Summary: Part 1 discusses the relevancy of God being our only God.
April 19, 2009
The One and Only
1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me.”
A while ago there was a list of the 100 best novels written over the past 100 years. It caused quite a stir because virtually nobody agreed with the number one pick, James Joyce’s, Ulysses, partly because it is supposed to be a very, very difficult book to read, and some have described it as a miserable read. Any list you look at will have different number one books. About all anyone would agree on is that we love lists. In fact, Time Magazine complies the 50 Best Top 10 Lists each year.
It’s been said that the most popular list is the Ten Commandments. Not a bad choice, but not everyone would agree with that. Ted Turner said the Ten Commandments were obsolete, he said:
We’re living with outmoded rules. The rules we’re living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to them, because they are too old. Today, the Ten Commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out.
Turner then offered his own version which he called the Ten Voluntary Initiatives. Listen to his first two – #1, “I promise to love and respect planet Earth and all living things on the earth, especially my fellow species.” Not bad. #2, “I promise to treat all persons everywhere with dignity, respect and friendliness,” and then he went on to bash Christians calling us losers and bozos. He later apologized. An interesting view from one who, considered a career as a missionary.
Well, for the next ten weeks we’re going to take a look at the 10 commandments. You won’t be tested on which one is number 1, 5 or 8, but hopefully you will come to understand why God wanted these commandments to be known. But more than just knowing them, I believe these old, archaic commandments are very relevant for our lives today and if we would learn what God really wants from us, we would be so much better off, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. God did not give us these commandments because He wanted to prohibit us from having fun, instead He gave them to us because He loves us, and desires only what is good for us.
The Ten Commandments are divisible into two sections. The first four deal with our relationship to God. They are about a vertical relationship, and direct our eyes toward heaven. The last six concern our relationship to one another. The 10 commandments focus on the relationships we have in life, with God and one another.
One of the negative comments about the ten commandments is that they were written negatively. We are told don’t do this and don’t do that. But the reason I believe God wrote them that way, is because we tend to take things into our own hands. Our inclination is to respond to the minimum, to let ourselves off the hook if at all possible. By telling us what He wants, God is seeking for you and I to obey Him. God simply wants us to willingly follow Him.
So, let’s look at this first commandment from God . . . You shall have no other gods before me. What does this mean for us? And how does it apply to us some 3500 years after Moses received it on Mount Sinai
The first commandment lays the foundation for every other commandment and in fact for all of life. If we can’t follow this first commandment, if it will not command our attention, then none of the other 9 will take in our lives as well.
When the Jewish people were living in Egypt as slaves, the Egyptians had many gods whom they prayed to. They had gods for every season of the year, they had gods to help them have babies, they had gods of death, they had a god of cats, a god of weather and many, many more. In fact at last count, there were 114 Egyptian gods and goddesses.
The only culture the Israelites knew was the Egyptian culture. They saw the temples and the worship practices. This is all they knew. And we tend to repeat what we know and think is normal. The religious faith and practices of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the older leaders of the Jews were gone; and the people were dabbling in Egyptian religion.
So, God had to help them understand that there is only one God, and that was the God who delivered them from Egypt. There were no other gods in the world. In any list, especially biblical lists, the first item of the list makes it the most important. So, this first commandment is the most important and is the cornerstone which every other commandment will be built upon.