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Why Study the Ten Commandments?
The Law is Useful!
The Three Uses of the Law
For all men: Reveals God’s holiness & man’s duty and sin – WLC 95
Lev. 11:44-45: Be holy as I am holy.
For the Unregenerate: “Drive them to Christ” - WLC 96
Gal. 3:24: So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
For the Regenerate: “Rule of their obedience” - WLC 97
Titus 2:11-14: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
James 1:25:But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Though not useful for us to earn our justification – Law & Gospel
Rom. 3:20-22:“20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
The Law is a great blessing – Psalm 19
What words do you associate with the word “law?”
David used very different words than these in Psalm 19!
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
What Are the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments are the Covenant
They are the Mosaic Covenant
Deut. 4:13: “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.”
Deut. 5:2-3, 5ff: 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today. 5 ...He said, 6 'I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 'You shall have no other gods before Me....
Deut. 9:9:When I went up to the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD had made with you....
They are the Covenant of Grace
Because the covenant formula “I am the LORD your God” and “I will be your God, and You will be my people” used to introduce this covenant (Ex. 20:2) is applied equally to the New Covenant.
The formula in God’s name Yahweh: Ex. 3:6, 11 (who am I?), 14 (I AM WHO I AM)
The formula is applied equally to the OC & NC people of God, because those two peoples are one and the same: Ex. 19:5-6; Dt. 7:6-11 (1 Pet. 2:9-10); Ex. 20:2
Both forms of the formula are conjoined in scripture; they express the goal of the Exodus:
Lev. 26:12-13: 12 I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.
The Mosaic covenant is God’s remembering (and thus the extension of) His covenant with Abraham, which is broadly recognized to be the covenant of grace: Ex. 6:2-7
The formula is applied to the New Covenant in Ezek. 36:25-28 and:
Jer. 31:33: But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
2 Cor. 6:16: Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
Rev. 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
They are our covenant! They follow the pattern of its structure, and define our obligations within it
Place of the Commandments in History
Given by God
Given to Moses and the people on Mt. Sinai in Horeb (Dt. 1:6; Ex. 20).
Taught by Moses
Moses taught them to the people in Horeb, during their wandering in the desert (Dt. 4:5—happened throughout the text of Numbers), and at the edge of the promised land in the body of Deuteronomy (6-26).
Written in Scripture
They are the covenant God made in Horeb and reconfirmed in Moab. As such the 10 Commandments are the central verbal expression of the covenant-relationship established at the climax of God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt, and reconfirmed in preparation for their entrance into the land He had promised. This is why they are placed at the climax of the story in Exodus, and made the principial structure of the torah-teaching of Deuteronomy (cf. Olson, 1994: 6-22). They draw together, then, the main themes of the Pentateuch, and lay the foundation for Israel’s life in Canaan under Joshua, the judges, David, and the prophets. This covenant then formed the foundational structure of and pedagogue leading to (Gal. 3:24) the New Covenant under Christ.
Important Distinctions: The Moral Law is Summarized in, but more universal than, the Ten Commandments
This distinction in the Shorter Catechism:
WSC 40: The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.
WSC 41: The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.
In the Westminster Confession: One covenant of grace, the same in substance, in two dispensations
7.5: This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel
7.8: There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.
19.5: The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof
19.7: Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the gospel, but do sweetly comply with it
Substance & Differentia in the Dispensations of the Moral Law
Moral & Symbolic: Augustine, Theonomy
Moral, Civil, Ceremonial: Thomas Aquinas, Melanchthon, Calvin, WCF 19.3, 19.4
Constitution (universally applicable) & Case Law (situationally-applied)
Lex Talionis & Pedagogical Delegation of Divine Justice
The death penalties’ delegation (Ezekiel 23:24) is pedagogical (Ezek. 23:48-49)
Differentia seen in the Ten Commandments
First Commandment: Context of Polytheism
Second Commandment: Context of Idolatry
Fourth Commandment: Servants, livestock, the exodus
Fifth Commandment: The land of Israel was their inheritance. It expressed the same providential care God shows us & them in giving us the present creation & future new creation.
