Tag Archives: Ten Commandments

Deuteronomy 8-11:

God Humbles and Disciplines His Son:
God led the Israelites through the desert for forty years to humble them, test them, and discipline them. He was preparing them to keep His Commandments.  “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him.” (Deut. 8:5-6) God warns them that it is not because of their goodness that God is giving them the land but because of the Canaanites wickedness.  “Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you..” (Deut. 9:5)  The Israelites have been “a stubborn people.”

Moses’ Intercession for his People:
“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thy heritage, whom thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness, or their sin, lest the land from which thou didst bring us say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.” For they are thy people and thy heritage, whom thou didst bring out by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm.” (Deut. 9:25-29)  Because of Moses’ mediation, God relents of His punishment and destruction He wanted to inflict on the Israelites after they worshiped the golden calf.

The Ark of the Covenant and the Two New Tablets (10 Commandments):
“At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Hew two tables of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood, and hewed two tables of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tables in my hand. And he wrote on the tables, as at the first writing, the ten commandmentswhich the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me.” (Deut. 10:1-5)

Circumcise Your Hearts:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord..” (Deut. 10:12-13)  This is basically a restating of the Shema, the Greatest Commandment.  Here Moses reveals to the Israelites the true meaning of the Law: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” (Deut. 10:16) The Law is not about mechanical and rote rituals, but about loving God from your heart.  St. Paul spoke of this in his epistle to the Romans: “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.” (Rom. 2:29) Thus, Baptism and the spiritual “circumcision of the heart” replaces physical circumcision of the foreskin as the entrance-ritual to the New Covenant.

Outstretched Arms:
One of the consistent and persistent themes, or images, in the Exodus is God and Moses leading the Israelites out of danger with wonders, miracles and signs with “outstretched arm.”  This gives an allusion and foreshadowing to Jesus’ outstretched arms on the Cross. In Jesus’ Cross, His outstretched arms, we conquer sin and death.  “..His greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, his signs and his deeds which he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land..” (Deut. 11:2)

A Blessing or a Curse:
This is the choice set before the Israelites and Israel throughout the Exodus and the Old Testament. It is their choice, the same as us, to choose the blessing or the curse.  ““Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deut. 11:26-28)

Deuteronomy 4-5:

Obedience Tied to the Land:
“And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, gives you.” (Deut. 4:1)  Taking and possessing the land is tied to obedience to the Lord.  God further tells Moses: “Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Ba′al-pe′or; for the Lord your God destroyed from among you all the men who followed the Ba′al of Pe′or; but you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive this day.” (Deut. 4:3-4)  Moses reminds the Israelites how they received the Commandments at Mt. Sinai: “And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.” (Deut. 4:11-12)  God warns them against worshiping false idols of stone or worshiping the stars and planets. Yahweh is not any created thing.  He is outside of the physical universe, not limited by the things on earth or in the universe, but is the source of all created things.  The pagan religions all around the Israelites worship these things, stone idols, stars, and planets.  But, not so with the Israelites, although the wilderness years shows how they struggled with this.  Moses laments this and partially blames them, the Israelites, for his not being allowed into the Promised Land: “Furthermore the Lord was angry with me on your account..” (Deut. 4:21)

The Might of God and an Impassioned Plea for Fidelity:
“Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” (Deut. 4:34-35)  And, “by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as at this day; know therefore this day, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” (Deut. 4:37-39) Moses reiterates then keep His statutes and commandments. What follows is one of the most passionate defenses of singular fidelity to God alone in the whole Old Testament.  In fact, in Jesus’ temptations (Mt. 4:4, 7, 10) in the desert wilderness, He will rebuke Satan by quoting three times from this section of Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:13, 16, 8:3).

