After the giving of the Ten Commandments, we have the civil law, seen in chapters 21-23. This has to do with the new nation of Israel, and how it was to be administered, and how crimes were to be punished. We call this the civil law, but the book of Exodus actually calls this and the section on the Ten Commandments the Book of the Covenant. These chapters then conclude with the confirmation of the covenant. 

The law reveals to us the holy character of God. As sinners, we cannot keep it as we are commanded. But Jesus Christ has kept the law perfectly for all those who come to Him in faith. Knowing this, we go on in His strength, through His Spirit, striving to please Him in all things. Ask yourself these questions: What has this study revealed to me about my sin and the changes in my life I need to make? Has it actually pointed me to Jesus Christ? Am I trusting Him as my Savior? Am I looking to Him for forgiveness and cleansing? Do I desire to be holy, even as God is holy? If not, why not? If so, what are the steps I should be taking? 

The fourth commandment tells us, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Now up to this point, there is general agreement as to what the first three commandments require, even though we don’t keep them. When we come to this fourth commandment, there is no longer full agreement on what that’s talking about. The seventh day here is prescribed as a day of Sabbath rest. Yet, as we well know, the majority of Christians don’t observe it. We worship on Sunday instead, which is the first day of the week. In addition, we worship differently from what is prescribed in other places in the law.

All but two of the Ten Commandments are expressed in negative form, but the negative form implies the positive. Thus, when God says, “You shall have no other gods before me,” that’s the negative. The positive form implied in that is, “You shall worship me only and exclusively.” Jesus handled the commandments the same way. When Pharisees came to Jesus on one occasion, they asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy, replied that the first commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:36-37). That’s the positive side of what the first commandment requires. 

There is nothing that our society needs as much as the Ten Commandments. In a commencement address at Duke University in 1987, Ted Koppel, the well-known news broadcaster, reminded the class of the Ten Commandments, and the fact that our culture needed them very much. He went down the list of them and he related them to all the moral problems of our time. Nobody liked that, but he was absolutely right.