Always More Than Meets The Eye!
"The Ten Commandments again!!!! Boring!"
"Boring? No way! There's absolutely nothing boring about God."
Let's look at the amazing Ten Commandments.
God has a feel for the dramatic! First of all, just look at how God decided to give us the Ten Commandments. His choice of person was a Jewish kid who had been thrown into a river in a basket, picked up by an Egyptian princess, raised in a palace apart from his people, the Israelites, who by then were little more than slaves in Egypt. This kid, now a bit older, finds out that he is really one of those Jewish slaves, gets mad at an Egyptian who was beating a Jew, murders him and runs away into the desert to save his skin.
Many years later in the desert he is running after sheep when he sees a bush burning. He goes closer to investigate. As he peeps in God speaks out of the bush and gives him the fright of his life. "Moses, remove your sandals for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Ex 3:5)
Then God tells him that he has to go back to the place he has run away from, convince the Jewish people that he is one of them, and then convince them that God has spoken to him. You try telling a bunch of strangers that you heard God speaking from a bush on fire that by the way wasn't really burning and see what happens! They will either laugh at you or worse think that you are totally crazy.
One more thing, he has to go and speak to the fellow who really wants him in jail for murder, the pharaoh. More still, he can't speak clearly because he stutters! Poor Moses must have thought that God was playing a joke on him. But God wasn't.
Then the story goes on for quite some time, but you really should go and read it. You will find it in an amazing adventure, mystery and action series book, called Exodus in the Bible. Like I said, there is NOTHING BORING about God.
We pick up the story some years later when Moses has grown a really long beard and has managed to get the Israelites out of Egypt with lots of help from God. He and all the Israelites are now walking across the desert. One day God takes Moses up a smoky fiery mountain and when next the people see him he is coming down clutching the Ten Commandments!
Now you must realise that God could just as easily have written these Ten Commandments down on a piece of paper and left it neatly on the tummy of a sleeping prophet who hears in his sleep that he needs to tell everyone about them. Even that is not too boring but is it a lot simpler than the way God chose to do it. But our God is truly amazing!
So let's look at these Ten Commandments that God went to so much trouble to give to us. What are they? Quite simply, they are signs on the road of life that God has given us out of love to warn in advance which way to go when the road forks. These forks are places where we need to decide how we will act. If we know the Commandments, we will be prepared and know which way to go. When we ignore them, we often end up in a 'dead end' and have to go to a lot of trouble to double back, sometimes quite a long way before we can find our road again. That is if we are lucky, sometimes that 'dead end' means exactly what it says and we have no chance of going back!
Now remember that the people Moses was leading really did a lot of wandering about, 40 years in fact, mostly because they didn't listen to God. They delayed their arrival time in the Promised Land by quite a bit. We sometimes think that that was then, when men wore long dresses and grew even longer beards and wandered from one place to the next. Let me tell you that we also do a lot of wandering off the road that God chooses for us! Remember Pier-Giorgio Frassati in "You've Got Mail No. 4"? He found his road and stuck to it by making friends with God from an early age. He stuck to the signs that God gave him. Let's look at these signs that God has given us out of His great love for us.
The first three Commandments are all about our love for God. The remaining 7 are about our love for our neighbour. Remember Jesus said: "As I have loved you, so you should also love one another" (Jn 13:34).
In Sign #1 God says "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me." When Moses asks God His name God says to Moses "I am who I am". Sounds quite confusing but it really isn't. "I am" is really powerful because it means that God is now and for all time. God wasn't created, He is the Creator. He is the Creator of everything so He is greater than anything he created. He wants us to love Him more than anything else He has created because that is how He loves us.
In fact His love for us is so much bigger than all the love we can manage that we must do like St. Thérèse of Lisieux tells us to do - love God is all little things and in all small ways. When we put all those little bits of love together, it makes up quite a lot of love for us to give to God.
If we make the things that God created more important than our relationship with God we are making those things into little gods in our life. God warns us against these gods because He knows they have nothing to give us. These phoney gods make us unhappy because they turn our lives upside down.
Sign #2 says: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain". We must use the name of God with great love and respect, with full wonder for who God is and for the love that makes us His children. Jesus taught us to call God "Our Father" and this shows us how close God is to us.
You know how frustrating it is when someone plays a joke on you and calls your name. When you answer they say "Oh, nothing!" and they keep doing it. That is a bit like what we do to God when we call on His name. He expects us to speak to Him and because He loves us, He wants us to talk to Him. But what we say is "wrong number". Now try playing that trick on your own father and see how long you survive. Soon enough you will find yourself in big trouble.
Sign #3 is the last one that has directly to do with our relationship with God. It says "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day". God knows everything so He knows that we can get very busy doing many things and then we forget completely to speak to Him and to wonder about all that He has created and all that He has given us. We also forget to thank Him. When we run around in circles we get knotted in the things of the world, in our problems and worries and our feet start digging a whole. Before we know it, we are up to our neck in it and can't get out.
"No, the Lord has told us what is good: What he requires from us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God" (Micah 6: 6-8)
More about the amazing Love Commandments next time.
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