If a robot asked us “what is love?” wouldn’t we need to download a descriptive manual to explain what love is all about? – I know this seems a little far-fetched, but just humor me for a minute. – The Ten Commandments are like a manual explaining that we show love when we do not steal, when we do not lie and refuse to take advantage of someone’s misfortune; all the while we help our neighbors, give generously, conduct fair businesses and show respect by upholding the so-defined love standard.
Granted, we are no robots and the word “love” should mean something to us; unfortunately, not all of us are born into very promising circumstances, and then love may not make a whole lot of sense. Looking at the people of Israel around the time when they received the Ten Commandments from God, they were refugees roaming the Sinai desert – escaped slaves. A slave is considered a prized possession at best and mistreated like an abused animal at its worst. All day push and pull; do this, don’t do that!
600,000 men of military age were counted when the Israelites left Egypt. Israel’s exodus may have ended for them the Egyptian tyranny, but a former slave had to redefine his entire existence. Multiply this times 600,000 and we are looking at a major identity crisis of an entire people group.
I believe issuing the Ten Commandments at this point in history was extremely helpful. It turned a motley crew of refugees into the people of Israel who made it through the desert and are still around today. – What about now? Are the Ten Commandments still relevant today? – Well, does humanity still have issues with this thing called love?
While commandments written in stone are no replacement for love, they represent a road map showing us how to get there. Most importantly, the commandments all point to its Author – God Almighty – and finding Him, we find everything.