The Ten (10 Commandments Bible Study)

The Ten: Lesson 4


Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Exodus 20:4-6

“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 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 thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 32:1-10

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

1 John 5:20-21

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. One of the themes of Exodus we’ve discovered in this study is that God is setting His people apart from the surrounding pagan nations and establishing Israel as a nation. How does the second Commandment (Exodus 20:4-6) relate to that theme? Think about what and how pagan nations worshiped. How does the second Commandment set God’s people uniquely apart from pagans and set the worship of God apart from the worship of false gods? How does worshiping God without any sort of visual aid or representation point us to God’s vastness, uniqueness, “other-ness,” and power in comparison with idols?

2. What does it mean that God is a jealous God in the context of the second Commandment (idol worship)? (Exodus 20:5a) Think about God’s nature and character as well as His patience, kindness, and benevolence toward His people both in the Old Testament and today. Doesn’t God have a right to be jealous for His people? What are the consequences of breaking or keeping the second Commandment? (Exodus 20:5b-6)

3. Some Christians believe that the second Commandment prohibits making any representation of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit regardless of whether or not that representation is worshiped. They believe, for example, that nativity scenes and plays in which the baby Jesus is depicted, pictures of Jesus in children’s Bibles, pictures of Jesus used for teaching the Bible to non-readers or lost people on the mission field, are a violation of the second Commandment even though these representations of Jesus are not being worshiped. Do you think the context of Exodus 20:4-6 supports this belief? Why or why not? Can you think of any other Scriptures that support or refute this belief?

4. Examine the Exodus 32 passage. How did the people break the second Commandment? Why did the people want Aaron to make an idol for them? (1) When we find ourselves in idolatry – worshiping, loving, or being devoted to something or someone above God – what is the motive of our hearts? Where did the people get the gold jewelry (2-4) that Aaron used to make the calf? What was God’s initial response to this incident? (10) Can you see how it stirs God to anger when we take things that He has created and blessed us with and worship those things rather than the One who gave them to us?

5. In the Exodus 32 passage, what act of God did the people attribute to the golden calf? (4,8) How does it break the second Commandment to call something “God” that is not the God revealed in Scripture? To attribute an action or characteristic of God to something that is not God? How does the 1 John passage and the idea of the “true God” and “him who is true” contrast with the Israelites’ worship of the golden calf as God?

6. Today, in Western culture, we don’t usually carve idols out of wood or stone and bow down to them. But what about creating idols with our hearts and minds instead of our hands? Have you ever “created God in your own image” – a God who fits your opinions, preferences, feelings, or unbiblical beliefs – and worshiped or trusted that god instead of the true God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit of Scripture? How is that similar to the Israelites’ fashioning a golden calf and essentially calling it God? What does the 1 Corinthians passage say about Christians who practice this or any other form of idolatry and how the church is to deal with them?


Listen closely this week to the sermon at church, your Sunday School or Bible study class lesson, any Christian books, magazines, blogs, or social media posts you read, and any Christian music you listen to. Is the God depicted in these venues consistent with the way God reveals Himself in Scripture? Do you find any of these sermons, articles, songs, etc., to be breaking the second Commandment by presenting a false view of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Joshua 24

josh 24 15Joshua 24

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.

“‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13 I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

19 But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” 21 And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” 28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.

29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being 110 years old. 30 And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.

31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.

32 As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.

33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Verse 1 lists the groups of people God was speaking to in this chapter. Who are they? What place do they occupy in Israelite society?

2. In the Old Testament, we often see passages in which God (or one of His prophets) is reciting Israel’s history. Why, in general, would God do this, and why, in particular does He recite Israel’s history in this chapter? (14, 28)

3. In verses 14-18, what ultimatum does Joshua put to the people, and what is their response?

4. Why, after telling the people to choose between serving God and serving foreign gods, did Joshua tell them they would not be able to serve God? What did he mean when he said God would not forgive them? (19-20)

5. What was the purpose of the stone Joshua set up? (26-27) Which ordinances of the church today can serve a similar function for Christians?

Idolatry, Old Testament, Sunday School

For the Love of God, Flee Idolatry ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 3-16-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 11 ~ Mar. 9-15
Numbers 33- Deuteronomy 13
For the Love of God, Flee Idolatry

What is idolatry? What did idolatry mean in OT times, and what does it mean now? Does an idol have to be tangible? Do we have to physically bow down to an object or do outward acts of worship to it for it to be an idol? Can our wishes, opinions, behaviors, or even other people be idols?

Old Testament Idolatry (Deuteronomy 4:15-19, Genesis 31:19ff, 1 Samuel 5:1-5, Daniel 3:1ff)
In the OT (NT, too), the word “idolatry” would have brought to mind the ideas outlined in 4:15-19: the worship of a carved figure in the likeness of a created being, or the worship of the heavenly bodies. Many idols/gods are mentioned in the OT, including Baal, Ashera, Molech, and Dagon, among others. Some of them were figures small enough to be kept in the home (Gen. 31). Some were larger statues in their own temples (1 Sam. 5). Some were enormous outdoor statues (Dan. 3). People physically bowed down to them, prayed to them, brought them sacrifices, served them, and did other things to try to appease them, get what they wanted out of them, and steer clear of their anger. Idolatry was simply to worship, serve, and love a created thing instead of, or more than, God.

