In this sermon, Pastor Babij focuses on the first of the ten commandments and teaches how the first commandment shows several truths about God:
1) God reveals Himself through His word
2) God provides redemption for His people
3) God’s sovereignty is absolute
Pastor Babij reminds Christians that not all idols are physical; anything that comes between God and the Christian is an idol. Pastor gives the “bottom line” of the first commandment: there is to be no intruding of a third party in the Christian’s marriage to God.
We’re going to start looking at the first commandment. Again, Exodus 20:1-17 says:
Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 8“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. 12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 13“You shall not murder. 14“You shall not commit adultery. 15“You shall not steal. 16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Father, as we look again at these commandments, we know, Lord, they are permanent. They have been written in stone. Lord, they also show us Your character and what Your will is, so Lord, I pray as Your children, we would know them well and that we would pass them on to our children. Lord, there is not eleven commandments, but only ten. Meaning, what You have given to us is perfect. The law of the Lord is perfect and Lord, we know that the law used in the right way leads one to Christ. Even though we know the law cannot save anyone, it can convict one of sin and guilt, and bring someone to the One who can save them, which is Jesus Christ. Thank You for that. I pray, Lord, Your law will continue to be used and impressed upon the consciences of those who have not trusted You yet and who are found to be guilty before You. I pray, Holy Spirit, you would convict them of their sin of righteousness and of judgment and cause them to run to Christ. Thank you, Lord, that anyone who comes to You will not be cast out. For this, we praise You. Lord, as we look at this first commandment today and we see the background, convict us of it, and also, Lord, help us to live it out every day. In Christ’s name, Amen.
In our study of the Ten Commandments, we must be looking at the historical setting and the context in which we find the Commandments. God freed His people from slavery in Egypt in order to bring them out from under the oppressive bondage of the Egyptians into freedom. Israel’s exodus was a very dynamic event for the people of Israel.
The people of Israel commemorate the Exodus to this very day. They celebrate the Passover observances. In Exodus 12:21 the Passover was given, and each household was to slay an unblemished lamb:
Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.
They were to drain the blood and then paint it on the top and the sides of their entrance as a sign to the Lord to spare the first born within that doorway. Then, Exodus 12:22-23 says:
You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
At midnight, every firstborn of Egypt, both man and beast, who did not have a blood on their doorway whether Israelites or Egyptians, were not protected by the blood. Ultimately, they were killed. Exodus 12:29 says:
Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.
On that night in Egypt, only the blood of the slain lamb on the doorpost made the difference between life and death. Well, with Jesus’ blood it’s the same. Just as these events marked the climactic moment of Israel’s redemption from bondage, they also foreshadowed and pictured the great act with which Christ purchased eternal redemption for every single person whether Jew or Gentile, who receives Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior, repent of their sin, and believe in Him. His blood was shed on their behalf, and because of that, it washes away their sin and it protects them from eternal judgment.
The whole message of the Exodus was all picturing what would come in its final form in the person of Jesus Christ. This Christian history that were reading here also illustrates God’s working out of redemption of how He was going to buy humanity back to Himself through the sacrificial blood of an animal. In the beginning, it covered sin, and in Christ himself, it washes the sin away. God promised Moses in Exodus 3:12:
And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
As we approach the commandments, it has been three months since the people have come out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the wilderness. It was now time for the redeemed nation of Israel to receive further instruction as to what would be their responsibilities with their newfound freedom. Even as a believer, we have a newfound Freedom in Christ. We can live for the Lord for the first time with our whole life. As we learn the word of God, we understand what that means.
God did not redeem His people to set them wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. They were redeemed in order to go into the wilderness to serve and worship Jehovah. In Scripture, that was the name given of the covenant-keeping God.
The Lord had a purpose for His people, and He made them free in order that they might choose freely to love and to honor Himself. Thus, God’s peoples first responsibility was to reflect the redeemer’s holiness. This was to be accomplished in the life of the people by loving obedience to Him.
The first purpose was where He would make them a nation of priests. Meaning, He would make them mediators between God and man. They were supposed to be the message between God and people and take it to take it to the world.
In addition, God’s purpose included making Israel a holy nation. They were to be set apart unto God. They were to be completely different than any other nation, and it would be their responsibility to demonstrate God’s standards of holiness to a world that, at that time, was steeped in the morass of sinful exploits and idolatry.
Before they can carry out this responsibility, several things had to be understood and made clear to the people of Israel. In fact, there were three things that God wanted them to do and know before He would even give them the commandments. In Exodus 19:5-8, God wanted them to be committed and ready to receive the responsibilities in obedience:
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” 7So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him. 8All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.
