Summary: The supremacy of God
Series: The Big 10
(based on a series by James Merritt)
“WHO’S NUMBER ONE?”
This coming Friday, we celebrate Independence Day – the day that the Declaration of Independence was first signed and ratified. Its words still inspire and give our patriotic spirits a lift when we read it.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Those are powerful words from the beginning of our nation. They cause our hearts to swell with patriotic pride and the causes of liberty and freedom.
Today, we continue with the second message in our series called “The Big 10.” As God met with his chosen people to form a great nation, he spoke to them some words. In the original language of the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments are referred to as the “Ten Words” or “Ten Sayings.” They establish the framework for liberty and freedom in everyone’s life.
James Madison, fourth president and chief architect of the Constitution is credited with saying, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Today, we look at the first commandment. Ex. 20:1-3 – 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.” In this passage, God is challenging us: Who’s #1?
To come to a clearer understanding of what God is saying here, we’re going to ask and answer three questions. These questions and their answers will help us to integrate this first command into our lives.
WHO IS THIS GOD?
Before God tells me what to do, he tells me who he is and then tells me what he has done.
1. He is the God who is present. That word LORD might be in all capital letters in your Bible. It’s the personal name that God gave to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3. God wanted Moses to return to Egypt and lead his people out of slavery. When Moses the people would want to know the name of the one who sent him, God told him to use his personal covenant name – I Am.
In the original language it’s a term that means “I am the being One” or “I am who I am” or “I will be what I will be.” It signifies God’s unchanging character. His own name means that God is absolutely faithful to his word and to who he is. God says, “I deserve first place in your life because I am the I AM.”
2. He is the God who is all-powerful. When God gave these commands, he had just demonstrated his absolute and exclusive lordship by miraculously delivering his people from bondage in Egypt.
The 10 plagues that God brought upon Egypt before his miraculous rescue were calculated to show that Jehovah God was supreme and that the deities worshiped by the Egyptians were nothings. Each plague was targeted to a specific area or object considered sacred by the Egyptian people – the Nile River, cattle, the sun and Pharaoh himself.
It was Jehovah God who unmasked these false gods. It was Jehovah God who opened the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape. It was Jehovah God who brought them out of the land of Egypt. No wonder God would rightfully demand, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
3. He is the God who is personal. We think of the 10 Commandments as written collectively for everybody in every generation. I’m just one a gazillion people to whom God sent them.
But in the original language, they’re structured in such way that they are extremely intimate and personal. They’re given as an individual appeal. Each of the 10 Commandments is expressed in the second person singular. It’s not second person plural – the collective “you” referring to a group of people or as we say down South. “y’all.” It’s like God is saying, “You, Michael Luke, you put no other gods before me.” As if God wrote them personally to everyone in this room. The wording isn’t “it” and “them” but “I” and “you.”