Life of Moses
A Most Divine Wedding Covenant: Part V: More Critical Vows
Introduction: Why are boundaries important? Why are rules or guidelines important? If we didn’t have rules, guidelines, agreements, even laws to coordinate our choices and activities, what might society or our relationships look like? Why is it important not just to love God, but others as well? And why is it important to know what those rules, boundaries or guidelines are? So for one moment, work with me. Take just one of those agreed upon rules that you attempt to live by, either within your family, work, society, team etc. and disregard it. Now what happens? Is the fabric of the relationship torn or damaged? What are the possible repercussions? Try this out with several agreed upon rules or laws? What is the general consensus when several of these rules are disregarded? Why are rules important?
General Introduction: Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food, water and leadership issues and a threatening military foe, God’s people have reached his mountain — the same place where Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.
The Bride, Israel, having ritually purified herself and refrained from having sexual relations with each other, approaches her Groom’s mountain, via her leadership and prepares to take her vows—the covenant.
Preview: In eleven verses, via his four first commands of eventually over 600, Yahweh God makes it very clear to his nation-bride that what is of paramount importance to maintaining their relationship as Spiritual groom and bride or God and nation both exclusivity and rest or intimacy. There will be no other gods or Spiritual relationships tolerated, and there needs to be a consistent, weekly time set aside from everything else, including all work, for the exclusive maintaining and growth of this God-people relationship.
Now come some vital and universal intrapersonal vows for maintaining, not just the relationship between God and his people, but between person to person and person to his community. If the whole is going to survive and thrive as a nation, a respect for their Creator and Redeemer absolutely must translate into common, agreed upon ethic, or way of justly and fairly dealing with one another.
Pray (Ask God for insight…)
Read Passage several times…(if more than 12 verses, I would read only twice).
Ask Questions (with No Answers)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
What does it mean to honor or value one’s Father and Mother, and why? While the emphasis over the years has tended to be upon young children obeying or honoring the parents, or perhaps even perhaps helping to create or foster their children’s respect for them, others have suggested that this command really has to do with respecting or protecting one’s elders—that this command is directed towards adult children taking care of their older, elderly parents… so much so, that the promise seems to have implications for the nation’s longevity. In other words, don’t look out for your elderly parents, and your days will not be prolonged in the land which has been given to you by God?
Or another way of looking at this command or vow is that the hierarchical structure Yahweh is intending to put into place is very much based upon a respect for one who is older, wiser and more experienced, such as parents? Children, even adult children are to honor or respect their parents, and in doing so, this says a lot about a nation’s culture and values? The elderly are not set aside, disregarded or looked down upon, but instead, after exclusive intimacy with God, the next greatest commandment or vow is to respect and honor one’s parents or caregivers?
13 “You shall not murder.
Next, after exclusive intimacy with one’s creator and respect or devotion to one’s parents, is a respect for life. In perhaps a seemingly lawless age, Yahweh God says you will not get ahead by slaughtering or taking away another human soul. Life is important. You shall not murder?
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
Next, is a respect for another’s or one’s mate or wife, in this case? The marriage covenant, contract, bond or tradition will be honored? I will not tolerate Spiritual infidelity, I will not tolerate marital infidelity? The marriage bed will be kept pure? Families will be protected? Marriage will be kept safe? One will not have to worry about one’s husband or wife cheating with someone else? Children will know whom their parents are? As there is Spiritual fidelity between one and God and a nation and God, there will be marital fidelity between humans, especially marriage couples?
15 “You shall not steal.
Next, a person will not only not have to worry about living or keeping one’s mate, but his or her possessions will be safe as well? Do you get the idea here? God is setting boundaries, rules, laws between his people so that society does not disintegrate into man eat man or dog eat dog chaos and competition? Possession are safe. Stealing will not be tolerated.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Next, your words are important. You can’t cheat by misrepresenting the truth via a lie or mistruth? Truth is my standard? Once again, do you get the idea—with rules and protections, people are safe? Why? Because there is not cheating, stealing and killing going on? Only the evil or the rule breakers need to fear Yahweh God’s wrath, discipline or judgment. The rest of you, who play within the rules, rest.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
And finally, life’s ambition is not to take or desire what belongs to another. Now that is an interesting one, depending upon what “covet” means, much like what does “honor” mean with respect to parents. Does “covet” just imply an inward feeling or emotion or thought, or does it imply something more—actually acting on one’s covetous desires? And how does one NOT “covet” or “want” what someone else has? How does one stop the thoughts, if they are there? How does one learn to be content with what one has or has been given? And why is this warning or command so important as to make the top ten?
