Back in April I read this article in the Guardian and tore it out and left it on my bedside table for comment. Sorry for taking so long to getting round to it.

About 4,000 years ago…

Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain…And God spoke all these words:

  • “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
  • “You shall have no other gods before me.
  • “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below…
  • “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates…
  • “Honor your father and your mother…
  • “You shall not murder.
  • “You shall not commit adultery.
  • “You shall not steal.
  • “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • “You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear…

This year…

The internet was awash with gossip because the Joseph Rowntree Foundation had descended upon it. The news stories were served up from it and the internet trembled in anticipation at the announcement of their latest social research findings, and the sound of the journalists grew louder and louder. Then the journalists spoke and the voice of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation answered it. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation descended to the internet and sent their press release to the news web sites…and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation spoke all these words:

“I am the Jospeh Rowntree Foundation, who has surveyed 3,500 people, and have revealed a strong sense of unease about some of the changes shaping British society:

  1. “you shall build stronger communities;
  2. “you shall not be selfish;
  3. “you shall not be greedy consumers;
  4. “you shall have good moral values;
  5. “you shall have strong families;
  6. “you shall not make victims of young people; and they shall not perpetrate anti-social behaviour;
  7. “you shall not comsume too much drugs and alcohol;
  8. “you shall strive to remove poverty and inequality;
  9. “you shall be tolerant and inclusive of foreigners; and they shall respect you;
  10. “you shall not partake in crime and violence.”

When the people saw the research report and heard the radio reports and read the newspaper commentators, they trembled with fear.

Nothing Changes

I hope you get the point. The lists have their differences, but it seems that “social evils” have changed little since the time of the Israelites wandering in the desert.

As a Christian, I despair slightly. God gave these commands in order to protect His people, to help them. Jesus summed the laws that God gave as ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ and “Love your neighbour as yourself”.

Have we not learned? And what will it take for God to get the point across to his people, the whole world?

“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”