Angie Smith is one of the most hilarious, down-to-earth people I know, and she is passionate about helping people better understand and love their Bibles. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what on earth was going on in the storyline of Scripture and how all the stories fit together, then Angie is the perfect guide! She helps not only paint the one story of Scripture, but also reveals Jesus as the hero throughout. He is what the story is all about, and it’s impossible to spend time with Angie and not leave with fresh eyes to see Him and a fresh aroma of the joy that is to be had in His presence. It’s a grace to welcome Angie to the farm’s front porch today…
Have you ever found yourself in a situation that should be joy-filled, only to hear your mouth complaining?
Today, we jump into the biblical story at just this moment with the Israelites. They were finally walking in the direction of the land that would ultimately be theirs! They’d been rescued. Their God had just opened up the sea to save them from being killed. And he’d put these incredible cloud-and-fire navi-thingies in the sky, showing them which way to go.
Can’t you just hear them praising and cheering and shouting their gratitude into the sky? You’d think, right?
No. They were grumpy. They were hot. They were hungry. They were thirsty. And I bet you can guess who they were mad at. Poor Moses—just a guy who floated in a basket as a kid and took a job he never wanted as a grown-up.
Let’s give him some grace.
Because do you know how long it had been since they’d walked through water?
Three days. THREE! And yet . . .
“Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exod. 16:3)
Yeah, they told Moses they wanted to go back into slavery, where at least they had leeks and melons. They had onions. They had garlic. And fish. How on earth does freedom hold a candle to some fresh cucumbers?
So, basically, it took them less than half a week to forget their God was all-powerful. Cool. Good job, chosen people. Way to give it the old college try.
But listen: again, it’s not like I haven’t done the same. I’ve been given freedom in Christ, and yet I often look back on the things I used to have, and they can seem pretty appealing.
But they aren’t ultimately good, and I know that. We know that!—even though sometimes we wish we could forget the rules and live without any boundaries.
That’s okay. We’re fallen. It’s just part of life. But remember this truth when you go through seasons where you’re grumbling. You’ve been set free.
To go back would be to bind your own wrists and ankles. And trust me, you’d regret it. That’s not to say there won’t be standards to be upheld for disobedience.
But what are the rules? Glad you asked.
I didn’t mention it when we were there before, but back when God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, He made the following pledge:
“I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exod. 3:12)
And now they were back. Back at the same mountain where the bush had burned. All those months ago, it had been just God and Moses here; now it was God and Moses and (I don’t know) maybe a couple of million Israelites. The Lord had led them as promised to the very place where he first appointed Moses as their deliverer.
That’s some strong proof, I think, of both His power and His faithfulness.
And here on this mountain, God gave to them the ground rules for what He expected of them, written by His own hand on a pair of stone tablets.
Here’s the deal. We’re going to learn them here, but we can’t leave them here. Write them down. A lot of Christians don’t even know all of them.
So here you go: The Ten Commandments, as given in Exodus 20:
- “You shall have no other gods before me.” (v. 3)
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image.” (v. 4)
- “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (v. 7)
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (v. 8)
- “Honor your father and your mother.” (v. 12)
- “You shall not murder.” (v. 13)
- “You shall not commit adultery.” (v. 14)
- “You shall not steal.” (v. 15)
- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (v. 16)
- “You shall not covet.” (v. 17)
Is that all? It’s still cool to eat leeks as long as we don’t gorge ourselves, right?
But let’s be clear about what these commandments are for.
They are the standard for how we live obediently as God’s people.
The first four commandments deal primarily with how we relate to God; the remaining six commandments deal with how we relate to others. That’s why when Jesus was asked (we’re going to meet Him later, and you will LOVE Him), “Which is the great commandment?” He answered, “love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36–39).
And yet these few commandments—whether ten or just two—are impossible to keep. The standard is too high for us, sinful as we are. We can’t do it. We can never be that good, not to that level of goodness. Not the way God is good.
So, what’s the point? Just hand out a bunch of things we can’t obey? And then tell us we have to obey them? That seems a little shady.
But actually, that’s the point. He is the only One who is good.
He doesn’t want to see us fail, but we can only succeed if we have His power—because ours is just as useless and fickle as the leek-lovers.
We are utterly dependent on Him. But don’t miss this part: there isn’t some heavenly chart that docks us every time we wish we had our friend’s house. Or our friend’s summer body. (I offer these as hypothetical examples.) He knows we cannot do this without Him.
But Christ sacrificed Himself on our behalf.
And in His fulfillment of the law—in our place—we become free to follow, not forced to follow.
This is where we find Jesus – the One who has set us free and the One who has fulfilled the Law on our behalf.
He is our Rescuer; our good. When we forget His goodness, He is patient, kind, and compassionate.
He is here, long before we see Him come as a baby into the world.
Angie Smith is married to Todd Smith, lead singer of the Dove Award winning group Selah. Angie desires to walk with Jesus authentically through the inevitable joys and sorrows of this life in a way that reflects His faithfulness to never leave us and never forsake us, and to encourage other believers to do the same. This passion, along with a deep desire to understand and help others to understand the Bible, has fueled her writing since 2008.
Angie’s latest book, Woven, traces the biblical story from start to finish in a way that is relatable and accessible for all, building a deeper understanding of God’s Word for both the new reader of the Bible and the one who has read it for decades.
If the Bible feel confusing and complicated to you, this book is for you. In her unique and remarkably readable way, Angie Smith—bestselling author of What Women Fear, Mended, I Will Carry You, and Seamless—helps you tie together all the loose, disconnected threads you find in the Bible, weaving them into a beautifully crafted storyline.
After reading Woven, when it comes to reading Scripture, you’ll go: from confused to confident, from lost to knowledgeable, and ultimately, from God’s heart to yours. Because once you see the big picture, you’ll see it on every page. Every time.
[ Our humble thanks to B&H for their partnership in today’s devotion ]