Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love


Moses and the Commandments

There is no way to spend a summer talking about superheroes without mentioning Moses! For the people of God, Moses is the Superhero. They may call Abraham their father, but Moses is their savior. And Jesus recognizes his role as the New Moses. What Moses did for the people of God, Jesus does for us. Moses saved his people from slavery of the Egyptians and Jesus saves us from the slavery of our sin. Moses freed his people through the waters of the Red Sea, as Jesus frees us through the waters of baptism. And Moses delivers us the Law of God which Jesus upholds as we here him say - The Law is summed up by remembering we are to love God and we are to love one another.
Moses is another of the superheroes requested by you and it was requested to take specifically about Moses as he relates to the 10 Commandments. We will summarize Moses’ life as we look to Moses delivering the Commandments to God’s people.
Moses was born at a time in Egypt when the Pharaoh had decreed that all boy babies would be killed upon their birth. The Pharaoh felt threatened by the growing numbers of the Hebrews and decided he needed to reduce the population and riding the country of the baby boys seemed to be a good plan. When Moses is born, his mother knows that as soon as it is known that she has delivered a baby boy, the soldiers will come. So she makes a water proof basket and places it in the river and into the hands of God. Through God’s great work, Moses is rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and brought up in the palace of the Pharaoh.
When he is 40, he witnesses an Egyptian beating up a Hebrew and goes to the defense of the Hebrew, one of his own people. Moses ends up killing the Egyptian and fearing for his own life if anyone finds out, runs away.
He runs to the area of Mt Sinai where he finds a job as a shepherd, finds a wife and makes a life for himself. One day he is chasing a sheep and sees a bush that is on fire, but not burning up. He goes to check out what is happening, and hear’s the voice of God who tells Moses he is going to send Moses back to Egypt where Moses is going to save God’s people from slavery and take them to the promised land - a land of their own where God will live with them forever.
And Moses reluctantly does what God asks. He rescues God’s peoples, takes them through the waters of the Red Sea and into the wilderness.
Now it is Moses’ responsibility to lead thousands of people, who have never been in a desert before, have never seen a desert before, have no idea what it means to travel and live in a desert - these are the people Moses has to lead and care for. And it is not easy.
God’s people turn out to be a group of whiners. We’r in a element of tier owne thirsty, we’re hungry, are we there yet? we want to go home. And each step of the way, God, through Moses, provided for the people. No matter what, God provided whatever the people needed.
In the eyes of the people, Moses fluctuated between the great provider, the savior of the people and then other days, Moses was the villain, the one who had ripped them from Egypt where they had all they wanted or desired and brought them into this forsaken desert where they were suffering and hungry and thirsty and hot and tired and just uncertain about the way ahead.
Of course the people had forgotten about the hardships they faced in Egypt; they forgot about the beatings from the Egyptian overlords, about the amount of work they had to do just to survive. The past problems were put aside as they struggled with this new way of life. And Moses was there with them every step of the way - Moses was the one who was leading them into a relationship with God.
There were days when Moses wasn’t so fond of what God had called him to do. And there were days when God wasn’t so happy he saved these people. But together, God and Moses worked together to patiently try and teach these people what it meant to have a relationship with the one who had gathered them, freed them and now called them his people.
God felt that the people were ready for the next step in tier relationship. God tells Moses that Moses is to meet God on top of Mt. Sinai. But before he goes to meet God, Moses goes and spends 40 days to prepare himself for this awesome responsibility. Brings to mind the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness to prepare himself for the ministry God has called him to.
After the 40 days of preparation, Moses gathers God’s people at the base of the mountain and tells them to wait as he goes and gets instructions from God as to how God’s people are to live.
40 days Moses is up on top of the mountain with God. God gives Moses not only the list of what we know as the 10 Commandments, but also a whole bunch of other ‘rules’ and guidelines. He gives Moses the plans to build the tabernacle, a place where the people can worship and a place where God can live with his people so they can understand better how much desires to be with them.
The purpose of the 10 Commandments, the purpose of the dietary laws and the daily living laws and all the other instructions was to help the people as they learn to live with one another. What happens to a group of people who try to live together with no rules, no right or wrong, to parameters on how to live together? God’s giving them these rules was a gift. A gift to to give them direction and a means in order to live together in peace.
Think about a bowling alley. The new bowling alleys have these rails that you can put up so that your bowling ball doesn’t go into the gutter. When the rails are up, the ball may not go straight or fast, but the only place it can go is straight towards the pins and you are pretty much guaranteed to knock at least one of them down! Without the rails, bowling balls thrown by people like myself go into the gutter a lot.
These commandments, these ‘rules’, Moses is delivering to the people are just like the rails on a bowling alley. For them and for us, they are ways of living that keep us on the right tract in order to live lives of peace and harmony with those around us. The laws are a gift from God who helps us understand there is a way we can live which will help us live with each other in a way where we can all get along.
Remember Rodney King from the LA Riots in 1992 who said, “Can’t we just all get along?” And the answer God gives us is, “Yes you can if you just live following my design for living”.
And here it is - if you just follow these guidelines you will be amazed at what a difference in makes - imagine a world where everyone lives by these guidelines…… what would that be like?
What these rules, these commandments, were never meant to be was a list of how to earn God’s love. God does not sit on his throne on heaven and watch each of us like a hawk and write down each time we break a commandment and then wave his finger and say ‘Shame on you’ or erase us from the book of life because we have broken too many of the commandments too many times.
The commandments are truly God’s way of help us live together. John Calvin adds to that the law also helps us realize we need a savior because we can’t follow all the rules on our own. If God’s love depended on our following the law, we would all be sunk. The law is not a measuring stick to see how we measure up but it does help us see that on our own, we can’t follow these laws as we should.
Jesus tells us that these laws may have come from the Old Testament; they may come from an ancient leader of God’s people - but they are still valuable in helping us live as God’s people. All Jesus did was sum up the law into 2 sentences - love God and love each other. Short and sweet. Easy….
Well we all know it isn’t easy. But at least we have something that helps us as we try and figure life out. We have something that says in any decision think, does it honor God? Does it show love and respect for the people around us?
Moses was a superhero - he had to put up with a lot - but he stuck with it. He led God’s people; he brought them the 10 Commandments from God and then tried to help God’s people live into those laws.
Jesus does the same for us. He reminds us of the law and then sends us his spirit to help us live into those laws.
We will never be perfect at trying, but we can never stop for we are God’s people and we are here to show the world there is a better way to live.