Finally, I made it. Exactly halfway between slavery (Exodus 1) and glory (Exodus 40), right smack dab in the middle, we find Exodus chapter 20. Herein lies the ten commandments. Halfway between slavery and glory, we find the law.
God begins his face to face meeting (well, more like face to finger…isn’t that just like a father? Pointing his all-knowing finger and writing down the very important instructions we children need to obey?) with Moses, by telling him two things.
The first thing God does is remind Moses exactly who He is and what good He has done.
And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. ~Exodus 20:1-2
He then proceeds to give a huge, all encompassing law beginning with the ten commandments and extending to every aspect of Jewish life for the next eleven chapters and for the better part of the following book of Leviticus as well.
So, just so we are clear, God literally spoke all of these words. They were His ideas and it is His authority that both establishes and upholds them – not mine.
Command number one:
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. ~Exodus 20:3
I have to be honest. I had to stop right there, close the book, and spend a few days just thinking on what it would look like for me to have no other gods. What if, truly, God was my only God.
In other words, what do I need to put away? What have I elevated above or equal to Him? How would my life change if He truly were my one, my only, and my greatest above all else, God?
I do not want to assume He is just because I want Him to be or because I wish he was. I do not want to pay lip service to this commandment because it is the right Sunday School answer. I want to know what it really means to cast down my idols. I want to investigate what those idols might be and find real, practical, tangible ways to tear them down and remove them from my life.
The hardest part is when idols are good and necessary things, people, or places – gifts, even – from God Himself. It is balance, affection, and attitude that generally makes the difference between whether something is becoming an idol that is being used for my glory or whether it is being being used rightly for God’s glory.
Consider those things and people and places and talents and gifts that you most enjoy. Consider whether they have an appropriate place in your life or if God has reason to be jealous of the affections you are offering to them. Because it is not a matter of saying, “I only believe in the One and Only True God. Of course, I have always believed that.” No. It is a matter of living our entire lives in worship and sacrifice to Him alone in all things at all times.
That is what it means to have no other gods. It truly is a daily battle of balance and being-ware. That process starts with remembering exactly who He is and what he has done.
He is the Great I Am, Creator of the Universe! He has delivered us! Let us love and serve Him accordingly.