The First Commandment: No Other “Gods”

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Default article daily reflection

“You must not have any other god but me.”

Exodus 20:3

Exodus 20:3 does not imply the existence of other genuine deities. The gods referred to here are, in the end, false gods or demonic powers, but not cosmic equals to the Lord. This verse uses the language and worldview of the ancient world to reinforce the exclusive covenant between Israel and the one true God. In the ancient world, it was common for people to honor many gods. Often they would have one primary god, but then relate to many adjunct gods to help with various needs (harvest, fertility, travel, etc.). The first commandment rules out this option. Literally, the verse translates, “There shall not be to you other gods before my face (or presence).” As the Lord sits upon his throne and the people come before him, there must be no other gods in his royal presence. His relationship with Israel allows for no sharing of the divine role.

For as long as I can remember, I have recognized only one God. I have known him in a personal way ever since I received Christ as Lord and Savior at a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles in 1963. Though there have been times when I have doubted God’s existence, I have never been tempted to acknowledge any other deity. Yet, I have sometimes brought other “gods” into God’s presence, as I have trusted in them, honored them, sought them, and, in a sense, worshiped them. What are my other gods? Not Isis or Osiris or Baal, but financial security, family well-being, rationality, and popularity. Of course, none of these “gods” are wrong in and of themselves. They can be good things, even blessings from God. That makes it especially easy for me to put so much trust in them that I displace the Lord, however slightly. God is still on his throne, but I have dragged other “gods” into his presence. This is precisely what the first commandment forbids.

God claims first place in our lives. He requires our complete loyalty and trust. Our faith in God must not be “God plus . . .” but “God alone.” When we give him uncompromised allegiance and submission, then every other aspect of life finds its rightful place, even financial security, family well-being, rationality, and popularity . . . or whatever “gods” you’re inclined to sneak into God’s presence.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: So, what are the “gods” that compete for your loyalty? What helps you to put your full trust in God and God alone?

PRAYER: Dear God, you are indeed the one true God. You are the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The King of kings and Lord of lords. You alone are my Rock and my Redeemer.

You know, Lord, that no other “god” in my life displaces you. But there are times when my loyalty is split, when I “worship” other gods. There are times I find it hard to surrender everything to you. I want to hang on to that which gives me safety and control. Forgive me, dear Lord, when I allow other “gods” into your presence.

Help me, by your grace and through your Spirit, to have no other “god” in your presence. May my covenant relationship with you be exclusive in every way. May I put my full trust in you and you alone. And may I live for you each moment of each day, no matter what I’m doing.

To you be all the glory, gracious and glorious God! Amen.