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The Ten Commandments by Mark F. Rooker

June 24, 2011

I recently did some teaching on the Ten Commandments. I had previously read Words from the Fire by Albert Mohler, but I wanted some additional resources to help. One of the books I chose was The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century by Mark Rooker. I had already read a commentary on the book of Leviticus by Rooker in the New American Commentary (NAC) series and found it well written and very helpful. I had high hopes for this volume as well. The Ten Commandments is volume seven in the NAC Studies in Bible & Theology series. Both the commentary and this series are published by B&H Publishing Group.

The main thrust of this volume is to look at the Ten Commandments with an view for their current application. It does this well. As Rooker examines each command, he starts with and focuses on the text. What does the command mean? In the context of its time, place, and audience, why was it given? He then roots out the principles in each command and applies them to contemporary life.

I think anytime a Christian studies the Old Testament law generally or the Ten Commandments specifically, the big question is whether or not they still apply to us today. And if so, to what extent? That is a difficult thing to answer. One thing Rooker says about this is:

Although the Christian is no longer “under the law” (Rom 3:19; 6:14), he is nevertheless not “without the law” (1 Cor 9:21), as though it has nothing to say to him. It could be said that the law illuminates sanctification. It provides a guide for the believer to what is pleasing in God’s sight. Because the Ten Commandments are expressive of the character of God – and for that reason alone – they are timeless and universally applicable.

The Ten Commandments should not be viewed s a restriction on life; on the contrary, they lead to fullness of life. As R. Albert Mohler has stated: “So, the law itself is written as a gift, given to us that we would know how to live, not only to maximize our happiness but to demonstrate God’s holiness.” The Ten Commandments demand a response of love, because the grace of God, experienced already in the liberation from Egypt and in the divine initiative in the covenant promise, elicited such a response from man in gratitude. The law is not understood as a means of salvation but as instruction regarding the shape of a redeemed life is to take in everyday affairs. It is perhaps for reasons such as these that Israel’s law evoked admiration and envy from other nations (Deut 4:6-8).

In conclusion, the Ten Commandments are absolute and ultimate. We do not observe them for social stability, for happiness, or for security and prosperity. The Ten Commandments manifest the attributes of God. Thus we should delight in carrying out His commands (Ps 112:1).

While Rooker’s The Ten Commandments can get a little technical, it is not needlessly so. This was a very good commentary on the Ten Commandments and would recommend it to anyone wanting to do deeper study into this important passage of Scripture. I would especially recommend it to any teacher and/or preacher preparing to lead a class or congregation through a study of this passage, and it is a passage worth studying.

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