Secondly, they were to understand something very important and that’s knowing the character of God, and God was a holy God. It was necessary to impress upon the people the vast gulf that existed between His holiness and their sinfulness. They had to know that because it is very dangerous to come into the presence of a holy God in the wrong way. In fact, that would be death for anybody. Exodus 19:9-13 says:
The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.” Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD. 10The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; 11and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12“You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13‘No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”
The people were to learn very clearly that He was holy and that He could not just be approached in any old way. He had to be approached in the right way. In addition, an attribute is a quality or characteristic that is true of a person. Of course, holiness is very true of who God is. Our understanding and ideas concerning God needs to be as true as possible if we’re going to properly worship Him, which are found in Scripture.
God’s attribute of holiness means that He is untouched and that He’s unstained by evil and sin in the world. God is absolutely pure and perfect. He is devoted to seeking His own honor. The term holy means to be separate, higher, superior, or different. As I mentioned before, we derive the word holiday from the word holy, which is a special and different day. It’s different than all the rest of the calendar days. So, the people must see that God is separate, He is higher, He is utterly different, and cannot be approached by human beings in any old freestyle manner.
However, the Lord God wants His people to approach Him. He wants His people to come to Him, but it must be as God requires. According to God’s standards, it must be done. Again, Exodus 19:12 tells us:
You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.
God was serious about that. Because He’s holy and because we are sinful, sinful people cannot go into the presence of a holy God. That’s why anybody who does not know Jesus Christ cannot go to heaven. God makes us holy and gives us His righteousness, so no one can go into the presence of God because they think they’re good enough where they have good works to bring. The only one who can, is God.
In other words, only Christ, who is holy, makes us holy and able to go into the presence of a holy God. That’s the only way anyone could ever do that. In Scripture, when holy men lifted up their eyes to heaven and caught a momentary glimpse of the character of God, it reduces them to trembling, dust, and ashes.
In our passage of Scripture, there are two things going on during people’s experience with the presence of God. They are fascinated by it because this is a new thing for them and they are terrified by it. In a real sense, that’s how we should deal with the Holiness of God.
We are fascinated by who God is, but we are also terrified by who God is because He is the Almighty God. To that end, the Lord ordered preparations to sanctify or consecrate the people for hearing His voice and set up boundaries around the place of His presence, so they would not die or be harmed. He gave them that warning. Then, we see this whole thing about consecration in Exodus 19:14-15:
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. 15He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.
In fact, they are to clean their whole life up and not do their normal routines. Then, Exodus 19:16-17 says:
So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
Then, Exodus 19:21-25 tells us:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22“Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them.” 23Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” 24Then the LORD said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, or He will break forth upon them.” 25So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Only after all this preparation were the people now ready to hear the Ten Words, or Ten Commandments. They are not suggestions. A holy, redeemed people must understand the Holiness of the One who had redeemed them, and the standard of life fitted for those who had been made a holy people or a holy nation. Back in Exodus 19:5-6, it says:
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.
At that point, the people were now ready to receive the commandments, the standard of living required of God’s people, and this standard of living is still in effect today. This is how we are to live. We are to have a high view of God. The highest view that we could ever have is going to come from Scripture, and that’s how we understand who God is, so when we come to that, we come to the first point in Exodus 20:1-3.
We actually have the person revealed in the first commandment and that becomes very important for us to hear. So, who is this God who is revealed Himself? Well, He is the God of revelation. Notice what it says in Exodus 20:1-2:
Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2“I am the LORD your God…
Meaning, He’s the God of revelation, the God who speaks to us. He’s the God who can be known. He’s the God who wants us to know who He is, so as a result, He’s given us the word of God.
Here, the Hebrew word for God is Elohim, and the other word is a very special word that He uses as the covenant-keeping God, which is the word Jehovah. Another way of saying that is Yahweh, the Lord. Meaning, He is the self-determined One. He is the existing One. He is the One who keeps His promises and makes them come to pass. In fact, the Hebrew memorial name is Yehova and it looks like this:
This is called a Petra Gotham, which means four letters. In the original Hebrew, there were no vowels. We have to pronounce it with vowels, so it came to the point where people hesitated to even pronounce the name of God because it was so holy.
In the reading of the Old Testament, they substituted with the word Adoni, or the Lord. This is what you’ll find all throughout the Old Testament, and He is considered the covenant- and promise-keeping God. When God promises His people, He will actually bring it to pass.
