Messages from Pastor Raddatz

August 21, 2022, Mt. Olive Lutheran, Houston TX, Other Texts for today: Isaiah 66:18-23, Hebrews 12:4-24 and Luke 13: 22-30

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: Opportunities to love God and to love others

The Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1-21 1 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “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. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “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.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

“This is the word of the Lord; Thanks be to God”.

Grace, mercy and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

            Today begins a sermon series on the basics of the faith.  I hope you will view this as the foundations of the faith.   In other words, if you do not know the basics about faith and if your foundation of faith is faulty, then the life you build can crumble.  On the other hand, if you build your life upon the foundation of God’s word, let the winds and the rains come.  You can still stand under the pressure because you have built your life upon God’s word.

            Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking at six chief parts of this foundation.  Today, we examine the ten commandments.

            When you think about the ten commandments, what picture comes to mind?   The picture that comes to my mind is of Charlton Heston, who played Moses, in Cecil B. DeMille’ 1956 version of the movie, The Ten Commandments

I also think of the social-political battle and those who want to post the Ten Commandments in our civic places, believing that simple act might bring some kind of righteous peace into our society.  I also wonder, who actually knows all ten of the commandments?  I can probably list most of them, but I always seem to forget one or two.  And I, like many, perhaps like some of you, have an uncomfortable reaction to the whole “Thou shall not” approach of the commandments, the feeling that they are more about condemnation than salvation.

The scriptures tell us that the Ten Commandments were written into stone by the very hand of God. (Exodus 31:18) They were intended to be a gift to the Israelites, to God’s people, a gift by which to organizes themselves, a gift by which they might live, a gift to keep them in relationship with God, and with one another, and even those they encounter, as they continued their long journey from slavery to the promised land. (From a message by the Pastor of First Lutheran Church in Fullerton, CA)


            Commandments 1-3 deal with our relationship with God.

  1. You will have no other God’s before me.
  2. You will not misuse the name of the Lord your God. (take the name of the Lord your God in vain.)
  3. Remember the Sabbath day, by keeping it holy.

Each of these commandments are explained by Martin Luther in his Small Catechism with the words: “We should fear and love God so that we . . .”

Luther wrote the Small Catechism for the purpose of instruction in the home.  During his day, he found that many children were uneducated in what to believe.  It was to be used by Father’s and Mother’s as a way to instruct the children at home in the opportunities of how we show our love for God.  When Jesus was questioned, “What is the greatest commandment’?  He summed them up by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  (Matthew 22:36f)

God wants to be number one in our life.  He is to be held in the highest esteem, even before, a spouse or a best friend, or a family.   He is to be the first and he is to be loved the most.  The other two commandments are in line with this: not misusing the Lord’s name and/or the Lord’s Day.

These commandments are not given to us to punish us, but to show us what is important.  What is most important to God is that he wants to lead us out of the slavery of worshipping idols, and using God’s name to curse others and the temptation to despise God’s word and the proclamation of it.

There are other commands that we have been taught.  They are not from God’s mouth, but they are good guidelines anyway.  One of them, that I had to learn the hard way, was when I got my drivers license at the age of 16.  My Dad, drilled into me, when you are driving you do not look at anything else, except the road up in front of you.  Well, I heard him, and I practiced it, but I had to learn it for myself.  

I was driving a friend to our high school football game, and I was approaching a stop light.  With the windows rolled down my friend yelled out to me, “hey there’s my sister, Susie!”  She was walking on the sidewalk with her girlfriend.  So, what did I do?  I was so excited to see these younger girls who could not drive yet, that I honked the horn, looked in their direction and proceeded to run into the car in front of me.  The girls thought this was really funny and I was embarrassed.  I got out to look at the damage and I saw the person getting out of the car I hit, and it was my old Sunday school teacher.  There was no damage to her car, but there was damage to my father’s front fender.  I thought, my dad is going to kill me.  Later I got home and told my dad, and he did one of those breath filled pauses before he responded.  He did not look at me, but he asked, “Did anyone get hurt?”  “No”, I said, “but the car is damaged, and I will be paying for it.”  

Sometimes loving God and your neighbor is owning up to your own goof ups and trying to make amends.



            Commandments 4-10 give us opportunities to love our neighbor.  

  1. Honor your Father and Mother
  2. Do not murder
  3. Do not commit adultery
  4. Do not steal
  5. Do not give false testimony against your neighbor
  6. Do not covet your neighbor’s house
  7.  Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, servants, animals…

What does God say about all these commandments?  He says, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments”. Vv. 5-6

When I was a little boy I got to know a member of my church who would see someone steal fruit from a store.  He went into the store and told the owner.  For this church member knew it was wrong and he did not want the store owner to be caught without knowing what was going on with his store.  The store owner told the church member, “I know the family that takes fruit, and they are on hard times.  He says he does not want to prosecute them because we all fall on hard times, and he could take a loss of a few pieces of fruit each week so the family can have something sweet. Sometimes we want to use the ten commandments that are written on stone and knock people over the head with the stone of accusation, but God calls us to use the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law.   Sometimes it is better to overlook an offense.

In the explanation to the close of the commandments we are directed to THE ONE who kept these commandments: Jesus Christ.  Jesus was our great high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, he was tempted in all the ways we are tempted, but did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus kept the commandments, and he kept them perfectly.  Therefore we can trust in him and not be dismayed when the Lord disciplines us in our wrongdoing. He chastises us because he loves us, and he wants to mold us into the image of his Son.

Thanks be to God that he loves us enough to confront us and he loves us enough to send Jesus Christ to pay for our sins with his life and may his commandments guide us through life as we have opportunities to love God and love others.   Amen.

May this peace, which surpasses all human understanding keep your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting. Amen. 

Pastor John Raddatz

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