Preparing to read Exodus 20

A big mistake when reading the Ten Commandments is to miss this verse that comes before the "ten words." 

"I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Exodus 20:1-2)

Why is it so important to read this verse before reading the Ten Commandments? These two verses are not on any monument or internet depiction of the Ten Commandments? Why? 

I don't know why people leave off these verses, but I do know that leaving them off does heavy damage to how we view keeping the commands. It leads to keeping commands in order to be saved rather than realizing the commands are a response to being saved!

God saved Israel. God saves us. Therefore, He asks us to be different, to be His people and to keep commands. We don't keep commands in order to be saved but because we're saved by God, redeemed as Israel, out of the house of slavery, out of the bondage of sin.

These two verses are called the Prologue and these short but vital sentences set up the story that must be under the commands. The Prologue is the ground or foundation of the commands. The grace of God, the redemption of God from slavery is the ground. The commands are the means of connecting to the story by our different lives as a result of this foundational story. Without this grounding story, the commands would have no basis in the gracious action of God.


Yahweh, You graciously led Israel out of slavery. Would you remind us always of your love whenever we think of your commands?

Action Step

The Prologue provides the story of grace that underwrites these commands. Today's Action Step is in the negative first: Don't leave off the Prologue when you read the commands! DO read Exodus 20:1-2 whenever you read the Ten Commandments.


Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.

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