Most Christians know the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Or at least they know it as Christ stated it. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38).
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:1-4
Key Verse: “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39
But have we ever stopped long enough to think about why it’s the first and greatest commandment? Is it because God is a dictator? Is it because He’s unreasonable? Is it because He wanted to see us fail?
It’s because He alone is God. And He knows it. “There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isaiah 45:21b).
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).
The LORD is the one who blots out our transgressions and remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).
The LORD is the one who made the earth and created man on it (Is. 45:12).
The LORD is the one who stretched out the heavens and put the stars in place (Is. 45:13).
The LORD is the one who forms light and creates darkness (Is. 45:7).
The LORD is the one who changes times and seasons. He alone removes kings and sets up kings (Dan. 2:21).
I love the way God says it in Isaiah 44:8, “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”
So nothing else will do. Only God. Everything else will fail us. Therefore, He started with this… “You shall have no other gods before me.” It makes sense really that a loving God would begin with a request for allegiance because He knows anything other than him will disappoint. Leaving a gaping hole in our quest for life and love and satisfaction.
If we want love – God is love.
If we want peace – God is peace.
If we want joy – God is joy.
If we want life -God is life.
If we want truth – God is truth.
Chase me God says. Put me first. Because to seek God first and foremost is to seek the utter most longing of our soul. When we chase after anything other than God, we are always left with less than. Yet for some reason we still think it’s money or a home or a spouse or a child we most need. Or the fulfillment of a dream or job or fame we most want. The lap of luxury that will bring the most joy. Or a night in front of the television or an extended vacation that will build us back up.
But it’s none of those. It’s God. Why is it that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied? (Matt 5:6) Because it’s God who satisfies. So love me with everything you’ve got, says the LORD. With your heart and soul and mind and body. You won’t regret it.
And do it in the right way.
Which brings us to the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 4:4).
In other words, don’t make idols. Don’t carve a face into a piece of wood and call it a god. Don’t liken the Creator to something He’s created. It reduces his power to an item. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).
We are to worship in spirit and truth, not stationary items and false convictions. By faith, not fabrication. With God’s might and majesty exceling beyond anything we could even imagine, God says, “Don’t even try.” Any and every attempt will fail.
“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit” (Isaiah 44:9a).
Furthermore, we don’t need to make things to represent God since “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). We already have plenty to spur us on to worship.
What we need to do, is be the image of God.
And therein lies the kicker. God’s already made something to represent Him. He’s made us, in his own image! Bringing a whole new meaning to the commandment, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), don’t you think?
It’s not our responsibility to make things that represent God, it’s our responsibility to be a representation of God.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). That the world might see God in us. That they might come to know Him. That they might reject every other false attempt at deity, except the LORD Almighty, the gracious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It won’t be long and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Phil. 2:10-11). So why wait? “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deut. 4:39).
And that my friend is why loving God with everything we’ve got and everything we are is the first and greatest commandment. Let us go and let us love Him and let us do it in the right way.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
How might your life change if you truly sought God at all times? What would be easier? What would be harder?
We aren’t to make images of God but we are to be the image. Can you give an example when the world saw God in you? How did they react?