No other gods
the commandments. today.
The Ten Commandments begin with a powerful statement about God’s character and what he has already done for his people. It is in light of this truth that the first commandment is given.
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.’ (Deuteronomy 5:7-8)
The Big Idea
The Israelites listening to these commandments are fully aware of the Exodus story. It is a lived reality for them and their ancestors. At this junction of Israel’s history, as they stood on the brink of the Promised Land, it was crucial that Israel chose to worship God, and God alone. No other being, no other pagan god, and no other thing was to capture the hearts and attention of his people.
For us, this commandment serves to remind us that there are false gods, or idols, everywhere that clamour not only for our attention, but our devotion and worship. Without realising it we can demote God from being number one in our lives, and instead place our trust in money, job security, our relationships etc. In Church it can be so easy to sing songs which declare that God has our all, and yet this reality becomes hard to live out in our day to day lives, as our fickle hearts get so easily charmed by other things. However, God, who has redeemed and rescued us through Jesus’ work on the cross, is still the only one truly worthy of being worshipped. Nobody or nothing else must take that place in our lives.
Obeying it Today
How then do we put this commandment into practice?
Don't follow culture
Have you noticed that our western culture is so happy to place trust in the things of the world, like money, status or power, and yet so quickly rejects the idea of trusting God? Culture screams at us through adverts and billboards that it has what we need to make us truly happy. We are promised that buying the latest brands will be what brings us joy, whether that’s a car, handbag or even a shampoo. As Christians we must learn to reject the idea that these are the things life is worth worshipping. Instead of following culture, we must follow Christ. As he declares in John’s Gospel, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Don't look to idols
Every single one of us has a daily choice of who or what we worship. Yet if we have committed our hearts to following Christ, we cannot withhold our lives from him. Worshipping Jesus, over idols, practically means that we allow him to inform and challenge all of our decisions and actions. We become like what we worship, and so our relationship with God must be the core of who we are. Otherwise, if other things creep into prime position, we will begin to look less Jesus Christ. Whilst this can be incredibly challenging, he is the one who has promised us life, and life to the full (John 10:10). Although idols can captivate us, we must let ourselves be captivated again by who God is, remembering all he has done for us. When we truly understand Jesus’ great love for us, it becomes harder to worship anything else.
Some things we can do…
- In a world of busyness, giving time and space to seeking God can be a real sacrifice – and yet it is such a worthwhile pursuit. How we spend our time demonstrates what matters to us!
- Get excited about deepening our relationship with God through disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading. Sometimes it can feel easier to get excited about a Netflix series, and yet it is important to remember how privileged we are to have these tools.
- As it can be easy to forget God, why not place verses around your house, to remind you of some great Biblical truths, whilst also potentially prompting visitors to ask questions.