The Glory of the 10 Devarim – Understanding the essence of the 10 Commandments Part 1
Our last Torah portions have all been around the law – the mitzvot, mishpatim and chukot – loosely translated in English as laws, ordinances and statutes.
In Parsha Yitro [Jethro] Exodus 18 – 20, we see the Israelites called into preparation to meet with Elohim at Mt. Sinai. This was the moment when they would literally "see" the voice of Elohim and fully understand His might and power. Remember for over 200 years they had been subject to the gods of Egypt and it stands to reason that they would be comparing Elohim with their Egyptian frame of reference.
Moshe at this time received the 10 Devarim/Words - which many of us know as the 10 Commandments.
The 10 Devarim form the essence of our walk with Him. All the commandments that follow from here in the Torah are hinged to these Words and are just as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago on Mt. Sinai.
The first 5 Devarim are all about our relationship with and to our Abba Father and the second 5 are all about our relationship with those around us. These Second 5 Devarim are intricately connected to how we keep the First 5.
If you are familiar with chiastic structures this will immediately make sense to you but for those of you who are not familiar with chiastic structures in the word – here is a simple explanation of how this works:
Chiastic structure, or chiastic pattern, is a literary technique in narrative motifs and other textual passages. Consider it to be like a sandwich with the central idea being the filling and following a pattern both outwards and inwards. Essentially, they form patterns that link scriptures together in a circular pattern like that of a menorah where branches are connected.
When we look at the 10 Devarim we see incredible chiastic structures in the 1st 5 linked to the second 5 and then within the 1st 5 and the 2nd 5.
As on overview this is how they are connected on the first level:
Let’s unpack the first level of connections:
Devarim 1 and 10
The 1st Devarim is the foundation of not only the 10 Devarim but all of the Torah and our lives! Recognizing and acknowledging Adonai as King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the only way we are able to keep any of His commands. An act of true surrender unto our Elohim is about living a life free of compromise – we cannot be lukewarm and hope to walk in His truth. Revelation 2: 15 – 16
When we choose Elohim as our King and we walk in His ways we choose not to walk in the ways of the world. When He becomes our Master, we learn to die to self and not to covet the things of this world. Matthew 6:24 clearly states that we cannot serve two masters, for we either love the one or hate the other. The 10th Devarim speaks to the things of this world and how we can become slaves to these things when we begin to lust after them.
When we covet we also run the risk of falling into envy of others. This in itself brings destruction to our hearts and it pulls us further away from the covering and shalom of Adonai. When we serve Adonai and look to Him for all things we know where our source is. Through coveting what others have or the life they lead we look to the world as our source instead of our Creator.
When we begin to covet after that which has not been given to us we begin to take our eyes off of Elohim which leads to us breaking the 2nd Devarim. So intrinsically the 2nd Devarim is also connected to 1st and 10th.
This command is also linked to the 5th Devarim – to honour your mother and father. Both of these commands are about honouring. When we honour our Father in Heaven and live a life of obedience in Him it will naturally flow over to how we treat our parents. When we honour our Elohim we are a reflection of who He is and when we honour our parents we are a reflection of who they are too. If we are dishonouring to our parents, essentially, we are not being an honourable reflection of our Father in Heaven.
Honouring them does not mean that we allow abusive or disrespectful behaviour from them (because I know many people have extremely strained and damaged relationships with their parents) it means we need to behave in such a way that we are not guilty of sin in how we relate to them, that we are not the ones causing them pain and that we can offer grace and mercy when the situation calls for it.
This is how we reflect the righteousness of Adonai - we can stand firm on our beliefs but do it in such a way that we are not being dishonouring. Essentially honouring parents is only possible if we have surrendered completely to the rulership of our Adonai Elohim. One without the other is impossible.
Devarim 2 and 9
The 2nd Devarim is about faithfulness. “You shall have no other gods before me…” You again cannot keep this if you are not in agreement with the 1st Devarim. In choosing Adonai alone to be your God you step under the covering and kindness of His grace and mercy made available to us through the covenant with Abraham. We are only offered this grace because Adonai knows the weakness of our hearts, that despite our desire to keep all His mitzvot we will fall short of His glory. Those who choose to walk outside of His truth and His mitzvot or commands step outside of this covering.
Faithfulness is directly linked to truth and trust. Without truth there can be no trust and without either of these we cannot be faithful. Being faithful to our Adonai requires us to be willing to live in truth. Not the truth man has created but the truth of our Creator Elohim.
When we live in compromise we are not living in truth and we are lying to ourselves. A little bit of truth in the midst of a lie is does not make the rest of the lie true – it makes all the truth a lie. The serpent was the first of creation that twisted the truth of what Adonai had told Adam and Chava (Eve) and his deception brought expulsion from the covering of Eden. This forms a direct correlation to the 9th Devarim – do not bear false witness – do not lie.
When we say that we love Adonai but we don’t live out His mitzvot, we are actually lying or bearing false witness. Now I know that is some hard truth to swallow but there is just no way around it.
In the words of A.W. Tozer,
“Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it.”
We must be willing to see the truth and take the correction that goes with it.
‘Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonour their bodies with one another. They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.’ Romans 1:24 – 25
Idolatry is not always blatant and neither are lies. These falsehoods always start off as a thought and when we give into them they become rooted in our hearts. All sin takes root first in our thinking.
The 2nd Devarim is also linked to the 6th Devarim – do not murder.
When we give false testimony about our neighbour – which really is lying about anyone – we bring death to their reputations. This is an incredibly serious thing to do. In Exodus we see Miryiam, Moshe’s sister, being struck with leprosy when she slanders Moshe. This is referred to as lashon harah in Hebrew and literally means evil speech.
How many false words have we agreed with or spoken against others causing destruction over their lives in the area of relationships, careers, business and more? This is the destruction of those who are made in the image of Adonai. Many of us have been on the receiving end of this devastation and can relate to the destruction of false testimony.
The 2nd Devarim is also connected to the 7th Devarim – do not commit adultery.
When we have idols in our hearts – whatever this may be – a career, a dream, loved ones, worldly possessions, status and reputations – we commit spiritual adultery against our Elohim. Bowing down to anyone but or Elohim is breaking covenant with Him.
Nothing can be kept true and pure without the declaration and commitment to our Adonai Elohim’s lordship. When we sh’ma – listen and obey – we surrender to Him first. In this surrender and obedience to his ways He in turn covers us with His shield of grace and mercy so that when we do fail in our weaknesses and make teshuva (turn away from our sin) He is quick to receive us back into his loving arms!
In the following blog posts I will be discussing the next Devarim – stay connected and leave a comment on your thoughts.
As always, be blessed as you seek our His truth in the Scriptures.