Chocolate – do you like milk or dark?
I listen to a podcast where the host often asks her guests that question. When I was younger, milk chocolate was my favorite, but I admit to having developed a taste for really good dark chocolate as I’ve gotten older.
Yes, it’s usually the expensive stuff, but now the lower quality chocolate pales in comparison. Plus it only takes a little bit of the costly stuff to satisfy that chocolate craving (theoretically, that is!) I’d rather have a small portion of the best stuff than a whole pile of the other.
I just started Kelly Minter’s Bible study titled No Other Gods: The Unrivaled Pursuit of Christ. Before she dives into the first of the ten commandments, she backs up and looks at the previous verse. I’d never analyzed Exodus 20 this way, and her approach got me thinking.
The first commandment says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” That statement comes in verse three. Verse one lets us know it’s God who is speaking. So what comes in verse two, right before we get the list of the ten commandments?
“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Before He lays down the law that the Israelites are to follow, issues the commands they are to obey, God reminds them of Who He is and what He’s done.
It hasn’t been long since these people were freed from slavery. They’ve witnessed the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, miracles that could only be attributed to God. He brought them out of Egypt powerfully, and with great purpose and intent. His plan not only got them out of their oppressive situation, but also had the Egyptians lavishing them with parting gifts of silver and gold! [Exodus 12:35-36]
In Exodus 20:2, God lays down His claim for being the only God they are to worship. He declares that He is their God, their deliverer.
We may think that, having witnessed extreme miracles, they would just automatically follow God. We may scoff at how shallow their faith was, since we know from further reading how quickly they turned to a golden calf or a god named Baal as the object of their worship.
Yet let’s look at our own lives. We have God’s Word that we can hold in our hands. His salvation is available to all who will trust Jesus as their Savior. But when a little trouble comes, how quickly we look to our own devices to solve a problem. We don’t actually build an idol, but we so often look to something else to deliver us.
Maybe we think that if we just had this or that we’d be content, happy. We give our devotion, our time, and our emotional energy to our family or our work or our own comfort. These can all be good things. But they’re not the one thing, the person we are to worship.
In my own life, my husband and I are trying to help guide our daughter as she makes decisions about college and career plans for next year. Being the planner that I am, I want to know yesterday how that’s all going to work out. Uncertainty makes me nervous.
But I can’t worship at the altar of control or security. Nor can I make what I want for her my idol. I have to trust God to work in her life, and bring both she and us to a place of peace about her future plans.
And what a neat thing it will be for her to experience God leading her! I want her to be able to look back, like the Israelites could, and say, “Look what God did for me! Look how He brought me to the place where I need to be.”
So why would we want any other god but the one true God? He commands us to have no other god before Him, and He has that right because of all He has done and continues to do for us.
When you realize that you have the best – the only all-powerful One who can save and deliver – you can confidently worship Him, and set all others aside.