Tenth: Servants, ox, donkey; “field” added in Dt. applies specially to Canaan
How Should We Interpret the Ten Commandments?
The Rules for Interpreting the Ten Commandments: WLC 99
Question: What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the Ten Commandments?
Answer: For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:
1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.1
2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.2
3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.3
4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden;4 and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded:5 so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included;6 and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.7
5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done;8 what he commands, is always our duty;9 and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.10
6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.11
7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavour that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.12
8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them;13 and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.14
The Two Tables of the Law
Jesus summarized the law in two halves:
Matt. 22:35-40: 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
Hence WLC 98 explains, “The four first commandments [contain] our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.”
The Issue & Application of Each Commandment
We need to understand each commandment’s central concern—its nucleus—and its correct application
Issue: Henry Krabbendam summarizes the central concern of each commandment this way:
1: Love God for who he is.
2: Love God for what he says.
3: Love God for what he does.
4: Love God on the day he has set apart.
5: Love our neighbor by honoring his authority.
6: Love our neighbor by honoring his life.
7: Love our neighbor by honoring his wife.
8: Love our neighbor by honoring his property.
9: Love our neighbor by honoring his reputation.
10: Love God and the neighbor from the heart.
Along with a growing line of scholarship,15 and the implication to this effect in Dt. 6:1-3, I believe we must take Dt. 6-26 to be a commentary on the Ten Commandments listed in Dt. 5, such that the order of the Decalogue forms the order of the sections in ch.'s 6-26, and those sections successively explain & apply each commandment.16 I consider the divisions suggested by Jordan and Krabbendam to be correct, that ch.'s 6-11 treat the 1st commandment, 12-13 the 2nd, 14 the 3rd, 15-16:17 the 4th, 16:18-18 the 5th, 19-22:12 the 6th, 22:13-23:14 the 7th, 23:15-24:16 the 8th, 24:17-25 the 9th, and 26 the 10th.
The rest of Scripture and its summary in the WSC & WLC will be brought in to understand each commandment’s application.
The Preface to the Ten Commandments
WLC 101 explains:
The preface to the Ten Commandments is contained in these words, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
God in Himself the source of all else
Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works:
Words: God reveals Himself in His covenant
and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people;
Works: God saves His people & requires a response of obedience
who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom;
and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.
15Cf. Schultz (1859: 13ff), Schulz (1966: 151-157), Kaufman (1978: 105-158), Braulik (1991), Kaiser (1983: 127-137), Jordan (1984: 199-206), Hill & Walton (1991: 144-149), Millar (1998: 104-108), and Krabbendam (1997: 49, 130-140). None of the others consulted see the case law of Deuteronomy to be structured this way.
16Merrill (1994) considers this thesis throughout but can perceive only a loose dependence upon the order of the Decalogue.
Today was the first of our marathon driving days. We planned these days to be 8-9 hours of driving, but because we can’t do the speed limit these days are going to take longer than that. We covered a lot of the Southwest today--from the middle of Arizona to nearly the end of New Mexico.
Public works got some culture. This was in or near the Navajo Nation.
Petrified Forest National Park.
A sign in the visitor center reads, “The bubonic plague is real.” A more detailed flier in the Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon explained that you can get it from the animals in the park, especially the rodents. I told a ranger that was very surprising, and she said, “Don’t play with the animals.” Ok, you convinced me. She said they’ve had some occurrences in the past but not recently. The threat of death has enlivened this trip throughout; even the truck rental agreement and usage guidelines state plainly and repeatedly that a consequence of not following the instructions is “serious injury or death.” Though people may live in fear of death all their lives, thanks be to God He has made a way to no longer fear it through the death of Christ as our substitute.
We’re house hunting at the Puerco Pueblo.
At least it has a foundation.
Actually, the guy behind the counter in the visitor center is from Kansas and said some small towns there--including Coffeyville, which is 20 miles from Caney--are giving away land for free to attract new residents.
