The Free Gift of God for Mankind

The Decalogue

The Grace Design of God

The Lord Jesus Christ dwelt in the midst of the camp of Israel as the Shekinah Glory.  In order to accomplish this a divine policy of protocol had to be established to protect the people because to walk into the presence of God would have meant instant death.  The Tabernacle of Israel with its protocol system was a great teaching aid for Israel.  It illustrated the work of salvation; and revealed the Redeemer who would provide it.  In shadow type, it was a complete soteriology and Christology.

The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle with its ritual and protocol illustrated the Plan of God.  The boundaries of God's relationship with mankind were clearly marked.  A wall of linen around the perimeter kept the world out.  There was only one entrance to illustrate Christ, our Redeemer, the only way of salvation.  The Laver illustrated both positional and experiential sanctification. The Holy Place was a tent  with only one light, the Golden Lampstand, to illustrate Christ, our Light.  Each article of furniture in the Tabernacle (seven total) represented Jesus Christ and his work of redemption.  The Holy Place was divided by a Veil to protect the priests from walking into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the form of the Shekinah Glory, who dwelt between Cherubs of the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies.  Moses was allowed access to the Holy of Holies when invited; but no one else except the High Priest, once per year only (on the Day of Atonement), was allowed access.  To walk into the presence of the Shekinah Glory without following divinely established protocol would have meant instant death.

God in His grace set up a system to have a relationship with mankind.  The Tabernacle with its protocol and ritual was the symbol of that system.  Since God dwells in the third heaven, above the universe, He is beyond the reach and grasp of mankind.  In order for Him to have a relationship with the human race, He had to provide a Plan that did not violate His perfect essence.  He is absolute Righteousness and perfect Justice.  He cannot, therefore, have a love relationship with spiritually dead members of the human race who exist from the moment of birth in total depravity.  This would be incompatible with the character of God.

The Tabernacle illustrates the fundamental concepts of God's Plan of grace for establishing a relationship with mankind.  When God called Moses up to Mount Sinai and gave him the instructions for building the Tabernacle, He gave the solemn warning,

If anyone violated God's rules for the Tabernacle, it meant instant death.  These rules were required to protect mankind and to afford access to a phenomenal relationship with God.  The Plan of God was a grace system.  Every aspect of the Plan provided for mankind all that was needed without any human merit.  All that was required of anyone was to be positive to the Plan of God.  Anyone who wanted a relationship with God could have it on the basis of God's grace - His non-meritorious favor on undeserving mankind.  Nothing was required on man's part to receive God blessings.  Everything was provided in grace.

The grace of God provided a solution to spiritual death that began with salvation and included a relationship with God based upon the principle of Faith-Rest.  Spiritual information was provided in the form of Bible Doctrine to enable mankind to know God.  A special priesthood was established to enable anyone who followed divine protocol to have access to God.  The priesthood performed ritual in the Tabernacle to demonstrate God's grace system for mankind.  The articles of furniture in the Tabernacle represented the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of mankind.

And furthermore, the Lord dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the form of the Shekinah Glory.  During the day His presence was revealed by a cloud over the Holy Place, and at night a pillar of fire was clearly visible.  The Law was given to Moses to document the regulations and protocol for the administration of the Plan of God and the ministry of the Tabernacle, which illustrated that Plan.  The Lord actually dwelt on earth and man was afforded access to Him by following divine protocol.  The presence of the Lord as the Shekinah Glory was the paramount example of grace blessing, for the Lord was Righteousness and Justice, and Love and Happiness.  He was the source of blessing for mankind.

The Decalogue

The Decalogue, also known as "The Ten Commandments," was the representation of the Covenant of the Mosaic Law that God made with Moses.  It contained only ten commandments rather than the numerous commandments of the entire Mosaic Law.  However, it symbolized the Covenant.  It was written by God Himself and given to Moses.  The Decalogue was similar to the "Bill of Rights" in the U. S. Constitution.  It was a representative part of the entire Mosaic Law.

The Decalogue clearly defined the boundaries of the Grace of God for Client Nation Israel.  God decided to provide a plan for Israel to be blessed in grace.  Unfortunately there cannot be blessing without cursing under freedom.  So the Decalogue defined the boundaries of the grace plan of God for Client Nation Israel.  If Israel chose to respond to the grace offer, it would receive grace blessing.  However, if Israel chose to reject the grace of God, then it would be cursed.

Now, Israel did nothing to deserve the grace plan called the Mosaic Law.  To respond to the grace offer was a volitional choice.  The blessings of God's grace would be given based upon keeping the grace provisions of the Covenant - not on the basis of man's efforts.  The consequences of rejection of God's grace would bring cursing upon the guilty person as well as upon the nation.  So mankind had a choice:  To obey the offer of grace would bring blessing but to disobey the offer of grace would bring cursing.  This was the Law.

