365 Key Chapters of the Bible: Exodus 20

This entry is part 81 of 87 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

God’s laws do not call us to mere external actions. Instead, they go deeper, commanding us to reorder our internal attitudes before the holy splendor of our God.

Indeed, God’s glory is the first thing we see in Exodus 20, which tells of the first giving of the famous Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. God appears with thunder and flashes of lightning in His majesty.

When we think of law, we rarely think of it in such a way. But these laws reflect the nature and character of God Himself. As a result, they call us to a standard of holiness more beautiful and more impossible than we usually imagine.

This standard of holiness can be understood in terms of our vertical and our horizontal relationships.

The vertical axis refers to our relationship with God. This is the primary one, and out of this relationship flows our responses to other people.

The horizontal axis refers to our relationships with other people. We may at first treat this as a check-list: I haven’t murdered, haven’t committed adultery, so I must be a good person. But when we see this in the context of our vertical relationship with God in all of His awe-inspiring majesty, we realize that we fall far short of the perfection God requires.

Jesus picks up on this in the Sermon on the Mount. It is not enough merely to adhere to the external standard; our heart is also in view.

No person in all of history has ever fulfilled the law perfectly—except one. Our Lord and Savior fulfilled the commandments perfectly for us so that He could stand in our place. It is because of Him that we can stand before a holy God.

Watch part 81 of the 365 Key Chapters of the Bible series, based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture. 

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