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Lesson 7: Covenant at Sinai *

Introduction: In some Christian circles the Ten Commandments have gotten a bad reputation. Even the apostle Paul seemed to say some pretty harsh things about them. What do you think, are the Ten Commandments something good or bad? Are you glad they exist? Are they a "contract" to which you would like to be a party? Not sure? Let's jump into our study to find out more about the Ten Commandments!

  1. God's Attitude Toward Us


    1. Does life seem fair to you? Without getting into the details, this week I was getting very upset at an insurance company because it seemed it was taking unfair advantage of its customers. The particular customer I was most worried about was me!


    2. Read Psalms 103:6-7. Who does this text say God helps? (It tells us that God makes things right for those who are unfairly treated and cannot do anything about it.)


      1. Why is this important? (When you cannot do anything about injustice, you feel God is the ultimate power to whom you can appeal - if He is willing. Turns out, He is willing.)


    3. In verse 7 God's justice is linked to Moses and Israel - the subject of our study today. How do they fit into this topic of righteousness and justice for the oppressed? (Israel was in slavery - oppressed by the Egyptians.)


    4. Read Psalms 103:11-12. How high are the heavens above the earth? If you could use one word to describe God's love based on this text, what would it be? (Limitless!)


      1. Why does this text mention our sins (transgressions)? What do our sins have to do with God's love? (The most important point of God's love is the removal of our sins. Jesus came to bear our sins and allow us to accept the gift of eternal life.)


    5. Read Psalms 103:13-14. Are you concerned about whether God is doing what is in your best interest? What does this suggest? (God loves us as our own parents love us.)


      1. Does God have compassion for everyone? (The text contains a qualifier we need to soberly consider. It says God shows compassion on those "who fear Him.")


      2. Why does God show compassion on those who fear Him? (He knows we are only human.)


    6. Let's look at the points we just covered. God will make things right for the oppressed. He revealed Himself to Moses and Israel. God loves us like a father and His love for us is limitless. God's great gift of love to us was sending His Son to free us from sin.


  2. God's Love at Sinai


    1. Read Exodus 19:1-3. What is the setting? (God has just pulled His people out of slavery in Egypt. They are 60+ days into their journey to Canaan and God has called Moses to a special meeting to discuss what Moses will say to God's people.)


    2. Read Exodus 19:4-7. What is God's message to His people?


      1. Why do you think God presented this message in this way?


      2. Are these essentially the main points that we found in Psalms 103? (Yes, except for the explicit point about removing sin.)


    3. Scan Exodus 20:1-17 (the Ten Commandments). Do the Ten Commandments relate to the points that we discussed from Psalms 103?


      1. Which of the Ten Commandments relate to justice for the oppressed?


      2. Which of the Ten Commandments relate to God's love for us?


      3. Which of the Ten Commandments relate to the forgiveness of sin? (This one may be a trick question.)


      4. When God gave His people the Ten Commandments, was the purpose to create justice for the oppressed, show His love for us and give us a way out of sin? (Creating a "rule of law" always helps to protect the oppressed. God shows His love for us because the last six of the Commandments are for our protection. By helping us to see what is sin, God began to show us how to escape from sin.)


    4. You know the old adage about helping the poor: it is better to teach a man how to fish than to give him a fish. The older I get, the more I am convinced that we "teach a man how to fish" by protecting property rights and giving people freedom to grow their own food and earn their own money. Do the Ten Commandments address this problem? (Yes. If followed, the Ten Commandments would eliminate "class warfare." They prohibit the rich from cheating the poor by lying and stealing. On the other hand, they tell the poor not to covet what the rich own.)


      1. Why do so many of the Ten Commandments deal with man's relationship to man? (This demonstrates God's love for us. God wants us to treat each other justly.)


  3. God's Messengers


    1. Let's go back and read Exodus 19:5-6 again. If the Ten Commandments are such a great thing, something that reveals all of these good things about God, why would God want to give this gift to so few?


      1. When God calls Israel a "kingdom of priests" what does this suggest about their relationship to the rest of the world?


      2. Why does God mention that the "whole earth is mine?" (The picture we get is that God, who God over the entire earth, wanted to have a special relationship with a group who would be His "priests" to share the benefits of the Ten Commandments with the rest of the world.)


  4. The Importance of God's Sinai Message


    1. Read Romans 3:19. Would role, if any, do the Ten Commandments play in making us righteous? (The Ten Commandments do not make anyone righteous. However, they play a very important role in making us conscious of sin.)


      1. Is that the only role of the Ten Commandments? (No. They teach us basic principles of God's kingdom. They teach us to respect each other and our property. They teach us to respect and honor God.)


    2. Put yourself in God's place for just a moment. Adam and Eve have sinned. You have the option of either sending your Son to earth to show that Adam and Eve could have obeyed the Ten Commandments (and, in the process, your son will die a horrible death) or you can just discard the idea of the Ten Commandments. Which would you choose? (Despite the bad reputation of the Ten Commandments among some Christians, this shows the extraordinary importance that God the Father and God the Son placed on them. God wanted to show that the Commandments could be obeyed. Adam and Eve did not have to sin.)


    3. Considering the importance of the Ten Commandments, how should we approach them? Are we required to obey them? Are we required to obey them to be saved?


      1. Read Romans 9:31-33. Did God's people want to follow the law? (These texts say they did.)


        1. What was the problem?


        2. What or who is this "stone?" (The Israelites determined to keep the Ten Commandments by gritting their teeth and obeying, rather than pursuing them by faith. "Pursuing them by faith" is a pretty ambiguous statement. The "stone" is Jesus. The message that I find in this text is that faith and trust in Jesus allows us to "pursue" the law of righteousness.)


      2. Read Romans 3:28-31. How do we "uphold" the Ten Commandments when we tell others that they are justified "apart from observing the law?" (This is both the beauty and the complexity of this teaching. We cannot be saved by keeping the Ten Commandments. We are only saved by faith in Jesus, who kept them on our behalf. However, anyone who has at least two brain cells to rub together realizes the extraordinary importance that God places on the Ten Commandments, His Sinai Covenant. God the Father and God the Son went through a terrible sacrifice to uphold them. Therefore, we take obedience to the Ten Commandments very seriously - even though we realize that keeping them is not the ticket to heaven.)


    4. Friend, what do you say about the Sinai Covenant, the Ten Commandments? Considering their importance to life and our God, are you willing to take them seriously?


  5. Next Week: Covenant Law
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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