2014-08-10 - The First Commandment
The Call to Monotheism
It is not surprising the first commandment we find deals directly with the worship of God. The principle of monotheism was unique in Moses' day. God was telling the Israelites they were not to be like their future neighbors, that they should not worship more than one god, or any other god other than Him. I wonder how the "Christian" cults that teach polytheism, or the heretical movements that teach we can become gods, can possibly get around this one!
Walton and Matthews note:
"The phrase "before Me" means "in my presence" and therefore prohibits other gods from being considered to be in the presence of Yahweh. This prohibits several concepts that were a standard part of ancient beliefs. Most religions of that day had a pantheon, a divine assembly that ruled the realm of the gods, the supernatural, and, ultimately, the human world. There would typically be a deity who was designated head of the pantheon, and he, like the other gods, would have at least one consort (female partner). This commandment forbids Israel to think in these terms. Yahweh is not the head of a pantheon, and he does not have a consort there are no gods in his presence. The only divine assembly that is legitimate for their thinking is made up of angels (as in 1 Kings 22:19-20), not gods. This commandment also then effectively bans much mythology that deals with the interactions of the gods with one another." 1
It wasn't good enough that the Israelites worship God along with other gods they must only worship Him. Notice, He says in vs. 5 that He is "a jealous God." In Isaiah 42:8 we read:
"I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols." ESV
Paul carries this same thought into the New Testament:
"For although there may be so-called gods in Heaven or on Earth - as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords" yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (1 Corinthians 8:5-6 ESV).
By the way, since they were not to worship other gods as their neighbors did, what do you think were some of the ways the pagans worshiped their gods? How many would have been applicable to the worship of the true God?
It is also interesting to note that nowhere do we find a command against the belief there is no God, atheism. After all, David tells us
"The fool says in his heart, "There is no God" (Psalms 53:1 ESV).
In other words, it is insane to deny God's existence.
To be continued.
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