From atop a rumbling and quaking mountain of fire, God spoke his law to a man named Moses. For 40 days, God explained to the leader of the Israelites exactly how he wanted his chosen people to live. God gave many rules and instructions to Moses. But he started with the ten most important. We call these the “Ten Commandments.”
God wrote these Ten Commandments down on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses to show to the people. As believers have studied the Bible, they’ve noticed that God’s top ten commands fit neatly into two groups. The first four commands make up one of these groups, and the last six commands form the other. We call this pair of groups the “two tables of God’s law.” The word “table” here is short for “tablet,” – it’s not talking about the thing you sit down at when you eat dinner!
The “First Table of the Law” is made up of the first four commands. We can read them from Exodus 20. Very briefly, those commands are, “1) You shall have no other gods before me... 2) You shall not make for yourself an image... You shall not bow down to them or worship them... 3) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God... 4) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Ex. 20:3-11)
What do these first four commands have in common? They are all about different ways to love, worship, and honor the Lord God. They are “love God” commandments! In fact, if you combined all four of these laws into one, you’d end up with something we call the “First Great Commandment.” In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us what that super commandment is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
We’ll look closely at each of the first four commandments in our upcoming questions. But it’s helpful to remember that each one of them points us to the greatest commandment. The commands in the First Table of the Law are just four different ways to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.