The Ten Commandments, and Walking Right with God:
Here, in chapter five of Deuteronomy, Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments.  Moses then lists the Ten Commandments again.  Afterwards, he said, “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them upon two tables of stone, and gave them to me.” (Deut. 5:22)  The Lord then addressed Moses alone because the people were afraid to hear the voice of God, lest they die.  So, the Lord instructed the Israelites: “You shall be careful to do therefore as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land which you shall possess.” (Deut. 5:32-33) The same is true for us today. We must not turn to the left or to the right, but follow the Lord in all His precepts, His Ten Commandments, and likewise approaching Confession, the Eucharist and the sacraments to abide continually with the Lord. We, like the Israelites, must maintain that relationship with the Lord through our actions.

Numbers 15-17:

More Laws: Inadvertent sin and Mortal Sins:
In consequence of the Israelite’s testing the Lord, they are given more laws and requirements.  These are given here for the consequences of inadvertent sin and gravely defiant sins.  For the inadvertent sin they are to offer a “sin offering” through the priest to make atonement for their sin.   On the other hand, if “anyone who sins defiantly, whether he be a native or an alien, insults the Lord, and shall be cut off from among his people.”  That is, if the person knowingly, and defiantly, breaks one of the Ten Commandments, “he must be cut off.”  (Num. 15:31) The punishment for breaking the Ten Commandments is either banishment from the Israelites community, or death. There is no sacrificial atonement system or forgiveness for these offenses.  Breaking the Ten Commandments is, in effect, a mortal sin.  It results in the person’s physical death.  Today, in our Christian understanding, a mortal sin similarly results in our spiritual death.  When we commit a mortal sin we are cut off spiritually from the Lord.  Yet, we have it so much better than the Israelites did.  When they committed a mortal sin, there was no forgiveness, no atonement, no restitution. They were simply “cut off” or killed.  For us Christians, in the New Dispensation, under the Gospel of the New Covenant, God treats us very mercifully.  There are no sins, even mortal sins, which we cannot be forgiven.  If we turn with a contrite heart and ask forgiveness from God, particularly in the Sacrament of Confession, then God will forgive us our sins.

Death Penalty for the Sabbath Breaker, and Sunday Mass:
As an illustration of the willful breaking of the Ten Commandments and the subsequent punishment, we read the story of the Sabbath breaker.  A man was caught outside the camp gathering wood on the Sabbath, so they brought him to Moses.  The Lord instructs Moses to take him outside the camp and “stone him to death.” Breaking the Sabbath is a mortal sin, which results in his physical death.  Consider this when we, as Christians, Catholics, fail to go to Church on Sunday and participate in the new Sabbath of Christ’s Mass.  Our failure to observe the Sunday Sabbath is a mortal sin that results in our spiritual death.  This is why going to Sunday Mass each week is obligatory, and not optional.  It is one of the Ten Commandments: keep the Sabbath holy. Jesus changed the Sabbath from Saturday in the Old Covenant to Sunday in the New Covenant (for, as He said, He is the Lord of the Sabbath).  As the Israelites broke the old Sabbath resulted in physical death, so too, when we break the new Sabbath it results in our spiritual death. Going to Mass is serious business!

Tassels on their Garments:
The Lord instructs Moses that they should put “tassels on the corners of their garments” so that “the sight of them remind you to keep all the Commandments of the Lord..” (Num. 15:39)  The tassels are to be a visual reminder to keep the Commandments and not break any of them.

The Religious Rebellion of Korah:
Korah was a son of Levi, or in other words, he was a Levite priest.  Korah “took two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders in the community, members of the council and men of note.”  They stood before Moses and Aaron and said, “Enough from you!  The whole community, all of them, are holy; the Lord is in their midst.  Why then should you set yourselves over the Lord’s congregation?” (Num. 16:3)  Korah the Levi priest was leading a religious rebellion.  This rebellion is roughly akin to Martin Luther’s Protestant rebellion that there is no ministerial priesthood but all are part of the “priesthood of all believers.”  In order to carry out his plans, Korah attracts the political support of Dathan and Abiram, leaders in the tribe of Reuben.  He seeks political support for his religious rebellion.

