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The Importance of the 10 Commandments

By Shane Lems - Posted at The Reformed Reader:

Have you ever wondered why historic Christian churches and their creeds/confessions put so much emphasis on the Ten Commandments? For example, both the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Catechisms have a commentary type section on the Ten Words, as do Luther’s Catechisms. But why? Simply put, we emphasize the Ten Commandments because Scripture does. Here’s how Bruce Waltke explains this fact (I’ve summarized his explanation):

1) Their Placement Shows Priority. The Ten Commandments are given first in the Mosaic Law. Hebrew syntax and rhetorical style commonly place the main concept first and then elaborate on it, as in Genesis 1:1-2:3. God commands Moses at the beginning of Exodus to bring the people to the mountain to worship God. This is the underlying driving force of the Exodus narrative – to reach the climactic moment at the mountain. That the Ten Commandments were the first revelation at Sinai places them in an unrivaled position.

2) They Are a Better Form of Revelation. Only the Ten Commandments are given directly by God; the rest of the Law is mediated to them through Moses. Instructively, Gods word to Moses has priority over his words to prophets because to Moses he spoke directly face to face and clearly but to prophets he spoke indirectly through visions that needed interpretation (Num. 12:1-8). Two texts make a point to distinguish the Ten Commandments from the rest of the law by their different modes of revelation: Exodus 22:18-21 and Deuteronomy 5:23-32.

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