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The Ten Commandments: An Agreement

Covenant of the Lord, Law of God, God's Law, God's ways, Old Covenant, New Testament, Old Testament, Mt. Sinai, tablets of stone, ark of the covenant, arc of the covenant

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What is our Creator trying to tell us by saying "...His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments" (Deu 4:13b) . A covenant is an agreement. The Ten Commandments are not an agreement. The Ten Commandments are not even the entire covenant, but only the regulations or terms of the covenant Israel agreed to follow. So how can "His covenant " be the Ten Commandments?


"They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law" (Ps 78:10)


Hebrew speakers often repeat themselves when they intend emphasis. However, they don't always use blatant repetition. They usually completely reword or come at the matter from a different angle. The case above is a good example. 'His law' is 'His covenant'. They are one and the same. English speakers are often confused and think this is talking of two different things. The intention of the Hebrew author was to add emphasis highlighting the importance of the covenant and irresponsibility of Israel in ignoring not only His covenant, but in doing so also breaking His Law.


So not only were the Ten Commandments a covenant, but they were also a law, His Law. Whether the Ten Commandments are called a covenant or a law is not necessarily a major concern. The end result is the same. Syntactically English would rather see 'law' used in most cases, but the original was written in Hebrew, so the translators attempt to convert the words to English. If we thought about it a bit we would understand that the Creator expects His people to buy into His covenant and make it theirs as it is His. He understands covenants are agreements and He wishes us to agree with Him.


The Ten Commandments are also associated with other concepts in the Hebrew scriptures.


"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" (Deu 10:12-13)


Just as His law and His covenant are the same, so too fearing Him, serving Him and walking in His ways are the same thing as well. The end result is the same and the result is that you will end up keeping His commandments if you wish to respond appropriately to the Creator.


"For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do-to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him-" (Deu 11:22)


If you love God and desire to align yourself to Him you will conduct yourself in this same way, His way.


The inclusion of the concept of 'walking in His way' is the real clue as to why the Ten Commandments are called His covenant. It is the code of conduct by which He binds Himself. It is His way. They are how He relates to others and the principles by which He lives.  That is why the Ten Commandments are referred to as 'His Covenant'.  They are His standard for living, an assumed agreement with every other person with whom He might come into contact.


"Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!" (Ps 81:13)


"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" . (Isa 55:9)


"They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf,.." (Ex 32:8ab)


The New Testament uses all the same terms to describe righteousness and the righteous.


"For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him.." (Mat 21:32)


"This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John." (Acts 18:25)


"For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them." (II Pet 2:21)


Isn't the teaching of the New Testament significantly different from the Old? The truth will surprise you. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Tim 3:16). Specifically this is talking of the Hebrew Scriptures, the so called Old Testament. "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Mat 24:5). Could you be one of the victims?  Consider the significance of knowing exactly what the Law of God is.