The Lord’s Punishment of Korah, and Dathan and Abiram:
The Lord tells the Israelite company to withdraw from the space near “these wicked men” Korah and Dathan and Abiram.  As Moses is speaking against them, “No sooner had he finished saying all this than the ground beneath them split open, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their families and all of Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive to the nether world with all belonging to them; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the community.” (Num. 16:31-33)  Similarly, “fire from the Lord came forth which consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.” (Num. 16:35)

Further Punishment of the Israelite Community:
Amazingly, many in the Israelite community were not impressed with Moses and the Lord’s supernatural punishment of Korah and his band.  So, the next day, they “grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying ‘It is you who have slain the Lord’s people.'” (Num. 17:6)  The Glory Cloud suddenly appeared over the Meeting Tent, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Depart from this community, that I may consume them at once.”  As the wrath of God went out upon the Israelites, Moses tells Aaron to run in amidst the community with incense offering atonement.  Aaron the High Priest then stood “between the living and the dead” making atonement.  Aaron’s High Priestly intercession for the people stopped the scourge, yet 14,700 people died in the divine chastisement!

Aaron’s Staff Sprouts and Blossoms:
Then, to quell any further religious rebellion, the Lord tells the Israelites to take one staff from each of the ancestral houses and their tribal princes and bring them to the Meeting Tent.  The staff that sprouts shall be the Lord’s choice to lead them.  “The next day, when Moses entered the Tent, Aaron’s staff, representing the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth not only shoots, but blossoms as well, and even bore ripe almonds!” (Num. 17:23)  This miraculous sign is to show that the priesthood is restricted to the Levi clan alone.

Exodus 34:

Renewal of the Tablets:
Moses intercedes yet again for the Israelites: “This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.” (Ex. 34:9) The Lord promises to work “awe-inspiring deeds” if Israel would but keep His commandments. “I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Take care, therefore, not to make a covenant with these inhabitants of the land that you are to enter; else they will become a snare among you. Tear down their altars; smash their sacred pillars, and cut down their sacred poles. You shall not worship any other god, for the Lord is ‘the Jealous One; a jealous God is He.” (Ex. 34:11-14) God again commands the Israelites to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and to keep the Sabbath. He tells them to keep the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).

Moses Face is Radiant:
Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai for forty days and forty nights, “without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” (Ex. 24:28) Moses skin and face had become radiant while he conversed with God. When Aaron and the other Israelites saw how radiant his face had become, “they were afraid to come near him.” Then, Moses veiled his face. “When he finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.” (Ex. 34:33) Only when Moses spoke with the Lord did he unveil his face. St. Paul hints that the veil remained over Moses face because they would later not recognized Christ: ” But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:14)

Exodus 32-33:

The Golden Calf Incident:
Moses was delayed on the mountain. Jesus delayed in His 2nd Coming? So, the people gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us a god who will be our leader.” Getting the Egyptian idolatry out of the Israelites after 400 years in the pagan culture would take more time and effort, for the Israelites quickly revert to worshiping a calf deity. Aaron fashions a golden calf for them. Then, they cried out “This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Aaron built an altar for the calf saying “tomorrow is a feast of the Lord.” The people then offered holocausts and brought peace offerings. In mockery and antithetical imitation of the Theophany of the Covenant, “Then they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.” (Ex. 32:6) In ratifying the Covenant “they ate and drank and beheld God,” but now, in this demonic mockery, they ate and drank and “rose up to revel.” Rose up to revel is probably a Semitic euphemism for sexual immorality and pagan ritualistic orgies. God immediately informs Moses to go down to the people “for they have become depraved.” Is this how the current culture is descending into depravity before the return of the Lord? God then wished to let His wrath blaze up and consume them. However, Moses acting as intercessor and mediator for his people saying “Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people.” (Ex. 32:12) Moses is the prefigurement of Jesus as Mediator of the Covenant and intercessor for his people before the Father, just as Jesus, the One true Mediator, would assume that role. “So the Lord relented in the punishment He had threatened to inflict on His people.” God heeded the intercession of Moses. When Moses and Joshua came down the mountain, they heard “cries of revelry.” As they drew near to the camp, they saw “the calf and the dancing.” With that, Moses angered flared up and he threw down the 10 Commandments, breaking them. Moses then threw the calf in the fire and ground it down to powder. He then scattered the powder into the water and “made the Israelites drink.” Moses then instructed the Levites to kill the idolaters. “Now go up and down the camp, from gate to gate, and slay your kinsmen, your friends and neighbors! The Levites carried out the command of Moses, and that day there fell about three thousand of the people.” (Ex. 32:27-28) Here, on Mt. Sinai, 3,000 people fell in the Old Covenant, but then, at Pentecost of the New Covenant, Acts says 3,000 were saved on the first day. 3,000 died under the Law, but then, 3,000 saved by grace and faith and the Spirit in the New. Moses told them you have committed a “grave sin.” “Perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.” Moses continues his role as Mediator and priest to make atonement for the people. Moses asks the Lord “If you would only forgive their sin!” The Lord answers “Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of My book,” that is, the Book of life where God writes down the names of those saved.

