I’ve begun teaching a Wednesday night class we’re calling “The Thirteen Commandments.” It’s about the Ten you’re familiar with plus three more in the New Testament.
As we began, I asked the class to think about what was missing from that Top Ten list that Moses received from the hand of God. After they thought it over for a moment they began to identify some important, familiar concepts that we all believe are vital to our spiritual health. But they didn’t make the cut.
The Ten Commandments say nothing about baptism. (Yes, the formal significance given to baptism does not show up in the time of Moses, but the absence is still noteworthy.)
There is nothing there about forgiveness. (Moses goes on to relate a number of sacrificial acts to gain temporary forgiveness of personal sins, but in The List itself you find nothing about forgiving anyone who offends or sins against you personally.)
Nothing is said about tithing (although Moses will describe various offerings and tithes later).
Perhaps you can think of other important principles that don’t make an appearance in the list. The Ten Commandments are essential but not exhaustive, it would seem. (No shortcut here to avoid reading the whole Bible!)
Recognizing what is not there makes it all the more interesting to contemplate why God chose the particular commandments that He did. That’s one question we’ll all ponder over the next few weeks.
And another question will be, why are these ten simple commandments so hard to obey!?