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.
“THE ONE AND ONLY GOD ”
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.
I. GOD’S UNIQUENESS
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.