The description of the Decalogue begins in Exodus 20.  Verse one begins with God (Elohim), which refers to the Godhead.  It is a plural which indicates the Trinity.  When God speaks, however, it is the Lord Jesus Christ, the only revealed member of the Trinity Who speaks.  And He is speaking here, but He is speaking according to the Plan of God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The word, spoke, is dabar (Pi'el imperfect), which means to speak specific word content.  "Words" is dabar again in the noun form, which means specific instructions, as opposed to just words.  The Decalogue is a list of specific instructions.  Then the word, "saying," is 'amar (Qal infinitive construct), which means to speak, declare, communicate verbally.  In English verse one means: The specific instructions were called the "Ten Words" (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13, 10:4), or "The Decalogue."  God spoke the words to Israel face to face (Deuteronomy 5:4).  God wrote the words of the Covenant upon two tables of stone (Exodus 31:18, 32:16) - "written by the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18).  The two tablets were written on both sides (Exodus 32:15).  Therefore, we deduce that they were written with the introduction and then sequentially - not spaced with an equal number of words or commandments on each tablet.  They are called "the law and the commandment" (Exodus 24:12).  As such they are "the kernel and the essence of the Law."6 This is what the Lord communicated, "I am the LORD your God."  This clearly establishes the source of the Covenant.  Although it is called the Mosaic Covenant, it came from God.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the spokesperson for the Godhead, was the communicator.  "Who brought you out" is jatsa' (Hiph'il perfect), which means to lead out.  Israel was in slavery in Egypt before the Lord led them out.  It was the Lord God who provided freedom to Israel.  Freedom belongs to God.  The Lord is the source of freedom.  Freedom is the issue in the Decalogue.

Commandment #1: Prohibition Against Any Other Gods

The first commandment is a prohibition against usurping the sovereign authority of Jehovah-Elohim, the one true God.  It is a prohibition against idolatry in any form.  The negative, "no," is lo', which is the strong strategic negative and means, "no, not ever."  "Other gods" refers to idols, likenesses of man or animals.  The word "beyond" is `al, which means "beyond or in addition to."  So, "beyond Me" means anything except the God of Israel is prohibited.  The only acceptable God for Israel was Jehovah-Elohim, the LORD God.

Commandment #2:  Prohibition of Idolatry

The second commandment was a prohibition against what constituted "other gods."  It was a prohibition against idolatry.  And "idol" was an image, or likeness, of man or animal, used in worship.  It was not a prohibition against art.  Three classes of idols are described.  First, "any likeness of what is in heaven above."  This is a prohibition against making an idol to represent anything in Heaven, i.e. God, or the heathen gods, or angels, or stars.  Secondly, "or on the earth beneath" is a prohibition against idols which represent things on the earth, i.e. man, animals, birds.  Thirdly, "in the water under the earth" refers to fish or other creatures that live in the water.  This does not refer to underground water sources but merely to water, which is generally below the surface of the land.

In summary, the three classes of idols that are prohibited are those related to Heaven, earth (land), and water.  The list of items is given from the point of reference of God, who is in Heaven and is doing the speaking.  From the perspective of man and other passages, each one of these classes has a numerical designation as follows:

These three classes of idols are the same as the unholy trinity in Revelation.  The city of Babylon was split into three parts by the judgment of God under the power of the Holy Spirit (Rev. 16:19).  The three parts were Ecumenical, Political, and Cosmic Babylon.  The members of the unholy trinity are: God's judgment of the Cosmic System splits it into three parts just as the judgment of the city of Babylon (Rev. 16:19).

The nine plagues of Egypt came from land, water, air (or heaven) in three groups of three.  They begin with the plague of the blood, which broke the back of Ecumenical Religion as centered around the Nile.  After each group of three, there was a shift right and counterclockwise rotation.


Number Physical World Counterattack
3 Heaven, Air Cosmic Babylon
2 Sea, Water Political Babylon
1 Land Ecumenical Babylon
The next verse provides a further explanation of the prohibition of idolatry.  They were prohibited from worshiping them, where "worship" is shakah (Hithpa'el imperfect), which means to bow down to pray or worship.  And they were prohibited from serving them, where "serve" is `abadh (Hoph'al imperfect), which means to be led or enticed to serve.  It refers to worship by means of sacrifice and religious ceremonies.6  The Hoph'al is the passive voice - the subject receives the action of the verb.  Therefore, this refers to being caused to serve, e.g. from an enslaved soul, or to be led or enticed to follow.

