I think this is the second most popular chapter in the Bible. It tells of how Moses stood before the Lord on the mountain and received the 10 most important commands from God. He then took it to the people that he was leading to the Promised Land. When the people heard the thunder, lightning, smoke and noise they were afraid. Then Moses said to them:
“…Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” (Exodus 20:20)
PAMELA ROSE WILLIAMS
The first thing to be acknowledged is that these commands are the vision of the God of the exodus and are intended to provide shape and order for his people. These commands are divided into two tablets: one containing relations to God, and one concerning the neighbor. Both tablets are crucial to biblical faith. The second tablet is not just about a set of good moral ideas but contains conditions worthwhile to human life. These are the non-negotiable conditions that God sees as bringing order into this world. It is worth noting here that the way in which the people serve the God of the exodus, their acceptance of his laws, will impact and reshape human relations into a more compassionate and Godly treatment of others. We can say that the strength of our biblical faith is dependent on our obedience to our God.
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This story of Jesus’ encounter with the rich man is also found in Mark and Luke. Several writers point to the fact that as Jesus alludes to the Ten Commandments it is a selective process in which not all the commandments are listed. Perhaps to Jesus the commandments are a first level demand of God’s people which can be attained through obedience to the law. They are simply the threshold to more serious discipleship and a step on the demanding way to eternal life.
We see in Exodus 20:19-21 the awesome reality of this God we serve. The people stand before a God of majesty and awesome power, before whom extra care must be taken. We would do well to remember this.
*Some information contained here is taken from the NIB commentary and the writings of George E Mendenhall