Indian petroglyphs. The interpretive signs show adult men chipping out the drawings, but do you really think kids didn’t have a hand in it? I got my kicks out of the man-eating bird--it’s straight out of Calvin and Hobbes. A great addition to our nation’s artistic memory. Interesting how graffiti became worth saving.
Can you find the petroglyphs?
Yes, it’s rock. And there’s a lot of it around the park, but they say tons of it are stolen each year. They also say it weighs 200 lbs per cubic foot!
Do NOT take any. Instead, buy it legally outside the park, from people who picked it up outside the park. I wondered how thoroughly they’d want to search the back of our truck, but they just waved us through at the vehicle inspection point at the park exit.
There are a LOT more chunks of petrified logs lying on the floor of this valley--they are most of the brown dots you can see.
The Painted Desert in the Petrified Forest.
The Teepees in the Petrified Forest.
Gallup, New Mexico.
We had hoped to make it to Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo tonight, but it's time for bed so we stayed in a hotel in Tucumcari, NM.
This morning we saw more of the Grand Canyon by driving east along the rim and stopping at the viewpoints.
We found it!
Now let me get away from the edge. The edge is truly thrilling.
Tim's shaking in his tennis shoes. If you’re hankering for a terrifyingly sheer cliff you can find several at the Grand Canyon. They said you should keep your pets on a leash and children within sight because of the mountain lions, but like the warnings at Crater Lake, I’m sure the drop is another sufficient reason.
It’s even deeper through the binoculars.
At Grandview Point there’s a sign describing how 4 years ago a girl who ran the Boston Marathon in around 3 hours (in other words, in far better shape than you are) hiked down the trail there without adequate supplies and died as a result. I like signs that communicate so effectively.
It’s an amazing sight.
Is it a condor or a raven? You tell me.
A dear smiles for the camera.
We outran a thunderstorm that drenched us briefly around Flagstaff and followed us the rest of the day.
We continued on to Walnut Canyon but discovered the trail to the cliff dwellings is closed due to a landslide. They are repairing it, possibly using the group of young people we saw with the words “Conservation Experience” on their t-shirts. What makes me think that is a display in the visitor center that says in the early days of our national parks much of the construction work was done by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. The Corps was only for “boys” ages 18-25 who came from families needing assistance. They were paid $30/month, could keep $5 for themselves and had to send the rest home to help their families. Now there’s a productive form of welfare!
Next we visited Meteor Crater, which I’d read about as a kid and now finally get to see!
It is 4000 feet wide and 700 feet deep.
We didn’t see any aliens but there was a bright green collared gecko. The biggest chunk of the meteor they’ve found is on display in the museum, not attached to the platform on which it rests. It’s solid iron and nickel. It doesn’t look too large for two strong men to lift, but the tour guide said if you can pick it up he won’t attempt to stop you from carrying it out the door. They believe the meteorite was 150 feet in diameter. Interestingly, though meteorite fragments have been found outside and inside the crater, and Daniel Barringer spent the last 26 years of his life searching for it, the mother lode of this giant iron deposit has never been found. They speculate most of it melted and vaporized.
We found the Wigwam Motel that inspired the traffic cone motel in Cars. Want to sleep in a wigwam?
Next we went a long ways on a little road, but a well-maintained little road, to stay in a TrendWest/WorldMark/Wyndham timeshare at Bison Ranch in Overgaard, AZ.
These were very nice accommodations, for less than the cost of a hotel.
We got the last minute deal rate by taking up an offer by Dean Scott, owner/founder of Sovereign Grace Singles (www.sovereigngracesingles.com), whose site I maintain, to use part of the time share he bought into for members of the website to use for singles retreats. They’d better use it because this was a great place to stay!
Dude, it’s a ranch. They have bison, horses to ride, riding lessons, several stores and a restaurant. The rooms are stocked with all the kitchen/dining utensils you need and you don’t have to wash them when you’re done!
After unpacking we took a dip in the pool and hot tub.
Ow. The pool is only 4 feet deep, according to my swollen lip.