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” (Deuteronomy 32:16-17, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, Isaiah 44:14-17)
Was there really a pantheon of gods out there, independent of God, but with similar powers? No. 1 Cor. clearly declares that this cadre of gods does not exist. Is. 44 focuses on the ridiculousness of worshiping something made by man’s own hand, and out of the same material he uses for building a fire.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy saw an image on a screen, but there was no real “wizard” behind the image. It turned out to be her friendly neighborhood computer nerd. So, who’s “the man behind the curtain” when it came to OT idols? Deut. 32 says it’s not some fictional “god”; demons are pulling the strings. Satan draws people away from God, then, he and his demons continue to pull them down further and further into sin, degradation, and ungodliness as they worship “idols.”

What is idolatry today? (Colossians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 2:16, Matthew 4:9-10)
Col. 3 tells us that covetousness- wanting anything we’re not supposed to want- is idolatry. Since “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2), desiring that doesn’t conform to what Christ thinks and says is idolatry. In other words, any sin. Some type of idolatry is at the root of every sin. In Matt. 4, Jesus says we’re to worship and serve only God, so anything we put our trust in, make ungodly sacrifices for, serve, or allow to control us is an idol.

What are some of our idols today? Do they have to be tangible to be idols? While there are certainly religions that worship tangible gods (Buddha, third world idols), idolatry today is much subtler. For any non-Christian, his idol is ultimately himself, regardless of his religion or lack thereof. Even Christians (or people who claim to be Christians) can be guilty of idolatry.

What about constantly missing church in order to do something else we prefer? How about “loving” our children more than God (Ex: Staying home from church because your child doesn’t want to go, or so your child can play sports. Choosing to disbelieve or twist what Scripture says about homosexuality because your child becomes a homosexual.). What about giving more attention to Facebook, TV, a hobby, or a club than we do to God or to the other things He has told us to do?

What about worshiping a false “Jesus” we carve out with our minds, one who doesn’t match up with the biblical Jesus? (“The Jesus I worship would never send people to hell, want IMG_2618Christians to be sick or poor, say that X, Y, or Z is a sin, etc.”) What about our opinions and philosophies that conflict with Scripture? (“I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin.” “Women should be pastors.”) What about any area of our lives we refuse to have Christ conform to His likeness? (“I refuse to stop swearing, going out to the boats, submit to my husband, etc.”)

Any practice, opinion, or philosophy we cling to, despite what God’s word says about it, is an idol.

Where and how does idolatry start? (Psalm 14:1, Matthew 12:33-35)
Is idolatry merely an outward act, or does it go deeper? What causes the outward worship of idols? (Ps. 14) says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Jesus said (Matt. 12) it’s our hearts that map the course for our actions. Idolatry, like any other sin, starts with the bent of the heart. Are our hearts bent towards God or away from God? Our actions will follow. Godly actions follow a godly heart, and sinful actions follow an idolatrous heart.

For the Love of God: The Commandment (Deuteronomy 5:6-21, 6:4-6; Mark 12:28-30)
Because God knows that idolatry begins with the condition of the heart, His primary Commandment to Israel and to us is not about our outward behavior, but about our hearts. It’s not a “don’t” but a “do.” Love (Deut. 6). What did Jesus say about this Commandment? (Mark 12). We are to set all of our affections on God and exalt Him above everything else.

This is why God’s first Commandments in the 10 Commandments (as well as the Great Commandment) deal with idolatry. If our hearts are God’s alone, the other 8 Commandments will fall into place. But if our hearts love anything instead of or more than God:

We will revere something else more than God’s name and will take it in vain (11)

Whatever we love more than God will be more important to us than worshiping God (12)

Whatever we love more than God, we will naturally love more than our parents, spouses, and neighbors, so what would be the big deal about dishonoring our parents, murdering, committing adultery, stealing, lying, or coveting what someone else owns? (12-21)

Our actions follow our hearts.

What’s the solution to our idolatry? (Galatians 3:2-3, Hebrews 13:20-21, Philippians 2:13)
Since some form of idolatry is at the root of every sin, we’re all guilty of idolatry multiple times a day. What can we do about it? Nothing. Not a thing. We can’t just make a decision not to commit idolatry anymore. It doesn’t work. We’re going to keep sinning.

The ONLY one who can do anything about our idolatry is Christ. He died for our sin of idolatry and set us free from its power to enslave us. We are saved by His grace, and it is His grace that sanctifies us (makes us more like Him). While we can cooperate with Him by obeying what His word tells us and resisting temptation as we are empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit, we cannot “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and clean ourselves up from our idolatry and do better next time by our own effort. But as Christ works in us, He conforms us to His likeness.

When we commit idolatry, we must run to the one true God, throw ourselves on His mercy in repentance, and receive His forgiveness and cleansing.

Old Testament, Sunday School, Worship

Why the Law? ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 2-22-14

sunday schoolThese are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 8 ~ Feb. 16-22
Leviticus 11-27
Why the Law?


