The Ten Commandments have implications for all of humanity, but they were given first and foremost to the Giver nation of Israel.
In the context of world history, they are utterly radical. Abraham came out of Mesopotamia that was defined by Hammurabi’s Code which was said to come from the god Marduke, the god above sundry other gods. Abraham was born into a polytheistic home (Joshua 24:2).
Egypt also was quite prolific with gods as were the surrounding nations.
So both “cradles of civilization” were vastly polytheistic. In stark contrast to this, God announced monotheism. All three dominant monotheistic religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam come from the Abrahamic root and draw their theology from this event.
“And God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3 NIV
Exclusivity represented a huge paradigm shift in that world at that time. Most people had a primary god they served, but the option was always open to offer sacrifice to some other god if there was reason to believe you would get what you wanted from that one.
Yahweh demanded that they risk everything on Him. He offered a fairly straight forward commercial exchange. If they would serve Him, on His terms, He would provide for them economically and in terms of international security.
If they hedged their bets with other gods, then all obligations on His part were off, and He would be their enemy.
The starkness of the threat and the immensity of the promise are quite lost on us in this culture and this era of history. Our spiritual relationship with God is quite different. It is much less defined by external mandates and rewards, and much more expressed in an internal transformation.
Nonetheless, the issue of trusting God implicitly carries over from that era to this era. And that becomes the challenge for all of us, but perhaps for the Giver a bit more than others.
The Giver is wired (appropriately) to keep all his options open as long as he can. Part of the amazing capacity most Givers have to generate funds comes from negotiating carefully and watching all the details.
And it is a small step from keeping the options open, to insisting on safety nets. The one is a valuable part of their design. The second is one step away from demoting God in their lives.
It is rare to find a Giver who can risk immensely on God. For each, the fear is different. For each the safety net is different. But for all, having a heart that is completely aligned with God’s purposes in their lives is the greatest treasure there is.
Scripture is littered with Givers who messed up because of their need to stay in control and their inability to trust God. For many, there is a second chance.
Join me in crying out to God to bring the Givers in our tribe in to radical alignment before the big blot on their storyline.
Copyright January 2016 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub