In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at how to understand God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments. We saw that the commandments are connected to one another, should never be broken and each command includes all the same kinds of sin. But what else should you consider when you read them?
When you study the ten commandments you must understand that you are to encourage others to keep God’s law too.
Some people are only concerned about the impact of the law upon themselves. They don’t care about helping others keep the law too. A child may not warn a sibling that writing on the walls is wrong – they’d far rather laugh at the sibling get in trouble when mum shows up.
When it comes to God’s law, we are not to be childish – rather we are encouraged to help others keep the law too. After the ten commandments are given by Moses in Deuteronomy, Moses says the following about God’s law: ‘1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up’ (Deuteronomy 6:1-7). Notice that twice the Israelites are told to impress the commands upon the next generation so that their children would be faithful to the Lord as well.
Following Moses, Joshua stands as an example of someone who encouraged the Israelite nation and his own household to keep the Lord’s commands. After the conquest of the promised land, Joshua says to the Israelites: ‘Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD’ (Joshua 24:14-15).
And of course this tradition is carried on by other leaders of Israel (particularly the prophets) all the way down through the centuries to Jesus himself, his apostles and the Christian church.
So do you carry on the tradition of encouraging others to keep God’s law? Or are you only interested in how it impacts you personally?