV).  Many of the Jewish sages taught that the word translated "name" refers to the character or reputation of the one who bears it.  The revealed name of the LORD can be understood as the invocation for the very presence of God Himself.  The word translated "in vain" probably comes from another word that pictures a rushing and destructive storm (sho-ah).  One way to understand this Mitzvah, is that we should never invoke Adonai's name in a thoughtless, careless, or "stormy" manner (for this reason, orthodox Jews never pronounce the literal name, but substitute the word "Adonai" or "HaShem" instead). 

When we call upon the LORD, we are actually asking the one true God of the universe to reveal Himself to us.  Since God is faithful, and if we will be true to His, He will reveal Himself whenever His children call.  This is very serious business, and we should never take it lightly. 

Exodus 20:8 
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

The fourth of the ten Mitzvot (commandments) is,
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (KJV). The word translated "remember" (zah-khor) means more than merely recalling something past, but suggests actively focusing one's mind upon something in the present.  However, what is it that we are to "remember?" 

In Genesis 2:3, we are told that God rested (shavat) from His creative activity and set apart the seventh day as the memorial of the work of His hands.  God called the seventh day
"holy" (kadosh), which means set apart as sacred, as exalted, as honored. 

Just as the Lord set apart a time to focus on and honor the marvelous works of His hands, so we are commanded to regularly set apart a time to focus on and honor our own creative life in God.  Both God and man are to set apart the Sabbath and share in the glory of this shared creative life. 

Some Jewish Sages believe that the Sabbath is a picture of the Olam Ha Bah, or world to come. In the present rhythm of this life, the Sabbath is a sacred time to become spiritually reconnected with our true identities as God's very children. 

Exodus 20:12 
"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

The fifth Mitzvah (commandment) marks a transition from the first four (which have to do with our vertical relationship with the Lord) to the following five (which have to do with our horizontal relationship with others).  In this pivotal commandment, the word translated
"honor" (kah-bed) derives from a root word meaning "weighty," in terms of impressiveness or importance.  The same word is also used to refer to our heartfelt attitude toward God. 

The Lord intended that the mishpakah (family) would picture His relationship with us.  Just as God created both man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27), so children are to regard their parents as divinely ordained and truly significant. 

The first four Mitzvot tell us about God; and it is only through obedience to these commandments that we are able to really understand our own identity, as well as the identity of others in our family, our community, and our world. 

Exodus 20:13 
"Thou Shalt Not Kill."

The Jewish Sages note that the word
"ratsakh" applies only to illegal killing (e.g., premeditated murder or manslaughter) and is never used in the administration of justice or for killing in war.  Hence the KJV translation as "thou shalt not kill" is too broad. 

Since man is made in the image of God, his life is infinitely precious only God Himself has the right to give and take life.  In the Mishnah it is written,
"Why was only one man (i.e., Adam) created by God? to teach that whoever takes a single life destroys thereby a whole world." 

Murder can be figurative as well as literal. The Talmud states that shaming another publicly is like murder, since the shame causes the blood to leave the face.  Moreover, gossip or slander are considered murderous to the dignity of man.  The Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) states,
"The evil tongue slays three persons: the utterer of the evil, the listener, and the one spoken about..." The Lord Jesus also linked the ideas of our words and attitudes with murder (see Matthew 15:19). 

Exodus 20:14
"Thou shalt not commit adultery."

The seventh of the ten Mitzvot (commandments) is,
"Thou shalt not commit adultery" (KJV). Adultery refers to sexual union between a married person and someone other than his or her own spouse.  The penalty for adultery was severe (see Deuteronomy 22:22, Leviticus 20:10). 

From the verse,
"The ... adulterer waits for twilight saying, No eye shall see me" (Job 24:15), the Talmud identifies the adulterer as a practical atheist, since he does not say, No man shall see me, but no eye neither the eye of one below nor the eye of Him above. 

The Lord Jesus identified the root condition of adultery as a problem with the heart:
"For out of the heart proceed...adulteries."  The heart's true affections are evidenced by the use of one's eyes (see Matthew 5:27-28). 

Adultery is a grave sacrilege, since it not only violates the sworn promise of parties to a sacred covenant, marriage, but perverts the picture of our union with God Himself.  As Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus,
"We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:30-32). 

Exodus 20:15
"Thou shalt not steal."

The eighth of the ten Mitzvot (commandments) is,
"Thou shalt not steal" (KJV).  Stealing, in the sense of the Hebrew word "ganav", refers to both the act of carrying off by stealth that which is not one's own (i.e., theft), and also to the deceptive inner disposition that accompanies the action.  And, ultimately, that deceptive inner disposition is a form of self-deception. 

None of us really
"owns" anything at all, since God alone is the Creator and Giver of all of life.  Stealing arrogantly (and vainly) attempts to seize some "thing" and to claim it for oneself blindly disregarding the fact that "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).  Thus, stealing is an act based on fear, since the attitude behind the action evidences a lack of trust that God will meet all our needs. 

Exodus 20:16 
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." 

The ninth commandment prohibits swearing falsely against your neighbor in matters of law and civil proceedings, but, on a deeper level, it implicitly indicates the responsibility to be a witness of the truth at all times. The Hebrew word for
"truth" (emet) is composed from the first, the middle, and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, thus indicating that it encompasses the first things, the last things, and everything in between.  Therefore, in relation to our neighbor, we are to be truthful and bear witness to the truth in all our moments of life.  By lying, by bearing false testimony, we effectively deny the relationship to the One who said, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." 

Exodus 20:17 

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

The word translated covet usually refers to selfish desire or lust (e.g., "Lust not after her beauty in thine heart..." Proverbs 6:25), and speaks directly to the heart's innermost intention, which, even if unacknowledged by oneself, is always revealed before God:  "Your Father who sees in secret..." (Matthew 6:6). On the other hand, selfish desire can, if we are willing to be honest with ourselves, reveal to ourselves the condition of our hearts and thus mark our need for deliverance from the power of sin: "I had not known sin ...except the law had said, 'Thou shalt not covet'" (Romans 7:7). 

Now here is a paradox: How can we refrain from desiring that which we, in fact, do desire?  How can we be made free from the endless cycle of desire and sin?  By following God's Word and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, given by the grace of God through Jesus Christ:
"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:24).