In Exodus 6, when God gave promises to the people of Israel, He uses the term, “I am the Lord.” Remember, when Moses went before Pharaoh, he asked God who he should tell sent him, and God said, “Tell Him ‘I AM’ sent you.” Meaning, God is that God in whom there is no beginning and no end. There’s no one like Him. He’s the only One. Exodus 6:6-8 says:
“Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8‘I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.’”
In that passage, you see how He is the covenant-keeping God. He is the God of revelation. Meaning, God communicates Himself to His people. Exodus 20:1 says:
Then God spoke all these words, saying…
Therefore, we can understand. The word of God came to mean the written body of revelation, and what the New Testament writers called the Scriptures, which contained the record of revelation. In other words, the very words of God that come from Heaven to Earth, which are written by holy men of God.
Thus, revelation is an authoritative body of glorious instruction from God that is accessible to men. In simple terms, God can be known. The Lord God has made His will known and His will is found in the word of God. He’s not a God who’s a mysterious God that can’t be known. He is not a God that is always elusive, and you can never really get a hold of Him. He very clearly says to us as people:
Listen, I am a God who created you, and I am speaking to you. This is My will for you.
It’s very clear of what God wants from His people and it’s clear about who He is. We must understand who He is. God reveals Himself as a very personal God. There’s something warmly personal when He says in Exodus 20:2:
I am the LORD your God…
That’s how God reveals Himself. Secondly, God is a God of redemption. Exodus 20:2 says:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Everywhere in Scripture, this is mentioned over and over again. He doesn’t want us to forget that He is the God of redemption. He is the God who purchased you out of slavery, which you could not do yourself, and He did it in a very specific way. You can’t do this, but God can do this, so God not only communicates clearly who He is to His people, but also acts on their behalf. In Exodus 20:2, He doesn’t say because He created you that He is the Lord your God. Rather, He said:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
In other words, it is on the basis of His great act of redemption that He sought their obedience. The Hebrew people were about 430 years in bondage and slavery under the harsh taskmasters of Egypt. Each day included back-breaking toil and agonizing work with the slightest infraction, which came the stinging of the Egyptian whip. Yet, the people cried out to the Lord and He helped them.
He put hope and promises before them, and they held to those promises. In Exodus, the cruel treatment actually came about when they forgot about Joseph and the great things Joseph had done. Now, they are treating the people of God in a very damaging way. This came about by their forgetfulness, their fear of a people they didn’t understand, their false Gods, and by their foolishness of presuming the worst of a people. Exodus 1:7-14 tells us:
But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them. 8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10“Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.” 11So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. 13The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; 14and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.
These people got so large in the land of Egypt it made the leadership scared that they would turn against them and take over, so they put this on them. Of course, we know it was all the will of God that was taking place. In fact, we see in Scripture that this is the rehearsal of many of the times when the Hebrews were thinking about what God has done. Psalm 77:15-20 is about the great day of deliverance of when God redeemed His people from the slave market of Egypt to freedom:
You have by Your power redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. 16The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were in anguish; The deeps also trembled. 17The clouds poured out water; The skies gave forth a sound; Your arrows flashed here and there. 18The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. 19Your way was in the sea And Your paths in the mighty waters, And our footprints may not be known. 20You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
This was always on their mind. In other words, God deserves first place in the lives of His people because of who He is and also because of what He has done for them. This brings us to something that is very important for you. In Exodus 20:3, there is a second principal revealed in the first commandment:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
That seems very simple and clear, doesn’t it? What’s amazing about the Ten Commandments is that there is not a whole lot of stuff here, but why are they so hard to keep? The reason why they’re so hard to keep is because we have a sinful heart, and our heart wanders all over the place for something to worship.
We are born to worship and our hearts are prone to wander, so this commandment is given for that very purpose. In this first commandment, the absolute sovereignty and preeminence of the Creator is insisted upon. Since God is who He is, He will tolerate no competitor or rival at all. His claims upon us are paramount.
In the religions of today’s world, there are many “so-called” gods, just as many opinions about what God is or who God is, or what God is like. On the other hand, the Bible claims to be the revelation of the one true God. The Bible never tries to prove God. Simply, it states and affirms it, and the Bible never tries to prove anything when it comes to the character of God. Isaiah 43:10-11 tells us:
“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. 11“I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.
In that proclamation, He alone is God and we must have Him in first place. If not, all of life and its relationships are in disorder. The problem that we actually have in our life is idolatry.
We are pursuing things to try to fill up that void in our hearts, and we’re all pursuing the wrong things. We’re trying to fill something up that we know there’s got to be more. The ancient eastern world was steep with the belief and worship of many gods. God revealed Himself to Moses and to the children of Israel in the midst of this pagan, polytheistic culture.
