The first four of the Ten Commandments were given to maintain a love relationship with God.
Jesus echoed the call for obedience to God’s commandments and said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14.15).
Friends and loving partners know that actions and words go together to cement relationships. The lack of loving words or actions will diminish friendship and love.
As the Hebrew nation was about to enter the promised land, and they re-committed to loving God with both words and deeds.
The people also committed themselves to each other through the obedience of the last six of the Ten Commandments.
Commandments and Long Life
The fifth and sixth commandments were given with the promise of a long and full life.
Commandment #5: Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 5.16).
One of the major purposes of Deuteronomy was to teach people how to live. Moses summarized the importance of the Ten Commandments in chapter 4.
— Deuteronomy 4.1 – So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.
The promise to those who know and do God’s will (the Ten Commandments) is that they will live in the land of promise.
— Deuteronomy 4.2 – You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.
People were not to add to or take away from God’s directions. Rudy Ross frequently emphasizes this point in the YouTube videos that we do. Rudy is right to insist on reading the Bible and putting it into action without diluting its power.
— Deuteronomy 4.9 – But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.
The people of God are one generation away from losing the memory of God’s loving activity. We are charged to communicate the truths of God to each succeeding generation.
In turn, children are admonished to respect their parents, who communicate God’s truths to them.
It is impossible to teach someone who knows it all. Children need to be good listeners and responsive to the instructions they are given.
Just as the parents live in the land and prosper because they follow God’s directions, the children will experience the same blessing that is connected to obedience.
Parents have an awesome opportunity to introduce their children to the wonders of a relationship with God. No teacher or preacher can take the place of parents who live and teach the principles of God.
Anyone under age 21 should be humble enough to learn from their parents about how to live with God and other people. That is God’s plan. When this is followed, God promises a long and fulfilling life.
A Short Life
The fifth commandment has a promise directly attached to it. The sixth commandment has an implied promise.
The Sixth Commandment: You shall not murder (Deuteronomy 5.17).
In 50 years of ministry, I have officiated funerals for fifteen or so people who were killed by violence. Some died in fights and others were murdered in cold blood.
We are prohibited from murder because only God has the power of life and death. When we take the life of another, we assume the role of God over another person. That is a right that we do not have.
Many years ago, I sat in the gallery of a murder trial. While I listened to the testimony, I thought to myself: “If you live close to the edge, you are bound to fall off sooner or later.”
Of the many funerals that I have officiated for young people, many could have been prevented. The deceased lived close to the edge and sadly fell off to his or her untimely death.
When Jesus talked about this commandment, he touched upon the internal attitude that is behind murder. Let’s examine his teaching.
— Matthew 5.21-22 – “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’
“But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Jesus identified the inside human condition that occasions murder. Angry people are willing to hurt others.
When you add the belief that the other person is “less than” worthy to anger, further harm is possible.
I know many people who have had violent encounters in their lives. Thank God most of them didn’t end in death. I believe that anger and thinking less of others were at the root of the conflict.
Without a doubt, issues of aggression, anger, and the belief that other people are “less than” you have shortened the lives of multitudes.
Jesus has an answer. He teaches:
— Matthew 5.23-24 – “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,
“Leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”
Forgiveness absorbs the hurt of an offense. Rather than acting out of anger, we accept the injury and seek reconciliation with the offending party.
One of my friends, who was a tough guy that no one would accuse of being “soft,” acted as Jesus taught. He once told me that he couldn’t engage in revenge, because it would dishonor Christ.
My friend and others like him honor Jesus as we follow God’s guidance and live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily YouTube video on Deuteronomy. Rudy has devoted years to Bible study. His insights into this passage are valuable. You can view the video on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
My blog articles are informed by the scholarship of Peter Craigie’s commentary on Deuteronomy.
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