The airplane is free only when it lands on the runway designed for it. Any other landing will bring disaster and death, not freedom.

Over this past weekend a memorial service was held for my friend John Lofton. It reminded me of what Ecclesiastes 7:2 states, "It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart."

There is much to learn at a funeral. It surely brings the reality of our mortality into focus. It reminds us of the brevity of life; and it takes us back to the question of what really matters—what will last for eternity?

Today, as we embark on our next series in the book of Exodus, we come to the Ten Commandments given in Exodus 20:1-17. This is a momentous passage, and it has had a profound impact on the lives of individuals and families. Entire nations have been transformed by it.

The giving of the Ten Commandments was not merely the central event in the founding of the nation Israel. This event at Sinai prescribes for all mankind the duties we owe to our Creator as well as the duties we owe to our fellow man. Indeed it would not be too much to state that here lays the foundation of Western Civilization. Please notice how it all begins with the relationship between God and the worshipper.

The Preamble to The Ten Commandments — Exodus 20:1-2

"And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." We learn from the context of chapter 19 as we saw previously that all of Israel's men, women and children were called to assemble at the edge of the mountain. Overwhelmed as they were by the smoke and fire, by the earthquake and the increasingly loud sound of the trumpet, God had their full attention at that moment. All the Children of Israel could hear the Law declared to them by God's own voice.

The basis of the covenant relationship was God's deliverance of them from Egypt. They went from bondage to liberty. For four hundred years they had been slaves in Egypt under the tyrannical Pharaohs. God miraculously delivered them from the slave house; God was the one who set them free.

Today, many persons have a great misunderstanding in thinking that if they follow Christianity, they don't have liberty. That is far from the truth. In fact, Christianity, when followed correctly, brings liberty – not bondage. 2 Corinthians 3:17 explains, "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Liberty is not anarchy, but liberty is under law – God's Law. The people were set free from bondage in Egypt, but that liberty was not so they could do whatever they pleased, but rather so they could do the perfect will of their Creator. Only then would they experience true liberty.

As I shared earlier, an airplane appears to be free to do whatever it likes, fly wherever it wants to. However, if you talk with any pilot, he will tell you that those appearances are deceptive. Planes are still subject to the law of gravity. There are also all kinds of forces in play that must be considered, such as wind and storms and other aircraft. There is a whole lot of education and highly skilled training required to just get into the pilot's seat.

The plane's apparent freedom is governed by a host of physical laws as well as man-made laws, which are all designed for the safety of those on board and those on the ground. For example, just consider the tricky business of landing the plane. The pilot cannot simply choose to land the plane wherever he likes. Can you imagine hearing the announcement come on from the cockpit of a commercial jet liner, "This is your captain speaking. As we are approach the destination, I decided that I am bored with always landing on the same runway—so routine and mundane. So today, I thought I would treat you all to a landing on, say, that interstate highway just off to the left." You can imagine the panic in the seats on that plane.

Is it liberating to say the plane can land wherever the pilot fancies to land? No, it is not liberty; it is death and destruction. So here is the major misunderstanding of God's Law: it was not given to harm us, but rather to bless us. Follow it and we will experience life, reject it and it will lead to death and destruction.

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