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Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; Matthew 5:21-22; Mark 12:28-31
“10 Rules for Faithful Living: #6 Respect Life”
October 18, 2015
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
We come to worship today, O Lord, some of us filled with discontent, some with fear, some with anger, some with hurt feelings. But, dear Lord, we all came here today. Empty our hearts and minds of malice and bitterness right now. Help us instead, to seek Your perfect power and presence, Your righteousness and redemption, Your Law and Your love in front of all other possible priorities, through Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
A couple of hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls 911. He gasps to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?”
The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.
There is a silence, then a shot is heard.
The guy’s voice comes back on the line. He says: “OK, now what?”
I realize there is a risk in telling a joke about murder from the pulpit. If I was out of line, or if that offended you, I apologize. But I told it because it speaks of the ease in which our culture is entertained by death. The number of murders on Network TV every week is in the dozens! And those are just TV shows; it doesn’t count the video games or the movies or the news.
We have spent the last five Sundays looking at the Ten Commandments. In The Gospel according to Mark we read where Jesus said (Look at your Sermon Notes page…): (Mark 12) “29 ‘The most important Commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”’” And we saw that the first four of the Big Ten are about that. Can you name those first four?
- No OTHER gods – all those other things that we allow to take first place in our lives are out of order!
- Make no IMAGES – any image of God we make, any statue, any idea, any philosophy, will fall short
- HOLY be Thy name – God’s name assures us of His perfect presence and power, do not misuse that
- Take a Sabbath REST – the Hebrew people had lived under the iron fist of Pharaoh, God says that under His authority we are meant to find peace, rest, in His presence
These first four Commandments are all about that most important one! Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got, always, never-ending, without fail – have no other gods – no desire for riches, no dreams of popularity, no over-extended hopes for glamour, no worries, no fears – have no other gods! Make no false images! Do not misuse God’s holy name! Rest in God’s presence!
But Jesus’ goes a little bit further: In the very next sentence Jesus says, “31 The second is this (in Matthew He says, “the second is just like it:”): ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
That’s what the next six Commandments are about. How do we love our neighbors?
Today we look at Commandment No. Six. The NIV writes it like this: “You shall not murder.”
Your Sermon Notes page asks, “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” And many of us memorized this in Sunday School so we could earn a prize – John 11:35 (your Sermon Notes page says Matthew 20:16 – I do not know where that came from), John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
But, are you ready, that’s not really true (mind blow!). In Greek, the language John was originally written in, that verse is THREE words, and a total of 16 letters. Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 are just TWO words in Hebrew, and only 6 letters! “Lo Tierzach!” “No murdering!”
Let’s talk about that for just a minute or two. The KJV, the most widely read English language book of all time, and the version many of us memorized these Ten Commandments in, says it like this, “Thou shalt not kill.”
I have had military veterans, reeling from guilt about their service to this nation, and to our world, ask me whether they have sinned.
I have also had people of all ages, and both genders, chide me about stepping on a spider, or even pulling out a weed – because I have just killed that arachnid or that ficus. Is that what this means?
Is “killing” always wrong? What do you think?
When is “killing” OK? Ever? Under what circumstances? [“Murder”, not “kill” – taking of innocent life – on purpose – with intent to kill] [war – self-protection – clan-protection – societal protection – food – safety – “rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every creature …”]
Remember the context of these Commandments. 400+ years of oppression and abuse from the Pharaoh of Egypt -> the murdering of innocent baby boys by throwing them into the Nile River -> Moses having killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave (was that murder? Did he intend to kill him?) -> the Passover event resulting in the death of Egyptian boys by the hand of God’s Spirit.
Murder? Seriously? Was this Commandment really necessary?
Let me remind you of the three vital things these Ten Commandments are meant to do for those who recognize the gift God gives us of His presence, I am who I am, Emmanuel, I am with you to the end of the age:
- To reveal to us how much we need a Savior – even more than how much the Hebrews needed a savior from their oppression under Pharaoh, we need a Savior from our oppression under depravity
- To reel in our selfish desires to kill each other – to restrain whatever evil we are tempted toward
- To remind us what God’s character is – and therefore, as people created in the image of God, who claim to be followers of Jesus, what our character ought to be as we grow more and more into His likeness
Necessary? I think so. Look at the news, watch an evening of TV, look at what the guy on the bus next us is playing on his I-Pad. Murder is everywhere!
But even more necessary than that. Jesus said, in the Sermon on the Mount, “21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ [an Aramaic term of contempt] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ [“moron”] will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5)
The Apostle John wrote, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” (I John 3:15) Are you guilty? Probably. I am.
Is “murder” a forgivable sin? Anybody who’s ever driven right here on Nevada Street better hope so, because we have all broken Jesus’ version of this Commandment (maybe today on our way to Church!).
And, yes it is, “for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got; and love your neighbor as yourself – give honor until it’s deserved! Respect life and the lives all because Christ died to save our life for all eternity.
We can do this by acknowledging that God is with us, and nothing is impossible for God!
We might argue and debate over whether or not these Commandments belong in our Court Houses or classrooms – but there should be no argument that they belong right here, in our hearts and lives and church. If our Church ever turns our backs on the authority of these Commandments, may God have mercy on our souls. Let us worship the Lord our God, above and before all else, and let us love our neighbor as ourselves, today and forever. Amen.
Psalm 119:88 tells us: “In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.” Amen.
The Law of Liberty; “Unfolding God’s Glorious Law”; Project Restore, Inc; Locust Dale, VA; 2006; Pp. 6.