In pagan thought, no god was ultimate. Actually, gods were believed to be finite, not absolute. They were believed to possess ultimate wisdom and power. Rather, they were considered to be more like super humans than sovereign deities. They had impulses and desires and could commit evil acts. Thus, the notion was that the gods were subject to the existence of some kind of prime mortal realm above the gods that had to control over the activities of these many gods that men would have.
Of course, this led to the belief that gods could be influenced by magic and by ritual in order to sway them in one’s favor. This was accomplished with pagan rituals in which worshippers try to satisfy the gods by providing some sacrifice, food, or drink. If you go any place in the world, you’ll find this kind of activity taking place.
In saying that, the nation had just come out of Egypt where the inhabitants of the land worshipped a plethora of false gods. They worshipped the host of loathsome, creeping, and crawling things like reptiles. Their more prominent gods were the god “Ra”, which was the Sun God. Also, in the land of Canaan where Israel was heading, they were filled with evil worship. The Canaanites bowed down to false gods such as Dagon, Baal, Chemosh, and Astroroof. Later on and all through Scripture, you see gods like Asherah, Moloch, or Tammuz. Even in the New Testament, you see Diana. There’s idolatrous worship everywhere you go.
Now, was this a problem for the people of Israel all through their journeys? The belief in other gods was ingrained in ancient near Eastern Society, so temptation for God’s people to adopt Asian concepts and views was always a present reality. Even at the end of 40 years of wilderness wandering, Joshua after entering into the promised land, many miraculous victories, and receiving the land inheritance promised, had to challenge the people to put away their idols. Joshua 24:14-24 says:
“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. 18“The LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” 19Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. 20“If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” 21The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD.” 22Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23“Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.”
They didn’t. That’s the history of Israel. See, people may be able to evade the eyes of other people, but they will not be able to escape the notice of God as he secretly searches our hearts to those people who are secretly entertaining the worship of other things.
In other words, they’re putting something else first besides God. Anything that is first besides God is an idol. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t have to make idols of stone or wood. Joshua knew that if the people were not worshiping the true and living God, then they were worshipping something else. That’s why he says:
Listen, if you don’t worship the true and living God, then choose today who you are going to worship.
You’re going to worship something, why not worship the true and living God. There are other gods besides idols of wood and stone such as money, pleasure, power, fame, fashion, or gluttony. A score of other things, which make self-supreme and usurp the rightful place of God in the affections and the thoughts.
Now, that’s very interesting because we are talking about the two great commandments: love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then to love your neighbor as yourself. It has to do with what you love, where your affections are, and what you think about. Those are the two major areas in which you can identify if you have slipped into some kind of idolatrous behavior.
In fact, there are three exchanges that people will make when they misinterpret the character of God and they worship someone or something besides Him alone, and they will make that exchange because we will worship something. The first one is you exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Romans 1:25 says:
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Secondly, they exchange affections they should have for their Creator, God, for other things. 2 Timothy 3:1-4 tells us:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
Meaning, false teaching or believing something that is false leads one to develop misplaced affections, so a person becomes twisted in their priorities. They don’t know what should be first and would should be second. They think they are first, so instead of God being first, self is first. Instead of money being used to provide basic needs, helping others, and giving, it is used to fulfill some wants. Instead of their pleasure being satisfied in knowing and loving the Lord, it is satisfied by feeding their lusts and their passions.
From that passage of Scripture, there’s going to be affections that are going to move towards people who are lovers of self, money, and pleasure. Isn’t that what happens? Can’t we see that all around us? This statement of Scripture reveals that real religious passion is for what provides you pleasure. Worshipping God should supply all the pleasure that we need in this world. On the opposite end, it conveys a life lived in pursuit of self aims, which claims God and at the same time, it ignores God.
Lastly, true teaching is replaced by false teaching. People who are left with no standard to guide them and no compass to ensure that they are indeed heading in a safe direction will be left heart, mind, and will to their own whims, passions, and emotions, and with no boundary markers.
People who are really devoid of truth will be susceptible to develop misplaced affection, will be at risk of being misled by false teachers, and will end up worshipping other gods instead of the Lord their God. When you read the prophets one of the devastating things the people of Israel did was use the real name of God for idols, so they syncretized and meshed it all in there. They figured they would hedge their bets and do both, which became judgment to them.
Today, people have idols of possessions. They live to have things, to fill their desires for cravings such as houses, cars, boats, and leisure trips. They forget who they’re ultimately responsible to, so money, possessions, power and prestige is their God. What they possess, they have made gods, they bow down to them, and they just spent large amounts of money, time, and energy to maintain them.