Today we woke up in time for breakfast and a shower, but not in time to get to the “Christian Ministry in the National Parks” service earlier than about 10 minutes late. It was informal enough that the rest of the congregants greeted us during the service and explained they were all part of one family reunion and wanted to make sure we felt welcome. We arrived during a time for prayer requests, then there was a prayer, then a time of singing, then the service was over! Looking at the bulletin, apparently the sermon had already been delivered! Apparently it was short. After the service we discovered several members of the family had been part of the OPC in Syracuse, NY in the 80’s, another was a PCUSA minister who graduated from Westminster in Philly in 1965, and the man who delivered the sermon was an OT student at Princeton. It’s a small world.
We walked along the rim of the Grand Canyon during the afternoon.
In the evening we listened to a sermon by Becky’s grandfather Ron Jenkins from John 4 on Christ’s work and ours, and got some needed rest.
Today was pretty hot! Maybe over 100. The Mojave Desert lived up to its reputation in that regard. But it wasn’t unbearable, and to my amazement, it wasn’t all that frightening. It looks a lot like where I grew up in Eastern Washington. I guess I was hoping for giant cacti, sand dunes, and palm trees. There were some rusty trucks (like Mater in Cars) and strange desert plants (yucca and Joshua trees), though, which was good.
We visited the ghost town of Calico, CA, which is in the Mojave Desert.
Before looking at the tourist brochure we found at the hotel, I had imagined the ghost town would be a set of utterly abandoned rickety buildings, with no tourists besides ourselves.
Armed and dangerous.
"All guns must be checked at the jail. No exceptions."
After seeing the brochure, I learned that you have to pay to enter Calico, and so I imagined that perhaps it would have a gate that says “Closed except during months x through y.” In reality Calico is a partially restored silver mining town that flourished in the late 1800’s and died in the early 1900’s, with 31 points of interest many of which require you to pay extra to see, and most of which are buildings--houses, a museum, jail, mineshafts, and a doctor/dentist/barber/bath shop--all in one! They’ll make sure you clean up nice. The dentist in Calico was so resourceful he invented the easily portable foot-pedal powered dental drill! The museum included a simple but profound warning that “Abandoned mineshafts are killers.” I almost paid to see whatever it is in the “House of Mystery” that is “amazing, amusing, and confusing,” but after being slightly put off by noticing that the initial room open to the public wasn’t full of mystery but rather mist to take the edge off the heat--an amusing pun but not very amazing--avoided the tourist trap for the more substantive thrill of a can of soup already warmed by our car. So there were plenty of souls in Calico, but we weren’t able to see any ghosts.
Today we saw more of Route 66 than we wanted. A key piece of background info is that our car is on a tow dolly that hinges both at the ball hitch and between the car’s front wheels, so we can’t back up without unhitching the trailer, unloading the car, turning both vehicles around and turning the trailer by hand. It’s not too hard but takes a little time and gets you dirty. We saw a sign for “Historic Route 66” and so got off the highway to drive what turned out to be a very short section of Route 66. It led through a small town, and at the end of the town we decided to skip the onramp to the highway and explore a bit further.
Cruisin' on Route 66
It's the genuine article!
Little did we know that the next onramp was 5 or more miles away, the shoulders were never wide enough to turn around, and the pavement on that section was so rough we weren’t comfortable going more than 20 miles an hour.
It's rougher than it looks. We started longing for that highway not so far away. I kept thinking about the piano and the dishes so carefully packed in the back of the truck, and I suspect the guys who produced Cars had a similar experience. I recommend you don’t take your restored classic roadster on this section of Route 66!
Similarly, we saw a sign for a much needed rest area and discovered that it led to Essex, AZ, 6 miles from the highway. Once we got to Essex, we took a shortcut back to the highway on what turned out to be another section of Route 66. This section was maintained but I think I’ve got my fill for now.
Um...just about right on the Arizona State Line.
Welcome to Arizona!
Not much moss on this road.
Close to Needles.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon after 11 PM due to our detours and were a little concerned that maybe the gate would be closed and we'd have to camp elsewhere. But as it turns out, latecomers get in free! Once you're in you don't have to pay. Well, that was kind of them.