WHAT IF GOD…
…had not given the first commandment?
…had not given humanity a Sabbath rest?
…had not condemned coveting?
…had included only the first four Commandments in the Great Code?
…had not shown special concern for widows, orphans, and strangers?
…had allowed partiality toward the poor?
…had not given the land-rest law?
…had not made the Sabbath a sign between Him and his people?
…had not ordained sacrifices, and offerings?
…had not given the laws of sexual morality?
…had destroyed Israel, and had made Moses a great nation?
…had not made tithing a requirement?
…had not elevated the serpent?
…had not given the law regarding cleanliness of the campsite?
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT GIVEN THE FIRST COMMANDMENT?
One of the greatest events in human history took place during Israel’s exodus to the Promised Land. Once Mount Sinai was reached, God asked Moses to climb it and there He gave him the greatest set of laws humans had ever known: The Ten Commandments. The first of these Ten Commandments asserts the total supremacy of Yahweh as the one and only God. Thus, in one fell swoop all the myriads of gods worshipped on earth were declared nothing but an illusion.
But what if God had not introduced Himself to humanity as the only Supreme Being who alone is worthy of worship? What if humanity had never been blessed with this revolutionary concept?
WHAT IF GOD…
…had allowed idolatry to continue?
…had allowed representations of Himself but not other gods?
…had not insisted on the holiness of His name?
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT GIVEN HUMANITY A SABBATH REST?
Therefore, if God had not given the Sabbath to mankind we would have remained slaves to seven day a week labor with no pause and relief. The weekly spiritual rejuvenation that accompanies a proper keeping of the Sabbath would not be experienced and materialism would have been first and foremost in our minds. Christians would have had a very tough time maintaining the necessary closeness that the Christian family must maintain and spiritual growth would have been much more difficult. Most of all, the cyclical reminder that God is supreme, that He created all things and that He is worthy of praise and worship would not have existed.
WHAT IF GOD…
…had not commanded honoring one’s parents?
…had not condemned murder?
…had not condemned adultery?
…had not condemned lying.
WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT CONDEMNED COVETING?
One of the greatest evidences of the divine origin of the Ten Commandments is the last commandment. While the first nine focus on what man should not do, the last one focuses on what he must not think. The tenth commandment forbids lusting after anything that belongs to others. Thus, to God not taking what is not ours is not enough; the very desire is condemned as well.
But what if God had not included coveting in the Ten Commandments? What if He had included another commandment in its stead?
Upon reflection, one is overwhelmed by the profound wisdom inherent within this commandment. The forbidding of coveting reveals not only a profound understanding of the human mind but, also, an astonishing understanding of how many sins originate. In the New Testament, the Apostle James explains the steps that precede sin: “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin” (James 1: 14-15). Therefore, sin has a psychological starting point, and lust is one of its major driving forces. God, the great designer of the human mind, knew that forbidding actions was not enough. For sin to be dealt with effectively one must, first and foremost, address its origins. In trying to control evil action, not dealing with coveting means almost certain failure.
Coveting is what precedes a multitude of sins. Before stealing, one must desire the object he or she is stealing. Before committing adultery, one must lust after someone else’s wife. Lying is often used to get what is lusted after. God knew the steps and taught us the need to deal with sin at its origins. His great wisdom becomes evident, because of the last Commandment.
Christians must understand this principle in their battle against sin. They must always be on guard by monitoring their thoughts and attitudes. We have been given a great gift directly from God on how to win the life-long battle against temptation and Satan, and we must gratefully accept it -- and use it.
It is also very meaningful that God included this principle in the Ten Commandments. God doesn’t simply teach us about the need to deal with coveting -- He commands us to do so. We are commanded to search and destroy any form of illicit desire, so as to stay a safe distance from sin.
Some Christians fail their battle against sin, because they have never understood, or because they have never given heed to the importance of dealing with first steps. God has made it perfectly clear that resisting coveting is of utmost importance. Christ also reinforced this reality, by stressing that adultery is not just the action -- it is also the desire that precedes the action. He stressed,“ You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You Shall not Commit Adultery; But I say to you That whoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5: 27-28).
The battle with sin is very hard, but it can be made much easier, if we fight it at the source when the temptation is still at its inception. If God had not added this commandment to the Great Code, we would have been deprived of a most critical and powerful tool in fighting sin. Therefore God, in His great wisdom, made sure the Ten Commandments included coveting and, by making the battle against it central to our spiritual warfare, we can be victorious over sin.
WHAT IF GOD…
…had used a less frightening approach to introduce Himself to Israel?
…had written the 10 Commandments on a scroll instead of stone?
…had simply included the Ten Commandments in the Book of the Law?
WHAT IF GOD HAD ENGRAVED ON THE TABLETS ONLY THE FIRST FOUR COMMANDMENTS?
The first four commandments address man’s relationship with God. God is to be the sole object of worship, and He will not allow idolatry. His name is to be revered, and the Sabbath is to be a sign that God is Creator, and that man is His special creation. The other six commandments deal with man’s relationship with man.
But what if God had only engraved the first four Commandments on one tablet and had made the last six simply a part of the Book of the Law?
The fact that God made man’s relationship with man a part of the Great Code is exceptionally significant. First of all it reveals that God is not a self-absorbed creator. He could have placed only the first four Commandments in the “Great Code,” and He would have been totally justified in doing so. He is “The All,” and He deserves all the focus, being the source of everything. But He didn’t. By including the last six as well, He demonstrated that we, His children, have a high level of importance. The last six commandments follow the first four, showing that what pertains to God is, obviously, primary. Nevertheless, the last six are on the same tablets showing that our well being has a top priority as well.
By commanding man to abide by the last six commandments, God made clear that the welfare of His children is very important to Him. He is not a being that is merely interested in obtaining man’s worship; He wants humans to treat each other with utmost dignity. God wants humans to recognize that they are equally important before Him, and that He demands that no one take advantage and abuse the other.
Of course there is a need to emphasize that even the first four Commandments were given to humans not because God needs our worship, but because man needs to be properly focused on His Creator, if he is to escape foolish religious ideas and be blessed.
Every time we read or think about the Ten Commandments, therefore, let’s not forget, that the fact that the last six commandments are included in the Ten Commandments yells out that God loves humanity deeply and expects that each and every human to do the same.
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© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2004