Unit 10: Day 4, Exodus 20

    “Unit 10: Day 4, Exodus 20,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)

    “Unit 10: Day 4,” Old Testament Study Guide

    Unit 10: Day 4

    Exodus 20


    While the children of Israel were camped at Mount Sinai, God gave them the Ten Commandments. After seeing the manifestations of God’s presence on Mount Sinai, the Israelites were afraid. The Lord, through Moses, gave additional instructions on how the Israelites should worship Him.

    Exodus 20:1–17

    God gives the children of Israel the Ten Commandments

    desert landscape

    Desert near Sinai

    While the Israelites were gathered at the base of Mount Sinai, they heard the voice of God give the Ten Commandments to them from a cloud at the top of the mountain (see Exodus 19:9, 16–17; 20:18–19; Deuteronomy 4:12–13; 5:22–26). Refer to the diagram titled “Moses’s and Israel’s Experiences with Jehovah at Mount Sinai,” from the day 3 lesson. On line 5 on the diagram, write God speaks the Ten Commandments to the Israelites.

    1. journal icon
      In your scripture study journal, write as many of the Ten Commandments as you can recall without using any other resources. (For an added challenge, try to write the commandments in the order they appear in the scriptures.)

    Evaluate your list of commandments by reading Exodus 20:1–17. As you read, consider marking and numbering each of the Ten Commandments in your scriptures. (Exodus 20:3–17 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you will be able to locate it easily.)

    How many of the Ten Commandments were you able to recall? How many did you place in their correct order?

    Keeping the Ten Commandments would prepare the Israelites to receive greater blessings, but are they still applicable in our day?

    President Thomas S. Monson

    President Thomas S. Monson taught the following about the Ten Commandments: “Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant. They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that—commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite [required] today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel” (“Stand in Holy Places,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 83).

    President Spencer W. Kimball

    The following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball helps us understand about the eternal nature of the Ten Commandments: “Moses came down from the quaking, smoking Mount Sinai and brought to the wandering children of Israel the Ten Commandments, fundamental rules for the conduct of life. These commandments were, however, not new. They had been known to Adam and his posterity, who had been commanded to live them from the beginning, and were merely reiterated by the Lord to Moses. And the commandments even antedated earth life and were part of the test for mortals established in the council of heaven” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 167).

    As you study the remainder of this lesson, consider how the Ten Commandments are as applicable in our day as they were for the Israelites who first received them.

    Consider the following list of priorities a person might have in life:

    • Become a world-famous athlete.

    • Become popular with peers.

    • Make a lot of money.

    • Serve the Lord.

    For each of these priorities, think about what a person’s life would be like if that was the first priority in his or her life.

    The first two commandments teach us what our first priority in life should be. Review these commandments in Exodus 20:3–6.

    In these two commandments God made it clear that He is to be the only object of our worship. Making and worshipping idols is forbidden. A graven image is a carving or other representation (such as a statue or picture) of a person or thing. When such items become objects of worship, they are referred to as idols. In our day, some people worship idols made of wood, stone, or metal like people did in Biblical times, but idols also take other forms. Putting other priorities ahead of worshipping God is one way that we might worship idols.

    How could the following priorities be placed ahead of worshipping God?





    Material possessions



    Physical appearance


    Leisure activities

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks

    Notice that the Lord said, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “The meaning of jealous is revealing. Its Hebrew origin means ‘possessing sensitive and deep feelings’ (Exodus 20:5, footnote b). Thus we offend God when we ‘serve’ other gods—when we have other first priorities” (“No Other Gods,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 72).

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

      1. Why do you think it may be hurtful to the Lord when we place other priorities above our worship of Him?

      2. Why do you think it is easy for some people to love worldly things rather than loving the Lord and putting Him first in their lives?

    Complete the following principle based on what you learn from Exodus 20:6: If we love God and keep His commandments, then He will .

    In Exodus 20:6 the word mercy does not only mean forgiveness of sin. It includes all of the ways the Lord reaches out to bless us, such as giving us strength, assurance, support, protection, and guidance.

    1. journal icon
      Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt the Lord’s mercy as you have shown your love for Him and kept His commandments? (Do not record anything that is too personal.)

    To review the remaining Ten Commandments, draw a line connecting each scripture reference with the basic explanation of the commandment contained in the reference:

    Exodus 20:7

    Maintain the holiness, or sacredness, of the day and acknowledge that it belongs to the Lord by resting from our labors and worshipping Him.

    Exodus 20:8–11

    Be honest at all times. Do not lie, cheat, or deceive in any way.

    Exodus 20:12

    Do not have any sexual relations with any person outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman.

    Exodus 20:13

    Use the names and titles of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only with respect and reverence.

    Exodus 20:14

    Do not take something that rightfully belongs to someone else.

    Exodus 20:15

    Do not intentionally and illegally kill a person.

    Exodus 20:16

    Show love and respect for parents and live righteously.

    Exodus 20:17

    Do not allow envy and greed to motivate a desire for something that belongs to another person.

    Every commandment is an expression of love from our Father in Heaven to His children. The Ten Commandments help us to love God and keep Him first in our lives. They also help us to love others.

    President Ezra Taft Benson

    The following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson helps us to understand how obeying the first two commandments can help us to keep the other commandments: “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities” (“The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 4).

    scripture mastery icon
    Scripture Mastery—Exodus 20:3–17

    1. journal icon
      Choose one of the Ten Commandments, and teach it to a family member or friend. Explain why you believe it is important to obey that commandment. Then share an experience or your testimony concerning how you have been blessed by obeying that commandment. Write a brief summary of your teaching experience in your scripture study journal.

    Exodus 20:18–26

    The Lord gives additional instructions for worshipping Him

    Read Exodus 20:18–20, looking for how the Israelites responded after they heard the Lord’s voice declare the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. (It may help to know that in verse 20, “fear not” means to not be afraid or worried, but “his fear” refers to reverence for God that is inspired by His power. To have reverence for God is to feel deep respect, love, and awe for Him.)

    Underline statements in verse 20 that illustrate the following principle: Reverence for God helps us to resist sin.

    Why do you think reverence for God can help us resist sin?

    In Exodus 20:21–26 we learn that Moses drew near to the Lord and the Lord told him that the people were not to make any gods of silver or gold as representations of Him. The Lord also gave instructions concerning the construction of altars to be used in offering sacrifices to Him.

    1. journal icon
      Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

      I have studied Exodus 20 and completed this lesson on (date).

      Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: