12 “Value your father and your mother, so that your lives may be extended in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 13 “Do not murder. 14 “Do not commit adultery. 15 “Do not steal. 16 “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17 “Do not covet your neighbor’s house; Do not lust after your neighbor’s wife, or greedily seek his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” 18 Then all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or else we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, because God has come to test you, so that the fear of him may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
covenant constitution (part two)
The second group of words from God turned the focus from the vertical relationship with the LORD himself to the horizontal relationships that covenant keepers were to have.
1. Parents were to be valued, honored, and respected. The verb contains the idea of weight, as if the covenant keepers were expected to consider the weight of their parents as gifts from the LORD, and highly value them as a result of that consideration. Longevity in the land for the people as a whole depended on that kind of parental respect.
2. Human life was to be held sacred. This was not a universal command against all kinds of killing. It certainly could not have been a mandate against the warfare that the Israelites had already participated in, or would later – at the LORD’s command. Nor did it preclude capital punishment. The LORD had just instructed them to either stone or shoot with arrows anyone besides Moses and Aaron who dared to touch the mountain where he was speaking. No, this particular covenant promise was to avoid taking any human life for personal gain, or out of personal wrath.
3. The marriage vows and the marriage bed were also to be considered sacred. The same God who brought together Adam and Eve in Eden wanted to bring together couples in the covenant community who celebrate the gift of each other their entire lives. Adultery destroys relationships and the families brought about by those relationships.
4. Personal property was considered a God given right, and that right was not to be violated by theft.
5. The truth was required when a covenant keeper was called upon to testify about his neighbor. This went both ways: a neighbor could not lie about his neighbor’s actions in order to gain over that neighbor, or to defend that neighbor against right judgment.
6. Covenant keepers were not to seek advantage over their neighbors. This included the previously mentioned prohibitions against adultery and theft. But it also included the heart attitude of seeing someone or something which properly belongs to someone else. A true covenant keeper seeks the welfare and health of his neighbor.
LORD, you have rescued us for yourself, but you require that we love and respect others as you do. Build within us communities that show your love and grace, and treat each other properly.