[CF Devotionals] 2019-09-29 - Still Relevant Today - The Call to Monotheism

The First Commandment

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“I am the LORD; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” Isaiah 42:8 ESV

Vs. 1-3 Introduction: This commandment seems to be one of the clearest and the most self-evident. Therefore, our focus will be on how to make it relevant, since most of us are not into polytheism.

Verses 1-2: Before we get into the commandment proper, there are a couple of introductory verses to the passage. They are the Lord’s own introduction to the Commandments, as He gives them to the nation Israel. He reminds them Who He is. It is on the basis that He is God, that He gives the Law. It is his unique relationship with the Hebrews that was the foundation of the formal legal system. He reminded them He was the one Who brought them out of slavery in Egypt, and their response to Him should therefore be based on what they knew of Him.

It is this same basis we have been considering in our prayer lives, that is what the Lord has been doing in our lives, what blessings He has provided us, the first and foremost being Salvation, or the numerous others such as; health, shelter, food, children, family, etc,

Application: Are there special blessings for which you would like to praise the Lord?

It is all the Lord is that is the basis of our fellowship with Him. Our focus is to be on Him - and not on ourselves, if we truly desire to walk as the Lord would have us walk. It is therefore the issue of who God is that makes up the underlying framework of the first commandment

1. 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 and 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 pan- theon, 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 com- mandment also then effectively bans much mythology that deals with the interactions of the gods with one another.” 2 

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.

Realize that even today, the practice of polytheism still exists around the world. This is true, even in this society. We find this especially in the practices of some of the eastern religions. Mormonism is polytheistic, in that it teaches it is possible to become a god and that God was once a man as we are. Some cults, such as Baha’i, are even more subtle. They teach that you can follow their tenets without violating biblical teachings. They teach a Christ who doesn’t exist, and so one can end up following another god without necessarily realizing it. Actually the movie “Son of God” is guilty of the same subtle lie, presenting another Christ.

Without intent, one of the main churches within Christendom can promote polytheism through a practice of saint worship. So you can see the problem may be more common than we realize.

Stuart Brisco points out that there is another way to worship other gods. He described how the Canaanites confused the acts of nature with gods and so developed a host of gods. His concern is that we do the same thing, but from a slightly different angle.

“What does this have to do with us? A lot. We also live in a very sophisticated pagan culture. Like the Israelites, we are called to be the people of God in the midst of a culture that does not honor him. Living in our sophisticated, rational, skilled, technological society, we too forget the Lord. We find it so easy to develop a nominal attachment to him, pushing him more and more into the background as we follow the gods of society. It doesn’t take long before he no longer holds the number-one spot. 3 

But for us, if we follow the teachings of Christ …
“ And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 ESV).
… there is no danger that we will worship other gods.

This works the same way with a husband or wife. If they love their spouse as Christ said, regarding the Father, there is no way they could possibly become unfaithful. And here it is unfaithfulness towards Himself that the Lord is warning against. There is a basic underlying principle here: A person can only wholeheartedly love one person or thing. In the proper scheme of things, the Lord must come before all else.

Exodus study to be continued.

  1. Walton, John H. and Victor H. Matthews, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, “Genesis - Deuterono-
  2. Brisco, Stuart, p. 6-7.

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[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com

You will find more info about Pastor Geoff Kragen at GKragen.com, and you may find more of his BIble studies at http://cfdevotionals.org/links/authgeof.htm.

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CFD | September 2019 | Geoff's Devotions | Geoff's Studies | Devotional Topics