Summary: A look at the first four commandments concerning how man is to relate to God.
Ten Commandments - Part 2
“HOW ARE WE TO RELATE TO GOD?”
By the time of Jesus the Ten Commandments had been expanded into a list of 618 rules of conduct. It was an impossible burden of confusing and frustrating rules. One day a lawyer came to Jesus and ask the question, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law.” (Matt. 22:36). Jesus responded by saying, “… You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (40) On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus pointed out very clearly that the law concerns our relationship with God and our relationship with other men.
Last week we noted that the Ten Commandments are divided into two parts – the first four commandments regard man’s relationship to God. First, we must get our relationship with God right, this will be the subject of study for today. Next we will look at the last six commandments, which regard man’s relationship to man, to discover how people are supposed to relate to one another.
In the first four commandments God tells us four things about relating to Him.
I. Who Should We Worship? vv. 1-3
“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 bondage. (3) “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
The children of Israel were headed for the land of Canaan, but the Promised Land was populated by a pagan people who had a god to solve every problem they had. God knew that it would be easy for His people to be seduced by these physical, earthly representations of Canaanite deities and the depraved worship that companied them. He did not want to see the people whom He had delivered enslave themselves again.
For us today when we think of idols we think of someone worshipping a fat smiling Budda or a woman in Nepal worshipping at the image of Kali, the bloodthirsty Hindu goddess. Today we are in little danger of actually worshipping an idol made of stone or gold. But socialists tells that something is a god, is an object of worship, when it becomes the source of our self-worth and the ultimate consideration in our decision -making. We can put only one thing in the top slot of our priority system. Whatever is in that position dominates everything else in your life.
God is the only one who deserves the number one position in your life. He deserves first place not only by right of creation but by right of redemption.
HOW WE MAKE GOD FIRST?
1. Stop To Worship. Remember the awesome God who has condescended to have a relationship with you. Reflect for a moment on the fact that the God of the Universe wants to have fellowship with you. Wonder cultivates worship.
2. Remember What God has Done. It is easy in our day and age to forget just where we would be but for the grace of God! Look for the things you have to be thankful for.
3. Recognize the Competition. If you stop to evaluate your life for a moment, it will reveal what we consider important. If we tell people that things are not important and that God is, and then we live our lives as if the opposite is true, what are really telling them?
II. How Should We Worship vv. 4-6
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; (5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
It is not the worship of false gods that is condemned here, Otherwise this would simply be a repeat of the First Commandment. Rather this commandment refers to the inadequate and inaccurate image of the true God and their use in worship. It is possible to worship false gods but it is also possible to worship the true god falsely.
While Moses is on the Mount receiving the Ten Commandments the people who had grown weary in waiting for Moses to come down off the Mount turned to Aaron and said according to Exodus 32:1, “…. Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Araron gathered the gold, melted it down and made a statue of a calf. Then he said in verse four, “… Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” But don’t be confused it wasn’t that they wanted a different God, it’s just that they wanted to worship God in a different form. They would have been horrified if someone thought they meant to worship someone other than Jehovah.