In order for Yahweh’s redeemed national, Spiritual bride Israel to thrive, she not only has to remain exclusively and actively engaged with her Redeemer, God, she must be faithful to her fellow Spiritual body parts. She must be true to herself because in all reality, she is a collective ONE. What are the foundational or most essential vows for maintaining this Spiritual ONE? One positive vow—honor one’s parents, followed by five negatives or prohibitions…don’t murder, break one’s marriage vows, take from another, lie to another or desire what someone has. Do these and she will remain a united one that can then be a holy one with respect to her Redeemer. Amazing.
Summary…In order to be a holy one, Israel, because she is made up of many millions, must also, to one degree, be a united one. In other words, not only must she be true to God, but true to herself…or all her parts or people. And how will she do this? Six critical intrapersonal commands or vows that each member of the Spiritual bride must abide by, if the bride is also to become a holy bride to her Redeemer.
Bottom line…just as there is a holy one between God and his people; there is a united holy one between the people themselves. Thus there is both the one and the many. We are all a part of great, redeemed holy nation, and everyone has a faithful part to maintain the covenant.
Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)
• There is both a love of God and one another as a part of the Spiritual bride or community. One cannot love God and not love or be loyal or act against the community’s best Spiritual interest. In other words, one can cheat his fellowman and think that he is holy. Can’t be done. To every human being, or perhaps rather, every called child of God on the planet, there is both a relationship with God and one another, and each feeds the other. If one is out of sorts with God, he is out of sorts with his fellowman, and if he is out of sorts with his fellowman, he is out of sorts with God.
Now potentially is one always out of sorts with both? Of course, but within the OT or Mosaic Covenant here, I am not sure that Yahweh God fully expected his people to fully understand that man is never perfect at this point in time. Maybe he did? Perhaps the righteous Israelite realized that no amount of sacrifices would make him fully righteous before God—that as Paul writes very incredibly within his letter to the Romans…that we all fall short of God’s glory. That no one is perfect. And that in the end, we are all tainted by sin’s imperfection every moment of every day of our existence, and so much so, that only through one’s faith or trust (Romans 3-4) in a sacrificial atonement for one’s sinful imperfection that only Yahweh God could and would, in the end, supply, just as he supplied a ram for Abraham as he was about to obediently sacrifice his own son, Isaac, as Yahweh had directed him to do, but in the end, had only intended to test Abraham’s faith and love.
So did the average Israelite get that not even a seeminlgy unblemished animal sacrifice could atone for his ever-continuously, ongoing sinful, imperfect approach to life? I doubt it. But in the end, that answer and sacrifice was finally and fully revealed in the divine giving of a truly perfect sacrifice for fallen man’s ever, ongoing and constant sinful nature in the person and sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. But the same truth that was valid witihn the preamble to the Old Covenant remains true within the New Covenant—one cannot love, worship or trust God, without loving and caring about God’s other chosen children. If you love God, through the Spirit, we are being taught and trained up NOT to lie, steal, murder, dishonor, be unfaithful to our brothers and sisters in the faith of God. If you love others, you love God, and if you love God, you will love others. And if you don’t love others, you don’t love God. And if you don’t love God, you will not love others. The two go hand in hand. The Bride, through her ongoing and maturing righteous orientation towards one another is maturing into a holy bride that honors and worships her holy Redeemer.
• And that within this love for one another, the beginning value system or parameters have to do with things such as: 1) adult children honoring or valuing their parents, and that somehow this type of fidelity will end up sustaining each suceeding generation; 2) not murdering, stealing from or lying to one another, nor being maritally unfaithful to one’s mate, nor coveting what another brother or sister has. These are the basic beginning Spiritual parameters that God expects all his children to abide by and or learn to abide by or mature in. These are the values that set God’s children apart from a world that refuses to love, worship, trust, obey or acknowledge Creation’s Creator. In other words, there are boundaries. There are values, especially in a fallen, dog-eat-dog, sinful, evil and imperfect world. And these are the values we are to espouse to as God’s children.
