Imagine that you are one of the people in Israel and you’ve just been freed from slavery to the Egyptians.  Literally your entire life has been directed by the Egyptians, you aren’t free to go as you please, you can’t make your own choices, you could worship your God, but only so far as it fit in with the plans of the Egyptians.  Suddenly, you are freed from all of that.

What do you do now?  How do you live your life?  What does Yahweh expect of you as a person/people who can make their own choices?  You are full of questions, and fortunately, Yahweh is full of answers.  This is much of the point of the second half of the book of Exodus.

Beginning with the Ten Commandments, or Ten Words, the second half of Exodus is instructions on how to live faithfully before Yahweh; directions on how to handle slaves, and explanations of how to handle murder and manslaughter, of one’s social responsibilities, what feasts should be celebrated and when, etc.  All of this is God’s graciousness to the people as he carefully explains how they can live with him and honor him in their lives and by their daily actions.  Yahweh does not leave the people to discover what displeases him by bringing sudden calamity when they sin, he tells them what he expects of them so that there are no surprises.

It’s difficult for us to grasp how helpful this is because we have grown up with the entire Bible which clearly lays out God’s expectations for his people.  Until this period in the Exodus, the Israelites had no such instructions.  Yahweh was graciously helping them understand how to live with a holy God, now that they were free to make their own choices.

What we learn from all of these instructions is that our behavior matters to God. There is a way to live and choices to make which are pleasing to God, and as we will discover tomorrow, there are choices that are not pleasing to God.