Today, 4 March 2018 is the third Sunday of Lent. Both Exodus 20:1-17 on the Ten Commandments and John 2:13-25 on the Passover are offered as lections for our reflection.
I’d take only the Exodus passage for consideration; the first 6 verses are:
And God spoke all these words: 2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3“You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (NIV)
The Ten Commandments was God’s direct address to Israel: “God spoke all these words.”
This is important for an appropriate understanding: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
This opening word accomplishes at least two things:
- It keeps the commandments personally oriented; “I am the Lord your (singular) God.”
- Obedience to the commandments is relational; these are words given to you by your God.
The law is a gift of God who has redeemed you. The law begins with good news about what God has done on behalf of “you” as a member of the community of faith. God’s saving actions have drawn you into a new kind of life and blessing, to which the you must respond by ordering your lives accordingly.
Verse 3: “You shall have no other gods before me” introduces the commandments and gives shape to all the others; idolatry is the focus.
But how will we define idolatry?
It commonly refers to material images; the story of the golden calf comes to mind. But “no other gods” could also include any person, place, or thing that we hold to be more important or as important as God. These “other gods” could also include money, property, fame, power – the list can be long. The command is to be absolutely loyal to God.
Our relationship with God today should be governed by this rule: “no other gods.”
Pastor Robert Chew