The 10 Commandments: The 1st Commandment

And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

~ Ex 20:1-3

Moses was inspired to write “God spake all these words”. There was to be no doubt as to the source of these words. Which God spoke the words? “I am the LORD thy God” establishes that God is declaring by His Personal Name as revealed to Israel that He is their God. He is the God Who rescued them from slavery. He is the God Who brought them up out of Egypt and led them to Mt Sinai. Moses didn’t lead them there. Aaron didn’t lead them there. God did.

It was this God Who was to be their God. Not only that, He was to be their only God. They were to not have any other gods “before” Him.

“Before me” comes from “paniym” (Strong’s H6440). It literally means “face”. Some have argued that it means precedence, or that God is supposed to be first. However, it isn’t clear to me that it is being used as a preposition here. More importantly, the primary meaning would be “in My presence”. Not only is God to be first, He is the only! Only makes Him first!

Sometimes, though, we neglect our relationship with God. We fail to make Him the most important thing in our lives. By definition, God is elevated above us and should be most important. The respect that He deserves is to be treated as God and to not elevate other things to His level.

Often, we speak of making idols of things. In one sense, that may be true. We worship cars, money, houses, relationships and even ourselves. I would argue, however, that these things are not really idols so much as it is making gods out of material things. We are breaking the 1st Commandment by elevating material things to God’s level. This devalues our idea of God and shows disrespect towards Him.

We often unconsciously do this when we run into problems that we are trying to solve. Are we trying to be “self-reliant”? Are we looking to money to solve our problems? Are we looking to alcohol or sex to solve our problems? Even if we aren’t outwardly sinning, our attitudes are revealed by where we turn when we to in a crisis. It reveals where we think our power resides. If we are not turning to the One in charge of it all, then we have created a false god in our hearts. Sometimes, we are allowed to go through trials to reveal these attitudes to us so we can take action against them.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

~ 1Co 3:11

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

~ Eph 2:19-21

It should be clear that Jesus Christ and the word of God should be our foundation.

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

~ 1Ti 6:17-19

Money should not be our foundation, but God.

A foundation is what we rest upon. Jesus said those who listen to His teachings and do them will have a sturdy foundation, while those who do not act upon His teachings will have a shaky foundation.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

~ Mt 7:21-27

It is important to note that worship is not enough. Belief is not enough. True worship means doing the will of God. True worship means following His commandments (1Co 7:19; 1Jn 2:3-4; 3:22-23; Rev 22:14). True love means keeping His commandments (Jn 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1Jn 5:2-3; 2Jn 6).

Whenever we sin, we have placed something or someone in the place of God in our minds. We have allowed something else to take precedence. We need to strive to ensure that there are NO other gods in His presence. And, since His presence is everywhere, that means we are not to have any other gods at all.

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