The explanation follows:  "because I, the Lord your God, am a possessive God."  The word "possessive" is qanna', which means demanding exclusive service.  There is no way to serve God and also serve any other idol.  The two are contradictory.  To serve God prohibits serving idols.  To serve idols is to reject God.  To serve an idol is to go in the opposite direction from God.

Four Generation Curse

The judgment for violation of the second commandment is the Four Generation Curse:  "visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me."  First, "visiting" is paqadh (Qal active participle), which means to visit; but what is being visited is "iniquity."  "Iniquity" is `aon, which means the sins of iniquity or guilt. The phrase "visiting the iniquity" means punishing the iniquity.  Further, it says, "punishing the iniquity of the fathers on the children."  This does not mean that the children are being punished because their fathers sinned.  Each generation must pay for its own negative volition.  This simply means that God will allow sin to continue from one generation to the next through the third and fourth generations of negative volition, "the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me".

How long will God wait before He judges Client Nation Israel for negative volition toward Himself?  Four generations.  A generation is approximately 20 years, although in the days of Abraham it was approximately 75 years.  This verse defines the boundary of the grace of God for a Client Nation.  God will wait patiently for four generations before He decrees a violation of the second commandment.  God will allow Client Nation Israel to exercise its volition to commit idolatry and practice all sorts of iniquity for four generations, and then He will judge them.  That judgment will be the end of the Client Nation (Hosea 4:6).  The nation will be conquered by its enemies.

Other passages further explain the Four Generation Curse (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).  There are actually seven cycles of judgment in all.  The first four generations are each judged with warning discipline just as outlined in the Four Generation Curse.  The fifth generation will be defeated in war.  Since the judgments are cyclic, the fifth one is also called the "Fifth Cycle of Discipline," which refers to the fall of the Client Nation.  After the military defeat, the people will be scattered as slaves of their enemies in the Sixth Cycle (Leviticus 26:33).  In the Seventh Cycle the land will rest, i.e. it will receive its sabbatical rest (Leviticus 26:34).

However, God promised to provide grace and with it blessing as long as the people of the Client Nation  kept His commandments.  The verse begins with 'asah (Qal active participle), which means to do or make.  What God does is to exercise (perform or practice) grace (chesedh).  This verse is a promise from God, who cannot lie.  It is a promise that He will exercise grace toward those who keep His Covenant.  So the Covenant of the Mosaic Law as demonstrated by the commandments of the Decalogue was an offer of grace.  Those who wanted to receive grace were free to receive it; but those who rejected it would bear the consequences.

How long would the grace offer be open?  "To the thousandth generation."  The word, "thousandth," is the correct translation of 'eleph (plural), which is literally "thousands"; however, the ordinal number is used in lieu of the cardinal number for which no special case existed in the Hebrew language.6  This is clearly the correct translation per Deuteronomy 7:9  and is the meaning of Exodus 34:7.  So the offer of God's grace will be open to the thousandth generation, which means basically forever.  However, Israel did not accept this offer.  In 721 BC the Northern Kingdom was destroyed, and in 586 BC the Southern Kingdom was destroyed.

Those who respond to the grace offer are described as:  "Those who love Me and keep My commandments."  "Love" is 'ahabh (Qal active participle), which is the general term for love.  Loving God is accomplished by responding to the love from God that He initiates love toward mankind.  The unbeliever responds by accepting the offer of salvation.  The believer responds by following the recovery procedure (Rebound, 1 John 1:9).  Mankind must choose to have a personal love relationship with God. But to love God requires more than is humanly possible.  Mankind must have divine provision even to respond to the love of God.  This divine provision is available for all who want it.  When a person complies with God's criteria for fellowship, that person will be allowed to have fellowship with God and will have a love relationship with Him.

The hallmark of those who love God is the next phrase, "and keep My commandments."  Love for God in Israel was demonstrated by keeping the commandments of the Decalogue and the Mosaic Law.  Love for God is always demonstrated by obedience to His commandments.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15).  Thus, faith-application is another way of responding to the love of God.

In summary, the second commandment is the essence of the Covenant of the Mosaic Law.  It was a grace offer.  Those who responded to that offer would receive grace blessing for as long as they responded.  Those who rejected the grace offer would bear the consequences.  After four generations of negative volition to the grace offer, the Client Nation would be judged under the Fifth Cycle of Discipline - military defeat.  Obedience to the grace offer insured the blessings of liberty to the nation and its posterity.  Rejection of the grace offer would lead to slavery.

