The Shorter Catechism, 14
Return to The Shorter Catechism main page
Q43: What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A: The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
These words are found in Exod 20:2. In verse one you read, "And God spake all these words, saying:" So, the Ten Commandments are the words of God Himself. Let us therefore both listen to them and obey them.
Q44: What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A: The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.
Look again at the preface to the Ten Commandments. What does it teach us? It begins with saying that God is our God: "I am the LORD thy God". Then it continues with making mention of His redemption: "Which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." His redemption consists of bringing us our of the house of bondage. God has put this preface before the following Ten Commandments, as if He says: Hear, my people, I am your God, and I have delivered you from the house of slavery, and therefore, you are bound to keep this what I am now going to proclaim". And then the Ten Commandments follow.
So, the preface to the Ten Commandments teaches us, that because - God is the Lord ("I am the LORD")
It is important to notice that a weighty part of the argument to keep the commandments is, that God is our Redeemer. It is because God is our Redeemer, having saved us from the house of bondage, from sin, that we are bound to keep the commandments. So, to apply this, then the believer, who is saved through God in Christ, is the more obliged to keep the commandments. "I have brought thee out of the house of bondage", so you shall keep My commandments". Everybody on earth, of course, should obey God, but the believer has an extra reason: God is his personal Redeemer, and therefore he should keep His commandments.
We read of our obligation to serve God because of our deliverance, in both the Old and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, you read: "Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude. Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway." Deut. 10:22-11:1. We see that their deliverance is the cause of their obligation: "Therefore" thou shalt love the LORD. And in the New Testament we read the same: "That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." Luke 1:74,75. We are delivered that we might serve Him in holiness and righteousness. Again, we see that our deliverance obliges us to Godís service.