Many old things belong in museums. Whilst they may still be beautiful, and may be full of interest, they no longer serve any useful purpose. Indeed, they may need protecting from damage. Jesus said something to this effect about some religious ideas – you don’t put new wine in old wineskins, because they are likely to burst.
What is remarkable about today’s reading is that it is still amazingly serviceable, despite it’s great antiquity. I’m not saying that we are particularly good at keeping them. I’m not saying they would give a clear answer to all the questions that face us in today’s world. I’m not saying we don’t have a good deal of unpacking to do to work out what ‘do not worship any idol’, or ‘observe the Sabbath’ actually mean in today’s world.
And of course for Christians, we always need to keep in mind that Jesus summarised all of the Law in two positive commandments: Love God, and Love your neighbour as you love yourself. This is always going to be our trump card.
What really strikes me, though, is that in our troubled and complex world, if we were only to decide to keep the ancient ten commandments we would have addressed 90% of the world’s problems (perhaps more).
God spoke, and these were his words: 2 “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.
3 “Worship no god but me.
4 “Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. 5 Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the LORD your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. 6 But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.
7 “Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.
8 “Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. 9 You have six days in which to do your work, 10 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work — neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. 11 In six days I, the LORD, made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the LORD, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
12 “Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.
13 “Do not commit murder.
14 “Do not commit adultery.
15 “Do not steal.
16 “Do not accuse anyone falsely.
17 “Do not desire another man’s house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.”