Lectionary Year B
March 23, 2003
Exodus 20: 1-17
Step VI - Contemporary Address
(JFC) A proclamation from these Commandments might focus more on the Gospel,
i.e., God's giving them for the good of people, than on their response, i.e., obeying them.
B. Describing the Audience
(JFC) Any congregation needing some updating on the Decalogue could benefit from
an interpretation of this integral part of God's Word.
(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "God Gets Red Faced!"
God is serious about these Commandments. They are far more than mere "ten suggestions", as the joke calls them. God is serious to give 2 copies of them, remember.
I. God Speaks
A. Moses reports having actually (and audibly?) heard God's voice dictating the Decalogue. The subject matter is old, probably heard before, but the voice! Wow! When we listen, we can hear God, God, I tell you, God speaking with us. Imagine. Ludwig Wittgenstein says, "There are remarks that sow and remarks that reap." Which do God's Words spoken to us in this OT Lesson do for and with us? Both sow and reap?
B. God elects to give a self-identification beyond any doubt. "I am this One and only God whom alone you are to worship and serve." Any questions? Hardly. It is clear. It comes to us comfortingly convincing us God wants to be a conversational partner with us. So, we listen both in prayer and in God's (Scriptural) Word and look for God in nature and history, as well. How will God's influencing history occur if war breaks out?
II. God Is Jealous
A. The word in Hebrew, aN"q;, means more than most translations translate it, "jealous". It meant for Moses and his contemporaries, "zealous, to have ardor, passion, fervor, eagerness". It emphasizes the "oomph" with which God says, "I love you totally." It must have had terrific volume with lasting reverberations, huh? It took lots of energy to create the impression that it means all of what it means and always will, doubtlessly.
B. Father Andrew M. Greeley, Priest, Author, Sociologist, writes, "The word means in its Hebrew root, 'breathing after'. In its only other use in the Bible it describes the emotions of a groom passionately desiring his bride. A state of advanced sexual arousal. It would much better be translated 'passionate,' though that wouldn't even be strong enough." However, see Is. 9:6, Eccl. 4:4 and 9:6, Ez. 39:25, Joel 2:18 and Zc. 1:14 and 8:2.
III. God Loves
A. God uses a mathematical formula, this long before Pythagoras, Euclid, Descartes or Newton, to emphasize the limitless extent to which God's love is expressed, "to the thousandth generation . . ." Figuratively, it means a long, long, long time, to be sure.
B. God's love, ds,x,, is epitomized in Jesus' life giving expression of divine love. He died as a ransom for our sinfulness. See Psalms 25:7, 51:3, 36:5, 100:5 and 107:8. It tells the best of the Good News, God's good loving kindness that is steadfast and eternal. It also calls us to love neighbors and all others with similar such affection and approval.
God is as real as if to talk out loud to us as to our predecessors in Scripture. God also is a zealous God, full of passion and energy to care for and to save us. God loves us totally.
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