The Lord Distances Himself from the Israelites but Remains Close to Moses:
The Lord then informs Moses that He Himself will no longer be accompanying the Israelites directly, as “You are a stiff-necked people. Were I to go up in your company even for a moment, I would exterminate you.” (Ex. 33:5) The glory of God would destroy the sinfulness of the people along with the people themselves. “When the people heard this bad news, they went into mourning..” Instead, the Lord will “send an angel before you to the land flowing with milk and honey.” Moses used to pitch the “meeting tent” some distance away “outside of camp.” As Moses would go in the tent, “the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the Lord spoke to Moses.” (Ex. 33:9) The Lord and Moses spoke “face to face.”

The Lord shows Moses the glory of His back:
Moses requests to see the Lord’s glory, but God tells Moses “My face you cannot see, for no man sees Me and still lives.” But, there is a place in the hollow of the rock that Moses can stand, where as the glory of God passes by, “I will cover you with My hand.” After God passes by, “I will remove My hand, so that you may see My back; but My face is not to be seen.” (Ex. 33:23) Approximately 1,500 years later, God would indeed show His glorified face to Moses. At Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountain, Jesus speaks directly with Moses and Elijah: “And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli′jah, talking with Him.” (Mt. 17:2-3) Moses finally sees the face of God in Jesus Christ, and he appears finally in the Promised Land.

Exodus 20:

The Ten Commandments (“The Decalogue,” or deca logos – “the ten words”):
Yahweh makes sure everyone knows that the Ten Commandments do not come from Moses or any human.  He says: “And God spoke all these words, saying,

(1) “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 a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in 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 or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous (“impassioned” is a better translation). God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousandsof those who love me and keep my commandments.”

(2) “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.”

(3) Remember the Sabbath day, to 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. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

(4) “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

(5) “You shall not murder.”

(6) “You shall not commit adultery.”

(7) “You shall not steal.”

(8)  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

(9)  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” [you shall not cover your neighbor’s wife]

(10) “or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” [you shall not cover your neighbor’s goods]

The Ten Commandments are summed up with the words of Jesus, who quoted the Shema from Deuteronomy: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk. 12:29-31)  The first three Commandments are for worshiping God, and the next seven Commandments are respecting your neighbor.  The Israelites greatly feared Yahweh as they witnessed Him in the “thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the mountain smoking,” and “so they took up a position much farther away.” (Ex. 20:18) Moses answers the people saying, “God has come to you only to test you and put His fear upon you, lest you should sin.”

Moses as Mediator:
The awestruck Israelites beg Moses to speak and mediate for them before Yahweh.  Following the theophany and the Ten Commandments, Moses is instructed in the “Covenant Code” of how to judge all matters related to Israel.  The Ten Commandments offer a general guideline for Israel to follow and established Moses as Yahweh’s regent and arbiter before the people.  Yahweh instructs Moses to make an altar of un-cut stones upon which “you shall sacrifice your holocausts and peace offerings, your sheep and oxen.” (Ex. 20:24)

De-Sexualizing Religion:
Yahweh also tells Moses that when he makes the altar “And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’” (Ex. 20:26)  In the ancient pagan religious cults, sacrifices to the “gods” were often times accompanied by sexual orgies and prostitution. Yahweh here is reiterating in no uncertain terms the de-sexualization of religion.

