Friday, October 13, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 15, 2017

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(Putting nothing ahead of the only true GOD)
(Exodus 20)

In Exodus 20, GOD personally instructs the Israelites as follows;

(1)   Do not worship any other gods besides ME.
(2)   Do not make idols (graven hand-made images) of any kind (this includes any and everything), whether in the shape of birds, animals, or fish, for the purpose of worshipping them.
(3)   Do not use the name of the LORD GOD in vain (do not misuse the name JEHOVAH (Greek) or YAWWEH (Hebrew).
(4)   Remember the Sabbath Day (seventh day) and keep it Holy (do not work seven consecutive days in a row.
(5)   Honor your father and mother.
(6)   Do not murder (another person, or yourself (suicide).
(7)   Do not commit adultery.
(8)   Do not steal.
(9)   Do not tell a lie against another person (do not bear false witness)
(10)Do envy another person in any way whatsoever.

These are now famously known as the “Ten Commandments” or, by scholars as, “The Decalogue”
    In verse 18, after the Israelites heard the thunderous voice of GOD along with the loud blast of the horn, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the top of Mount Sinai, they stood far away in the distance, trembling with fear. They then asked Moses to tell them what the LORD had said because they feared that if the LORD spoke to them directly, they would die. Moses cautioned them instead to, from that day forward, let their great fear of the LORD keep them from sinning.
    To understand these commandments further, let us go to the Gospels where JESUS HIMSELF explains it best. In Luke 10:25-29, one of the teachers of religious law, probably a Pharisee, stood up and posed this question to JESUS; “What must I do to receive eternal life? Ironically JESUS gave him the same answer that HE had given to the religious teacher who had asked “Which is the most important commandment?” in both, Matthew 22:34-40, and, in Mark 12:28-34).
    In both Matthew and Mark’s Gospel accounts, JESUS began by reciting the opening line, of the first part of the three-part “Shema”, which was recited by devout Jews twice daily. It stresses the unity of GOD, and, the importance of loving HIM and HIS Laws, and it goes like this; “Hear old Israel; the LORD our GOD is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
    Then JESUS says that we must “love the LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength”. This kind of love calls for “a thorough commitment to GOD” that is both “personal”, and, “whole of heart”. In fact, it speaks to “the whole of humanity”, which is;

·         The heart” - The “center” of human life,
·         The soul” - The “self-conscience life” of all men,
·         The mind” - The “entire thought process” of man,
·         The strength” - The “entire physical power” of man.

    In other words, “we should love GOD with every fiber of our being” and it is no accident that this is also what is covered in the first four commandments (Exodus 20:3-11), where GOD tells us, in effect, that our love for HIM must be;

·         Totally loyal (verse 3),
·         Totally faithful (verse 6),
·         Totally trusting (verse 7),
·         And, we must “show total reverence for HIM” at all times (verse 8).

    Next, JESUS states that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. It is not a coincidence that this includes the summation of the remaining six commandments (Exodus 20:12-17);

·         If we love each other, we can certainly begin with honoring our own parents.
·         If we love each other, we are not likely to intentionally, or maliciously take another’s life, which by the way, is made in the spiritual image of GOD.
·         If we love each other, we will not commit adultery against our spouse with another person.
·         If we love each other, we won’t steal from each other.
·         If we love each other, we won’t lie on each other, or falsely accuse each other.
·         And finally, if we love each other, we won’t jealously desire anything that belongs to someone else.

    And so, here in this passage JESUS is saying that “everything GOD commands us to do is of the utmost importance to HIM”, and that, the Ten Commandments can really be viewed as being only two. And both of them, or all ten of them, are of equal importance to GOD. And JESUS concludes by saying, “If we do them, we will live” eternally with GOD in Heaven. When we come to love GOD, we then understand more clearly how we can also, “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”.
    In verse 29, the religious teacher sought to justify himself by posing yet another question to JESUS, asking HIM, “Who is my neighbor?” and in verses 30-37, JESUS gives us a clear example of how we can serve GOD by serving our neighbor. There HE relates the, now famous story, of “the good Samaritan”. In that passage of Scripture, JESUS defines “neighbor” in a very rigorous, all-inclusive way as being “anybody who is in need”, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.
    JESUS’ answer to this second question by the religious teacher, has to be viewed on two different levels, if, we are to grasp the totality of HIS message. First of all JESUS HIMSELF tells us that when HE returns to judge the peoples’ of the world, HE will base HIS decision on how each individual “reacted to human need” over the span of his or her lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46). Secondly, it must be viewed in the context of HIS OWN rejection by Israel here on earth.
    In this parable, the Jewish religious leaders rejected the man who had fell victim to bandits along the perilous Jericho Road, and he needed their help after being robbed. When JESUS lived here on earth, the Jewish people, particularly the religious leaders, became the worst of HIS rejecters by announcing HIM as being not from GOD.
    In the parable of the good Samaritan, only the despised, mixed-race Samaritan stopped to render aid to the fallen man of Jewish descent, and out of the three who came upon the man’s injured body (two of them being men of the Church), only the outcast Samaritan was willing to stop and help keep the man from perishing by the wayside. In fact, not only did the man render aid to fallen Jewish man by soothing his wounds with medicine and bandages, he also loaded him up on his donkey and took him to a place of shelter in a nearby inn, where he administered further medical assistance to him.
    And furthermore, the next day, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two pieces of silver and instructed him to take care of the man. He also told the innkeeper, that, if he needed more money, he would square up him the next time he passed through town.
    After JESUS finished relating this parable, HE asked the religious teacher which of the three men, who encountered the wounded victim on the Jericho Road, acted as a good neighbor to him. The religious teacher wisely replied in the only way he could, by answering, “The one who showed him mercy”. Then JESUS replied to the teacher, “Yes, now go and do the same”

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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