First Commandment- “No other gods before Me”
Written by Pastor Jim Law
In our last post introducing the Ten Commandments, we established these words were not suggestions. They were given as merciful words of life, and as authoritative words from the God who is.
The account of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt is amazing. Once this nation of slaves was freed by the hand of God, we find them gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai by God’s direction and appointment. From this mountain, God speaks to His people and gives to them His Law.
The first commandment is one of priority as God establishes a foundation for His people by declaring, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)
Before we learn other things about what God demands, we need to know who He is and who we are in relationship to Him. God goes on record by saying that He refuses to share worship that is rightly to be given to Him.
Philip Ryken in his insightful commentary on the Book of Exodus wrote:
“One of the first lessons parents try to teach their children is how to share. Fathers and mothers are forever reminding their sons and daughters to share their space, share their toys, and share their food. ‘You have to share,’ they say…“As important as it is to learn how to share, it is also important to realize that some things are not meant to be shared. A bite-sized candy bar, for instance. Or a unicycle. Or a piece of confidential information, like the answers to a test. Or, to take an even more serious example, the sexual love between a husband and wife. These things were never intended to be shared with someone else. In order to be used properly at all, they have to be kept exclusive…“If some things were never meant to be shared, then it is not surprising to learn that there are times when even God refuses to share. He is a loving and merciful God who loves to pour out His mercy and grace on his people. But there are some things that he will not share. This is especially true when it comes to the prerogatives of his deity. God will not share His glory with any other god.”
This requirement and declaration doesn’t sit well with postmodern thinking which bristles at such exclusive claims. For instance, at one state university a sign read, “It is OK for you to think you are right. It is not OK for you to think someone else is wrong.” In this sort of climate, it makes discussions about the doctrine of God, who God is, how one comes to know the God who is, a lively debate indeed.
However, the God of the Ten Commandments doesn’t speak out of both sides of His mouth. He speaks clearly and often, and not only has He spoken from a mountain, but this same God has also spoken through a cross, and has said through His Son, Jesus Christ, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)
When you determine in your life who you are going to follow, remember the exclusive call of the God who said, “You shall have not other gods before me.” Follow Him, for it is the way to life.