As Pastor Bob King taught us this past weekend, we need to think of the Ten Commandments not so much as a list of rules, but more like the vows we hear spoken at a wedding. Holding each other’s hands, the bride and groom recite a list of promises each will need to keep if the relationship is to flourish. It’s an exclusive relationship. In much the same way, God and Israel say to each other, “I agree to treasure you.”
These commands, which God gives and the entire nation agrees to live by (Exodus 19.8), are actually a “covenant.” Common in the ancient Near East, a covenant is an agreement whereby the superior (in this case God) makes specific promises to those (in this case the Israelites) who pledge loyalty. In this covenant called the Mosaic Covenant—because it’s given to Moses—there are rules, boundaries, and behavioral expectations for the Israelites.
These expectations are designed for Israel to serve in the special role God has planned for them, his chosen people. The expectations don’t secure Israel’s salvation or earn them this special relationship. That has already been done (Exodus 19.4). But they do show them how they’re to live. As we’ll see this week, one way they’re to live is to keep from taking those things God has entrusted to someone else.
Today, take time to memorize this command of just four short words, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20.15).