Commandment #3:  Prohibition Against Lying in God's Name

The translation here has been revised.  "You shall not lift up" contains the verb nasa' (Qal imperfect), which means to lift up.  Then the word, shave', means emptiness, worthlessness, wickedness - i.e. "as a witness for a lie."  The connotation is holding up the name of the LORD and making a public declaration of it so that others will think that the LORD is backing the speaker.  However, the prohibition is against using the name of the LORD as a witness for a lie.  This covers lying under oath as well as other oaths and solemn declarations in the name of the LORD.   For example, it refers to using such declarations as:  "The Lord is my witness", "may God strike me dead", "cross my heart".  The verse does not prohibit solemn oaths in the name of the Lord.  It simply prohibits using the name of the Lord for false pretexts.

The strong warning of judgment by the Supreme Court of Heaven follows:  "because the LORD will not acquit him who uses His name for false pretext."  "Acquit" is naqah (Pi'el imperfect), which means to acquit; to leave unpunished.  Lying or using the name of the Lord for false pretenses or an evil purpose will bring down the personal wrath of God.  The Lord will handle the judgment of liars from the Supreme Court of Heaven.

There are many reasons for this strong prohibition.  The truth is the heart of the matter in every walk of life.  The legal system cannot function when witnesses lie.  The business establishment requires honesty.  The clergy must not use God's name to communicate falsehood for whatever purpose.  Apostate teachers are certainly liable for such judgment.  Marriage and family life cannot function without integrity.  The laws of establishment require respect for authority as well as respect for the truth.

This is the verse that has been translated, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain."  And the explanation by the clergy was that it was a prohibition against profanity.  That is false!  This verse has nothing to do with profanity.

Commandment #4:  Sabbath Day Observance

The word, "sabbath,"  is a transliteration of the Hebrew word, shabbath, which means rest.   They were to remember the Sabbath.  Although this command was not received until the Jews came to Mt. Sinai, they knew the story of the re-creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and how the Lord rested on the seventh day.  So, this was not a principle they could not understand.  The phrase "to keep it holy" is from qadash (Pi'el infinitive construct), which means to set apart to the Lord.  Thus the root meaning of the word, holy, is to set apart to the Lord.  It means to sanctify.  Israel was commanded to observe the rule on the Sabbath to set it apart to the Lord.  The explanation follows.

They were not to do any work on the Sabbath.  They could work six days a week, but on the seventh day, they were not allowed to work. "Work" is mela'kah, which is the general term that is applied to any task whether easy or severe.6  It was not a matter of just not going to work.  It meant not doing any work of any kind.  They were supposed to rest.

Those to whom this command applied are listed.  The Hebrew contains an overt use of the wow here to clearly mark out two classes:

  1. Free Israelites
  2. Their slaves:  This included animals and foreigners (sojouners).
The phrase, "who are within your gates,"  designates the boundary of this commandment.  The translation has been corrected here because "gates" are very symbolic in the scripture.  Gates applies to entrances to cities, large enclosed courts and palaces but never to entrances to houses.6 So all these gates collectively applied to the entire nation of Israel.  This commandment applied to everyone in the land of Israel.  “For in six days the Lord made:" Here "made" is `asah (Qal Perfect), which means to make something out of something.  This refers to the the re-creation of the heavens and the earth to get ready for man - not the original creation in Genesis 1:1.  The three parts of creation were: Although this is the order of creation, the natural order is: The commandment to observe the Sabbath demonstrated the whole meaning of grace.  The congregation of Israel were commanded to rest on the Sabbath to commemorate grace.  For in six days, God re-created the heavens and the earth to prepare them for man, and on the seventh day He rested because all His work was finished, the Plan of God was finished.  Since God has already completed His work (since the foundation of the world), there is no need to add to it.  God's finished work is available in grace to the believer who is willing to accept it.  In grace, God has already done the work, and man receives the blessing.

With the Fourth Commandment is not only the meaning of grace but also the key to unlock the meaning of the Decalogue.  The Decalogue is limits or boundaries of grace.  The prohibitions of the Decaloge mark the boundaries that must not be violated.  Violations of the commandments of the Decalogue are a rejection of the grace of God.  But the Fourth Commandment contains the key to the Decalogue.  There are three parts of creation mentioned, Land, Sea, and Heavens.  The counterattacks in these three areas would come from Ecumenical, Political, and Cosmic Babylon respectively.  Each commandment is the protection for one of these counterattacks.