The Uniqueness of the Ten Commandments:
They are the only example of a covenantal relationship between a deity and an entire people.  The Commandments focus not only on the people’s relationship with their ruler, but morality is also intimately defined by their relationship toward their individual neighbor.  One cannot be moral and holy while treating their neighbor sinfully, thus raising the interpersonal and social moral obligations of each individual.  They are very simple rules and statements.  Not ambiguous or subjective.  They are simple, and absolute.  Yahweh gave the Commandments outside of Israel so as to be binding to all peoples, not just Israel or any one tribe.  They are binding for all peoples in all places and all times.  The Commandments are not relative, but absolute.  Each Commandment is directed to each person individually, addressing each person in Hebrew in the singular to emphasize the personal nature of the obligations.  Yahweh identifies Himself as the liberator of slaves.  And, what God demands in exchange for leading the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt is simply moral behavior.  The proper treatment of their fellow human beings is a foremost on God’s mind.  We are to love God first, but also to love God through loving our neighbor.

Other Insights into the Commandments:
(1) There are many false idols in today’s world.  It is not just a relic from ancient history when people bowed down to carved statues and other “gods.”  People obviously make idols out of many things today which they bow down to worship in effect, such as: money, sex, materialism, status in society, etc.

(2) Yahweh declares if anyone takes His name in vain that He will not them “hold guiltless” (Hebrew word y’nakeh), or in effect, if they sully God’s name then God will not cleanse their name.  One can think of Jesus’ statement about future persecution saying: “the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2) Not only are they breaking the fifth commandment to not murder, but they are also taking the name of the Lord God in vain, and in the most perverse way imaginable, by murdering another person in the name of God.  One thinks of the murderous Islamic jihadis killing people in service to Allah while yelling Allahu akbar (“God is great”).

(3) Keeping the Sabbath “holy” is to keep it “separate” or “distinct” (Hebrew kadosh).  The Sabbath is to be set aside and separated from the rest of the work-week.  It is not only work that matters.  God matters too.  We are to honor God in our rest, just as He rested after the six days of creation.  A day of rest, a sacred time, is also when generally speaking family and friends come together.  The Sabbath highlights that man is made for more than just work, but for leisure. Leisure in a philosophical sense of resting one’s body and spirit, enjoying the world.  We partake in leisure of the Sabbath also by worshiping God (we go to Church!) and honoring the family.  The family is the domestic church, which produces and nourishes souls for eternal communion with their Creator.  The family also is Trinitarian in nature.  The love of the husband and wife produces a child, just as out of the love of the Father and the Son comes the Holy Spirit.  The parents are co-creators with God the Creator.  The Sabbath is like a weekly retreat from our lives to reflect on all that we have done.  The Sabbath, or going to church on Sunday, is like a weekly public announcement to the world that God created the world and we are going to honor Him.

(4) The father and mother are co-creators with God.  We honor parents because they gave us life.  Parents then form the building blocks of civilization through having children and establishing families.  Totalitarian regimes and ideologies often times try to tear down the family, so as to assert state or political control over individuals, such as what happened in communist Russia and China.  The building up of families bolsters society and civilization, while the tearing apart of families destroys society and civilization.  How many woes today in society, such as drugs and crime, are brought about by the dissolution of the family?

(5) The Fifth Commandment does not say do not kill, but do not “murder” (Hebrew word for murder is ratzach).  Do not murder innocent people.

