Connect360: The Foundational Commandment

Lesson 2 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Exodus 20:3.

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  • Lesson 2 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Exodus 20:3.

In Old Testament times, the God of Abraham was one of many gods that peoples worshiped. Polytheism is the belief in many gods. Henotheism is the belief that a nation might accept one god while prepared to believe that other nations have their own gods. Monotheism is the belief in only one god. More than 4,000 religions are celebrated today, including some that worship numerous gods.

Although we, too, live in a polytheistic world, one seldom hears of Christians drawn to other religions. The primary battle in our culture is the struggle for the mind between secularism and Christianity. It is essential to have an accurate view of God because people inevitably become like the god they worship.

While we cannot judge that any one commandment is more important than another, there must have been a reason for the placement of the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” It is not that the Lord is god over all the other gods. It is that the Lord is the one God. All others are fake gods.

The first commandment is the foundational edict on which all the others are based. The Ten Commandments do not begin with an ethical statement but with a theological proclamation: “You shall have no other gods before me.” This proclamation does not state the Lord is to be No. 1 among many gods, but that the Lord is the one God. Some have translated the first commandment as, “You shall have no other gods beside me or before my face.”

Ultimate allegiance

God gave the Commandments to the people after he had rescued them from the land of Egypt and the Egyptian army. For hundreds of years, they had been exposed to the different Egyptian gods and religious ritual practices. Therefore, God made his boundary very clear to his people how they were to worship him.

This same God who brought the Israelites out of the land of captivity is here to release us from the bondage of our sinfulness. Our initial step must be to heed the first commandment and make Yahweh central to our lives, worshipping only him. Today, our gods may not be religious idols, but we have cultural ideals to which we give our allegiances, such as materialism, recreation, vocations or pleasure. People also place their faith in morality, religion, science, politics or human ingenuity, while others attempt to escape the cares of this world through obsessions with social media, television, drugs or alcohol.

To what or to whom do you give your ultimate allegiance?

Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.

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