 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.
Psalm 119:18, 97,174

When David wrote those words, his Bible consisted mainly of the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy), the majority of which is law. Did you “behold wondrous things out of,” “love,” and “delight in” your reading of Leviticus? Why do you think God gave Israel the Law? Are Christians supposed to be obeying all these laws? If not, why is the book of Leviticus in the Bible today? While Christians are no longer bound by many of the laws of the OT the Law does show us some pretty amazing things.

 Primary Reasons for the Law

There are three types of law given in the OT:

Ceremonial (sacrifices, feasts, dietary, “daily living”, etc. laws)
Civil (“eye for an eye”, inheritance, property, etc., laws, similar to our local, state, and federal laws)
Moral (adultery, murder, lying, etc.)

Even though Christians are no longer required to keep the ceremonial and civil laws (we are still to obey the moral laws—we’ll get into the “why?” of that in another lesson), we can learn a great deal from them about the nature and character of God and His desires for His people.

For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy… For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44a,45

The Law showed Israel they were a distinct people, set apart from other nations. (2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 2:9-10)
They were to be separate and different in all their ways. They were not to be like idolatrous nations in any way, and the things they ate, wore, even the way they cut their hair reflected this. As Christians, God’s grace has saved us and made us into completely new creatures in Christ. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;” Do the places we go, the things we say, the things we post on Facebook, the way we act, reflect this?

The Law demonstrates that God is holy. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God is higher than and set apart from His people. God’s ways are not man’s ways, they are higher, which is why they are often confusing to us and hard to understand. God’s laws and His setting apart of Israel to follow His laws reflected His “otherness” and “set apart-ness.”

The Law shows that people must be holy in order to commune with a holy God (Psalm 24:3-4, Hebrews 9:22)
The cleanliness/unclean laws show that no one can have a right relationship with God unless God first makes him clean. If an Israelite became unclean he could only be made clean and restored to God through the sacrifice or offering God provided for him. We cannot make ourselves clean. It can only be done by God through the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God (Jesus). “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”.

The Law shows us it can’t save us. (Galatians 3:24, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:9-20, Hebrews 10:1-18)
Perhaps the greatest thing the Law did for Israel (and for us) was to show them the futility of striving to keep the Law. Not that they should give up on obeying the Law (which is what they often did), but that they needed something greater than the Law to save them since they were utter failures at keeping it. The ease of breaking the laws -even unintentionally- every time they turned around shows the impossibility of keeping the Law perfectly, the extent to which sin taints every move we make, and our desperate need for God’s mercy and forgiveness, which came in the form of a Savior who would make the perfect sacrifice once for all. The Law pointed Israel and us to Jesus.

The Law showed God’s sovereignty over and care for every aspect of life (Matthew 10:29-31 1 Corinthians 10:31)
The laws governed every aspect of life from eating and drinking to illness to “that time of the month,” showing that God was to have dominion over, and be remembered, glorified, and served in, even the smallest parts of an Israelite’s life, just as in the Christian’s life today. We are to do everything His way for His glory. It also shows His attention to detail and that He is concerned about everything about us. Nothing is too small for God, and nothing gets by Him.

The Law provided a way for people to express honor to God. (John 14:15, Colossians 3:16)
While the “do/don’t do this or that” laws honor God by testifying to His holiness, righteousness, and judgment, the feasts testify to God’s provision, benevolence, mercy, forgiveness, salvation, goodness, grace, and rest. The laws allowed the people to show their honor for God through obedience. The feasts gave the people the opportunity to show their honor for God through worship, celebration, and thanksgiving. We have this same opportunity every Sunday!

The Law was a testimony to other nations about God (1 Kings 8:59-61).
God’s ways were not the ways of the false gods of the nations surrounding Israel. His Law was to cleanse and protect the people so they could enjoy fellowship with Him. The worship of false gods was strictly to appease the idols themselves. The intrinsic nature of the laws themselves and Israel’s keeping of them were a testimony to the uniqueness, holiness and glory of God to all the surrounding pagan nations. “This God is different from all the others,” they said, “This is the one true God.” In the same way, our obedience to God shows how different He is from the world’s way of doing things.



Secondary Reasons for the Law

Most of the laws had secondary, practical reasons behind them, showing us that God doesn’t just care about our spiritual state, but our physical well being as well.

Law and Order
Every society has to have a way of maintaining law and order, protecting people and their stuff, and carrying out justice. Property, inheritance, and other civil and criminal laws protected the personal rights of Israelite citizens. God’s laws about restitution and punishment of criminals show His wisdom and that He is just.

Rules about which animals to eat could have served to prevent food-borne diseases, such as trichinosis, which comes from pork. The multiple laws about quarantining those with leprosy helped stop its spread to others. Recently, scientists have discovered health benefits to circumcision. We know God is a healer, and sometimes He does this in the form of prevention.

Care and Safety Net
God made sure that widows, orphans, and the disabled were cared for and not taken advantage of. His laws showed Israel how to care for the poor and make sure no one went without provision.

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:23-26