(6) Obviously adultery is contradictory to the good of spousal and family life. It threatens the fabric of society and civilization.  It is an offense against the spouse, the family and community at large, and God.  Jesus often spoke of His relationship with the Church as a husband and wife marriage.  Yahweh in the Old Testament also speaks in spousal language between Israel and Himself bound in a Covenantal marriage.  To cheat on ones’ spouse is to mock the sacramental character of the marriage.  It makes a mockery of the sacred union between God and the Church, which marriage is an image of.  Husband and wife mirror Jesus and the Church.  To break the sacramental vow is to sin against the image of Jesus and His Bride.  Yahweh often times chastised the Jews as an unfaithful spouse when they slipped back into idolatry to worship other “gods.”

(7) In His prohibition against stealing, God is affirming the other Commandments.  Do not steal another person’s life, that’s murder.  Do not steal another person’s wife, that’s adultery.  Do not steal another person’s justice or reputation, that’s bearing false witness.  Do not steal another person’s belongings, that’s coveting.  Stealing human beings, such as in human trafficking, kidnapping, and slavery, is forbidden.  In the prohibition about stealing, and coveting your neighbor’s goods, Yahweh is declaring then that ownership and private property are good things. Private ownership is a good thing for people and society.  Tyrannical regimes (such as the Communists and Socialists have done) often times begin oppressing the people by stealing their land and private property. This is an offense against not stealing.

(8) Do not bear false witness means essentially do not lie.  Lying is strictly prohibited.  Jesus very harshly condemned lying saying it is in imitation of the Devil, for “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)  Many of the great scandals and evils in history have been built upon lies, such as African slavery, Communism, Nazism, anti-Semitism, etc..

(9 & 10) Not coveting your neighbor’s spouse or your neighbor’s goods is prohibited because it leads to more sins, and worse sins, of murder, adultery, theft, lying, etc..  Lust in the heart, if not held in check, can lead to sinful actions.  Jesus knew this, and so, He further warned against even looking lustfully at a woman, “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:28)  The Nine and Tenth Commandments are unique in that they legislate thought, not actions. Jesus reaffirmed this regulation of thought and heart.  We must keep our minds and hearts in check to not covet and to not lust.

The Ten Grumblings of the Israelites in the Wilderness, The Ten Commandments (“Statements”), Ten Utterances at Creation, and The Ten Plagues:
The pattern of ten goes throughout the Exodus. There were ten plagues on the Egyptians, ten grumblings or murmurings in the wilderness by the Israelites, and Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.  These match the ten utterances of God in Genesis on the creation of the universe and the world. This bears witness that Exodus is in fact a type of second creation (or, third creation after Noah and the flood).

The Holy Name of God – September 18, 2016

According to Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the recently passed Chief Exorcist of Rome, who has performed seventy thousand exorcisms, demons generally do not and cannot say holy names. Instead, they call Jesus “he” or “your Boss.” If our most abhorrent spiritual enemies shudder at the idea of speaking the holy name of God, why then do we say it with such carelessness and recklessness? It seems everywhere these days people take the name of God in vain. It should stop us in our tracks whenever we hear it. It is after all the Second Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,” (Ex. 20:7) included among the other Ten Commandments like “you shall not kill,” “you shall not commit adultery,” and “you shall not steal.” Taking the Lord’s name in vain, if done with full knowledge and consent, is blasphemy. That makes it a mortal sin, which could send a soul to hell. This echoes the warning from Jesus, “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt. 12:36-37) We should be very careful to heed the Second Commandment and treat the holy name of God with the utmost reverence and respect.

In Hebrew tradition, names are not merely labels but are linked inseparably to the identity of the person. When Jesus chose Simon to be the foundation of His church, He gave him a new name, Peter, from the word for “rock.” In this Jewish understanding, names reveal the identity and essence of a person. The catechism builds upon this saying, “Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person.” (CCC 2157) Yet, God had not revealed His name, even to the Patriarchs of Israel: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was not until Moses comes to the burning bush on Mount Horeb that God reveals His name to His people. After God gives His mission to Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses says if they ask me, “‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” (Ex. 3:13-14) God reveals the divine name, Yahweh, to Moses and Israel, and establishes a personal relationship with them as their God. God’s name “I Am” reveals that He is existence and being itself. Later, after Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, he again comes before God on the top of a mountain. Yahweh is wrapped in smoke and fire, and lightning and trumpet blasts, as Mount Sinai quakes and trembles at His presence. It was here, in that terrifying scene, that Moses receives the Ten Commandments, and the voice of Yahweh speaks in thunder, commanding humanity not take His name in vain, for “the Lord will not hold him guiltless.” (Ex. 20:7) To this day, religious Jews will not speak the name of God, but instead refer to Him as Adonai (Lord), or simply “Ha Shem” (the Name).

