(Video referenced in beginning of post and title can be found here: Kingdom Chums – Original Top Ten (1989) Full Video on YouTube)
I’m not sure if any of my readers also ran across this video (on VHS tape!) as kids, but I remember checking it out from the local library and watching the old school style of animation and hearing what was, at the time, some pretty rockin’ tunes. It looks a little silly now, but it was a great way to teach kids about the 10 Commandments found in the Bible, and a clever way to get them stuck in their heads with the catchy music. Side note: if you’re from my generation (in the USA), you may also recall Psalty The Singing Songbook (Psalty The Singing Songbook Kids Praise 5 Full Video on YouTube – this was the main VHS tape by Psalty that I had while growing up…yeah, I know, right?!?!).
So, for us adults, what’s the big deal with “the original top ten”? The Lord gave us these commands to live by, in order to do two main things: 1) to show us our need for Jesus as Savior, since it’s impossible for us to keep them perfectly on our own and 2) for the good of the individual, family, and society by the institution of a moral code.
Here, briefly, I will detail for you all 10, in the order in which they are given in Scripture (see Exodus 20 for the entire passage).
1. “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
God demands our total devotion to Him, since He is both our Creator and Sustainer. “No other gods” includes idols that aren’t dieties – any thing or person that we prioritize before God in our lives (examples: significant other or spouse, money, popularity, work, recreation).
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord am a jealous God…”
Not only should we not put earthly things or people before God, but we are also commanded not to make any sort of object that we direct our worship towards, even if it is something in heaven.
3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
Taking God’s name in vain not only includes literal swearing with reference to “God” or “Jesus Christ” in an irreverent manner. It also includes taking on the name of Jesus Christ by calling yourself “Christian” while actively engaging in a lifestyle or behaviors that go against everything that God stands for, while making jokes about these sinful behaviors and/or thinking they’re ok or even that Gid condones them because, well, after all “it makes you happy.”
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth…and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
As Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “Then He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’ ” This commandments was given to us by God, because He is our Creator and knows that the human body requires an amount of rest after a week of hard work. He also wants us to step back and realize what’s important – worship of God. We don’t need to panic if there is an emergency need that we must take care of on Sunday, because the Lord looks at the heart and the true intentions/attitude and tells us to take care of emergencies on the Sabbath.
5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
Those of us who are married are instructed to put our spouse as a priority over even our parents – the Lord takes honor of parents and respect of parental authority very seriously. Of course, if our parent(s) ask us to do something that goes against Scripture’s teachings, we should politely decline. Even when we disagree with parents, we can have an overall attitude of respect. God honors the sacrifices that parents make for their children as well as the sacrifices children make for their parents. After all, a little selflessness and extra love never hurt anyone!
6. “You shall not murder.”
This commandment pretty obviously was given for the benefit of society! Jesus also said in the New Testament that even harboring hate in our heart towards another person is like murder. We are to forgive, even if we can no longer trust the person. Since we are to hate what God hates. we are also to be very detested by the evil practice of the abortion of infant human life that is considered a legal, acceptable practice in most of the developed world. We must call it what it truly is: murder.
7. “You shall not commit adultery.”
Taking something that does not belong to us is stealing (another commandment!). Adultery is taking a person who does not have an avowed relationship to you as a spouse (no matter who in the affair is or isn’t married) and having an intimate relationship with them that should be reserved for a husband and wife. While having deep conversations with someone of the opposite sex who isn’t your spouse isn’t necessarily wrong by itself, emotional intimacy really shouldn’t be treated as insignificant, and while it’s not technically a physical affair, can lead to one, or even has been called by some “an affair of the heart.” Since humans are such emotionally and hormonally driven creatures, setting boundaries is incredibly important, when having any interactions with the opposite sex.
8. “You shall not steal.”
God doesn’t give exceptions to this commandment, but rather says if anyone has a need, they are to ask for what they need (especially food or clothing) at the local church level, or to ask a close friend, etc. We cannot just go around taking what is not ours. God also commands that we work hard – He does not appreciate laziness. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) He does not want us to ask for help when we are perfectly capable of earning what we need to support ourselves/our family. At the same time, He commands the church to care for orphans and widows and others who are legitimately in need. Rather than stealing, those of us who have a legitimate need are to ask the local church for assistance/direction.
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
To “bear false witness” is to tell a lie or misrepresent by imply ing something other than “just the facts, Ma’am.” Jesus answered the question “who is my neighbor” by saying that any other person we come into contact with who we have an opportunity to show mercy towards is our neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37). Therefore, any person we have an opportunity to speak about, whether privately or in a court of law, is someone we are commanded to speak truthfully about. Lying or deceiving or “throwing someone else under the bus” in order to “save our own skin” is unacceptable. God promises to bless those who are merciful and who rightly speak about any situation. He despises lying and deceit in both the private and political spheres.
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
The dictionary definition of the word “covet” can really help us unpack this commandment by becoming familiar with the term being used. “Covet: (verb) yearn to posses or have (something.) Synonyms (for covet): desire, yearn for, crave, have one’s heart set on, want, wish or, long for.” So basically, we’re not to spend our time wishing for, yearning for, craving, or longing for a person or possession that belongs to another household. The Bible clearly demonstrates here that having your heart set on or longing after another person’s spouse is a sin, even if adultery itself is not committed – coveting another’s spouse is also known as lust. People may try to say that wishing for or lusting after another person’s spouse (or another single person who is not the spouse they already have) is ok because, after all, they didn’t “go all the way.” God, however, looks at the heart of the matter and says that even coveting is breaking His law.