“Then God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.’” (Exodus 20:1-3)
Prior to declaring His commandments to His redeemed people, the Lord affirmed in His preamble two important truths which I believe is the basis for His commands. First, the Lord reminded Israel of who He is, saying, “I am the LORD your God…” (Exodus 20:2 a). “LORD” is God’s personal name which means the “Self-existing One.” He doesn’t need anyone or anything in order to exist. The name also indicates God’s sovereign rule over His creation. Second, the Lord reminded Israel of His great act of redemption, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:2 b). Israel as a nation were slaves in Egypt for more than 400 years and was delivered through the mighty hand of their Redeemer. With these two great truths in mind, Israel entered into a covenantal relationship with the LORD who declared before them the stipulations of the covenant.
We must recognize the fact that Israel was about to enter a land inhabited by pagan nations. The Lord promised that if they obey His commandments, they will be His own possession, set apart as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6). The Lord’s desire was for Israel to be a witness to all the nations, proclaiming that He is the only living and true God (Isaiah 43:10).
In the first commandment, God demanded exclusive devotion and worship from His people. He said to Israel, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). The pagan community in Canaan were embracing and worshipping a variety of “gods” beginning from the heavenly bodies down to the sea! And the Lord was reminding His own people that He alone is the only true and living God who is worthy of full devotion and worship. Christ expounded this truth when he said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24).
Are there “gods” in your life which hinder you from surrendering your whole being to the Lordship of Christ? If you think you can serve the Lord and at the same time hold on to the “gods” in your life, think again: it won’t work!
Let us be like Joshua who determined in his heart that he and his family will only serve and worship the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15)!