Also, people find people to worship. We live in a people-worshipping culture in America. Many people make the mistake of worshipping celebrities and other impressive figures throughout history. Everyone wants to be famous. It seems like everybody wants to be in the limelight.
They want to be recognized. They want to be an American idol or hero. People worship musicians, TV, video, social media, and movie star personalities. They want to be like them, act like them, and look like them, so they spend their time and money to try to realize their goal. It eludes them, and that kind of pursuit is actually nothing but idolatry.
Then, people have idols of profession. Their whole world revolves around this. They strive, fret, and push for position. They want to achieve this and sacrifice all of that. This is what they live for. Their life is their work because their work is their idol. See, God is pushed out of the way, so they can get where they are going. Their work has occupied the place only God alone should occupy, and these are modern-day idols that we all can be tempted to pursue.
If God is not first, this is what we do. Every day, we need to evaluate whether we got pulled into any of this kind of wrong thinking, which leads me to the last part in Exodus. We must dethrone those Gods. Again, Exodus 20:3 tells us:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
This last phrase is rendered in several ways:
Next to Me, over Me, in front of Me, or opposite Me.
However, the best rendering found in Old Testament manuscripts is “besides Me.”
You should have no other gods to confront Me, in front of Me, or before My face.
This is to be set up as a rival object of service in adoration. See, gods that are set up over against Jehovah may be said to be before Him in His sight.
If we just add Jesus on to everything else, then we’re believing as an addition, which is still idolatry. They are gods opposed to Him. If our affections are going to be for God, we cannot have our affections on anything else besides Him. There is to be no god in your heart that you are giving allegiance to accept Jehovah and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
If there are, then it must be discarded. Your full loyalty must be given to the true and living God who has revealed Himself in verbal and written form. Faithfulness must be given to Jehovah alone. Deuteronomy 32:17 tells us:
They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.
When the one true and living God is not first and worshipped as supreme and the only God there, that is where all the trouble starts in our life. All the trouble in all of humanity is because God is not honored as He revealed Himself in Scripture. Even in later history of Israel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Israel were defeated because of their following after other gods. This was breaking the covenant in the most fundamental way, which brought the curse upon the nation of Israel. In other words, it’s spiritual idolatry.
The heart went after other gods. They broke the marriage covenant that is between God and His people. In Ephesians, it talks about how we are to love our spouses as Christ loved the church, which is the marriage covenant that is so sacred to the Lord.
The New Testament teaches that the worship of other gods, another god, or a part of God’s creation leads to perversion and separation from God. When Jesus was being tested as the second Adam in the wilderness, Satan had come against Him in His weakest moment with the full power of temptation. When Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world, he asked for a simple act of worship. Jesus responds in Matthew 4:8-10:
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”
That is the key. The principles contained in these commandments are not to be ignored by Christians. Our Lord did not come to destroy them, but to fulfil them. As I mentioned last time, Christians now live under the law of Christ, and contained within His law is the moral law in which Christ laid bare the inner impulses of love that validates them to love God supremely and put Him first. Then, to reflect His love to others. In this, it is the fulfilment of the commandments.
In closing, here’s the bottom line of the first commandment mentioned in a book on the Ten Commandments by Mark Rooker:
The most intimate of all relationships on the human plane, of course marriage, became the analogy for God’s intimate relationship with His people. The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” implies that there may be no intruding third parties in marriage.
Is that not true? That is not only true in the human realm, but it is true between us and God. God is a jealous God, and He will not tolerate you or me worshipping anyone else but Him. When we do that, that’s when we develop a very high view of God.
We should not fall from that high view. That high view means everything else that comes underneath it. We need to ask, “Is this God’s will?” and, “Is this what God’s word says?” Then, that’s what we do and that’s how we live. Let’s pray:
Lord, thank You again for the word of God. Thank You, Lord, that contained in it is a very clear teaching on who You are and what You require. I pray, Lord, that if anyone here today does not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and have never come and called upon You to save them from their sin and Your wrath, then I pray today would be the day they come. For all those who do know you Lord, I pray that our understanding of a high-level of God would have increased today to the point of understanding that it changes the way we live. I pray, Lord, that we, by Your spirit, would carry out this commandment on a day-by-day basis. Lord, that there would be no one else we bow down or pray to. There would be no one else we come to allegiance to or bring our problems to. There would be no one else we praise and worship in song to. Also, that there would be no one else but You. I pray that as we exalt Your name, that all the blessings that come to us because of who You are and us being Your children, we would receive gladly. We worship You today for who You are and what You’ve done for us. In Christ, I pray. Amen.