By Daron D. Fraley
The Ten Commandments given to Moses by God are the most recognizable and most referenced laws in the history of mankind. Prophets of old and prophets today have spoken repeatedly about our need to obey the Ten Commandments.
President Thomas S. Monson, a modern-day prophet, has said: “Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that-commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel.
If we but listen, we hear the echo of God’s voice, speaking to us here and now: commandments given to Moses by God are the most recognizable and most referenced laws in the history of mankind. Prophets of old and prophets today have spoken repeatedly about our need to obey the Ten Commandments.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour thy father and thy mother.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Thou shalt not covet.’
“Our code of conduct is definitive; it is not negotiable. It is found not only in the Ten Commandments but also in the Sermon on the Mount, given to us by the Savior when He walked upon the earth. It is found throughout His teachings. It is found in the words of modern revelation.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Stand in Holy Places,” Ensign, November 2011)
Where Did The Ten Commandments Come From?
Quite different from the extremely simplified version that we see in the movie The Ten Commandments by Cecil B. DeMille, the experience that Moses and the children of Israel had in obtaining the Ten Commandments was one of great spiritual manifestations. These spiritual events occurred because the children of Israel-all twelve tribes-made covenants with the Lord to be obedient to His laws and commandments.
When the children of Israel were led out of Egypt, Moses obeyed the Lord and brought the people to Mount Sinai where they could be taught about God. Upon arriving, Moses went up the mountain to speak with the Lord. God gave Moses and the children of Israel the opportunity to covenant with Him:
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel (Exodus 19:5-6).
Moses descended from the mount and shared all that God had commanded him. The people expressed their desire to be obedient. Moses reported back to the Lord, and that began a process of Moses going up to the mount and receiving instruction, returning to teach the people, and then going back to the mountain again. This happened several times.
On one of those visits, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and other laws that the children of Israel were to live by. When Moses “came and told the people all the words of the Lord,” then “the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do” (Exodus 24:3).
The people made a covenant that they would be obedient, and the Lord was pleased. He showed Himself to Moses and the elders of Israel: “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness” (Exodus 24:10).
Once again, Moses was called up to the mount. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandmentswhich I have written; that thou mayest teach them” (Exodus 24:12 emphasis added).
On this visit to the mountain, Moses was gone a long time-forty days and forty nights. When he returned to the people, intent on teaching them all he had learned, he found that the people had corrupted themselves-worshipping idols, excess eating, drinking, and making merry. Moses was angry, and he cast the tables of stone down, breaking them. (see Exodus 32:1-35)
Thus, the original tablets of stone which contained the Ten Commandments and many other laws given by God were lost.
The Ten Commandments Are Given a Second Time
For many days after that, the people spent time in prayer, repenting of the evil that they had done. Moses plead with the Lord, asking that the Lord’s presence might return. Satisfied with the efforts given, God called Moses to the mountain again.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law, according as they were written at the first on the tables which thou brakest; but it shall not be according to the first, for I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them. But I will give unto them the law as at the first, but it shall be after the law of a carnal commandment; for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage. Therefore do as I have commanded thee, and be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me, in the top of the mount. (JST Exodus 34:1-2)
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Ten Commandments were real, and that God indeed did give them to Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel and for us today. We also believe that the fullness of the priesthood that was lost as a result of disobedience was restored to the children of Israel when Jesus Christ organized His church during His mortal ministry.
About the Author
Daron Fraley is the author of The Thorn, a religious speculative fiction novel, the short story anthology WATER and Other Stories, and Thirty-Six, a novella. Visit Daron’s blog here.
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