Lesson 6

God the Lawgiver

(Exodus 19 & 20, Matthew 22, Isaiah 48)
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Introduction: Our previous study was the book of Galatians, and that gave us an attitude of "law versus grace." Such an attitude will lead us astray unless we open our eyes to the bigger picture. Look around the world at the countries governed by law and compare them with countries governed by whatever the ruler decides at the moment. Countries subject to "the rule of law" are more prosperous and more free. Religious freedom, our most important freedom, only exists in those countries which operate under the rule of law. If your idea of "grace" is that you do whatever you think best at the moment, then you have badly missed the point of God's law. Let's dive into our study of the Bible to learn more about God's law.

  1. The Offer


    1. Read Exodus 19:3-6. What is God offering? (He is offering a contract. That if the people "keep my covenant" they will be special to God.)


      1. What do you think God had in mind when He said that the people would be a "kingdom of priests?" (What do priests do? They are representatives of their god. Our God offers us a special relationship if we obey Him.)


      2. Why would the people want to accept this offer? (As God pointed out to them, He was fully capable of taking care of all of the problems that they faced.)


    2. Read Exodus 19:7-8. Did the people accept God's offer?


  2. The Executive Summary


    1. Read Matthew 22:37-40. When Jesus said that the "Law and Prophets" "hang" on these two commandments, what did He mean? (They are the foundation and the essence of the law.)


      1. Notice our obligation to God. What part of us does God demand? (All.)


      2. When Jesus refers to "heart," "soul" and "mind," what do you think that He means? Are these three different things?


      3. How does the second command (love neighbor) differ in terms of devotion from the first (love God)? (We are not told to love our neighbors completely, just love them as we love our self.)


        1. How much do you love yourself?


        2. Is it okay to love yourself? (Apparently!)


    2. Do you think that Jesus is introducing a new way to look at the law? (Read Deuteronomy 10:12. Jesus is not introducing something new.)


  3. Ten Commandments - Love to God


    1. Read Exodus 19:16-19. Notice that this is much different than the way Jesus announced the foundation of the law in Matthew 22. Why did God scare the people? (He wanted to underscore the importance of the law. He also wanted (if you read the next verses) to keep the people away, so they would not try to see Him and die.)


    2. Read Exodus 20:1-2. What would God add to His resume today? (I am the Lord your God who saved you from eternal death.)


      1. Is this a stronger claim than the original?


    3. Read Exodus 20:3. What does this suggest about our Lawgiver? (That He requires our first allegiance.)


    4. Read Exodus 20:4-6. Why is this second commandment necessary given the first commandment? (This is about the dignity of God. God does not want to be reduced to a "thing" - especially, not something that He has created, or something created by one of His creations.)


      1. Am I twisting God's words? He says he is "jealous" and I suggested it was His dignity. Are the two different? (God is jealous over His position - His dignity.)


      2. What results from giving God what He is due? (Blessings! Blessings even upon our children.)


    5. How would you summarize these first two commandments? (They reflect our study last week - they show that God is holy, set apart, unique.)


    6. Read Exodus 20:7. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read this commandment? (Swearing.)


      1. What do you think is the underlying problem which God is addressing? How serious a problem is swearing to that underlying problem? (Again, it is the dignity, the glory of God, which is the underlying issue.)


      2. Would it violate this command for you to claim to be a Christian and do things that would give God a bad reputation? (This, I think, is a much more significant problem then swearing. People think little about swearing, because those who swear are generally not people who claim to be God's representatives. It is those who claim to be His representatives, and who do evil, who misuse His name.)


  4. Ten Commandments - The Transition


    1. Read Exodus 20:8-11. Is this fourth commandment about loving God or about loving our fellow humans? (It honors God for being our Creator, but all humans (including our employees) enjoy this weekly rest.)


  5. Ten Commandments - Love To Neighbor


    1. Read Exodus 20:12. Why does honoring our parents have something to do with the length of our lives? Is God telling us that He will "zap" us for dishonoring parents? (Parents generally have wisdom. If we learn from them our lives will be better and longer. Loving our parents, like loving our spouse, is a way to love ourselves.)


    2. Read Exodus 20:13-16. What is the common thread running through all of these commandments? (Read Romans 13:8-10. Love of others. When we take from others what is rightfully theirs, we show selfishness and lack of love.)


      1. What is it that Jesus did for us? (He died in our place. He gave up His life for us.)


        1. How do these commandments reflect upon what Jesus has done for us? (The essence of the gospel is to give up our self for another. The actions described in these commandments take from others for our benefit. They are the opposite of the gospel.)


    3. Read Exodus 20:17. How is this related to the four commandments that we just studied? (This is the attitude part of the previous commandments. If you avoid wanting your neighbor's stuff, if you are content with your stuff, then you won't be taking any of your neighbor's stuff.)


      1. How does love for your neighbor fit into this last commandment?


      2. Should these Biblical principles have anything to do with national tax policies?


      3. If you say yes, as the United States enters the final months of its presidential election, there is a great deal of talk about placing extra taxes on the rich. Is this a violation of the tenth commandment? Is this envy and covetousness?


  6. The Ten Commandments of Grace


    1. Read Isaiah 48:17. Is this a description of the Ten Commandments? (They are part of God's direction "in the way you should go.")


    2. Read Isaiah 48:18-19. What is the result of obeying God's law? (Peace. Righteousness. Reputation. Family. These are all things that we want. God teaches us that His law is not given to trip us up. It is not given to condemn us. God gave us His law because He loves us and knows best what kind of attitude and actions will be a blessing in our life.)


  7. Next week: Lord of the Sabbath

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