Two months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the desert near Mount Sinai, and set up camp at the foot of the mountain. Moses climbed the mountain to meet with the Lord God and hear His message.
“You saw what I did in Egypt,” God told him, “and all the miracles I performed in the desert. I am the Lord of the whole world, but if they obey my instructions, I will have a special relationship with the Israelites.”
God has always had a special plan for the world. He knew He would send His Son to earth to die for our sins. Jesus was born into a Jewish family in Israel. Through this special people, God would spread His good news to the whole world.
On the third day Moses climbed the mountain again. The Israelites were gathered at the foot of the mountain and the Lord got their attention with loud thunder and lightning, a thick cloud covering the mountain and a loud sound like a trumpet blast. God came down in a flaming fire and the whole mountain shook as He spoke like thunder.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Do not worship any god except me.”
God wants to be first in our hearts. Anything in your life that is more important than God is taking away from your love for God.
“Don’t carve statues that look like anything on earth,” God continued. “Don’t bow down to statues and pray to them.”
God is invisible. He is not a statue made by human hands. Everyone else at that time worshiped statues of pretend gods. They bowed down to statues and prayed to them. But a statue cannot be God. God made us, we cannot make gods.
“Don’t use My name in a disrespectful way.”
You will often hear people say, “Oh, my…” and then call God’s name to show that they are excited, scared, happy, angry or just trying to sound cool. But God tells us not to use His name in such a casual way. Saying God’s name when we’re not really talking about God is like taking a beautiful gemstone and covering it with mud.
“You have six days for working, but the seventh day of each week should be for worshiping Me.”
God knew how important worship is for our souls. We can worship God all the time, but we need special time set aside to worship God to be closer to Him. God also knew that rest is important for our bodies. Without this rule, many people would keep working to make as much money as possible, and then get sick from too much work.
“Treat your parents with respect. I will bless you for respecting your father and mother.”
God wants us to live happily with our families. Parents are put in charge because they have lived longer. They have had more practice at life and have learned many lessons their children have not had time to learn yet. Parents are not perfect. Even with all their experience, they may still mess up. If this happens, we should respect our parents. If we disagree with their decisions, we have to be respectful about it, and accept that they have the final say.
“Do not murder.”
Everyone knows it is wrong to kill another person. But Jesus later said if we hate someone, we have murdered them in our hearts! That could easily make each of us a murderer. Have we ever felt hate toward a classmate, sibling, teacher or even a parent? It’s okay to get upset, and in some cases it’s okay to feel anger, but when we feel hate toward a person, we are breaking this commandment.
“Be faithful in marriage.”
God has a plan for families. He wants moms and dads to love each other. He wants them to have happy marriages.
“Do not steal.”
This isn’t just about walking into a bank and robbing it. What about taking two cookies when your mom said you were only allowed one? What about grabbing your favorite game at playtime when it was someone else’s turn to choose first? What about downloading a song illegally? God wants us to be honest. That means even the tiny things that we think don’t really matter. Nothing is too small of a thing to matter to God.
“Don’t lie about other people.”
God wants us to be honest. We should never go around saying things about other people that aren’t true.
“Don’t crave things that belong to someone else.”
Are you happy with what you have? Even if you are very blessed with things, there will always be someone out there with nicer clothes, toys or games. God wants us to be content. Content means that you are satisfied and not longing for more. Like when you are neither hungry nor stuffed.
Moses watched God carve all these words onto two stone tablets. Surely, no one would dare break any of these rules for a long time to come…but little did Moses know what was happening at the bottom of the mountain.