Category Archives: OLD TESTAMENT


The fourth commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11). God gave the Sabbath as a “perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:17) between the Jews and God. As long as the Jews were a nation, they were to keep the Sabbath. This was not a perpetual covenant with anyone else, however. 

The Sabbath lasted from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The Jews, especially the Pharisees, treated it very legalistically. They expanded, refined, and codified it until it became an intolerable burden. Jesus fought the popular distortion of the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8). Jesus kept the Sabbath perfectly, something that no one else ever did. 

This commandment is the only one of the Ten Commandments that Jesus did not repeat for Christians. Jesus kept the Sabbath, but never commanded Christians to keep it. 

Although some try to keep the Sabbath today, none keep it as God commanded it. The Lord commanded that the Sabbath was the day for burnt offerings, and other elements which no one keeps today. Paul says that Christ abolished the law (Ephesians 2:15), and “took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). The first covenant was taken away so that the better, new covenant could be established. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Hebrews 8:6-7). 

While we are not commanded to keep the Sabbath, there are, however, many eternal principles to be learned from the Sabbath. All Christians should consider their use of time, and the work ethic taught in the commandment, that there are six days in which the servant of God will work. As the wise man Solomon wrote, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). Paul tried to set a good example for the Thessalonians by working to support himself, giving an example (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12). “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). 

Jesus showed the way to use the Sabbath, not by treating it as a day for idleness, but a day for service, a time for bringing blessings to others. The Christian should do no less with every day given to him. All life should be a rest from evil, and days devoted to God. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Every Christian should evaluate his time to see how much is devoted to God, and how much is devoted to self.


A name is very important, because it represents all that a person is. The third commandment warns, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). When Moses asked God what he should say to the Israelites, as he came to lead them out of Egyptian bondage, “God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). “I AM THAT I AM” is a form of the Hebrew for “to be,” indicating the eternal nature of God. The Israelites were so conscious of not breaking this commandment that they would not pronounce the name of God at all, instead substituting the word for Lord. 

Words, such as names, have always been important. Jesus warned that the misuse of words could destroy us, because the words indicate what is in our hearts. “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” (Matthew 15:18). James warns that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6).

Our words are especially of concern when they involve God and His name. Men often curse God, blaspheme His name, or use His name in profanity. Rather than cursing His name, men ought to hallow His name. The Old Testament punishment for such sins was stoning (Leviticus 24:10-23). This may seem harsh, but Jesus said, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Since God’s name is often invoked in the making of vows and promises, such as the wedding vows, it is doubly important that these words be true. 

The sense of this commandment is also broken when men do not respect God’s words. You cannot reject His words, and the things His spokesmen have said, without rejecting God. Jesus told His disciples, “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (Matthew 10:40). Responding properly to God’s word means obedience to it. Words should match deeds. Paul condemned those whose works were not in accord with God’s word: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16) Jesus spoke of this important connection between our deeds and the word of God, warning, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). 

Peter, referring to the name of Jesus Christ, said “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Surely those who love Him would not want to misuse His name in songs, jokes, etc. His name should be spoken in love and obedience.


The second of the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, gives timeless principles concerning God’s attitude about worship. Christians, who are “delivered from the law” (Romans 7:6-7), learn principles from the Ten Commandments that allow them to live under the better covenant of Christianity (Hebrews 8:6-7) 

The commandment reads: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6). Israel had to understand clearly that God would not tolerate idolatry. 

Idolatry, the worship of a creature, or inanimate object, seems inherently absurd to the modern mind. While modern man might not carve a statue, and then bow before it as ancient man did, he still has his idols, the false gods he worships. The problem of the idolater is not so much the idol as it is the spiritual blindness of the idolater. To place anything above God, whether it be possessions, family, occupation, or leisure activity, is to become an idolater. It has been well observed that sometimes the modern churchgoer may have his true god parked outside the place of worship. 

The command forbids making graven images to represent God to a worshipper. No image can ever “capture” God. As Paul told the Athenians, who worshipped so many gods, including an “unknown god,” “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:29-30). God’s Word must always govern worship to Him, because man has always had a tendency to worship the thing rather than the One Whom it represents. Despite God’s care of Israel, they easily slipped back into an idolatrous way of thinking. On one occasion they took the ark of the covenant into battle against the Philistines, as a sort of “good luck charm,” and wound up losing the ark, as well as the battle (1 Samuel 4). They also began to worship the bronze serpent Moses raised as a symbol of salvation (Numbers 21:4-9), so that King Hezekiah had to destroy it with the other marks of idolatry (2 Kings 18:4). 

