The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible (Story #5): Real Freedom (Exodus 20)

In this fifth of the “Greatest Stories in the Bible”,* we see God teaching Israel how to live in their newfound freedom after their deliverance from Egypt. Note that the law was given after the Israelites received their freedom, not as a condition beforehand. Obedience was not a means of becoming God’s chosen people; obedience was a response to God’s deliverance. In the same way, we cannot obey our way into eternal life and salvation, though many try.

Ken reviews the aspects of the Mosaic law (moral, civil, and ceremonial). He also offers a brief overview of the societal context in which the Israelites received the law—a world in which human sacrifice (especially of children) was common, slaves were often killed without any accountability whatsoever, women were treated as chattel and had virtually no rights, children were considered disposable resources, and revenge was commonplace. “Survival of the fittest” was writ large in the surrounding society. Understanding this context helps us to better grasp the profound influence of the Ten Commandments and Judeo-Christian principles on the world and on us: our desire, for example, for just scales and fairness in business and in relationships, and for basic civility and respect.

So God doesn’t give us a law as a condition for relationship; He’s given us the relationship, and then He tells us how to live. However, even God knew that no one would or could perfectly keep the law. The law, as Paul would later write in Galatians, was given as a schoolmaster to drive us to faith.


*This series is based on Ken’s coauthored book (with John Alan Turner), The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible. Purchase here.

Series Navigation<< The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible (Story #4): Birth of a Nation (Exodus 1–14)The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible (Story #6): Promised Land (Numbers 13–14) >>