September 20, 2015: The best image of God is a human being.

Posted on : Sep 17th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Of the Ten Commandments, 30% are about God. 70% are about us, God’s people! 70% are about the way God expects us to live and treat one another! With all the fanfare around them, it is clear they are more than mere suggestions.

These are serious covenants – binding agreements – with God. And yet, when you think about it, they are remarkably few – only 7 in total!

Imagine for a moment that you are God and you are entering into a brand new relationship with your peeps. For the previous 430 years, your people have lived under authoritarian, absolute rule. Slaves do not get to make life choices. Slaves to do not have personal freedoms. Even a slave’s personhood is seldom acknowledged or valued.   Now, all of a sudden, your people are set free and are on a journey to a new place in life. A place that seems like utopia compared to the misery and oppression of your past.

One of the big questions you as God have to deal with is “what will be the rules for justice and morality” in this community? (In Israel’s history, these rules became known as “Torah” or “the law.”) In answer to this question, God established ten laws with the community. As we look at them, they are remarkably simple:

(1) I  am your God… you shall have no other gods before me.

(2) You shall not make for yourself an idol, of me (your God) or any other gods.

(3) You shall not falsely swear an oath by my (God’s) name.

(4) Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

(5) Honor your father and your mother.

(6) You shall not murder.

(7) You shall not commit adultery.

(8) You shall not steal.

(9) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

(10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

They seem pretty simple, don’t they? That was the intent. However, as often happens, we human beings love to find ways to wiggle around laws. We look for exceptions, we try to create every “what if” scenario. And we start using our position in society to “stack the deck” so the poor and powerless have less freedom and the wealthy and powerful have more.

The Israelites did the same thing. The interpretation and exceptions to those ten simple laws soon multiplied like ants at a picnic. And in the process, humanity lost. We became less human.

This portion of our story of faith teaches us an important lesson: The way we treat one another, respect one another, honor one another is central to our relationship with God.

One time when the Pharisees (legalists) wanted to trap Jesus, they asked him, “Rabbi, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus said, ‘“’You shall love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami, wrote:

With a God we can’t see we continue to ask “Where is God?” We see so much pain and suffering in the world and we want it fixed now. We want our God to manifest God’s very being in our midst. And yet the answer is so clear about how to do that but we are reluctant to make it happen.

Judaism teaches the best “image” of God is a human being. We are created in the imagine of God, and we are to do godly things.

Seven of the ten commandments offer us the ethical framework about how to live as human beings and how to live in community with others. That is a hard lesson to learn as we live into the freedom God has given us.

More on Sunday

Blessings!

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Exodus 20: 1-17

Then God spoke all these words:

(1) I, the Holy One, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

(2) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Holy One your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

(3) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God, for your God will not acquit anyone who misuses God’s name.

(4) Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. For six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days God made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore God blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

(5) Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that your God is giving you.

(6) You shall not murder.

(7) You shall not commit adultery.

(8) You shall not steal.

(9) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

(10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

 

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