The commandment gives a lengthy “enforcement statement,” which stresses that God will not share His people with any other god, but will bless all those who do His will. As Jesus met with the woman at the well, who wanted to sidestep the discussion of her checkered past, He reminded her, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jesus warned that worship is vain when men worship God “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). Blessings for future generations depend on proper worship today! 


The Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, form the basis for modern western civilization. In their summary of the proper attitude to God and one another, they provide fundamental concepts that allow people to function in obedience to God. The relevance of the Ten Commandments for the Christian lies in the timeless principles they describe. Paul explained that the Christian is no longer bound by the old covenant, including the ten commandments, because Christ brought the Jew and the Gentile together, “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). In giving His life, Christ was “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2.14). Christians are “delivered from the law” (Romans 7:6-7) to live under the better covenant of Christianity (Hebrews 8:6-7). 

The first commandment emphasizes that God must be first in the life of His children. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:1-3). As God reminded Israel that He had delivered them from Egyptian bondage, the first commandment demands, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

The Israelites lived in a world of many gods vying for the allegiance of men. God demanded that they recognize Him and Him alone as God. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is literally “Thou shalt have no other gods before my face.” Just as a woman with two husbands would be unacceptable to either husband, God demands undivided loyalty from all who claim to follow Him. The Jews could not adopt the pagan practices of their neighbors and maintain the purity God demanded. Peter and the other apostles understood the principle, refusing to be silenced by the Sanhedrin, saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In like manner, Christ demanded undivided loyalty from His followers. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38). 

The command, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” is also a demand for wholehearted love. God redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage, and today He redeems mankind from the bondage of sin. The magnificence of His creation and the sacrifice of Christ for us shows that He truly is worthy of our love. Jesus summed up the proper attitude to the Father: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we do this, we can truly insure that we put no other gods before Him. 


As God prepared His people to enter the Promised Land, He assigned the tribe of Levi to be in charge of all things related to worship. That meant that the Levites provided all of the priests, as well as those who would care for the tabernacle/temple, play instruments in worship, and any other possible assignment relating to the worship of God.

Among the various families of the Levites, each family received a particular assignment. The family of Kohath was assigned to carry the tabernacle furnishings as they traveled, but even though they were Levites, they could not serve as priests. Korah, the head of the family, felt slighted, and led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. “And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:10). The wrath of God fell on Korah and the other rebels, and the earth opened up and swallowed them.

God was merciful to Korah’s family, however. “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a sign. Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not” (Numbers 26:10-11).

Several generations later, the family of Korah was still serving faithfully in the temple, not as priests, but as gatekeepers and singers. Perhaps this prompted them to write in Psalm 84:10, “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” In other words, they had more joy from one day in the service of the Lord, than for a thousand days in the service of evil. There is joy in simple service to God, in whatever humble capacity we find ourselves. Aren’t we grateful for the many who serve the cause of Christ in those unsung positions that we could never do without!


Men have described the book of Ecclesiastes, authored by the wise man Solomon, in many different ways. Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, said it is the truest of all books. Others have applied Winston Churchill’s description of Russia, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, to this great book. This sometimes puzzling book shows that the things of the world offer no lasting happiness, and that this life, with all of its labors, is valueless, if there is no future. The book is the story of a man (Solomon), who deliberately tasted every worldly delight, including the forbidden, only to discover that all that the world offers is vanity of vanities (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Chapter three begins with the familiar words, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted… A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 8). The general theme of this chapter is the unchanging regularity of the world created by God.

The words of verse 15, as with so many others in the book, seem very cryptic at first reading. “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). Remember that the general theme of the chapter is the unchanging regularity of life. Solomon expressed the same idea earlier in the book. “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The verse closes with the statement, “there is no new thing under the sun”, meaning there is nothing new in the temporal life. He then asked, “Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new’? Already it has existed for ages which were before us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:10). As we look at our world, we see that there are technological advancements, and advancements in other fields, but so far as man’s concern for his fellowman, and the basic things of life, there is no change, no new thing under the sun. As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Since we live in a regular universe, with God in control, it is up to us to recognize God’s control, and bend our wills to be in conformity to His will. After all, this is what God requires. As Solomon looked at the world under the sun, living as if there were no God, his vision of an unchanging world changed to a conclusion that God truly is in control. The end of Ecclesiastes 3:15 states, “for God seeks what has passed by.” These words parallel the last words of verse 14, which also talks of God’s purpose, and says, “…for God has so worked that men should fear Him.” This points to the fact that God designed our regular universe to draw men to Him.

Solomon ends the saga of his search for happiness with the words, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Literally, the whole of man is to obey God.