Duty and the Ten Commandments



On October 21st 1805, the most famous sea battle in English history was fought, the Battle of Trafalgar.  Just before it began, Lord Nelson in his flagship Victory made his memorable signal, “England expects every man will do his duty”.  The Victory is now on shore at Portsmouth, and every year on Trafalgar Day the signal flags flutter out from its rigging and send out once again that message of Nelson.  As you probably know, he was killed during the battle, and his last words, as he died at half past four in the afternoon, were “Thank God, I have done my duty”.

Duty to God and my neighbour

Today we’re going to talk about our duty.  Our duty means what we ought to do, so my duty to God and to my neighbour means the way I treat God and other people.  The first people to know what this was were the Jews, and they were told it after they had been brought safely out of the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses.  You’ll remember that, when the Egyptian army which tried to follow them drowned in the Red Sea, the Jews – or the Israelites, as they were called then – turned south into the safety of the desert and kept on the move until after three months they reached Mount Sinai.

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