In my continuing quest to read the books already on our shelves, I recently began A Devotional Guide to Bible Lands by Batsell Barrett Baxter and Harold Hazelip. In the chapter on Mount Sinai, Dr. Hazelip states:
No society can survive without restraints and guidelines. God commands because He cares. We keep the commandments because they are God’s guidelines. The Ten Commandments never liberated anyone from sin. They are restraints. They have kept people from falling apart personally. The cross offers the healing and forgiveness we need for our failures (page 20).
- Teach their children to obey God’s commands and
- Bring their children to the Savior who offers forgiveness for their failures to live up to them.
The publication date of Baxter and Hazelip’s devotional guide is 1979, the year I became a mama. The negative societal issues they discuss are the same ones that concern me today. They are not new. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
And just as they did not see fit
to acknowledge God any longer,
God gave them over to a depraved mind,
to do those things which are not proper,
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil;
full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice;
they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God,
insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil,
disobedient to parents, without understanding,
untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and
although they know the ordinance of God,
that those who practice such things are worthy of death,
they not only do the same,
but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Just before the quote from A Devotional Guide to Bible Lands above, Hazelip quotes Harry Emerson Fosdick, a theologian who lived from 1878 to 1969. The popular theologian had spent his career preaching a “liberal” theology that did not adhere to God’s Word. However, after his retirement, Fosdick realized that he had been wrong by not preaching obedience to the Ten Commandments. Hazelip quotes Fosdick:
In my callow youth I reached the conclusion that we had so far spiritually progressed that we could center all attention on Paul’s positive ethic, “Love is the fulfilling of the law,” and that we need no longer stress the negative, “Thou shalt not.” I take it back. I know human life better. I wish those Ten Commandments could be blazoned in every marketplace, in every schoolhouse, in every church. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet.
I am thankful that you can emblazon the Ten Commandments on your walls. I am thankful, too, that you can emblazon those teachings on your children’s hearts. It’s true that God commands because He cares and that following His commands helps us keep from falling apart personally. We would all do well to say the following with the psalmist:
Your Word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
I pray that people with powerful influence today have the same realization of Dr. Fosdick — and the sooner, the better.
Praise God that He gives us and our children:
- Commands to follow,
- Assurance of His forgiveness when we fail, and
- Power to forgive others when they do.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted,
forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.