The first 10 laws

Today’s reading is probably the most well known part of the Old Testament, not by chapter and verse perhaps, but at least by it’s overall message… Exodus 20, the 10 Commandments.

I was really curious what new thing I may see here to write about today but it quickly hit me.  Eight of the 10 laws are all in the negative.  God is telling us very basically, what not to do.  Below are out of order to point this out…

  1. Don’t worship anything but God.
  2. Don’t make idols.
  3. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.
  4. Don’t murder.
  5. Don’t commit adultery.
  6. Don’t steal.
  7. Don’t lie.
  8. Don’t covet.
  9. Honor the Sabbath.
  10. Honor your parents.

I’ve seen the list split into two categories before but it’s always been how the first 4 are about our interaction with God and the next 6 are about our interaction with others.  But this is the first time I thought about the split between the Dos and the Don’ts of the 10 Commandments.  The Father of our world believed in simple laws, a few Dos and a few more Don’ts.  The the ruling powers from then on, continued to add more and more laws to the mix, so many that it eventually overshadowed the 10 simple laws that God had given us.

The Fathers of our Nation did the same thing.  They gave us 10 simple laws in the Bill of Rights.  Ironically, those also had 2 Dos and 8 Don’ts.  Again, not in order to point this out.

  1. Don’t make laws that establish religion or prohibit freedom of speech or press.
  2. Don’t make laws limiting ownership of guns.
  3. Don’t force people to quarter soldiers.
  4. Don’t violate privacy with illegal searches or seizures.
  5. Don’t hold someone without an indictment.
  6. Don’t enforce excessive bail or punishment.
  7. Don’t make laws to take away other rights given.
  8. Don’t take more authority than what is given in the constitution.
  9. Do provide a fair and speedy trial.
  10. Do allow for a trial by peers.

Again, 10 simple laws limiting the power of government and protecting the rights of its citizens.  However the powers that be over the years have added so much to the laws that it has overshadowed the original 10, just like the Jews did to the 10 Commandments.

It seems to me that when the creator of something (God for the world and our original leaders for our nation) creates simple rules for us to live by, perhaps we stick with that.  At least when we screwed up what God provided, he later provided His Son to fix it.  Jesus came and ‘resimplified’ the law into two commandments that were both in the positive.

  1. Love your God with everything you have.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Do you think we’ll ever have such a ‘resimplification’ of our nation’s laws?


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