Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tens and Hundreds (11) - Ten Words

Christians frequently refer to the Ten Commandments. The problem is that there are not ten commands, but only nine. We have to do a fiddle to make the nine commands into ten. The Roman Catholic Church splits out coveting your neighbour’s wife, from other coveting to get an extra commandment (Ex 20:17). Protestants split off Exodus 20:4 and to make avoiding other gods from avoiding from crafting idols. This is dangerous, because it seems like physical idols are the only false gods. This is not true.

In the modern world, political powers and governments are the most serious false gods. From God’s point view, putting too much trust in the government is morally equivalent to carving a wooden idol to worship. Many Christians would not have a carving from Africa in their home, but they happily expect a new President or Prime Minister to transform their life situation.

A political rulers do not become false gods by the scope of their power, or expanding the size of their empire. The false god is created by the attitude of the people being governed. When people trust and worship political power, the government becomes and idol.

The Bible does refer to Ten Commandments, but uses the expression Ten Words in three different places to describe the words of the covenant written on the two tablets of stone.

Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Words (Ex 34:28).
My guess is that the reference is not to the number of commandments, but to the people who would use them most. Perhaps the statement should be translated as follows.
Moses wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Words for Tens.
God’s covenant was a covenant with the entire community, but the commandments written stone were most relevant to Tens and would be implemented by the Tens.

2 comments:

Jim Wesberry said...

In the modern world, political powers and governments are the most serious false gods".

Truer words were never written.

I feel humbled as I have been teaching a Bible Class on the Ten Commandments since January and it did not occur to me to include political powers and governments as a false god.

Thank you!

Blessed Economist said...

Thanks Jim.