Wisdom begins with the fear of God. No God, no wisdom.If there is no God, then at least two things are missing — one is that there’s no ultimate meaning to life, life is pointless.We’re just coincidences of material matter. This is the Communist point of view. And the other is that there’s no absolute morality, there’s no moral truth. Good and Evil are just subjective — I deem this to be good, and that to be evil. Without God, there are no moral truths, there are only moral opinions. There are so many good people who know our country is floundering in a moral crisis, but they fail to recognize what the solution is. Well, the source and the solution are the same: God and the Judeo-Christian values upon which our country was founded. Every major battle comes down to God and divine authority, and the resistance to it. A lot of people do not want to be told what not to do.
In Judaism, the Jewish holiday of Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments and the Torah at Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai was chosen because it was a modest sized mountain, (perhaps also because Moses had to climb up and down 4 times and he was 80 years old). Another reason Sinai was chosen was because it was outside the Holy Land, thus allowing God to legitimately demand that these basic rules about how people should live their lives would apply not just to Jews but to all people.
Here is an amazing fact to contemplate: the Torah says there were 603,000 people upon this mountain to hear God’s words in God’s voice. The verse right before the Ten commandments is: “And God spoke the following words” — the first two of the Commandments were heard directly from God speaking to the Jewish people, not through Moses as an intermediary. The experience was so powerful that the Jews “died”, their souls actually left their bodies from the impact of hearing God’s voice, and God had to revive them. After this happened twice, the people said “enough, we are convinced — tell the rest to Moses, and he can then tell us.” There is no other religious event in the history of mankind where the presence of God was seen and heard by an entire nation.
The First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me”
This Commandment is the most important. God is in effect saying: “I took you out of slavery to be free, and this is how you will be free. You cannot have a free society if the people do not observe these Commandments. If you want to maintain your freedom, and not fall back into bondage, you must follow these rules. Until the 1960s, Americans revered the Ten Commandments. That’s why there’s a replica of them at the Supreme Court and another inside Congress The two entities — reverence for the Ten Commandments and freedom — are inextrically bound up together. But after the Supreme Court decided in 1963 that prayer and the Bible were not to be allowed any more in our schools, and judges ruled that sculptures of these Commandments had to be removed from public buildings, America has sunk into a cesspool of lawlessness, perversion, aimlessness, misery and chaos.
The Second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
False gods take you away from God and goodness and are a barrier to producing a good society. In Judaism there’s a statement that whoever denies all false gods thereby affirms the one true God. It’s amazing that there is no Commandment commanding us to believe in God, we are only commanded not to worship other gods. False gods like Baal or Zeus are not named because in every era there will be false gods — in our era two are Karl Marx and Allah. Political correctness is not a false god in and of itself — it’s the result of people having false gods. And then remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to bow down and worship a huge statue King Nebuchadnezzar had built and so were thrown into a fiery furnace made so hot that the soldiers who thew them in caught fire and died. When the king looked into the furnace, he saw 4 people — Jesus had come to protect them, and when the 3 came out of the furnace, they weren’t even singed and didn’t even smell of smoke. What terrific faith which was well rewarded. The king proclaimed the God of these three men was the only true God and everybody had to believe in Him — those who didn’t he would cut up into small pieces.
The Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
This Commandment means using the name of God for evil purposes, as Muslims use God’s name when they murder and rob and commit all kind of crimes in Allah’s name. The words “the Lord will not hold him guiltless” means he will not be forgiven. Misusing God’s name for evil purposes is the worst sin.
The Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabboth day and hallowed it”.
Taking a day of the week and de-secularizing it, trying to make that day holy, meditating about God’s goodness, relaxing with friends and family, maybe taking a nap, reading the Bible, not doing what you do the rest of the week, can be profoundly transforming for a human being. And it’s also being kind to animals who do not have to work on the Sabbath either.
The Fifth commandment: “Honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
We are told to love our neighbor, love our brother, and to love God, but we are not told to love our parents. God knows there are people who have ambivalent feelings about their parents, some parents do not deserve to be loved. God does not tell you how to feel about your parents, he only tells you how to act toward them, and that is to honor them whether you love them or not. Our behavior to a parent should make it clear that this is my parent. The way you speak to a parent should not be the same way you speak to your friends. Many parents have not been authorities, have not even been figures to honor. Too many parents have been buddies, pals. Your child isn’t your buddy, your child is your child. The mother and father are the authorities on earth, only God is higher than parents. It’s significant that the mother is included, the mother is equal in the Bible’s eyes. In fact, there is a verse that says “a man should fear his mother and father”, the mother is put first just to make it clear that the mother is equal to the father. (This is not so in Islam). If parents are not the authority, there are two other possible authorities: either the state, or no authority, anarchy. The words “that your days may be long upon the earth” is not a reward, it is a consequence of living in a society in which children honor their parents. A society that honors parenthood will have a long life. Societies will crumble if parental authority crumbles. Also tyranny erodes parental authority. The state wants to take your child from you — we will take care of your child for you— this is happening now in America.
The Sixth Commandment: “You shall not murder. ”
As in English, also in Hebrew there are two words for taking a life. The right one in the Commandment is murder. In the laws of the Israelites crimes had to be handled by compensation to the victim, but for murder the only possibility was the death of the murderer.
The Seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.”
There are good reasons why God says there should not be any sexual relations between a man and a woman before marriage, and no adultery after marriage. This protects you from venereal diseases and keeps your conscience clean. If a spouse has a lover, that means lying and deception and one’s concentration and thoughts are not on the family or the home, and eventually even a split might occur which affects the well being of the children and the wider family relatives. Anything that threatens the family unit is prohibited in the Bible. It’s hard for most mortals to put morality above a potent sex drive. Everybody wants to be loved. Jesus said even if a man thinks carnal thoughts about a woman, he has sinned. I must think of Ashley Wilkes chopping wood at Tara — Scarlet comes and seeks his help because of a $300 tax — he cannot help her, she sheds some tears, there is an embrace and then a passionate kiss — Scarlet says let’s run away to Mexico and get away from all this misery — he is tempted, but then he says “Leave the best wife a man ever had?” — he would not do it. Then there’s Anna Karenina and Vronsky — she does leave her husband for him, but it doesn’t make her happy, and she throws herself in front of a train. Often the second marriage is happier than the first. In the complicated labyrinth of human emotions, there’s no hard and fast rule of what’s best to do — King David fell in love with Bathsheba, and that also had its consequences, but God still loved him. Women adulterers used to be stoned to death, but Jesus put an end to that. However women are still stoned to death in Islam. What’s wrong is uncontrolled sex, anything goes, with no sense of responsibility or morality or consideration for other people who may be hurt and especially children. Marriage vows are oaths, and should not be taken or broken lightly.
The Eighth Commandment: “You shall not steal.”
Stealing is to a certain extent the mother of all the ethical Commandments. Because all are a form of stealing. Murder is stealing a life. Adultery is stealing a spouse. In Islam a thief gets his hand cut off. When Jean Valjean was hungry and stole a loaf of bread, he was given a terrible punishment that was not commensurate — Jesus would have said give him two loaves. Stealing huge sums from banks and corporations doesn’t seem to me to be as bad as stealing the pension from a little old lady, but bank robbers get the worst punishments of all. And then sometimes it happens that a man will steal a kiss.
The Ninth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
This does not mean so much in a court of law as just plain lying. There’s such a thing as a pathological liar, someone who just lies and lies and says he’s done all kinds of wonderful things when he hasn’t. Perhaps this is just a kind of wishful thinking. Perjury is lying under oath, and has heavy penalties. In Islam a man is allowed to lie to his wife. And Allah allows a Muslim to lie about anything if it furthers the aims of Islam. But a Christian will try not lie to anyone, and certainly not to his wife. However I read that the average person lies about 200 times a day. That includes exaggerations. I catch myself doing this all the time. It’s very difficult to consistently tell the truth, but we must try, because that’s what Jesus said sets us free.
The Tenth commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, not his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
“Do not covet” is the only one of the Commandments prohibiting thought. It does not mean “Do not envy”, it does not mean “Do not lust”, coveting means wanting to take away a specific thing or person that belongs to someone else. Sin came into the universe because of coveting. Lucifer coveted God’s high powerful position which did not belong to him. When he tried to wrest it away from God for himself, He was cast out of heaven, and Jesus saw him fall. We must be satisfied with what is meant for us, and not what is meant for another.
Well, I am just in awe at all the wisdom, advice and just plain love to be found in these Commandments. We must bring them back into our way of life and ingrain them into our thinking.
I am very much aware of all my manifest faults and serious sins and i pray every day that God will change me and improve me. But there is one sin I have never committed: I have never coveted my neighbor’s ox.
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