The Ten Commandments

Traditionnally, the first five books of the Old Testament are attributed to Moses. They are called the Law of Moses, and they contain God’s commandments to His people. Ten out of the 613 divine commandments, 10 were written by the finger of God on the Tablets of Stone: they are called the “Ten Commandments”, or “Decalogue”. Exodus 20 narrates the episode of Moses walking down Mount Sinai to present the “Decalogue” to his people. Let us learn more about the 10 commandments of God, and explore the two greatest commandments that come from it.

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The Tablets of Stones in the Exodus

1 And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 

6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 

9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 

10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 

11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Love the Lord God with all Your Heart

When a teacher approached Jesus with the following question: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied:  “The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12: 28-30)

Loving God is the greatest commandment! However, what does this love entail? The apostle John adresses that question: “this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4: 10). Loving God is accepting to believe in and receive His great love for us. If we believe that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), we show our love to Him, as He asks us to.

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Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

Jesus continued to answer the teacher’s question by saying:  “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31). Jesus also told the parable of the good Samaritan to explain the meaning of loving our neighbor, and how to do it. Indeed, when we love others, we don’t leave them alone in their distress, we offer our time, attention, and if needed, our possessions to help them. Let us ask for God to bless us with the grace of advancing in this life with this thought: “[...] do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

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