What God Wrote in Stone Day 1 – No Other Gods!
And 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, ESV)
Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips. (Exodus 23:13, ESV)
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6, ESV)
What’s your measuring stick for a person to qualify as “good” or even “decent”? Is it following the golden rule, rooted in the biblical principle of treating others the way we want to be treated? Is it someone who has decent morals and hasn’t spent any time behind bars? Would it be someone who gives money to others and seems to be kind to everyone around them? Here in the South, we like to look at someone, smile wistfully, and tell the person beside us, “They are good people.” But when we look at what God has to say about us, “good” doesn’t exactly ring true for the heart of sinful humans.
Moses was one of the rare Old Testament saints who had a close, personal relationship with the one true God—YHWH. God had a measuring stick for His people, one that would stand in place until the coming of His Son, Jesus, who would fulfill this measuring stick called the Law. The blood of Christ covered and atoned for sin, and grace took the place of the Law. The Law encompasses what is known as the Ten Commandments, written on stone by God and given to Moses on the mountaintop for him to present to the people. This Law was to be strictly followed, and when someone broke it, an animal sacrifice had to be made to atone for the sin of that person. Our area of study for the next two weeks centers on these commandments, and even though we are not under this Law but live in the period of grace, we can still apply some of its principles to our lives today.
Our modern culture has adopted thousands of religions with various gods, yet this is a direct assault against the very first commandment written on stone by YHWH (Yahweh, or Jehovah). Recorded in history are somewhere around 12,000 gods that have been worshiped by mankind. While some religions have no god (Atheism), others have an extensive list within one given religion (Hinduism). Other religions that are largely practiced are monotheistic, such as Islam, whose god is Allah. And so we see a world that accepts many gods, even encouraging worship to whomever or whatever you feel led to worship. But in our verse above God commanded His people not to even mention other gods, let alone worship them.
While we could go to great lengths to prove that God is real, and that Jesus, God’s Son, lived and died here with the purpose of rescuing us from sin and death, His existence is most evident in the hearts of His followers. For those of you who have followed Him long enough, you’ll have your own personal stories of connection and awareness. He doesn’t remain elusive or distant, but rather takes up residence in our spirits in the form of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, challenging us and prompting change.
People may try to use science to reason Him away, but it won’t work. People will try to deny His existence in any way they can to excuse themselves from judgment and punishment for sin. None of that will change the truth, though, that God is the one true God and He commands us to worship Him alone. Why might this commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” be the first one? Maybe it’s because God knows our human hearts and how we are easily captured by anything that releases us from accountability to a holy God. And maybe it’s because He craves a relationship with us—a precious privilege I’ve yet to understand or fully appreciate. Our refusal to acknowledge that He is the only true God will never change that truth.
How are you honoring God as the only God in your life? Are there people or circumstances or even monetary blessings that have caused you to bow to something in addition to Him? While you may know He is the only God, you may not realize how you’ve given His place to something or someone else. It may be that family has taken the first place in your heart, or maybe your spouse or a romantic interest. It may be your career or your investment portfolio. It could even be the pursuit of being fit and eating clean. While we will cover these more in tomorrow’s devotional, giving the first part of our hearts to anything other than God is nothing short of idolatry. God Himself said that He is a jealous God—jealous because He loves us and wants our whole hearts. Does He have yours?