God’s commandments were a beautiful gift to His people. They showed them how to maintain a personal relationship with God and how to live in peace with their neighbors. God’s laws turned the people from polytheism and idolatry of their neighbors. The Lord did not want the Israelites to make images of Him, for that would lead them to worship a created thing rather than the Lord Himself.
The commands to keep the Sabbath and honor the name of the Lord helped the Israelites worship and reverence the Lord. The Lord’s commands to honor parents and to refrain from stealing, murder, adultery, and lying would protect the family and bring peace to the community. The command not to covet dealt with the heart attitude of the people. It was a command that Jesus would expand when He warned against committing adultery and murder in the heart. The commandments were given not to burden people but to make their lives easier. Instead of living in fear, the people who followed these commandments could anticipate peace and stability in their communities and the blessing of God on their lives. God’s commandments do not limit us but rather give us the greatest possible freedom. A young man in Ghana realized this when he attended a leadership conference. He said, “now I see that a godly way of life is not one that holds me back but one that adds to my freedom.” God made a wonderful promise to the people who received the commandments. He reminded them that He had carried them on eagles’ wings in the past. Now He was going to continue that blessing. God said that all of the world was His but that Israel would be a special treasure. The Hebrew nation would be a kingdom of priests. Israel had a mission to show the true God to the peoples of the world (Exodus. 19:5-6).
This was a continuation of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 that all the world would be blessed through his descendents. It was a promise that is repeated in Isaiah 49:6, where the Lord said, “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” That is a privilege for everyone who has entered God’s family. We are to bless the world by sharing the gospel. The early church took the Great Commission seriously, but in later centuries it was largely ignored. Every Christian who witnesses to the saving power of Christ is completing God’s purposes in the world. Every Christian who is in mission is one of the treasured people of God who bring light to the nations.