Preparation for Sunday: Exodus 20 and the “Ten Words”

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I hope your week is going well. I’ve been catching up on a lot of things after being out for a week and am enjoying being back. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you this evening for our Soup and Bread group. As far as I know there won’t be any prepared food tonight, so you’re invited to bring dinner for yourselves and come eat here at the meetinghouse.

As we prepare for our gathering this coming Sunday be open to the movements of God around, take each opportunity as a chance for transformation and as an invitation into a (re)newer life in the Spirit. The text we are going to focus on this Sunday is a rather famous one out of the book of Exodus. We are going to be discussing the “Ten Commandments” or more literally the “Ten Words” as the bible calls it. I am not intending on preaching through each commandment at this time (A ten point sermon just seemed like a bit much!), though I do think a series on them would be a worthwhile venture to take up sometime. Instead, I want to focus on what the ten commandments mean for us today (if anything at all?), and what they might tell us about who this liberating YHWH is, and who the community is to become in the process of its own liberation.

Here are The Ten Words:

“Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.””
(Exodus 20:1–20 NRSV)


1. What is your own personal history with the ten commandments? Have you interacted with them much in your (spiritual) life, how so?

2. What do the ten words tell us about who YHWH is?

3. What do they tell us about the community who received these words? What assumptions do the ten words make?

4. What might they mean for us today?

I look forward to joining together with you all in worship this Sunday!