PROHIBITION - Rejection of Grace
1 C Mental Idolatry
2 P Idols - National Cursing/Blessing
3 E Lying about God
4 E Sabbath Rest
5 C Parental Authority
6 P Murder
7 P Adultery
8 E Stealing
9 C Perjury
10 C Desire - Power Lust
Category - Cosmic (C), Political (P), Ecumenical (E)

The categorization of the Decalogue is illustrated in the Table.  There are three groups of three commandments.  Each command is designed to counteract an attack from Cosmic, Political, or Ecumenical Babylon.  At the end of each group of three commandments, the order is shifted and rotated.  Thus, the pattern is C-P-E (Shift & Rotate).  This same pattern of three, shift and rotate, was used in the Nine Plagues of Egypt.

"Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day:" Therefore, on the basis of the rest from the completed work, the Lord blessed (barak, Pi'el Perfect) the Sabbath Day.  The Sabbath Day was to be qadash (Pi'el Imperfect), which means to be set apart (as holy). "Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day and set it apart (as holy)." The Sabbath was to be set apart as a holy day to observe the rest associated with the completed work of God, the very basis for grace in all of creation.

Commandment #5:  Parental Authority

The Fifth Commandment establishes parental authority.  Five is the number for grace, and this is the first commandment with a promise of grace blessing.  "Honor" is kabedh, which refers to respect for parental authority.  In Leviticus 19:3, the word is not "honor" but "revere." There is a conditional promise associated with honoring the father and the mother.  Those who obey this commandment will live a long life.  "That your days may be prolonged" means "that you may live long."  This is a promise of long life as per: Deuteronomy 5:16 repeating the commandment (Exodus 20:12) adds:  "that it may go well with you," which is a further promise of blessing.  Those who reject parental authority will suffer dire consequences, which implies a shortened life span.  Parental authority is the basis for teaching the child respect for authority, without which, the establishment cannot function.  Every part of the establishment breaks down when there is no respect for authority:  Government, military, business, education.  Freedom only exists under authority.  So this commandment is for the preservation of freedom in the nation.  Violation of parental authority constitutes a counterattack from Cosmic Babylon.

Commandment #6:  Murder

This is a prohibition against murder - not killing - as in war or capital punishment. The Hebrew word is jx^r*  (ratsach), which means to murder.    The quotation by our Lord Jesus Christ uses the Greek foneuvw (phoneuo), which means to murder (Matthew 19:18; 5:21; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20).

Note that the prohibition against murder is the Sixth Commandment.  Six is the number for man because man was created on the sixth day.  Human life is sacred.  Violation of this commandment was punishable by death according to the Law.  To deprive another of his life is the ultimate in violation of the command to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).  Thus, murder is a counterattack of a Political Babylon of a relationship with another human being.

Commandment #7:  Adultery

Adultery is an attack upon the Divine Institution of Marriage.  Seven is the number for completion of a category.  The Seventh Commandment is a prohibition against adultery, which is an attack upon the completion of the marriage relationship - i.e. Right Man - Right Woman as a compete unit.  Any attack upon marriage is a serious offense that will be dealt with directly from the Supreme Court of Heaven (Hebrews 13:4).  Those who violate this commandment (which includes fornication and adultery) in opposition to the grace of God will face dire punishment.  They will be delivered into Intensified Discipline, or the Sin Unto Death. Adultery is an attack upon the Right Man - Right Woman relationship.  It is a counterattack from Political Babylon.

Commandment #8:  Stealing

Under the Law, property is also sacred.  To steal one's property is to deprive that person of the means for living his life in freedom.  The attack upon property comes from Ecumenical Babylon.

Commandment #9:  Perjury

To "answer" is `anah (Qal imperfect), which refers to answering or testifying in court.  "Your neighbor" refers to any associate in the establishment - not just an immediate neighbor.  This commandment prohibits false testimony in court.  The judicial system requires strict adherence to the laws of evidence to protect the rights and privacy of the accused.  False testimony renders justice impossible.  The judicial system cannot function on the basis of lies.  Therefore, perjury was a violation of the Law.  Perjury is a counterattack from Cosmic Babylon since the devil was "a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).

Commandment #10:  Desire - Power Lust

The word, "desire," is chamadh, a general term for desire which is used here to refer to desiring something that does not belong to you.  The examples given include:  "your neighbor's house, your neighbor's wife, male servant, female servant, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."  Thus, the meaning of "desire" is jealous-desire (coveting, ambition), lust, or power-lust.  This commandment is a prohibition against Satan's original sin, which was jealous-desire, or ambition, to "be like the Most High."  The counterattack is from Cosmic Babylon.



6.  C. F. Keil and F. Delitzch (James Martin, Translator), Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. I, ISBN 0-8028-8035-5 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co.), 1978.

AUTHOR  Larry Wood

Revised March 8, 2014