Ten Commandments Bible Study ~ Week 2

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am  jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.  (Exodus 20:3-6)


God loved us enough to speak to us. He loved us enough to not only tell us His name, but also to own us, call us into relationship with Him, tell us how to worship Him, and hold us accountable. We understand the God of Israel by understanding His commandments, and to understand the commandments “perfectly” is to understand that they cannot be read in isolation from one another.

Through the first commandment, God is saying that He desires our complete and utter devotion. By placing God on the throne of our lives, we open ourselves up to the movement of the Holy Spirit and enable the kind of relationship and communication that God desires with us. We realize that we are not attempting to get something out of God but we are instead “bending our lives toward God.” (Hauerwas and Willimon, p 34)

Our God reacts intensely to those who disobey this commandment. He is jealous because He is sovereign. He has a particular and passionate desire for relationship with us and expects our very particular and passionate worship of Him in return.

Note that this is a commandment with consequences, both good and bad. By following this commandment, we are promised God’s steadfast love to the thousandth generation! By failing to follow this commandment, our iniquity will result in our children being punished to the third and fourth generation.

What are the “costs” of following this commandment? In the western world, the costs are often social — we may not look or sound like those around us. Our behavior may result in our isolation from others who do not know Christ. In other parts of the world, the cost may be death. What are the costs of not following this commandment? Sin itself is the punishment.


For Week 3, please read Chapter 2 on the Second Commandment. Following are discussion questions to prepare you for our next meeting:

  1. Why did God give us His name?
  2. Why is knowing God’s name such a great gift to us?
  3. How do we rightly or wrongly use God’s name?
  4. What causes us to break this commandment?
  5. How are we hurt by abusing God’s name?
  6. What are the public consequences of keeping this commandment?
  7. How would you explain this commandment to a child?

4 thoughts on “Ten Commandments Bible Study ~ Week 2

  1. good questions. I’ve never thought so intentionally about God’s name before, but it is true that there is a lot of power and holiness in his name alone and we should treat God’s name with the respect and honor due Him.

    • It is very difficult to understand the sovereignty of God when viewed in light of what the world deems as just. Remember that there is a complete picture — a complete story — that ends with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. Only then can you understand why Christ told us that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37b-39)

      • The idea that what the world as a whole deems just is contradictory to the claim that we derive our morality from the God with whom our ideas of justice clash.

        I know the story. It doesn’t contribute any more understanding to the issue. Based on this, I assume that you do think that this is just. I’d love to know why. Rather, for me, the story only raises more questions that place God’s morality under more doubt…

        Further, I find it curious that we are expected to love God when we aren’t provided any evidence for his existence. We had better love him, or our children after us will suffer. How does that help us? How does that help our children? And if he does exist, how would that make anyone want to have a relationship with him? Threatening my children may get a result, but I fail to see how that would help me truly develop a loving relationship with him. It would only be out of fear. How abusive.

        As you said, if we fail, our children to the third and fourth generation will be punished. This sounds as though the only reason to love and accept God, is to save your children.

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