And God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.
Over the next ten days we are going to remind ourselves of the commandments that God set before his people as the benchmark of their behaviour as his redeemed people. And as we begin it is important to remind ourselves that these commandments are not the way to redemption, for they were given to a people already freed, redeemed, form the land of Egypt, but are the way they and we should live as redeemed people. They are addressed to the people of Israel, God’s chosen people but, and let is take careful note of this, they are equally and fully applicable to us as they come from the sovereign God to all his redeemed people – this is how we should live!
We live in a pantheistic world where a multitude of gods abound. This is seen at the ‘primitive’ level where mankind worships all sorts of things that are not God, while at what we might call the ‘sophisticated’ level (although it is far from that!) mankind has abandoned all thought of God and effectively worships himself and his perceived prowess. The result of this is plain to see in the brokenness of our civilisation.
Once God is removed from our consciousness and we make substitutions for him from any other source, primitive or sophisticated, brokenness is the inevitable result for here in Exodus 20 is the way of order and wholeness.
The Israelites had every reason for obeying this first commandment, for God had, in the very immediate past, demonstrated his saving power as he freed his people from Egypt.
We, as God’s redeemed people, likewise have every reason for obedience for, in redeeming us, God had brought us from death to life, from darkness to light and has set us on a firm foundation in an uncertain and shifting world with the ‘hope of glory’ in our hearts.
The Israelites, in spite of their freedom from Egyptian slavery and the awesome sights, sounds and words that accompanied the giving of the law, soon rebelled and went their own way, and there is a constant danger that we will do the same for, since the Fall, we are naturally inclined to go our own way.
What I now write may seem very basic and even offensive but we need, intentionally, to come back to acknowledge our God on a daily basis asking him to be at the centre of our lives and to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to obey this first, and indeed all the commandments.
Something of what that involves we will explore together over the next few days.