White: God had a Top 10 long before Letterman

Published 1:01 am Saturday, July 15, 2017

More than 3,000 years ago, before David Letterman came up with his top 10 lists on late night television, God appeared to Moses and wrote His top ten list on a stone tablet (Exodus 31:18). The list of 10 rules, which we call the Ten Commandments, has been called “the essential principles of moral law.”

Until about a week ago, I thought only one person had ever broken all of the Ten Commandments at the same time. Moses broke the stone tablets when he saw his people were worshipping a golden idol instead of the one true God. But, recently, an Arkansas man deliberately drove his pick-up into a new six-foot-tall Ten Commandments monument outside the State House in Little Rock. The 6,000 pound granite monument broke into multiple pieces.

Throughout the centuries, the Ten Commandments have remained the guidelines to live by, even though people may choose to ignore or criticize them, or break them. Several years ago, media mogul Ted Turner offered to pay a million dollars to “anyone who could come up with a realistic moral code to replace the unrealistic and worn-out Ten Commandments,” according to published reports.  I remember Turner calling them the “Ten Suggestions.”

Let’s take a look at God’s top 10 rules for living listed in Exodus chapter 20. Bible scholars describe the first four as our duties to God: His being – You shall have no other gods before me; His worship – You shall not make any carved image; His name – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; and His day – Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Theologians say the other six commandments concern our duties to our fellowmen, including our parents and neighbor’s wife, property, and position (Exodus 20:12 – 17).

According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “The foundation and source of all moral law is God’s character…therefore it is as unchangeable as God.” Although the Ten Commandments are listed in the Old Testament, Jesus spoke of them in the New Testament.  Matthew (19:17) and Mark (10:19) recorded Jesus’ words to a young man who asked about receiving eternal life.  The apostle John told us Jesus replied, “If you love me, keep my commandments “(John 14:15).

People should be able to read the Ten Commandments in the way we live our lives.  The apostle Paul wrote about us being known and read by everyone.

If people obeyed, “Thou shalt not steal,” robbery would cease. Would crimes of fraud occur if people didn’t lie or covet their neighbor’s possessions? “Thou shalt not commit adultery” would deter many divorces.

Would there be more respect for authority if there were more respect for God? And wouldn’t there be more respect for God if people didn’t put a four-letter word after His Holy Name? Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:27-29).


– Jan White is an award-winning columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com