And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD 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. Exodus 20:1-3
The history of God’s people is a narrative of human rebellion, our need for deliverance and the blessing of God’s redeeming grace. During our time of Advent preparation, the Church hears again the call of repentance and the striving to live according to God’s will. On this second Sunday of Advent, we turn our focus to the gift of God’s commandments.
As we read and study the Ten Commandments, is becomes increasingly evident that the other gods of our world are deeply entrenched, and do not plan on releasing their hold upon our lives. The gods of the world (greed, lust, contempt, etc…) promise us a life of fulfillment and joy, but in the end, they are the promises of emptiness and death. There is no salvation apart from God and no life without Christ. God calls His people to live differently than the children of the world. He calls us to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And so it is we begin such a life with the Ten Commandments as our guide to godly living.
When God gave Moses His Ten Commandments, He passed on to His people the gift of godly living and the expectation of obedience to His will. We are to have no other gods. We are to call upon Him in times of trouble and worship His name in thanksgiving. Living in relationship with others we are to honor those in authority, help our neighbor retain his property while living in such a way that we bring health and wholeness to our relationships. We shall not covet, for as Jesus teaches, “Ask and it will be given.”
Living according to God’s commandments means that we are to fear, love and trust in God above all things. We are to stand in awe of His power and glory while pondering the mysteries of creation, grace, and love that God has for his people. To fear God is not to be afraid, but rather it is to keep Him first in our hearts and above all things. As we wander in the wilderness of earthly life and continue the Advent journey toward Christmas, may we continue to receive God’s commandments as both gift and guide for living in the kingdom of God.
Holy and merciful God, we give you thanks for the gift of your commandments. Give us the strength and the will to follow them, so that all we say and do might be pleasing in your sight. This we pray in the name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.