In the first post of this series, we discussed Why and how Christians Respect The Rights Of Their Neighbors. Here we will look at the first four of The Ten Commandments (Bible Gateway).
What Rights Do The First Four Of The Ten Commandments protect?
What are the first four of The Ten Commandments (Bible Gateway) about? These commandments focus on the love and respect we owe to God.
Most of the text of The Ten Commandments (Bible Gateway) is devoted to commandments that require us to love and respect our Creator. Why? We were made to give glory to God. It is God, not our self or any other human being, who gives our lives purpose and significance. If we don’t take God seriously, our existence becomes futile because it is meaningless.
Futile. Meaningless. Vain. Hopeless. The Book of Ecclesiastes is devoted to one subject, the futility of a life without God. With beautifully chosen and hauntingly sad words, King Solomon explains how he tried to live most his long life without loving, honoring, and obeying God. Eventually, he realized that in spite of his power, his riches, and his wisdom that his life without God was hopeless, vain, meaningless, and futile.
Unfortunately, before he knew his mistake, Solomon had become an old man, too old to undo what he had already done. All he could is point to his mistakes and ask others to learn from his wasted life.
And so the book begins.
Why the focus on the sun? What is “life under sun”? This is the phrase Solomon uses to refer to life without God. Even upon this small, tiny speck, our little home that we call Earth, not even the greatest of us will be long remembered. Hence Solomon ends The Book of Ecclesiastes with this passage.
What does it mean to fear God? Are we suppose to live in absolute terror of God? If we love God, no, but we must revere and worship God above all else. We must believe He exists and cares about us, and we must understand that our existence has meaning only if He chooses to give us purpose.
Therefore, consider again what the first four commandments require of us.
- You shall have no other gods before Me. That is, we must put God first in our lives.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Our ancestors worshipped statues made of wood, stone, and metal. The supposedly advanced Pagans of this era worship entertainment and political personalities, make-believe and propaganda on a silver screen, and that is just as self deluding and wrong.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. When we curse the Creator because His Creation does not serve us as we wish, we fail to show our Lord proper reverence. We put our own foolish desires ahead of the Will of our Lord.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. God requires us to set aside one day out of seven to honor, glorify and worship Him. And how do we honor, glorify, and worship our Lord? We rest and give thanks to God.
Our Creator requires each of us to voluntarily and freely love and obey Him, to put Him first in our lives. Voluntarily and freely? Was not ancient Israel a theocracy? Yes, but the New Testament is a new covenant. The Apostle Peter explained the difference.
Without the gift of the Holy Spirit — without the grace of the Lord Jesus — we cannot obey God, and no amount of government power can change that. Do not fallible human beings run governments? When our leaders cannot make themselves obey God, how can they make us obey God?
The best we can do is to protect each others right to worship our Lord as we each believe appropriate. That is why those who founded our government added the First Amendment to our Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.The Bill of Rights: A Transcription | National Archives – (Amendment I)
Imagine politicians — men we now dignify as being true statesmen — choosing to limit their own powers. Look around the world. Consider the past. See how unusual it is for the strong allow the weak to establish their own religious institutions. See how rare it is for those in power to allow their neighbors the right to freely practice their own religious beliefs.
The men who founded the United States restrained their greed for power. With unheard of modesty, they allowed their neighbors the right to freedom of religion. It is for such self restraint that the founders of this nation thanked God.
To Be Continued
- Part 3: What Rights Do The Last Six Of The Ten Commandments protect?
- Part 4: What Does The Bible Say About All Men Being Created Equal?
- Part 5: How Do We Fix This Mess?