Summary: The first commandment is not a hand-wringing tactic of a vulnerable deity. It is an invitation from the one, unique God of the universe to enter into relationship with Him.


(Exodus 20:3)

Someone wrote with biting sarcasm:

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.

I don’t want enough of him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation.

I want the warmth of the womb not a new birth.

I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.

I’d like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

One man writes, “In the past half century God has been “trivialized, packaged for entertainment, presented as a sort of psychological panacea, as heavenly glue to keep happy families together, a celestial slot machine to respond to our whims, a formula for success, a fund raiser for pseudoreligious enterprises, a slick phrase for bumper stickers, and a sort of holy pie and ice cream.”

The God of the Ten Commandments cannot be trivialized or bought in three-dollar pieces. Nor is He to be viewed as a cheerless, crabby, celestial cynic Who is only interested in establishing rules and regulations. The Ten Commandments are not just a list of divine demands. Their intention is to bring us into a liberating relationship with God. God is not insecure. The first commandment is not a hand-wringing tactic of a vulnerable deity. It is an invitation from the one, unique God of the universe to enter into relationship with Him.


Many gods were worshiped in the land the Israelites left. In Canaan they would be confronted by the false worship of new pagan gods. Their God was unique from all false gods of the heathen cultures.

Israel’s essential creed was the Shema, repeated often: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Moses warned,

When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you (Deuteronomy 6:10-15).

David recognized God’s uniqueness and cried, “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you” (2 Samuel 7:22). This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God (Isaiah 44:6).

God is not capricious, but caring. He reveals Himself and is not remote. He is an inviting God, welcoming relationships between Himself and His people. The first commandment is a divine invitation to relationship.

God reveals Himself with certain qualities or characteristics. Some of these attributes belong to God exclusively. Only He is self-existent and omnipotent. Some of His attributes are represented in a limited way in humanity. No human can ever become omnipresent, but we may develop qualities of love and justice.

God’s uniqueness is displayed through His glory and through His lordship.

His Glory

God’s glory identifies Him. Several attributes are implied in His glory:

1. God is infinite—without limitation. How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11:33). The Book of Job says, “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (5:9); and asks, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” (11:7).

2. God is self-existent—dependent on nothing else. God identified Himself to Moses as I AM (Exodus 3:14). He was not made or created. If someone else made Him, that someone would be God. God has always been. His self-existence affirms His infinity. He is the Infinite God (subject to no limitation).

3. God is immutable—He is unchangegble and always consistent. He said, “I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). His changelessness is demonstrated by His faithfulness and dependability. We have this faith concerning Christ. He "is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He is consistent where false gods were capricious.

His Lordship

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