The Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer
in Light of Worship in Isaiah 6
in Light of Worship in Isaiah 6
I was reading and thinking through the Ten Commandments in my quiet time this week and began to walk through some interesting insights. Perhaps for many this is old hat, but it was new to me and certainly caused me to pause and think. In Exodus 19 we see the fulfillment of what God had told Moses at the burning bush, that he would bring the people out and that they “would worship Him at this mountain.” Sure enough, there they are in the place where God said. Moses first consecrates the people, and he tells them to cleanse themselves and prepare to meet with God. [For those that like alliteration: Consecration, Cleansing, Communion.] The important point is that there was definite preparation to meet with God. God was about to give the “ten words” and they had to be ready to listen, able to hear Him.
• The First Four Commands
The first words were words that revealed who He was: “I am the Lord your God.” The first four commandments deal with how to maintain a right relationship with God: No other gods, do not make any idols, do not take the name of the Lord in vain and remember the day set aside for worship.
• No other gods
Maybe another way at looking at the first one would be to mediate on the uniqueness of God, – there just isn’t anyone or thing like Him, He is holy, “set apart,” Creator, not just creation.
• No idols
Now the second seems very similar, but I would like borrow from a sermon my pastor preached this last year. My pastor, Dr. Bill Day, who also is an evangelism professor at the Seminary where I teach, shared this insight about the second commandment that is both insightful and worthy to be repeated:
-The command “Do not have any idols before me,” might be understood as anything that would get in our way to worship God. One way to apply that understanding could be something like this: If an idol is something that is between me and my relationship with God, something that I have substituted for God alone, then if we say that “I just can’t worship if they don’t sing my songs,” or “I can’t worship unless pastor so-in-so is preaching” [and the list could go on], then we are worshiping at an idol of our own making.-
• Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
Taking the name of the Lord in vain might be understood as relegating His name and character as something less than holy and special.
Think about the sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio who led the procession that David had organized to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem. On the surface Uzzah’s reaching out to steady the Ark seemed the right thing to do, since it looked as if the Ark would have fallen off the cart. However, the two brothers had grown up with the Ark in their home and more than likely, it had become something “commonplace” and taken for granted. When Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark, God struck him dead since he was treating the symbol of God’s presence as “commonplace,” that is, he was taking the name of the Lord in vain. [2 Samuel 6]
As one who leads worship on a regular basis, and for many who are in “full time ministry,” this is perhaps one of the greatest dangers. We are around the holy things of God so much that they loose their specialness, and we can begin to treat them as “commonplace.”
• Remember the Sabbath
Learning to set our lives apart for God is the essence of the last of the first four. God has called us to be a holy nation, a people set apart for Himself. To fulfill what God has called us to do, we must learn to have that time where we are set apart for Him each week. Keeping the Sabbath holy, or set apart, is a discipline and a focus more than it is a set of laws of what one can and cannot do on Sunday.
• The Last Six
The last six deal with maintaining right relationship with others: honoring parents, not murdering, committing adultery, not stealing, not lying, and not coveting. These have been covered so well by so many, I will not attempt repeating the obvious. So, let’s move on.
• The Lord’s Prayer
If it is not too much of a head jerk, I would like to turn to the Lord’s Prayer, or Model Prayer, as it has been called, and see some of the similarities between it and the Ten Commandments. “This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ ” [Matt. 6:9-14 NIV]
• Our Relationship with God
Notice that there is first a recognition of who God is: “our Father in heaven, holy.” He is unique, He is the only one. Not only that, but we are not to allow anything to get in the way: “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” that is, in heaven there is no confusing anything else as something worthy of worship. Our prayer centers itself around the recognition of who God is and desiring all that is in heaven be realized here. The first part of the Model Prayer deals with our relationship with God.
• Our Needs and Relationship with Others
The last part deals with our relationship with our needs and our relationship with others: sustenance, food, those things we really do need to stay alive and our need to relate to one another in forgiveness. Since God has been full of grace and mercy to us, we need to be as He is to others. We also need to realize our own weaknesses in a fallen culture to conform to standards that do not reflect God’s kingdom and will,– to fall to temptation. For this we ask for God’s help from Satan’s deceits.
• Similarities between the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer
The relationship between the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer is not so much about exact content, but intent and purpose. What is more, there are similarities and the experience of worship found in Isaiah 6. Perhaps the easiest way to see this is in the following chart:
• The Details
First, God is the initiator: He calls them to the mountain and He calls the disciples to Himself. Secondly, God reveals Himself, His nature and character: He is the self-existing one, the I AM, He is Holy.
Next is how we properly relate to who God is: from the first four commandments and the first half of the prayer. You might ask how that relates to the Isaiah passage, and that’s a perfectly good question. When the prophet saw the greatness and holiness of God, he confessed his sin and was forgiven; that is, there was a restoration of relationship with God, as well as a the understanding of who we are related to who He is. If we are to be rightly related to God, we must recognize who He is and who we are and be in right relationship through confession and forgiveness.
The last part of the Isaiah passage, – being able to hear God’s voice because of the right relationship and responding to His will and ways, – deals with how we are to live out in our time and culture in relation to others who He is and desires. The last six commandments and the last part of the prayer help us have some handles of how to live our lives in a fallen culture, while still praying that things here would be as they are in heaven.
• So what difference does all this make ?
However interesting all this might be, the question must be asked, “So what?” Well, I have no idea what all this might mean, but I believe here’s at least a drop of water in an ocean of possibilities: God, from the very beginning of creation has desired a relationship with His creation. That relationship was not because God had a need, for as God, He has no needs. The relationship exists so that through His fellowship and the understanding of knowing who He is, we reflect praise and glory back to Him.
Far from an egotistical tyrant that creates just to prove himself as powerful, we have a loving Father who takes the initiative to reveal Himself to His creation so that by knowing Him and seeing His glory they might see His greatness and be blessed and return that blessing in praise and adoration. Worship, then, is that natural response to God’s revelation of Himself and how we are to relate to Him and one another because of that revelation. God has desired this from Eden, through the Exodus, through the prophets of the Old Covenant, through the Sermon on the Mount, through Gethsemane, the empty tomb and the Great White Throne. Worship is recognition of who God is and relationship with Him that will complete itself in obedience.
Our desire is that our worship here be as the worship is “in heaven” and that we relate to God as holy, for only He is worthy; that we relate to others by the transforming power of Christ in our lives so that Christ’s nature and character are seen through us and that we become the disciples that reach others so that they might share in the relationship, and come to share with others as well.