Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain. (Jeremiah 10,7)
We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts
That’s not difficult to say, but in practice it looks a lot different. To apply the status confessions in various situations under pressure and in persecution takes more than just a little bit of spiritual discernment. (cf Georg Schulz: “Die clausula Petri. Zur Frage der Gehorsamsverweigerung des Christen in den weltlichen Ordnungen”. Verlag der Ev. Luth. Mission, Erlangen: 1980) Amongst faithful believers it is no question, that God ought to be obeyed rather than men. They know the first commandment, which has been revealed to all men. It goes with our DNA really. God is supreme and absolute obedience is due to him. No question! That’s not a problem of hermeneutics, but of compliance.
Yet from the very beginning, people have questioned the law and clear will of God: Did God really say? Did he mean this or that rather? Absolute becomes relative. Clarity is dimmed into obscurity. With regards to God’s good and wholesome will, men have lost their orientation and are tapping around in the dark.
That is why God revealed his 10 commandments to his people on Mt. Sinai. That’s why our Lord Jesus Christ elaborated them in his timely sermon on the Mount and summarised it all in the two-fold legislature: “You shall love, fear and trust God above all else and love your neighbour as yourself.” In these two commandments you find the entire law and the prophets entailed.
Even as time moves on, men try to shift the boundaries and get away with murder. They use euphemisms to bypass God’s divine instructions, discarding the clear rules he has entrusted to his people and are left further and further in the dark and at a loss. Just think about the relationship of the generations. Parents and children. Authority. Revolution. Wars and terrorism. Think about abortion. It’s legalised and supposed to be a quick fix for love without responsibility. Or euthanasia. It’s supposed to bring relief and be a solution to long-term suffering. Or recall the blessed marriage of man and wife, which rests on paradisiacal institution and then all those warped caricatures of this divine setup making a mess of society and peoples lives. Take some time to remember the value of property and then meditate on the daylight robbery practised by banks and lending institutions of our day. They have literal swallowed millions, walk scot-free and still want to hang the poor bugger defaulting on his monthly bond.
The law of our God is good and blessed are those, who walk in his commandments. That remains true now and always. It is written: “God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear his wrath and not do anything against them. But he promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.” (Martin Luther, Small Catechism: The Close of the Commandments)
- These are the holy Ten Commands
Which our Lord God placed in our hands
Through Moses, His own servant true,
When he to Mount Sinai drew.
- I am alone thy God the Lord,
Thou shalt false worship not afford;
Put thy whole confidence in Me
And love Me right faithfully.
- Thou shalt not take My name in vain
By idle word or speech profane,
And praise but that as good and true
Which I Myself say and do.
- Thou shalt the day which God hath blest
Keep holy, that thy house may rest;
Keep hand and heart from labor free,
That God may thus work in thee.
- Thou shalt give love and honor due
To father, and to mother too,
And help them when their strength decays;
So shalt thou have length of days.
- Thou shalt in sinful wrath not kill,
Nor hate, nor render ill for ill;
Be patient and of gentle mood,
And to thy foe do thou good.
- Thou shalt respect thy marriage vows,
Thy heart give only to thy spouse;
Thy life keep pure, and lest thou sin,
Use temp’rance and discipline.
- Thou shalt not steal; thou shalt abhor
To wring their life-blood from the poor;
But open wide thy kindly hand
To all the poor in the land.
- Thou shalt no faithless witness be,
Nor neighbor harm with calumny;
Defend his innocence from blame;
With charity hide his shame.
- Thou shalt not seek thy neighbor’s house,
Nor wife, nor servants, nor aught else,
But wish that his such good may be
As thy heart doth wish for thee.
- God hath giv’n us all these commands
That thou thy sin, O child of man,
Might know, and also well perceive
How unto God man should live.
- Help us, Lord Jesus Christ, for we
A Mediator have in Thee.
With works we’d perish from the path;
They merit but endless wrath.
Dies sind die heilgen zehn Gebot Martin Luther, 1524
St. 1, tr. Christopher J. Neuendorf, 2014 Sts. 2–12, tr. Richard Massie, alt.
Source: Sts. 2–12, The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941, No. 287, alt.