Friday, May 06, 2022

2022.05.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:3

Read Exodus 20:3

Questions from the Scripture text: What must there not be? Who must not have them? Before Whom (what)?  

Very literally translated, the commandment reads, “There must not be unto you gods, other ones, unto the face of Me.” The sense of the original is, “There must not be for you any other gods against My face.” 

There are many ways to construct a prohibition in Hebrew, but this one is emphatic. The first three and last five of the commandments all use the same construction, and it’s a very strong, absolute forbidding. No one, and no thing, may ever be allowed to be in competition with Yahweh.

He alone is Creator and Sustainer
This is part of the truth that we considered about His Name—Yahweh, the great “I Am”—when thinking about Exodus 20:2. He alone is uncreated Creator. Everything else owes its existence to Him. He alone has ongoing existence in Himself so that He is Self-sustained. Everything else must be sustained continually by Him. 

But when we live for anyone or anything else, we deny that we were made by Him, and treat something else as if we were made for it. And when we depend upon anyone or anything apart from the Lord, we deny that He is the One Who upholds all things by the word of His power. Instead, we act as if there is a created thing/person that sustains not only itself/himself but us as well.

He has purchased us for Himself
This is what we saw in the phrase “your God” in Exodus 20:2. Along with everything and everyone else, we owe Him our devotion and dependence, simply as His creatures. But more than everything and everyone else, we are bound to Him by that special binding relationship called a “covenant.”

He is not like the idol-gods of Egypt
The idea of worshiping only one God would have been very foreign/contrary to their experience so far. Egypt had a panoply of them! They were wicked, like their human idolizers, but they coexisted in a delicate balance. Yahweh, however, refuses to coexist—precisely because He is NOT wicked and properly honors His own holiness. Idolatry is evil and exhausting; the properly exclusive worship of the one true God is not only righteous but a relief!

If we are not for Him, we are against Him
Not only as His creatures, but especially as His covenant people, the Israelites were always the special focus of His attention. Whether they ate, or drank, or whatever they did, they did unto His face—either unto His face for His glory, or against His face with offense or contempt. There are no “moments off” with God, particularly as His people. As all things are to be done personally for Him, so any wickedness that we do is personally against Him. And the greatest possible wickedness is to have another god. Every sin that we commit is also a version of this particular sin.

In what situations do you find yourself living for (or depending upon, or delighting in) something or someone apart from the Lord? What are you living for at those times? In what way are you interacting with God at those times?

Sample prayer:  Lord, all things are from You and through You and to You; to You be the glory forever and ever! And in You, we live and move and have our being, so that whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we ought to do all unto Your glory. But often we think and speak and act as if we are devoted to some creature rather than You—especially to our own selves. O forgive us, and make us to receive all that is genuinely good in us or others as a gift from You. And make us to enjoy it all and employ it all unto Your glory, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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