Friday, June 10, 2022

2022.06.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:13

Read Exodus 20:13

Question from the Scripture text: What does this verse prohibit?

What is the most basic requirement for honoring God in our interactions with others?  Exodus 20:13 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that valuing God in others means especially valuing man as made in the image of God. 

In the first five commandments, the primary interaction was with God. Even in the fifth, the honor/glory/ weightiness was primarily God’s, with father and mother as surrogate authorities under Him. Now, as the moral law turns from loving God with all the heart to loving our neighbor, the first thing that it highlights is a proper valuing of God’s image in man.

It was obvious, when Cain murdered Abel in Genesis 4, that it was wicked. Genesis 1 had emphasized that man is made in the image of God, and God had warned Cain that sin was crouching at his door, desiring to control him (cf. Genesis 4:7). 

But the logic prohibiting murder is explicitly detailed in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” There, God Himself makes a distinction between that killing that despises the image of God (murder) and that killing that justly vindicates the image of God (by man his blood shall be shed). 

There are many words for killing in Hebrew, and this one has the shade of meaning of striking down or assassination. This is important not only because it highlights the component of intent and premeditation but also because, as we have seen in other commandments, its focus is especially on the heart. Our Lord Jesus’s own expounding upon this was that rash anger, name-calling, and lashing out are all worthy of condemnation (cf. Matthew 5:22). 

Combining these two, we see that we are not just to treat people as made in the image of God, but we are to love God, to love God’s image, to love that He made people in His image, and to love from our hearts His image in those people.

When that is the case, both with ourselves and others, we become diligent and zealous for the preservation of life and dignity. We treat others and ourselves with respect. We take care of our health. We bear patiently with others and exercise gentleness and compassion, refusing all strife or bitterness. Indeed, when others are mistreated, we defend and protect them. And all of this not primarily to feel good about ourselves or make others feel good about themselves or about us, but to respond rightly to the infinite value of God Himself.

In all of this, the regard is first for the Lord. No one actually keeps this commandment apart from knowledge of Him and love for Him. And so the place for us to begin is with fostering love for Him by His Word and meditation upon His love for us (cf. 1 John 4:19). We dare not trust ourselves to think of or interact rightly with others until our hearts have been set right by love for Him. 

What people do you have a difficult time loving well? What truth about them will help you? What interaction with God will help you? What must be recovered in our culture for life to be valued properly?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for making us in Your own image. Forgive us for failing to value Your image will either in ourselves or in others. Thank You for valuing us infinitely and eternally in Christ. Grant that we would imitate you in this, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP5B “Listen to My Words, O Lord” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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