Bible Reading Exodus 20:1-11
Exodus 20:1-3 KJV
1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
As God begins to give Moses what we know to be the Ten Commandments, He reminds Moses of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. In each of the ten plagues, God was showing His strength and superiority over a false Egyptian god. And even though His power was unquestionable, the Israelites had lived in a polytheistic society for over four hundred years, and they were in danger of digressing to the ideology of where they came from and where they were going. God told them in no uncertain terms that He was the only God, and they wouldn’t have any need of any other. As God continues, the initial four commandments deal fundamentally with man’s relationship with God. God was instructing Israel on Who they should worship and highlighting that how they should worship was also extremely important. Even for those who had been taught their entire lives that there was only one true God, idolatry would prove to be a temptation. And while it is easy to understand the danger in false gods, sometimes it is more complicated to understand false worship. As Christians living in the 21st Century, we can somewhat relate to being surrounded by the worship of false gods as well as the false worship of our God. Perhaps an error in how we worship leads to an error in Who we worship.
We notice in verse three that God is adamant that worship should be singular in focus. The Egyptians were known for worshiping the creations they believed to give them prosperity and happiness (the Nile, the sun, etc.). Through plagues such as water to blood and darkness covering the land, God showed that prosperity, wellness, and joy come only by obedience to Him and living by the principles He reveals to be fulfilling. He may use various methods to give blessings, but it is He Who provides. Following His Word is a sure way to find His blessings. Unfortunately, as it was in the days of Exodus, so also today do so many uplift and even deify the blessings of God over the God Who blessed them. We should be thankful for a good job, but we should not allow that job to replace our faith in God. Family is an institution that was ordained by God, but many times throughout Scripture God cautions of allowing the family to supersede God’s place in our lives. Objects and hobbies we enjoy are vital to our health, but they can do nothing to replace time worshiping God. And while it is painful to admit, too often, I (probably more of us than would like to admit) tend to exalt myself to the place where only God should be in my own life. We must decrease and He must increase!
Worship, as we see in verse four, should be not just singular in focus but also Spiritual. There are a lot of things that people do outwardly to emphasize worship, but God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth. A lifted hand or loud hallelujah may be empty gestures if not stemming first from a heart of worship. While bowing to a graven image may not be a temptation for many of us, there are millions around the world who, in spiritual darkness, still practice such things. We also can be guilty of exalting the creation over the Creator if we are not careful.
Our relationship with God and worship of Him should also be Serious. The word “take” in verse seven refers to lifting or carrying something. The nation of Israel in Exodus and Christians today are marked by the world as God’s people. When the world looks at us, they think of Christ, and though we can never justly represent our precious Saviour, their perception of us affects their perception of Him. We have all heard testimony of individuals who were put off from Christianity due to the actions of a few Christians, and we have all heard of those who were saved because of the love and behavior of Christians. It is a serious thing indeed to realize how I treat others, how consistent I am, how loving or hateful I am, or how much like Christ I am, can cause others to draw closer to God or to be repelled by poor examples of Christ. With children in my home, I am acutely aware of how my example affects others, and I want to be so intentional to leave an example they would desire and should follow.
And fourthly, worship should be Special. Keep the sabbath holy is the fourth command that God permanently inscribed for the children of Israel. An entire day dedicated to God with no acceptable excuse. The entirety of love of our heart, soul, strength, and mind are necessary in successfully keeping these first four commandments. And in keeping them, we will have a stronger relationship with God, and our lives will be better spiritually (eternally) for it.