I saw a very interesting cartoon the other day. The subject is a representation of the Ten Commandments on the usual two tablets of stone, and all over the face of it are remarks, queries, corrections, and suggestions, as if made by an editor going over copy for possible publication. The implication is that no human editor would ever have let the commandments stand or go into effect as they were actually written by the finger of God. And, oh, how true that is!
There is perhaps a great deal more depth of meaning in the whole cartoon than is superficially apparent to a casual eye. For instance, the symbol "sp" (spelling) at the end of the eighth commandment. Now no actual words are legible of the commandments themselves; lines of words are only suggested by means of vertical squiggles and spirals. So what is misspelled? A little reflection could suppose the cartoonist's intent is to imply the writer might be adjudged to be subject to (not to say guilty of) some degree of carelessness or error, such as perhaps to write "steel" in place of "steal." As I said, it is an illustration, brilliantly conceived and executed, of human concepts and misconcepts — a satire, if you will, on human nature and its response to God.
Our imaginary editor looks at the seventh and eighth commandments and then writes: "Can we combine these?" Because obviously one of them is largely redundant — isn't it? I mean, human viewpoint couldn't imagine there's really any harm in adultery (or, for that matter, any other sexual activity) so long as nobody gets hurt. In other words, as long as no husband has anything stolen from him?
Or maybe the cartoonist is using the Roman Catholic numbering of the commandments, in which the second commandment is tacked on as a sort of appendage to the first, and the tenth is divided into two to restore the original total. (Jews and most Protestants feel that in this way the writer's original draft really has been edited, and the intent of the real second commandment effectively blue-penciled.) In that case, our (second) "editor" is suggesting that prohibitions against adultery and murder be combined. Could he be thinking about modern views of abortion?
In the cartoon the "editor" circles the end of the sixth commandment, and questions it. I imagine he is thinking: "kill?" "You mean you can't slap a mosquito if he (oops, she) is biting you?" What arguments and false concepts people have gone into over that! (Or if we use the other numbering: "adultery?" "Why not commit adultery? Oh, only where there are extenuating circumstances, of course.")
And for the "fourth" commandment, Editor Human Viewpoint absolutely demands a "stronger verb." Just "honor" your parents? Why not "obey," or "provide financial support in their old age"? Or, alternatively: just "remember" the Sabbath? Not adequate! Pin'em down to specific legalistic performance!
The editor's comment on number three: "colorful but unnecessary." All that jazz about seven days of creation. (Or that about not taking God's name in vain — why of course no real worshiper of God does anything to defame God. Does he — or she?)
But along with all the necessary criticism, every editor wants to at least try to encourage his writers. So the words were prefixed, "good beginning." Obviously! "I am the Lord your God...!" Couldn't be better. But the ending? Certainly one of the most pregnant points of the entire satire: "weak — needs a dramatic ending." Meaning human viewpoint just doesn't get it. The final commandment, instead of seeming the very climax of spiritual principles, which it actually is, seems basically meaningless to most people.
If you would like to better understand the Ten Commandments and their true meaning, as the Bible really presents them, and as the original writer Himself intended them, read our booklet — free, no obligation called (what else?) The Ten Commandments.