The list of laws in chapter 20 is often called the “ten words,” because in Hebrew, the focus is on one word of each command. These provide the basis of the moral code of both the Old and New Testaments, as well as summarize the requirements of every human relationship with God.
God doesn’t undertake to explain why these rules are important to Him. They are His rules. So significant are they that the Lord underscored their seriousness with lightening, trumpet blasts, fire and a voice so awesome that Israel “trembled with fear.”
Why was God so overpowering? To emphasize He’s serious about the rules, or, as Moses put it, “so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
The paragraph following is significant. Wherever Israel went, she was to build an altar for the worship of God. She could use dirt, or rocks, but whatever she used, the content of the materials could not be changed. God made the dirt. Israel could not change that. God made the stones. Israel could not change them. There was nothing she could do to make the elements “better” than God had made them.
Many have tried to change, supplement, re-order or throw out God’s rules. But they are God’s. They will never be better than they already are. We have to remember that.