BOUNDARIES FOR BLESSING
Lord, give me a deeper desire to keep Your commandments.
Read DEUTERONOMY 5:1–22
The Ten Commandments
5 Moses summoned all Israel and said:
Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. 2 The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3 It was not with our ancestors[a] that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. 4 The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. 5 (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said:
6 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
7 “You shall have no other gods before[b] me.
8 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
17 “You shall not murder.
18 “You shall not commit adultery.
19 “You shall not steal.
20 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
21 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
22 These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.
a Deuteronomy 5:3 Or not only with our parents
b Deuteronomy 5:7 Or besides
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Does a world without boundaries sound appealing or appalling?
In the beginning, God set boundaries in nature: between the land and sea, for example (Gen. 1:9; Job 38:8–11). When these boundaries are breached, we suffer floods—or even tsunamis. God also defined boundaries for humanity: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:16,17). Within these boundaries, Adam and Eve enjoyed shalom (peace). When they broke the bounds, paradise was lost.
A boundary might be viewed as a property line demarcating ownership but also providing protection for something precious. Israel is God’s “treasured possession” (Deut. 7:6). For this rabble of freshly liberated slaves—soon to become an identifiable nation state—the Ten Commandments are designed to safeguard this special relationship and to order all their relationships “so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land” (33). The most fundamental boundary-setting word is “not,” a word used repeatedly in the Ten Commandments. Worldly thinking gravitates toward freedom from God’s boundaries, regarding them as constraining shackles (Psa. 2:3), but although life without boundaries may sound liberating, even exhilarating, it leaves the gate (or rather the lack of a gate!) wide open for infringements and invasions. Despite the demands they make on us and the constraints they impose, God’s people recognize that his boundaries bless and protect us.
Notice that before God makes a single demand, he reaffirms his commitment to his covenant people (6). Reflect on John 10:1–15, where Jesus, our Good Shepherd, does the same. The land flowing with milk and honey is a captivating picture of the fullness of life that Jesus offers (John 10:10); those who would enjoy this abundant life are those who allow Jesus’ words—and his alone—to set the boundaries for their lives (John 10:3–5). Within these constraints, Jesus’ sheep enjoy security, freedom, and great delight (John 10:9).
What God-given boundaries are you struggling to accept or abide by? Why?
Lord, Your people perfectly understand the reasoning behind Your placement of boundaries circumscribing our behavior, and we appreciate You all the more for it.
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