B i b l e   S t u d y




Rev. Ronald C. Purkey claims no originality for this Bible study outline.

However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.

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October 15, 2017


SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:18-26


KEY VERSE: An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee (Exodus 20:24)


INTRODUCTION: What will we learn today from Exodus chapter 20?


A. We Will Learn The Purpose Of The Law.


The Law does not save sinners (Galatians 2:21; 3:21); it reveals God’s holiness and man’s need for salvation (Romans 3:20). It is a mirror that shows us how dirty we are (James 1:22–2), but it does not provide the cleansing we need. Only Jesus Christ can do that.


B. We Will Learn The Spirit Of The Law.


Under the old covenant, God’s law was written on tables of stone (Exodus 24:12), but under the new covenant, God writes His word on our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:1–3). As we meditate on God’s Word, the Holy Spirit makes it a part of our inner being, and we become more like the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s law (Romans 8:1–4).


C. We Will Learn The Division Of The Law.


(1) The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God, (2) while the last six deal with our relationship with others. If we love God and obey Him, we will also love others and serve them (see Matthew 22:34–40.).


D. We Will Learn The Response To The Law.


Some people obey God (1) because of fear (Exodus 20:18–21). Others obey (2) because they want His blessing. The highest motive for obedience is (3) our love for the Lord.


But what if we disobey the Lord? (1) God made provision for Israel in the prescribed sacrifices (Exodus 20:22–26). (2) God has made provision for believers TODAY through the work of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9–2:2). Believers today are not under law but under grace. This is not an excuse for sin but an encouragement for loving obedience to His will (see Romans chapter 6).




A. The First Tablet Commanded the People to Honor the Lord. (Exodus 20:3-11)


1. No Other Gods. (Exodus 20:3)

2. No Idols. (Exodus 20:4-6)

3. No Swearing. (Exodus 20:7)

4. Sabbath Observance. (Exodus 20:8-11)


B. The Second Tablet Commanded the People to Honor Others. (Exodus 20:12-17)


5. Honor Parents. (Exodus 20:12)

6. Do Not Murder. (Exodus 20:13)

7. Do Not Commit Adultery. (Exodus 20:14)

8. Do Not Steal. (Exodus 20:15)

9. Do Not Lie. (Exodus 20:16)

10. Do Not Covet. (Exodus 20:17)


In chapter 20 of Exodus we have the giving of the Law. The Ten Commandments are given first but they are only part of the Law. Instructions pertaining to the altar are also given; the Law and the altar go together. The Law revealed that man is a sinner and needs a Savior. There must be an altar upon which to offer the sacrifice; there must be the shedding of blood for sin.


You have a mirror in your bathroom, which is a picture of the Law, and there is a basin underneath the mirror. You do not wash yourself with the mirror; it only reveals the dirt. Just so, the Law is the mirror that reveals our sin. And beneath that mirror there is a wash basin.


There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.




INSIGHT: God has given the children of Israel the moral code which is the Ten Commandments. However, there is more to the Law than the moral code. God  also gave them that part of the Law which deals with social legislation. He  also gave them instructions concerning an altar and the building of the tabernacle. The Book of Leviticus gives in detail the service of the tabernacle. It is all part of the Law. It all goes in one package.


A. We See The Fear Of God.


(Exodus 20:18-19) And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.


The people of Israel had the fear of the Lord! When the Israelites saw the thunder and lightning, they were afraid and backed away from the mount.


B. We See The Wisdom Of Moses.


(Exodus 20:20-21) And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.


The Law presented a very high standard. The Law of the Lord is perfect; it DEMANDS perfection. If you are trying to be saved by keeping the Law, you will have to be perfect. If you are not perfect, you cannot be saved BY THE LAW. I thank God that under grace He can take a poor sinner like me and save me. Grace reveals something of the goodness and wonder of our God.




A. God Told Israel To Refrain From Idols.


(Exodus 20:22-23) And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.


It is important to see why God appears in just this way to the children of Israel. I think it is evident that God wants to impress upon them that He is the living God. Remember that they were reared in Egypt with idols all around them -- and they were idolatrous. They were worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. God is moving closer to these people than He ever has before.


B. God Told Israel To Offer Him Sacrifices.


(Exodus 20:24) An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.