Last Study’s Application…I have several thoughts: 1) I just experienced a marital and emotional sabbatical rest last night with my wife when we took time away to listen to beautiful classical music, go out to eat and enjoy a late evening walk and talk with each other. It was very helpful my Spiritual and emotional equilibrium.
2) On a greater, annual or semi-annual scale, I am about to take some time away with my wife to recreate a portion of my insatiable curiosity to explore, discover and observe the geographical landscape—this time, portions of the American Southwest;
3) I witness too many foolish people that attempt to thrive or something without some meaningful, regular and frequent Spiritual rest and accountability. But authentic Spiritual vitality just can’t be done without the Spiritual Bride and Groom spending regular rested time together. God ceased his creative activities for a purpose. It’s implanted within our creative and redemptive DNA…as creatures created within the image of our Creator and now, recreated by faith and forgiveness in the image of our Redeemer. We were made and reborn to Spiritually rest and be reborn via the Spirit within the presence of our Lord and Savior. How to persuade them to do otherwise…now that I have yet to discover. Again and again and again, I see devastating consequences.
4) At the same time, this consistent, frequent and intimate Spiritual bride and groom time or space must be characterized by authenticity. Anything less is useless Spiritual fraud.
Applicational Update and Thanksgiving…Not only did I get to experience with my bride of 36-37 years, depending upon when one dates the beginning of our covenant—from our engagement or our wedding—a powerful, Spiritual renewal of our covenant, but my heart and soul were just as refreshed from some not only personal ministry with family along the way, but living and driving 3-D within my Creator’s magnificent creation. Amazing. I get the principle of regularly getting alone with those with whom one is in covenant with. It is everything. Fortunately, with the Spirit, prayer, his word and the Body of Christ, that regular renewal is possible in many soul-cleansing, mind-renewing, refreshing ways every day and every week.
Struggle…Now that I have been to the mountain top, both Spiritually and literally (within the Rockies), it is a transition of sorts back to the daily grind, or should we say answering the daily demands and challenges, including this lesson, including Sunday’s teaching, including all the many pastoral and administrative demands and challenges, including writing. I can see why even Jesus took time to get away from the crowd of ministry, and my crowd of ministry is so so much smaller.
Truth…Loving God is loving others and vice versa; both are vital; both are connected; both keep you on your toes, especially within an evil, self-leaning world and existence. Am I getting alone with God, worshiping only him and I am a living within the moral, Spiritual boundaries of treating others righteously or appropriately, and in doing so, am I changing? Am I being conformed to the image of my Redeemer?
Beginning with the Old Covenant, am I/we honoring our parents, both physical and Spiritual? Am I/we not murdering others, not inappropriately taking from them, not lying to them, being martially faithful to our spouses, and not coveting or envying what they may have that I might or might not have?
But then even more, now based on the New Covenant that I have with God through his Son’s sacrifice, am I, via the Holy Spirit, learning what it means to truly love or be Spiritually attracted to others as Christ as was attracted to and sacrificially poured out his life for his own, including me (John 13-17; 1 John)?
Application…God, help me be sensitive to what you want to do through me to or with others. I am your servant. There are times, I want to do what I want to do or what I think I need to do, but really, in the end, I truly want to die to my own, instinctually-flawed, self-centered approach to living life. I know how to do that, Lord. I want to be led and directed by your Spirit even in the moments that I initially don’t know what to do or an uncomfortable doing, including honoring my/our parents, that I sometimes do well, but often times don’t as well; I haven’t murdered anyone literally, Lord; I have lied; probably, in ways that I would not like to think about, have stolen; certainly have coveted; but have been faithful to my wife, at least physically and in many more ways, but certainly NOT always in my thoughts. Thus, Lord, I am deeply grateful for your atonement that continually cleanses me from all my sinful imperfection. I also thankful for your Spirit and my mentor/teacher, who again and again and again, teaches, reminds, exposes, convicts, reveals to me and encourages me in my journey to love YOU and your people as you love and/or attracted. I am a work in progress. Continue to teach me to trust you in that journey and not become afraid or uptight when things don’t always go as I would like for them to, but to trust you that you are in charge and that you want to and will show me the way as I prayerfully seek your presence, truth, power, hope, love and guidance IN THE MOMENT where life is lived. Teach me not only how to be exclusively intimate with you, but how this worship translates into relating to fallen human beings. Amen.
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984,