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These small group studies of Exodus 20 contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Exodus 20 Inductive Bible Study – The Ten Commandments


I. Foundation for the Ten Commandments: They were given by God who saved them. (1-2)

II. The Ten Commandments: Our relationship to God (3-11)

III. The Ten Commandments: Our relationship to others (12-17)

IV. The people are afraid of the thunder, lightning, and smoke (18-21)

V. Dos and donts for worshiping God (22-26)

I. Verses 1-2

Why is it significant that God spoke these words? How did He did validate Himself to them when giving the commands? Why is this important?

1.God was the one who spoke these words. That is what makes them immortal. That is what gives these commands their authority. They are spoken by the divine authority of God. That means that they are to be followed one hundred percent of the time without question.

2.God gave this commands for them to follow and here it seems He is showing them the proof that He has the power and authority to give these commands. It is as if He is answering the question “Why should we obey?” or “Who are you that we should listen to you?” He tells them that He is the one who saved them from Egypt. They were saved by His power and His miracles. These were the proof that He was true. It is important for us to realize the authority behind the Word of God. We should obey it because God spoke it. And how to do we know God spoke it? There are many more proofs and validations that show us this is God’s Word.

II. Verses 3-11

The first four commands center on our relationship with God. These come first because our relationship with the God the foundation of our lives. It is the priority. Only by having the right relationship with God can we have the right relationship with the people around us. These are the “up” “down” commands while the second set are the “side to side” commands.

#1 – Why do people often worship more than one god? What does the first commandment show us about the exclusivity of following YHWH?

Give an example of a biblical figure who worshiped God, but also worshiped other gods?

These commands are mostly very simple and easy to understand. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to understand them. They don’t need a deep level of interpretation. They are self-evident. This command means what it says, do not have any other gods. Notice the lower case “g.” Of course there is no other real God. But there are many things that people proclaim to be gods, some completely false and some perhaps supernatural forces of evil, which Satan or his demons are behind.

This command is the basis for the whole Jewish religion. It is monotheistic, meaning it only allows worship of one God. To us, this seems very normal because as Christians we follow the same basic principle. However, at that time this command was very radical. Most nations worshiped a plethora of gods. They had gods for each season and event. They had fertility gods, war gods, harvest gods, love gods, sun gods, weather gods, ocean gods, mountain gods, valley gods, after life gods, cow gods, bird gods, reptile gods, etc. etc. The idea was the more the better. Having so many gods made people feel like they had a god for each situation so all their bases were covered, or they would be protected in all kinds of situations that they might face. If one god was too weak or ill equipped in one situation, hopefully one of the other gods could help. Polytheism was rampant and the Jewish religion was one of if not the first to be monotheistic.

Logically speaking there can actually only be one God. God is the supreme being, the highest over everything. There can only be one supreme being. There can only be on at the top.

This command is very exclusive. Make no mistake, God is exclusive. He seeks to exclude all things that are false and untrue. Do not seek to compromise with the world on this point to win more followers for God or they will not actually be following God. They will be following a false religion made up by man. Practically speaking this means you cannot worship Buddha and God. If you do, God will not accept your worship or you. Neither can we accept the theory that all religions and gods are OK and are just different expressions/ways for worshiping the same God. They aren’t. They logically contradict each other, teach different things, and disagree with the Bible. Logic demands that religions which disagree are not all correct. I think all of us understand this concept and pretty much follow it. Just be aware that when you share the gospel the people you share with might not understand or agree with it. Make sure they understand that following God means NOT following any other religion. They must give up all other beliefs to follow the one true God.

#2 – Why do you think people made idols and worshiped them? What do people believe the idols can do for them? Many Christians today would interpret “idols” kind of figuratively and say this includes things like money, pleasure, etc. Is this a valid interpretation? What should we do about the idol worship that goes on all around us?

What does it mean that God is jealous? Why can God be jealous, but we can’t? What does it mean that God punishes the descendants of wicked people? Is this fair? What does it mean that He shows faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Him? Can you give any examples from the Bible to illustrate the two points?

Worshiping idols was also popular at that time. This command is much like the first. Idols don’t even reach the level of these false gods (which might be demons) because they are nothing whatsoever. They are made of lifeless material, cannot see, cannot move, cannot hear, cannot help. They are worthless and meaningless.

Romans 1 shows us the progression of sin and shows us that one of the first steps is substituting something else for the worship of the true God. I believe the reason for this substitution is that people want a “little god” they can control. By making an idol they can also make up the standards (if they are any) of the idol. In other words they are the boss and can still do whatever they want. It means they have no authority and won’t feel guilty in when they do wrong. Also, it is something they can see and people like to see something tangible (ever get the question “where is God? I can’t see him”? That is the point!!! The real God is spirit so we can’t see Him. If He could, He wouldn’t be God.

#3 – What does it mean to take God’s name in vain? What kinds of things does this include? Do you think it is wrong to say “Oh my G##?” Why or why not? How about using Jesus’ name like this? Why do you think people use God’s name in this way? Looking at the flip side of this command, if you shouldn’t take God’s name in vain then how should we use God’s name? What does this tell us about how we should view God?

#4 – When was the Sabbath day each week? What was the purpose for the Sabbath day? What was the model for the Sabbath day? Should we still keep the Sabbath day today? How should we treat Sundays? Should we work on Sundays? Ever?

III. Verses 12-17

#5 – What do you think it means to honor your parents? What is the difference between honoring and obeying? What does the Bible say about how following Christ might affect your relationship with your parents?

Let’s say that your parents are not believers. They want you to get married sooner to secure your future. They introduce you to this guy and want you to go out with him/marry him. The guy is not a believer, but he is nice, he is wiling to accept your faith and support you to go to church. As a believer, how do you react to this situation? How do you obey the principles in the Bible including honoring your parents?

What benefit is associated with honoring your parents? Why?

#6 – Define murder. What is the New Testament standard on this issue?

#7 – What does the Bible classify as adultery? What is normally the world’s definition of this? What is the New Testament standard? What kind of standards can we set to help protect ourselves in this area?

#8 – Define steal. Have you ever stolen anything? What are some methods of stealing that are common in society, but which a lot of people might not consider is stealing?

#9 – What is normally the motivation for lying? What will lying normally lead to? What are the consequences of lying? What do you think of “white” lies?

#10 – What does it mean to covet? What is the problem with coveting if it is doesn’t hurt anybody (after all it is not stealing)? What are some side effects of coveting?

For a more in-depth look the ten commandments, check out our study of Deuteronomy 5.

IV. Verses 18-21

How did the people react to the thunder/lightning? Why were they afraid to hear God speak to them? What similarities can you see here and with Adam/Eve in the garden?

What does Moses say is the purpose for God coming to them in this way? How can we increase our fear of God so that we will not sin?

V. Verses 22-26

Why did God focus on telling them not to have any other gods?

So they weren’t to have any other gods. What WERE they supposed to do? How were they supposed to worship God? Why do you think He gave them these specific criteria for building an alter and offering sacrifices?

Comment – What did you think of this Bible study on Exodus 20? We would love to hear your thoughts. Share below in the comment section.