Speaking of... Life, Hope & Truth

10 Commandments, Not Nine!

The 10 Commandments. Valued. Fought for. Revered. And at times even banned.

In early February, the House Judiciary Committee of the state of Alabama approved a proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow the 10 Commandments to be posted in buildings and schools.

“The bill, sponsored by Rep. Duwayne Bridges, R-Valley, stipulates that the commandments could be displayed unabridged or unrestrained on public property as long as it’s in compliance with constitutional requirements” (huffingtonpost.com).

It was in the same state that, back in 2001, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was expelled from office over a huge granite monument of the 10 Commandments that was placed in the state’s judicial building. Civil liberties groups brought a successful lawsuit against the display; Mr. Moore refused to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove the display, and he was subsequently forced from office.

The 10 Commandments: Ted Koppel famously reminded the 1987 graduates of Duke University that “what Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions. They are commandments. Are, not were.” He went on to remind the graduating class: “The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify, in a handful of words, acceptable human behavior. Not just for then or now but for all time.”

“The Big 10,” they’ve been called. Koppel was right; they’re not 10 suggestions, but, in fact, 10 Commandments. Yet a Gallup poll dating from several years back revealed that, at the time, 85 percent of Americans believed that the 10 Commandments were still binding, but only 15 percent could name as many as five of them. One can’t help but wonder what that percentage would be now.

Not surprising, then, that one of the Big 10 in particular is probably the most commonly ignored, if not the most widely violated. No. 4! It reads, “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. … 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 Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

This is a command of God! One that was kept by the Savior when He was here on earth, and one kept by the early New Testament Church. It sits right there in the middle of the 10, and it’s still in effect today. It commands us to cease from our normal weekly endeavors from sunset Friday till sunset on Saturday.

Some want to pull out the toothpick and pick out just this one of the 10 Commandments, suggesting it’s no longer in effect, or that it’s now replaced by some other day of the week. They are in error. They overlook the fact that only God can make a day holy, and once He declares it holy, it remains so for all human beings, His very creation.  

The apostle James tells us that all 10 of the commandments hang together, as one complete and indivisible code of law. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:10-12).

“The law of liberty.” Not bondage, but liberty. James knew his 10 Commandments and cited two of them—the seventh and the sixth—to show that they are all in effect and all to be kept today.

So what about you? Isn’t it time to apply the 10 Commandments—all 10—in your life and keep God’s Sabbath holy? God Himself requires no less.

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Ralph Levy.