Title: When God Commands

Focus: God does not just give laws arbitrarily, but he gives them so that we can come into line with his character

Function: To help the hearers understand that God is not just a rule giver, but a Father who wants his children to be like him.

Text: Exodus 20:1-2

I.  The last few years have been weird for weather
	A.  Some 300 tornados a few weeks ago
		- Then there was more snow than normal
	B.  I remembered when it snowed in Searcy and Stacey told me to be careful
	C.  In my overconfidence from growing up in Nebraska, I hit a telephone pole
	D.  I was in to much of a hurry
	E.  When you get into too much of a hurry, you can miss something important
	F.  The story in our text hurried through over 80 years, now at Sinai it slows to a 
	      crawl for the rest of the book
		1.  We want to rush through and skip over this to the book of Numbers
		2.  However, since the text gives so much space to this, it means it must 
		     be something important.
		3.  We are not going to look at every detail of the law given in this text 
		     this evening, but will draw some important insights

II.  Text Exodus 20:1-2
	A.  What is the first thing God says when he begins to give his commands?
		1.  Verse two basically looks back and summarizes the first 19 chapters
		2.  Why does God begin in this way?
	B.  Looking at other similar passages may help to answer that question
		1.  22:21 - Do not oppress the stranger for you were a stranger in Egypt
		2.  23:9 - Same rationale given (also Lev 19:33-34)
	C.  Part of God’s rationale for his commands is what he did for Israel in Egypt
		1.  When you divorce law from its context, distortion and 
		      misunderstanding result
		2.  This is where legalism comes from
		3.  God’s laws not given in arbitrarily, but are in the context of God’s acts

III.  Don’t people even do that with our civil laws?
	A.  In our own government, there are debates about the meaning of particular 
	     laws and their application
	B.  Many are appealing to the history that brought about the laws
		1.  What was the intent of the laws that deal with the government’s
		     non-establishment of religion
		2.  What did the framers of the constitution have in mind?
	C.  In order to understand our laws, it helps to see why they were written and 
	      what the intent of the laws were.
	D.  If not, gross misapplication will occur

IV.  There was a woman who always cut the end of the roast before putting it in
the pan
	A.  When she was teaching her daughter how to cook, this is what she did
	B.  When the daughter asked why, the mother said that is what her mother did
	C.  They called her mother, she did not know why she did it, just that this is what 
	      her mother did
	D.  When they asked great grandma, she said that this cut off the end of the 
	      roast to get 
	      it to fit in the little pan she had
	E.  This is the sort of thing that can happen when you don’t know the reason 
	      or rationale behind something
	F.  So how do we avoid this sort of thing when it comes to God’s instruction?

V.  Study the Bible not as a book of arbitrary rules, but as a story meant to instruct
	A.  It is no accident that much of God’s revelation is in the form of story
	B.  Story does several things
		1.  It gives the context/rationale behind many of God’s intructions
		2.  It introduces us to God as a being, not a rule book
		3.  It gives examples of how to live for God
	C.  That is why God begins by pointing back to his acts for Israel before
	      giving them any commands
	D.  What does that mean for us as Christians?

VI. Let’s remember that God’s instructions are rooted in his character and his
	A.  At the first, we saw that God calls Israel his “firstborn” (his child)
	B.  Now that God has rescued his child, Israel it is time to “instruct” him
		1.  The word for “law” actually originally meant “instruction”
		2.  My Father used to give me instruction and it was for my good, not so 
		      he could just boss me around
	C.  As children of God, he instructs us to be like him in character
	D.  God is not a lawyer or a legal expert, he is a father who instructs his children
	E.  So what does he instruct?

VII  Some overarching principles of Exod 20-23
	A.  God comes first (20:3-5)
	B.  Honor God (20:18-26)
	C.  Treat others right (22:21-27)

VII.  Jesus affirmed this overarching principle (Mt 22:37-40)
	A.  Are you following the great commands
	B.  Do you heed the Lord’s instructions?
	C.  Invitation