The revealing of God’s name to man is a sign of trust and intimacy. (CCC 2143) It is part of His sacred mystery in revealing Himself to us. It is not a surprise then that Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would give birth to the Messiah, and His name would be Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” (Is. 7:14) In fulfillment of this, when the Virgin Mary was pregnant, an angel revealed to Joseph in a dream that they should name the child Jesus, “for he will save His people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:21) Jesus Himself claimed equality with the name of Yahweh. He tells the Pharisees who are questioning Him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.” (Jn. 8:58) Jesus claims He is one with God, the I Am. As such, the name of Jesus is synonymous with the name of God. Jesus is God. It is because of this that St. Paul writes “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Phil. 2:10) For, the very name of Jesus is imbued with power. All who call upon the name of Jesus Christ will be saved. (Acts 4:12) In the “Our Father” prayer, Jesus teaches us how to pray and the importance of God’s name. He starts it with “hallowed be Thy name.” We should hold the name of God in reverence, adoration, and praise. Jesus similarly warns us not to take any oath by the name of God lest we be judged for failing to meet the promise. (Mt. 5:34)

The name of Jesus Christ is powerful and efficacious enough to bring grace in Baptism and cast out demons in those who are possessed. In Jesus’ final instruction to His disciples He commands them to baptize all people in the “name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:19) The name of God is associated with the sacrament of initiation into the Church. It is in the rite of Baptism too that a minor rite of exorcism is performed. Jesus tells His disciples “in My name they will cast out demons.” (Mk. 16:17) Jesus Himself performed many exorcisms casting out demons by His own authority, leaving many in amazement at the power of His word. (Lk. 4:36) Jesus’ disciples similarly cast of demons through the power of Jesus’ name, as St. Paul did. (Acts 16:18) The power of Jesus’ name is not something relegated just to the pages of the Bible either. As modern day exorcists attest, they are able to command the demonic spirits in the midst of exorcisms by invoking the authority and power of the name of Jesus Christ. As exorcist Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea explains, “Rather than asking the demon anything, the priest orders or commands him in the name of Jesus.” With this authority, the demon, under the guise of the possessed person, is forced to submit to the name of Jesus. This confirms the disciples’ joyful exclamation “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” (Lk. 10:17)

The name of God and Jesus Christ are holy and powerful, and we should take great care not to utter them carelessly or profanely. The name of God is the means of our sanctification, consecration, and salvation. It should be spoken in prayer, worship and praise, not in idle or empty talk, and most certainly not as a curse word! Even as found on social media in everyday expressions, like OMG, this similarly expresses a lack of respect towards the holy name of God. It is interesting that that phrase is almost like a mocking of the first words of the Act of Contrition that we say in Confession, “O My God… I am heartily sorry for having offended You.” I find it deeply offensive, on behalf of how I am sure God feels, when I hear someone say the name of God in vain or curse using His name. I prefer to say a small prayer in reparation for this offense against God and for the person who said it, something like “Sit nomen Domini benedictum,” or “blessed be the name of the Lord.” Rather than using the Lord’s name in vain, we should consecrate all of our words and deeds in the name of Jesus. (Col. 3:17) He is our hope, for “every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) We know too that Jesus calls each of us, His sheep, by name (Jn. 10:3) If we follow Him, God will inscribe His name on our foreheads, sealing us as His for all eternity. (Rev. 14:1) This is His promise of eternal life and our hope for Heaven. Blessed be the name of the Lord!