Exodus 20:1-3Amplified Bible
The Ten Commandments
20 Then God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.
Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Perhaps the most basic truth about the God of Scripture is He is the only one.
There is no other.
This truth ought to simplify things for us because it teaches us that there is only one who is the worthy object of our love, loyalty, and devotion.
But the hearts of men and women are not so easily convinced or instructed.
And so it is necessary for God to give us the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
The danger is not that there are actual other gods for us to worship but that we have a proclivity for making them.
On first glance, this first command is straightforward.
To live for a god other than the true God would be like taking a second spouse while your first spouse is still alive and still happy to be your spouse.
Worse, it would be like taking a second spouse who is in truth a figment of your imagination.
It would be a seriously severe breach of an exclusive relationship.
We must not kid ourselves that we are immune from the possibility of breaking this commandment.
Many of us read it and then picture people bowing down before statues or going through elaborate rituals, and those mental images assure us that we are not in much danger of violating it.
Yet the commandments are not restricted to our outward actions but also relate to the disposition of our minds and hearts.
From this perspective, there is the tough realization we may not be as far from those mental images as we assume.
We may not have statues to which we bow down, but maybe we have segments of our lives that we keep away from God, preserving them under the authority and exclusive sovereignty of some other little “deity”—ourselves, perhaps.
“Do I joyfully acknowledge God’s exclusive comprehensive claim on my life?”
“Is God in Alpha to Omega charge of my family, my work, my relationships, my money, my dating, my use of my time, my talents, my gifts and my services?”
Take a close and honest look to see if there are portions of life you try to keep from Him.
In addition to our keeping, “secreting” things away from God, another form of danger is functionally replacing Him.
When we put our family, our job, our hobbies, or anything else in the place that is God’s alone, we violate the first commandment.
To the degree that we allow anyone or anything besides obedience to God to direct our course day to day, we defy His law.
So we are not so safe from the possibility of breaking this commandment as we may think!
While we must acknowledge the truth that there is one God, we must also beware our own ability to put things in His place.
If we do not daily submit ourselves to Him and entrust the entirety of our lives to Him, something will take His place.
We are made to worship.
The question is, are you going to worship the living God or are you going to pretend there is another?
Put serious focus on these words: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’
God’s Word leads us to the full life Christ died for us to live.
The Ten Commandments are guardrails for our modern-day lives.
We no longer live in the Old Testament church, where animal sacrifices upon altars were required for breaking God’s laws.
Today, we live under the new covenant, ushered in by Christ Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross to forgive our multitude of sins.
We cannot follow the Ten Commandments through our own sheer will but can aim to through the power of the Holy Spirit given to us at salvation.
Still, we will never hit the mark of perfection as Christ did. He loved the Father with His whole heart, soul, and mind.
Thankfully, perfection is not required of us.
What Does ‘Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me’ Mean?
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-39
In ancient times, and in some places and people groups around the globe today, people worship a variety of gods.
God clearly stated, “I am,” and commands His people to worship Him alone.
“No deity, real or imagined, is to rival the one true God in Israel’s heart and life” (NIV Study Bible).
Worshipping other gods gives a false sense of security from a source other than God, who is everywhere, all-powerful, and all-knowing.
The Hebrew, often translated as ‘besides me’ or ‘before me,’ means ‘in my presence.
The point is that nothing else can qualify as god in your life.
The true God is not only to be number one but the only one.
Other gods can also constitute things we place higher than God in our lives.
The Bible defines these as idols, and they can be anything from money and possessions to food and working out or people and relationships.
Anything or anyone we place above God is another god.
As Christians, we are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” ( 1 Peter 2:9).
We are God’s people, set apart to live according to his ways.
His ways are not, and never will be, our ways.
Our tendencies are to cave to the cravings of our flesh and fall prey to the thinking they will give us the comfort and happiness we need.
God is faithful to bless us in this life, but there is no blessing bigger and more important than the source of the blessing.
Our marriages, best friends, jobs, houses, habits, and hobbies all take a serious backseat to the ONLY One who numbers our days.
Why Is it Important That ‘Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me’ Is the First Commandment?
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” [1 Timothy 2:5]
God’s laws are for our own good.
He is a loving Father who provides rules, boundaries, and discipline for His children as any good parent/caregiver does.
We don’t earn or keep our salvation by following God’s rules.
Obedience is a heart issue, which expresses our faith and trust in the Lord by instilling limits in our lives.
