Recently I attended a church where the Pastor was teaching a series entitled The Relationship Principles behind the Ten Commandments. I had always thought of the Ten Commandments as moral laws by which we should guide our lives. Never had I considered that each commandment had an underlying principle that was meant to enhance our relationship with God. This message was based on the commandment found in Exodus 20:15, “You must not steal.” I had always considered this to be a law that must be obeyed in order to avoid the consequences of punishment. I learned that God has much more for us to glean from His Word.
Before the Ten Commandments were revealed to the Israelites, conditions were worsening as they traveled. After about one month they had evidently consumed the food they brought with them and they complained that they were starving. In Exodus 16:6-7 Moses tells the people, “By evening you will realize it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaints”. Then in Exodus 16:11 we read, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” If I had been there in the middle of nowhere I am sure I would have questioned where this provision would come from. No grain, no oil = no bread. But this was about more than just food. The relationship principle was trust. God was testing His people to see if they would trust Him. God wanted His people to know that He would be their provider as His glory was revealed.
To satisfy their hunger for meat He sent quail that evening, then each morning He provided manna, instructing the people to gather only enough for each day. On the sixth day in order to have provision for the Sabbath they were to gather a two-day supply. Those who did not follow the instructions and gathered more than they should revealed their lack of trust. They were surprised the next day to see the extra manna full of maggots.
So often, just like those who took extra manna, we show our lack of trust in God. Philippians 4:19 states, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” God’s provision is boundless, yet at times we try to get ahead of His provision taking things into our own hands. All too often, we put our trust in God only when we have exhausted our own resources. God wants us to enjoy a relationship of trust. As we consider Noah, Moses, Abraham, Daniel and many others from God’s Word, we see that those who trusted God and followed Him in obedience enjoyed His provision.
This leads us back to the commandment, “You must not steal.” When we become self-sufficient, taking matters into our own hands, not trusting God, all too often we find “maggots” invading our lives. Yes, matters may work out because of our efforts, and when they do we enjoy a sense of achievement and pride. But when this happens, have we broken God’s commandment?
“What are we stealing?” you might ask. We are stealing God’s glory.
Just as He tested the Israelites, He tests us and when we wait, trusting in God’s provision, His glory is revealed. The very purpose for which man was created is declared in Isaiah 43:7. “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory.” Experiencing the glory of God is life transforming, for it leads us to a place of trust. So the principle behind the commandment, “You must not steal,” reminds us that God is our provider. He desires for us to know Him, to enjoy a relationship of trust, to see His glory revealed and to give Him glory.
Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 1 Chronicles 29:12-13
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