Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

01 – No other Gods

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No other gods

This is a series on the “Decalogue” or “Ten Commandments” these are found in the second book of the bible Exodus in chapter 20. Moses receives these words from God on top of the mountain and he receives the commands on two tablets. The first tablet contains the instructions for man’s relationship with God. We pick up the account in the first verse of chapter twenty where we see the first of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:1 (ESV) And 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.

God spoke to Moses and reminded him who he was and what he had done for them to get them to this point. God knew the heart of the people of Israel and knew that when times got tough they would complain against God, against Moses and against Aaron.

Setting the foundation

God introduced these rules that have been a foundation for the Jewish faith (and laterally the Christian faith also) my setting the foundation for the relationship between God and man. Remember the Red Sea parting and escape from Egypt was still a fresh memory in the minds of the children of Israel. God literally had stepped in on behalf of his people in a big way. Egypt was a Superpower at that point and they were being pursued by the best army in the world (at that point).

God required obedience from his people and this set (literally) in stone what his standards were. There were no “loopholes” there was God’s perfect standard and what he required from his people.

This has always been the case, when God set up the Garden of Eden for man, he blessed them greatly and gave one rule, don’t eat from that one tree. Of course man chose his own way and did (Genesis 3) and sin entered the world. God wanted his kids back and this was him setting the standards for his people in the way any loving father does.

Inspired not invented

The text literally states “God spoke all these words” this was not an invention of some rules by Moses to contain the people and he did not hallucinate on the mountaintop, he had an experience with God and God delivered the message personally. He delivered a moral standard that used to be the basis for law in some countries. (How times have changed)

You are a delivered people

God reaffirms the worth of the people of Israel, that they have been redeemed from slavery. (Literal text states “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”) God talks about the literal slavery that they had been released from and reminds them that they are a nation in their own right, a reminder that they should not be under the physical yoke of slavery.

Spiritually also we see that God wished to separate them from a yoke of sinful slavery. The children of Israel did this on a temporary basis (see the book of Leviticus for the many offerings that could be used to atone for sin on a temporary basis as well as our page “God prepares a temporary sacrifice”) but as Christians we have a full atonement through the blood of our Messiah Jesus Christ and his sacrifice and death on the cross.

As Christians we recognize the “benefits of the cross” and the redemption from our sinful lifestyle into a redeemed life that has a purpose, life again has meaning due to our communion with our creator God. God still requires obedience but we have that helper (Holy Spirit) and it is a day to day relationship with our Redeemer Jesus.

Our God is a monotheistic God

To quote verse 3:

 

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

 

The lawyer (or loophole seeker) in me asks the question based on a play on words, “is it okay to have other Gods as long as they are not more important than God?” the answer to that is of course NO! It is not a ranking system for the Gods in your life. God knows what it is in our hearts (sounds scary huh?) and knows what we have as Gods in our life. He also knew what would happen as he was telling Moses these commandments what was in the hearts of the children of Israel.

While this was going on, the children of Israel were persuading Aaron to let them build a huge Golden Calf to worship in the desert. Israel had been in Egypt for many years, they were bound to be tainted by the culture of a polytheistic group who worshipped statues, made huge effigies of animals. The cat was deemed sacred and we have modern day statues that would have been around in a similar time period. They reverted to what they saw the Egyptians doing, even although they were free from that slavery and that culture.

There is a lesson there for us, when we become Christians not to long for the things of this world. Instead we should be longing for the things that have eternal value. I know that when I look back to my life before Christ, I do so with a sense of shame for the things that I did in my own name.

All to thee my precious Jesus, I surrender all

God doesn’t want to be compartmentalized in your life, he desires that your Christian life to be immersed in service, I loosely quote a favourite hymn of mine in this section because it is very prevalent, God requires us to be “all in” in serving him, we get the most blessings and fulfillment when we are living a life in his service. My happiest times in my life have been when I have been doing what God has called me to do.

To quote a church board that I drove past in recent times “God wants full custody of his kids not just weekend visitation” and that is accurate. God requires it all, full buy in, full obedience and a life lived according to his will and his grace. I would go so far as to say there is no such thing as a “Sunday Christian”.

If this is a challenge for you then it is the will of God that you are reading this article. Whatever you need to look at in your life, whether it be devotional life, prayer, worship God will put that on your heart and give you opportunities to work on it. Then it is up to you to put in the “hard yards”.

Idol worship is not acceptable

You may have guessed this already, but there is no place in a relationship with God for idol worship. Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 18 states this better than I could: (ESV)

“What profit is an idol
when its maker has shaped it,
a metal image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in his own creation
when he makes speechless idols!

Need I say more?

The word idol is mentioned 15 times in the ESV. We read in 1st Corinthians 10:14 we are commanded to “flee from idolatry”. In fact, in the epistles of 1st Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and 1st Peter we are warned against idolatry, these scriptures alone should be enough to keep us away from seeking idols as opposed to the one true God of the Bible.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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