Can They All Boil Down to Two?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 19-20, Matthew 18:21-35


20 Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

You must have no other gods before me.

Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow down to them or worship them, because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God. I punish children for their parents’ sins even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Do not use the Lord your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way.

Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. 11 Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13 Do not kill.

14 Do not commit adultery.

15 Do not steal.

16 Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.

17 Do not desire your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20:1-17, Common English Bible).

The Pharisees asked Jesus about what was the greatest commandment. Of course, most of us know the answer Jesus gave, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40, paraphrased).

So Keith, what does that have to do with The Ten Commandments?

That is a really good question. I sure am glad you asked. We don’t really have the time here to discuss all ten. Had I been writing about Exodus like I did Matthew a year ago, much like I took the Beatitudes one at a time, I would look at the Commandments one at a time. But, to stay even with “Journey Through the Scriptures,” that isn’t possible.

When I was working on my Bachelor’s degree at Sam Houston State I took a speech class during my last semester. There were three United Methodist pastors in that class. In some ways, I don’t think our professor had much of a chance. Anyway, we were getting ready for a speech and the professor decided to use The Ten Commandments as an illustration and asked the question, “If we can’t address all Ten Commandments in a speech how might we break them down for a better understanding?” He looked at the three of us, all sitting together in the classroom.

I wish I could tell you it was me who had the answer. I didn’t. I don’t remember who did, but I know it wasn’t me. But, one of my colleagues said, “We can break them down as sins against God and sins against people.” My friend was right.

The first four commandments, You shall have no other gods before Me, You shall not make idols, You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, are sins against God.

The remaining six, Honor your father and your mother, You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor, You shall not covet are sins against people.

When I consider The Ten Commandments broken down into the two categories, “Sins against God” and “Sins against People,” I see perhaps the first evidence of Jesus’ most important commandment, love God and love people. After all, when Jesus said all the other commandments hung on these two, that would have to include those we call, “The Ten Commandments.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

P.S. I would ask you to keep my good friend Rev. Scott Dornbush in your prayers. Scott had a major heart attack and is currently in a Houston area hospital in ICU. He and his family would appreciate your prayers. Thanks, JKB.

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