Exodus 20

Exodus 20 Devotional
by Pastor David Groendyk

Exodus 20 is one of the most well-known chapters in the Bible because it contains the Ten Commandments. It would be easy to write a separate devotional for each of these commandments on their own, but instead I want to highlight two features of this chapter.

The first feature of this chapter is that there is actually a much bigger scope for each of the Ten Commandments than meets the eye. What I mean is that, for example, there is much more to the command “You shall not steal” than simply taking someone else’s possessions. Jesus himself preaches this way in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5; ‘murder’ doesn’t mean only ‘murder’ but includes even anger. Our Westminster Catechisms recognize this reality too. Let’s re-word the Ten Commandments so that we can see their full scope:

  1. Worship only God in everything that you do
  2. When you worship God, only worship him the way he commands you to
  3. Glorify God in all the ways you communicate, but be especially careful about the way you talk about the things of God
  4. Use all of your time for God’s glory, including taking one full day of the week to rest from your usual endeavors so that you can devote the time to worshiping God
  5. Honor any and all authority figures over you since they represent God’s authority
  6. Always seek the well-being of all humans
  7. Always act in such a way to protect all marriages, both yours and others’, both actual marriages and potential marriages
  8. Be a good steward of your own property and protect your neighbor’s property
  9. Always be trustworthy
  10. Be careful of your affections and desires that you never desire anything more than you should

Now we can see, as Jesus himself says, there is much more to keeping the Ten Commandments than simply keeping the letter of the law. This also helps us see that each of these commandments is eminently applicable in almost every circumstance in life. For example, if I borrow a chainsaw from my neighbor to cut up a fallen tree in my yard, I need to be careful not to covet this beautiful chainsaw that I don’t own (command #10), I need to be sure to return it within the time period I said I would (command #9), I ought to be careful not to damage the chainsaw (command #8), I shouldn’t use it on a Sunday instead of attending church (command #4), nor should I skip out on work to get the job done (command #5), nor should I neglect my family time at the expense of getting the job done (command #7), and I should take great care while using a dangerous piece of machinery (command #6). That’s an easy seven commands that I need to follow for the simple act of borrowing a chainsaw! This isn’t meant to overwhelm you. I hope you’re not! But it’s meant to show that we need to be mindful of glorifying God with every single thing we do. God cares about something as simple as yard work. In what ways can you be more mindful of intentionally glorifying God throughout your day?

The second feature is that the summary of these commandments can be summed up like this, “You shall love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37–40). What is it that makes any of the acts listed in this chapter permissible or impermissible? Love. Loving God is the reason we’re not allowed to have any other gods, loving God is the reason we keep the Sabbath, loving our neighbor is the reason we don’t murder, loving our neighbor is the reason we don’t covet, and so on and so forth. If Jesus preached a sermon on the topic of love, it would be a ten-point sermon based on the Ten Commandments. These commands are how we love God and love our neighbor. Do you see the love in these commandments?