“On the tenth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me . . . ten lords a-leaping . . .”

As we get closer to the end of our song, our lists get longer. That’s why as we get closer to the twelfth day (Twelfth Night, if you will), we find more and more fodder from my sermon bin. Yes, you guessed it, I have a series of sermons built on our ten lords, just as I have on the nine ladies and the eight maids. Let me start by quoting the unknown wag who likes to wax poetic on behalf of the Almighty and said, “God did not call them the ‘Ten Suggestions.'”

So by now, you know that our ten leaping lords are none other than the Ten Commandments. Far from the Charlton Heston film of yesteryear, the Decalogue (that’s your big word for the day), best remembered from the Exodus 20 listing, are first of all given to help us act justly in our daily lives. They were not intended to give politicians and lawyers something to fight over in court. Nor were they designed to give Pharisees (preacher-types) of old, and red-faced evangelicals (preacher-types) of today a way to “lord” it over those who didn’t abide by them. (Notice how I played on the word “lord” there?)

No, these Ten Commandments, when properly used, do two things: First, they point out our short-comings as the humans that we are, teaching us how to behave before God and between one another. Secondly, they emphasize (because we can’t really keep them forever) our dire need for the Savior who is Jesus Christ.

Rather than list and re-list the ten lords here, I’ll just quote you (and just for fun, I’ll use the beautiful Shakespearean language found in the translation authorized by King James of England in the sixteen hundreds):

 1And God spake all these words, saying,

2I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

7Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

12Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

13Thou shalt not kill.

14Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15Thou shalt not steal.

16Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.