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Opening Questions and Prayer

  • Growing up, what rule did you have the hardest time with?

  • What are some ways people try to bend the rules without completely breaking them?

  • How does God want us to view the rules He gives us?

  • Pray that God would show you what He wants you to learn and do as a result of studying His word.

Read Exodus 20:1-6 NLT

Then God gave the people all these instructions:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

3 “You must not have any other god but me.

4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

  • What is God establishing in the lives of the Israelites by starting the ten commandments in this way?

  • What are some idols that the Israelites might have had or seen as objects of worship during their time of slavery?

  • What are some idols and gods people have today?

  • How do you make sure to keep God first in your life?

  • What does it mean that God is jealous?

  • How is God’s jealousy different from the world’s version of jealousy?

  • Is there anyone who has strayed away from God (or never knew Him) that you can talk to this week about His amazing love?

Read Exodus 20:7

7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

  • What are some ways the Israelites misused the Lord’s name?

  • Besides using God’s name as a bad word, what are some ways people misuse the Lord’s name today?

  • When we become followers of Jesus, we take His name (much like a bride takes her husband's name). How does that bring a different meaning to this commandment?

Read Exodus 20:8-11

8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

  • Why was the Sabbath day considered holy?

  • Why did God want His people to rest?

  • How did the Pharisees interpret this law and make it about the rules instead of the purpose behind the rule?

    • See Mark 2:23-27 23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” 25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

  • What is the difference between relaxing/resting/taking a break and resting in the Lord?

  • What are some ways you rest in the Lord during the week?

  • What are some ways you’ve neglected to rest?

    • What happens when you do this?

  • What is one thing you can do this week to actually rest?

Read Exodus 20:12-17

12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You must not murder.

14 “You must not commit adultery.

15 “You must not steal.

16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

  • Why did God want the Israelites to follow these commandments?

  • Why does God want us to follow these commandments today?

  • Why are some of these commandments easy to gloss over and think that you have it covered?

Read Matthew 5:21-22 & 27-28

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

  • What was Jesus teaching the crowds about the ten commandments?

  • How did Jesus take some of the commandments that might be easy to gloss over and reframe them?

  • What is Jesus teaching us about rules versus relationships?

  • In light of Jesus’ statements, what are some ways you can guard your heart against murder and adultery?

  • Who can help you with this?

Read Exodus 20:18-21

18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

  • Why did the Lord speak to the people in a way that frightened them?

  • Why is it important to have a healthy fear of the Lord?

    • See Proverbs 9:10- Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

  • What are some ways you’ve been disrespectful in your relationship with God?

  • What can you do this week to reinstill that fear, awe, and reverence for the Lord?

  • Even though the Lord is to be feared, how does God still draw close to us?

Read Exodus 20:22-26

22 And the Lord said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: You saw for yourselves that I spoke to you from heaven. 23 Remember, you must not make any idols of silver or gold to rival me.

24 “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. 26 And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.

  • What purpose did the altars serve for the Israelites?

  • What are some ways you can set up reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness in your life?

  • What is a verse you can post somewhere in your house or car that will remind you of the Lord’s faithfulness?

Memorize it!

Exodus 20:8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Closing thoughts and prayer

The Lord was establishing a group of people to set them apart as holy so that people would be drawn to Him. Often, like the Pharisees, we make it about the rules, and not the intention behind the rules. God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we start to live that out, then we are living as God intended us to from the beginning. Spend some time asking for forgiveness for when you’ve made it about the rules and not the relationship. Ask God what He wants you to do today after reading His word. Pray for our country and our church leaders.


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