I was at the Harding Lectures last week. Besides the class on reaching out to our Hispanic neighbors (which I mentioned before), I also gave 3 lectures on the Ten Commandments.
In preparing for these lectures, I spent a lot of time reading articles written by Jewish writers. One thing that really stood out to me was how much emphasis they put on God speaking to His people. In fact, when I googled “God spoke at Sinai,” all of the top hits were Jewish sites.
Maybe we’re too influenced by having seen Charlton Heston on the mountain; we forget the importance of two million people hearing God’s voice, all at the same time! It wasn’t just God giving the law to Moses; it was God leaving an indelible imprint on His people by the sound of His voice.
There are lots of traditions around what happened that day. One interesting one says that when God spoke, there was no echo. I laughed at that until I read the explanation. An echo occurs when a sound encounters something it can’t penetrate; an echo results from the ensuing bounce.
God’s voice penetrates anything and everything. There would be no echo.
God spoke. Millions heard. God still speaks. I want to hear.
[I’m not even sure where I originally got this from. A Google search turns up nothing. If anyone recognizes it, feel free to point me to the original source]
- I will worship the Lord my God and Him only
- I will not worship anything I can but at Best Buy or Barnes and Noble, control with a remote, read on the Internet, carry in a bucket, or shake hands with
- I will call on the name of the Lord for all my needs
- I will take the time I need to rest and worship
- I will find ways to honor my parents
- I will show respect for all life, and will do what I can to not harm any human life
- I will respect the holiness of my marriage, and keep sexual purity in action and thought
- I will respect the property of others
- I will speak the truth about others and will not allow my feelings about them keep me from recognizing the truth
- I will be content with what I have, and rejoice in the good fortune of others
I had hoped for a bit more discussion yesterday, especially with suggestions on how to decide if a nation is Christian or not. I appreciated Jon’s addition of “the DNA of a culture,” though I wish we could have fleshed out a bit just what that looks like.
One common argument that I think has to be rejected is about laws being based on the 10 Commandments. Have you read the 10 Commandments lately? If not, take a moment, turn to Exodus 20, read them, then come back here.
There have been societies that tried to enforce most if not all of the 10 Commandments. I don’t think there is a modern society that does so. Laws about coveting? Honoring parents? Not taking the Lord’s Name in vain? Not that I can tell. Graven images? Polytheism? Keeping the Sabbath? We’ve just knocked out 6 of the 10, for those of you keeping score at home. A few places still have adultery laws, though I wonder when was the last time someone was prosecuted for adultery (here in the States).
That leaves us murder, theft, and perjury. Things which just about every culture forbids, be they Christian, Buddhist or otherwise. We can say that we punish those things because of our respect for the 10 Commandments, but that would be a hard case to prove.
I don’t doubt that many legislators and jurists respect the 10 Commandments. But to affirm that a modern legal system is somehow based on them is a distortion of the truth.