Summary: They all point to God. These commandments keep us centered so that we can perform on the rest.
6 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
7 "You shall have no other gods before me.
8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand [ generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
I’m doing the 90 Day Bible reading again. This week as I was reading through the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges it impressed me that the people of Israel always seemed to have a problem with idols. God told them in the Law over and over to keep away from other gods, to destroy them, to drive out the nations that worship them, and put to death anyone among them that follows after other gods. But they never seem to get the memo.
It’s not that Israel wanted to totally abandon worshipping the Lord, it was that the people ALSO wanted to cuddle up with other gods as well. Idolatry in Canaan was… well, the way to be cool and accepted. It was the way to make new friends and fit in with the culture. It was sort of like going to church on Sunday after partying or watching an immoral movie on Saturday night. Israel knew that the Lord was God, that the Lord was their creator and deliverer. They knew this. They just didn’t want to miss out on what was happening around them. Being with God and walking as His people was just not enough. They wanted more, and the “more” they wanted always took them in the wrong direction.
Is walking close to God enough to anyone today? This week as we look again at the first three commandments, I want you to reflect on just what they envision and consider how obeying them determines our most important life matters. If we do these first three, they will shape our relationship with God and make it the determining factor of everything else in our lives. These first three commandments center us. Does anyone here know who to make pottery on a wheel? When the potter takes clay and begins his work. He or she must first center the clay on the wheel. This is extremely important. The clay MUST be centered. You literally can’t work the clay if it is off center on the wheel. Like a record on a record player, the record has a little hole in the center that controls how the disk spins on the turn table. A record just won’t play accurately unless it is centered on the pin. Or imagine a car wheel off center. How would your car drive if one or more wheels were off center?
God wants our lives to center around Him. He designed us for that and we can’t live life correctly unless we practice that. These first three commandments align us and center our lives on God. Let’s explore them this morning and listen to God as he calls us to himself in them.
Let me read Deuteronomy 5:6-11 again. (read)
These commandments have a certain order to them, don’t they? We know that the first four commandments point to our relationship to God, and the final six point to our relationships with others. Even the first three have a particular order. Is there any significance in this sequence? Let’s go through them thoughtfully and see what that might be. There is an opening statement followed by three “Do nots”.
God first announces who He is and reminds them of what He did in bringing them out of Egypt, specifically, out of the land of slavery. Notice that God reminds them, saying, “I am the Lord your God…” It’s as if God has to sort of pound it in: I am your God. Who is your God? Me, the Lord. Any questions? I brought you out of Egypt, remember? I took you out of the land of slavery, got that? It’s me. I am the Lord, your God. That should settle it for us, but it doesn’t. We need more. Look with me at Leviticus 19. Check out the end of verses 3,10,12,14,16,18,25,28,30,31,34,36,37. What do these tell us?
Parents: have you ever had to tell your child these words? “Because I say so!” That used to be common. I think many parents have forgotten who they are today. Why? Because many parents don’t listen to God and follow His lead. They are parenting from a different center than scripture. They are listening to parenting experts who don’t know how to raise their own children, but can write clever books telling you how to raise yours.