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June 10, 2018, 12:00 AM

Love God


Good morning, Grace and peace to you from our God our creator and Jesus the Christ.

The ten commandments, for many of us here this morning probably brings up the movie of the same title with Charlton Heston, God rest his soul, playing Moses. This movie came out in 1956 and has been replayed thousands if not millions of times. And the I will admit that the story surrounding the Ten Commandments makes for pretty good theater but other than they are on two stone tablets, what do you remember about the actual commandments in the movie? Probably, not much, since they are a glancing blow in the movie. So, let us dig into what they say.

This week we are working on the first part of the commandments. In the coming two weeks we will look at the rest of the commandments. The ones we are looking at today all relate to each other and all relate to our relationship with God.

The first Commandment is You shall have no other God's. Luther writes in response to “What does this mean?” “We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.” But before we go further I want to ask the question what is a god. Gods are those things that we worship or trust in because we believe they have some control over our world and the outcome of the events of our life. For us in the United States we know that having money or not having money changes our reality. The question is whether you elevate the money itself to the position of having control or if you can leave it as a mechanism of transfer and the trust in the provision remains squarely with the creator of the universe and thus you might also accept other kinds of provision, like in kind donations, if that is how God chose to provide. Another common god these days is the self, most clearly evident in some of our world leaders who think they answer to no higher power than themselves. If our god is the one whom we look to as having some control of our future, destiny and provision and if we see ourselves as the force that makes our destiny happen and leave no space for an outside force to intervene on our behalf, then we have become the god. So, God has one request from the very get go, please leave the controlling of the universe to God, which means not you. How much better for our blood pressure when we can let go of the outcome and simply do the right thing because we know it would please God.

I could spend all day on this sentence of have no other gods and for more information I will simply read to you the directions that follow that one simple sentence, “Do not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Exo 20:4-5

 

Next we read that we are not to make wrongful use of the name of the Lord. If you read the original Hebrew texts of this or things written by devout Jews they often will not contain all the letters if they are writing down the word God. They will put a dash in the middle to replace the o. This is out of respect and because if you have never actually said or written the name of God then you will not have misused the name. Understand that having the name of someone gives you a level of power in their lives. In fact the power to name represents the power over another person. Consider parents get to name their children. God changes the name of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah when he establishes a covenant with them. Taking the name of the husband represented moving into his care and coming under his control in many cultures and in many places. Even today we introduce ourselves and give our names and based on how much you want the other to be able to find you, you may change how much of your name you tell them. So, names are important as they are a representation of the person.

Luther writes of this command not to take the name of God in vain, “We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.” I like how Luther turns it around and makes it a positive. We are meant to use the name of God so that we can pray, praise and give thanks to. This is all why the habit of some who utilize the acronym OMG is so offensive. This acronym is the antithesis of the intent of this commandment. Instead we should only be using God as an act of prayer, praise or to give thanks.

 

Let us move on though. The next commandment reads, “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.” Exo 20:8-11 So, if God is only good for six days a week, how in the world do we think we are good for seven out of seven, unless we are better than God. As many of you know I can be a very busy person with lots of projects happening simultaneously. I like to keep my mind busy and I like to keep my hands busy. Yet, I also very much appreciate the Sabbath question and the fact that when I take a Sabbath day (a day of rest) I am more efficient the rest of the week and often complete more than I would working all seven days.

Luther says of the Sabbath day, “We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.” Certainly it is true that one way to keep the Sabbath and it is traditional is to use this also as the day on which we have our formal worship practices but unless you are in worship all day on the Sabbath that alone is not enough. Worship on the Sabbath is in keeping with the Jewish custom and faith out of which we came. All of that said I want to read to you what the Bible says about labor on the Sabbath a little later in Exodus because worship is about keep it holy but I think it is really about a day off. In Exodus 31, immediately before God give Moses the tablets he reiterates this command and says, “You shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, given in order that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you(make you free from sin). You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the Israelites shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign forever between me and the people that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God rested, and was refreshed.” Exo 31:13-17

So, it is pretty clear that the Sabbath was about a time of rest first and foremost and that God was truly serious about our need for the time of rest. That said if we are sitting around and resting what better is there to do that spend time in worship and reading scripture. And yes I took my Sabbath on Thursday because Sunday, while I love what I do, is not the time of rest for me. Thus I would argue if you can not take Sunday for whatever reason, take another day, because Sabbath equals rest not Sunday.

The time has come to wrap it up for this week. We talk about the first of the commandments, I am the Lord your God and you shall have no other God's before me. We talked about the Second commandment, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of God.” and we looked at the third commandment, the commandment to keep a Sabbath. This is the part Jesus encapsulated as the most important commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your might and all your soul.” The ten commandments are one of three things (with the Lord's prayer and the apostles creed) that Luther thought all Christians needed to know. And so I commend to you Have only one God the Lord our God, keep God's name holy and keep a Sabbath day, a day of rest, as a perpetual remembrance of our creator. Amen.


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