The 10 Forgotten Words of Freedom

Which way are you heading?

Some languages and cultures train you to know north from south, east from west. These people don’t need a GSP or a compass. Their language builds a directional guidance system into their brains.

In Nuuk Thaayorre, an aboriginal language in Australia, you don’t “Hi” or “Hello” when you meet someone on the road. Instead you say “Which way are you heading?” And the person would answer with the direction they are facing: north, south, east, or west. As Lera Boroditsky says, a cognitive science professor at the University of California, San Diego, “To get past hello, you have to know which way you’re heading.” People in this culture always know the direction they are heading.


The Ten Commandments, or a better translation is the Ten Words (Ex. 34:28), are God’s guidance system so we would always know exactly which direction we are heading. 

They are God’s 10 Words of Freedom, directing us toward the freedom to love God and love others.

Out of the Land of Slavery

If someone speaking Nuuk Thaayorre ran into Israel in the desert they would ask, “Where was Israel heading?”

Israel would answer that they were heading out of the Egypt, the land of slavery. God begins the Ten Commandments by reminding Israel that, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). 

Out of the land of slavery! This is an essential foundation for understanding the Ten Commandments.  God does not want Israel to return to a state of slavery. That is the further thing of God’s mind. God wants Israel to live free.

Whatever think of the Ten Commandments, we must not talk as if God is now the one ruling over Israel, commanding and dominating Israel with laws and rules and regulations.  I often hear people talk about how God, after the Exodus, now has rights over Israel, or has redeemed them to rule over them.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

God brought Israel out of the land of slavery. God is NOT now going to enslave Israel to himself.

The Freedom to Love

Over the new ten posts (brief, daily posts) we are going to look at the Ten Commandments as God’s 10 Words of Freedom. They are the words that bring Israel back to life, back into alignment with creation, back to a dynamic relationship with God.

These 10 Word ask us, “Which way are you heading?”, just like the greeting in Nuuk Thaayorre. They teach us how to orient ourselves toward God, freedom, and life.

Come, let’s see where they take us.

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