God has given Israel the 10 Commandments. Now along with the 10 Commandments God gives instructions for an altar. An altar is used for sacrifice. The altar speaks of the cross of Jesus Christ and the blood that He shed. This altar is the one they built before the tabernacle was made. Apparently everywhere Israel journeyed they made one like this.


This altar was to be made of earth and was the place upon which Israel was to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. There is no mention of presenting a sin offering on this altar. Sin and trespass offerings were given to Israel later.


INSIGHT: The peace offering reveals that man needs a sacrifice that will reconcile him to God, and that Jesus Christ did make peace by the blood of His cross. The burnt offering speaks of who Jesus Christ is; it speaks of His worthiness and ability to save.


C. God Told Israel How To Make A Stone Altar.


(Exodus 20:25) And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.


God says, “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use” (i.e., polluted). We must obey God and do it His way! There is an important lesson in this verse.


God wanted Israel to build a plain altar of stone with no engraving. Perhaps an engraver would want to make the altar appealing, attractive looking, and very beautiful. The moment a tool is put to the stones, it is polluted. God rejects it.


INSIGHT: Dr. Vernon McGee said this about Exodus 20:25, Today we have gone way past “engraving” in our churches. We have come to the place where we feel that everything connected with worship should be beautiful. We want soft music, dim lights, and beautiful colors. We want the sermon to be given in very low tones and in a dignified manner, as flowery as possible. Well, we’ve been through such a period. And we have found that it has emptied our churches.


There is nothing wrong with an attractive place to worship. I am for soft lights, beautiful music, and flowery speaking. But when any of these things obscure the message of the Cross and takes attention away from Jesus Christ who died on that cross, then God is offended. God does not want this to happen. – Thru the Bible with J Vernon McGee


D. God Told Israel To Not Have Steps To The Altar.


(Exodus 20:26) Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.


Many people would like to build nice lovely steps up to the altar. That would be very convenient. In that day a man wore a kind of a skirt and to climb steps he would have to lift that skirt and his nakedness might be revealed.


God says, “Do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.” God cannot use that which speaks of the flesh.


INSIGHT: One of my “mentors” said this, “When the Apostle Paul went to the city of Corinth, you will recall, he found the Corinthians to be quite philosophical. Many of the heathen priests connected with the heathen religions tried to identify with all the sins of Corinth. When Paul arrived, these phony philosophers wanted to argue, discuss, and appear intellectual.


These Corinthians were going in every direction. (Paul had a similar experience in Athens!) He tells these Corinthians, ‘For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2).


Folks, if ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ is left out of the message, I do not care how high the steeple is, how loud the church bell is, how beautiful the sanctuary is, how soft the music is, or how educated the preacher is -- it is NOT a church and, as far as God is concerned, it is POLLUTED.”


By Philip Yancey


For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. – 1 John 5:3


·        Every parent knows the difference between rules designed primarily for the benefit of the parent and those designed for the benefit of the child.


God’s rules fall into the latter category. As Creator of the human race, God knows how human society will work best.


·        I began to look at the Ten Commandments in this light -- as rules designed primarily for our benefit.


Jesus underscored this principle when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).


·        The Bible is a most realistic book.


It assumes human beings will be tempted to lust after a neighbor or covet someone else’s property, to work too hard, to strike out in anger at those who wrong them. It assumes humanity will bring disorder to whatever we touch.


Each of the Ten Commandments offers a shield of protection against that disorder. We have the freedom to say no to our sinful inclinations. By doing so, we avoid certain harm.


·        Taken together, the Ten Commandments weave life on this planet into a more meaningful and structured whole, the benefit of which is to allow us to live as a peaceful, healthy community under God. -- Adapted from Philip Yancey, Our Daily Bread, June 14, 2011


CONCLUSION: What have we learned today from Exodus chapter 20?


A. We Learned The Purpose Of The Law: The Law reveals sin but does not save sinners.


B. We Learned The Spirit Of The Law: The Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s law.


C. We Learned The Division Of The Law: The first four of the Ten Commandments deal with our relationship with God, while the last six deal with our relationship with other people.


D. We Learned The Response To The Law: Some people obey God because of fear, others only because they want His blessing and others because of their love for the Lord (that’s the highest motive). When true Christians disobey, provision has been made through the work of Jesus Christ. Today believers are under grace and NOT UNDER LAW.


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Oh God, let me so speak that people will know that Jesus is wonderful.”


* * *


REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.



E-mail: Ronald Purkey


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