Summary: #1 in 10 Commandments Series
“WORSHIPPING WRONG GODS IN THE RIGHT WAY!”
TEXT: Ex. 20:1-2; I Kings. 11:1-8; Rom. 12:1-2
INTRO: The 10 commandments represent God’s design to make the human experience the best it can possibly be. Followed correctly, these commandments become the healthy foundation for a society or a soul.
The 10 commandments deal with the two important issues all humans must face, our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. They are written on two tablets of stone, but were meant for tablets of flesh. Tablet one probably contained the first four commandments dealing with our relationship to God and the second tablet probably contained the last six dealing with man’s relationship with man.
The first two are not the same, #1 deals with worshipping idols in the way they should have been worshipping God – making them a greater priority than anything else in life, and #2 deals with worshipping the right God in the wrong way by representing him by things less than He is.
Israel’s problems in their relationship with God were similar in scope to what they are today, God rarely had first place in their lives! This is the starting point however for a healthy relationship with God. Unfortunately today there is more religion than righteousness, God is not the first passion of people’s hearts.
ILLUS: Feeling better has become more important to us than finding God. -- Larry Crabb in Finding God. Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 8.
Even in the Church the priority of God can be lost, Israel proved this many times, and the lives of too many Christians today demonstrate the same thing too!
ILLUS: "Now pastor, how can you say our church has no outreach when our Brunswick stew sale touches hundreds?" -- Cartoonist Andy Robertson in Leadership, Vol. 13, no. 1
How easy it can be to lose focus!!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God must be first in our lives, that just “tagging” Him onto our lives will not make for an adequate experience with God. God will not accept any place less than first place!
I. GOD’S PRESENCE Ex. 20:1-2
A. Starting Point 20:1
1. The commandments are not from man, “and GOD spoke all these words.”
2. For us to be all that God designed us to be we must start with a relationship with Him.
a. This is a must since God created us for fellowship with Him.
b. If we don’t worship Him we will worship something!
3. The commandments begin with God’s presence and His speaking.
4. What got Israel and individuals always in trouble is when they followed something other than God.
a. So often they took their eyes off of God and put it on idols or man.
b. With their attention drawn elsewhere they missed God’s purposes for their lives.
c. Whenever we follow anything other than God our lives will end up going nowhere!
ILLUS: Richard Armstrong and Edward Watkin tell the story of a biologist’s experiment with "processional caterpillars." On the rim of a clay pot that held a plant, he lined them up so that the leader was head-to-head with the last caterpillar. The tiny creatures circled the rim of the pot for a full week. Not once did any one of them break away to go over to the plant and eat. Eventually, all caterpillars died from exhaustion and starvation. The story of the processional caterpillars is a kind of parable of human behavior. People are reluctant to break away from the rhythmic pattern of daily life. They don’t want to be different. We must break away from the crowd, however, if we are to accept Jesus’ invitation to "go off alone" with him in prayer. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 121.
5. God’s jealousy isn’t selfish, it is to protect us from experiencing less than what He had planned for us.
a. This makes His jealousy very different from our concept of jealousy.
b. He is not protecting Himself in the commandments, He is protecting us.
B. Savior’s Power 20:2
1. Ancient contracts between kings and their subjects had 4 elements to them:
a. Identify the king
b. Identify what he has done for his subjects
c. Identify promises of protection and blessings to his subjects
d. Identify his demands for exclusive loyalty from subjects
2. The verse here contains the first two elements of these four items while verse three and what follows contain the last two.
3. God states that He is “the Lord your God” … He is no stranger or idol.
a. The relationship is personal and real.
b. This tells us God is a moral God, He is concerned about them individually and as a people.
c. While He speaks to them, idols do not!