He has our best interest in mind.
Though Christians do not believe achieving the law is demanded for salvation, they still see the Ten Commandments as the establishment of God’s moral law.
Jesus called people to an even higher standard by obeying the commandments not only in their behavior but also in their hearts and minds.
When we take the time to be with God each day through prayer, worship, and the Word, we get to know Him better.
We’re not promised an understanding of all of the ways of God, but the deeper our relationship is with Him, the more we trust and obey.
God’s timing in waiting until the third order to give the commandments was no coincidence.
He had already proven Himself as their Deliverer and Provider and it was time to test their faith and reveal His divine standards for them.
God’s people knew then He who He was to them: their Provider and Deliverer.
He is unchanging.
He’s still our Provider and Deliverer today, and so much more.
Why Did God Need to Say ‘Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me’?
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.'” Exodus 32:1
God’s people struggled with faithfulness to Him.
In their fickleness, impatience, and lack of faith, they quickly turned to the temptation to worship as other nations did.
This time, it was by creating a golden calf representing Baal to worship.
But over time, Scripture mentions others gods they worshipped, too: Molek, Chemosh, Dagon, Asherah, and more.
In ancient times, this law steered people away from the many false gods worshipped by various cultures.
God’s people were surrounded by other nations who worshipped other gods.
I imagine, much like we easily compare ourselves to others who live different lifestyles today, God’s ancient people often wondered what life would be like if they worshiped other gods.
It’s a temptation they often fell into and angered God with.
What Other Gods Might Christians Be Tempted to Bow Down to Today?
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Matthew 4:10
Before we are tempted to think of God’s ancient people in a bad light, we have to realize that the devil tempted even Jesus to worship other gods!
In the modern, new covenant age we live in, we are tempted every day to look outside of the providence, provision of God for something the world promises to give us.
In fact, the world will always tempt us to believe we are entitled to certain things, such as amenities and circumstances.
When we genuinely seek to obey it with all our hearts, the first commandment guards us against falling for those lies.
In Modern times, this Commandment is a warning against elevating money or other worldly things to god-like status in our lives.
We could include social media, the Internet, shopping, coffee, or even our gym memberships.
Anything we are tempted to find happiness and peace in other than God is a lie that will end up failing us.
Outside of Christ, we are only wretched.
But in Christ Jesus, united to him, we are completely forgiven of our constant failure to keep them, his constant and perfect keeping of them is credited to us.
Jesus died for us, knowing we would not only be tempted by these things but fall prey to them, too.
Sometimes, we dive right in without much convincing or swaying.
The hope of Christ Jesus assures us forgiveness when we turn from those idols and other gods- no matter how deep we’re in – and come back to the Lord, who is our all in all.
The first commandment addresses a very human struggle, unavoidable even to the most faithful. Following this commandment perfectly is not God’s goal.
He knows we can’t do that.
He is much more concerned with our hearts, our trust in and obedience to Him.
The Holy Spirit will convict us when we’re falling off the rails.
And when we are genuinely repentant to turn back to Jesus, over and over again, He eagerly welcomes us all, washes us with His living water, again and again.
God always has our best interest in mind.
He loves us so much He sacrificed His one and only Son Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
He saved us from ourselves before we saw our first fleck of sunlight.
He knit us in our mother’s womb with such care, gifted us with talents, and gave each of us a unique purpose on this earth no one else can accomplish.
Our God loves us wholly, perfectly, and completely.
In Him, we find peace and happiness, hope and comfort, encouragement and love.
The true gauge of our lives is measured only by God, the Father, through our relationship with Him through Christ Jesus, our Savior.
He alone knows, and can plumb the deepest depths of our hearts and our souls.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
A Prayer to Have No Other Gods before God
You are the best Father to us. Yahweh, You are the path to peace, hope, and grace. Christ Jesus, Messiah, we come to the Father through You alone, by Your sacrifice to forgive our sins. Holy Spirit, You convict and counsel us when we fall away and stray from the guardrails intended to help us live our lives to the full. Help us to cling to this commandment, to love You alone, God. May our lives bring glory to You, today and always. Help us to grow a love for Your Word that inspires us to come to You daily through it, Father. You tell us to pray about everything. Let us each take Your wisdom into every day of our lives and let it fill our hearts to the brim. We pray to saturate our minds with Your wisdom so that we follow it in our daily lives, Father.
Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.
Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.