|Q43: What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?||Q44: What doth the preface to the Ten Commandments teach us?|
|A: The preface to the Ten Commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Ex. 22:2).||A: The preface to the Ten Commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments (Deut. 11:1; Lk. 1:74, 75).|
I. The preface to the Ten Commandments, or “preamble” (Ex. 20:2), was common to state treaties in the second millennium BC .
A. The Sinai covenant (Ex. 19:1-20; 20; 24) resembles other treaties: preamble and prologue (Ex. 20:2), stipulations (20:3-17), ratification (24:1-11; cf. Matt. 26:28), deposition (Ex. 24:5), witnesses, and blessings and curses (Lev. 26; Deut. 28).
1. The preface stands to the commandments like a magnificent entry way into a palace decorated by the arms of its owner.
II. The reasons for keeping the commandments: God’s Name, covenant, and redemption.
A. The Name of God, His sovereignty: “I am the Lord.”
1. Yahweh: the covenant, personal name of God, denoting His self-existent, eternal, and unchangeable nature (cf. Ex. 3:14), from whom all beings derive their existence. “I am who/what I am” or “I am who/what I will be.” The latter preferable, as the historical and theological context of these early chapters shows God is revealing to Moses and the people His active redemptive intentions on their behalf and not His intrinsic nature.
a. Infinite excellence and perfection of His nature as Lord of all creatures: “none like you” (Jer. 10:7).
b. Lord-Creator that gave us our being, and therefore we are pots of the Potter (Ps. 100:2-3; Jer. 18:6).
c. Lord-Lawgiver (Jam. 4:12).
d. Lord-Preserver (Rev. 4:11).
B. The covenant relation to His people.
1. The Sinai covenant was made in confirmation of the Abrahamic covenant (Ex. 2:24; 3:16), and was not legalistic, as Israel was already adopted (Ex. 2:25; 4:22; 6:6-8).
2. The covenant made with Abraham and his seed (Gen. 15:18; 17:7).
a. Deliverance from Egypt based on covenant promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:13-14).
(1). All Israel according to flesh were externally included.
(2). All Israel according to the Spirit were under in saving manner (Rom. 4:11-13).
3. The covenant binds to obedience, not as condition, but by consenting to it one takes on the yoke of the commandments to be His people wholly, only, and forever (Isa. 44:5; 2 Cor. 8:5; 1 Jn. 5:3).
a. The covenant: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb. 8:10; cf. Jer. 31:33).
b. The privileges of the covenant (Lk. 1:74-75), which the Christian is more indebted by (Lk. 12:48).
C. The redemption and deliverance.
1. The deliverance is here commemorated to show God’s faithfulness to His promise and covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:13-16).
a. Great benefits of this deliverance: from cruel tyranny, hard labor, male child appointed to death or drowning, afflictions so great their cry went heavenward, Egypt a place of pollutions and abominations.
(1). Egypt called “the iron furnace” (Deut. 4:20).
2. The deliverance typifies the spiritual deliverance by Jesus from sin, Satan, and hell.
a. Jesus, by price and power, delivers His elect from the state of bondage to sin and Satan (Heb. 2:14-15), and from the wrath to come (2 Thess. 1:10).
3. The deliverance furnishes great reason for obedience.
a. Obedience was the purpose for the deliverance (Lk. 1:74-75), as Pharoah would not set Israel free to worship (Ex. 4:23).
(1). Men freed by Christ are enabled to serve Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Col. 1:13).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. The Ten Commandments are not given as a covenant of works, but in the way of the covenant of grace. The way to attain to obedience is first to believe that God is our God in Christ and then to set about the keeping: first faith, then practice.
B. Use, of testing.
1. True obedience can only run in the channel of grace, being directed to our covenant God.
2. Contrasts: obedience is not performed for righteousness, but to testify our love to the Lord of righteousness; not in our own strength, but in the grace of our Redeemer; not to be accepted in its own worth, but in the Redeemer’s merits; not out of fear of hell, or hope to purchase heaven, but out of love and gratitude to Him who has delivered us from hell, and purchased heaven for us.
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. All men are obliged to keep the commandments, for God is the Lord of all. Keep them perfectly or close in faith with Him who has.
2. Saints. Reflect on the great salvation wrought for us by Jesus, saved from all the horrors of sin, hell, the power of Satan, and delivered from the pollutions of the present evil world, and let hearts glow with the fire and love of gratitude towards Christ, doubling your diligence and laboring with your utmost might.