Exodus: Week 16 Study Guide

Have you ever wondered what it means to live in right relationship with God and others? Continuing our study through the Book of Exodus, this weekend we examined Exodus 20 and discovered the purpose of the 10 commandments, how they draw us to Jesus, and how they instruct us to the best life humanly possible!


Below, you’ll find some key discussion points to consider, questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends, and some action points for the week. 

Memory Verse of the Week: Exodus 20:1–2 (NIV)

“And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’”

A Necessary Reminder

READ: Exodus 20:1–2 (NIV)

How do you remember things? Maybe you create events on your phone’s calendar, or perhaps you leave sticky notes in key spots to remind yourself of things that need to get done. Whatever your method is, it’s safe to say we all need to be reminded of things from time to time. Why? Because it’s easy to get distracted and to forget things, even important things.

Before God laid out the 10 Commandments that help us to live in right relationship with Him and others, He declares who He is and what He did for Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.”

For this generation who had lived in Egypt, it was a reminder of their national identity and that it was by God’s mercy they existed, by God’s power they were set free from oppression, and by God’s guidance they would prosper. For every future generation of Israel, it would establish a clear foundation for their lives: This is who God—the great I AM—is, and this is what He’s done for Israel.

Because of this, because God is King, Creator, and Father, and because He adopted the children of Israel as His own and saved them, He has the right to make commandments for the people and the people have the obligation to obey Him. It harkens us back to Exodus 6:7 (NIV, emphasis added): “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” And even further back to Genesis 17:7 (NLT, emphasis added): “This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”

But it also invites us today to look forward from Exodus or Genesis to the Gospels, to the new covenant God made with everyone. In John 14:23 (NIV), Jesus declares to His disciples and us, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

Friends, we have the full revelation of God (the Bible) to remind us daily of who God is and what He’s done for us in Christ, so we may not lose sight, get distracted, or forget the One who made us, redeemed us, set us free, and “qualified [us] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:12 NIV). We also have the Holy Spirit to etch this truth into our hearts, minds, and souls. And in response to this, in response to His presence and power at work in our lives, to the knowledge of what He’s done and to who He is, what else can we do but worship and obey Him?

Discussion Question 1: Why does God so often remind us through His Word of who He is and what He’s done? 

Discussion Question 2: What are some ways you can be intentional to remind yourself of His character and work?

The 10 Words to Live By 

READ: Exodus 20:3–17 (NIV)

Did you know that in the original language what we translate as 10 Commandments was actually more akin to the 10 words? They are literally the 10 words to live by, given to us by God Himself, to enable us to live the best, most enjoyable life humanly possible and accomplish our intended purpose.

So, how do these 10 Commandments/words to live by accomplish this? What do we learn from them? Well, within each commandment, we see a true reflection of God’s perfect, holy character and nature.

-Do not have any gods aside from Yahweh because He is the only one worthy of worship.

-Do not make any images or objects of worship because God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and far bigger and greater than any object or being found in His creation.

-Do not misuse His name because He is supreme and sacred, and there is power in His name.

-Keep the Sabbath holy because God is our provider and in Him we find rest.

-Honor your father and mother because God Himself is a loving, honorable Father to all His children.

-Do not murder because God is the giver of life and man bears His image.

-Do not commit adultery because God is faithful.

-Do not steal because God is generous.

-Do not bear false witness because God is a God of truth and justice.

-Do not covet because God is enough.

10 timeless words to live by . . .

But check this out: Jesus made it even simpler for us by drilling down the 10 into two words to live by. In Matthew 22:37–40 (NIV), He says it this way: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Discussion Question 3: What does the 10 Commandments contain? What can we learn about God, life, the world, and our relationships from them?  

The Commandments as Teacher, Mirror, and Usher

READ: Exodus 20:3–24

Teacher: When you really stop, sit, and examine each of these commandments, you can see just how powerful and timeless they are, transcending time and culture. They teach us how to live a rich, fulfilling, joyful life with God and others. But there’s a flipside to this, friends. You see, through our sinful nature, the devil takes these commandments and twists them to teach us something else.

In Romans 7:7–8 (NIV), Paul tells us: “What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.”

Mirror: What does a mirror do? It shows us what’s really there. A mirror reveals the reality of what’s in front of it. And in the same way, the commandments are meant to provide us with a true image of ourselves, to reveal the reality of our sinful, broken state.

You see, when we examine these commandments in light of our own lives, we see just how far we truly are from a right relationship with God. As Romans 3:20 (NIV) tells us, “Through the law we become conscious of our sin.” So, if we can look at ourselves in this mirror and admit that we are hopeless and helpless apart from God’s help, then the law has served its most important purpose. Because He is holy and people are not, there is a barrier that needs to exist. The mirror shows us we can’t enter into His presence; we need a mediator.

Usher: What do ushers do? They help escort you to where you need to go! Galatians 3:24 (NLT) says, “The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.”

The commandments show us what it means to live in right relationship with God, and it shines a light upon the fact that on our own, we could never live up to this standard and achieve right standing. So, what can we do? Look to the One to whom the commandments point! We must look to God, who doesn’t leave us on our own.

Instead, because we couldn’t approach Him and enter into His presence, John 1:14 (NIV) tells us that He came down, the Word of God, and “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Galatians 4:4–5 (ESV) tells us, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

That’s the gospel, the good news that overcomes and erases the bad news of sin and death! We’re sinners, incapable of moral good apart from God’s divine hand. We’re guilty, deserving of death, deserving of wrath, unworthy of standing before a holy and perfect God, and completely hopeless and helpless to save ourselves. But God loves us so much, with a perfect, unconditional, everlasting, all-encompassing, unrelenting, beautiful, unfathomable love that He sent Jesus to save us by living a sinless life, fulfilling the commandments perfectly, taking our sins upon Himself, and dying in our place.

Discussion Question 4: How do the commandments point us to the work of salvation through Jesus?


Spend some time really soaking in these commandments and what they teach us about ourselves, the Lord, and His work!


In our next study, we’ll explore Exodus 21 as the Lord continues giving Moses the law. Discover how the Lord shaped His people through this law, set them apart, and brought about the coming of Jesus. We’ll also see how this law impacts us today!

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About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.