Continuing with the theme of really knowing God, I want to share some things I recently came across regarding His commandments. We’re going to mostly focus on the first four commandments. Out of the ten, these first four are about our relationship with God. The last six are about our relationship with others.
Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3) Pretty clear. God is to have first place in our lives. Supremely, entirely, completely. Anything else is an idol. Trace it back from all the other commandments and at the root of them all is some sort of idolatry. For example, if you steal, you have made something else your idol. Adultery? Your self-satisfaction is your idol. We lie to benefit ourselves or to give someone and inflated view of who we are or what we do. You get the picture. Let’s not take this commandment lightly. All else hinges on this one. It’s first for a reason.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4) While the first commandment is about our allegiance to the one true God and his desire for exclusivity, this commandment is about trying to turn the one true God into something else. This is about trying to make God into our image rather than realizing we are made in His. When we define God as to how we want him to be, when we create an image in our mind of the God we want, not the God who is, it’s as if we have made a graven image. It won’t look like a golden calf but it’s just as repulsive to God. Ouch.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. (Exodus 20:7). We really have gotten careless about this one. Cursing using God’s name makes most people cringe but saying OMG or something like it seems acceptable nowadays. It is basically being flippant with the name of a Holy God and doesn’t give Him the reverence He deserves. But this commandment isn’t just about curse words or a flippant use of God’s name. It is about claiming the name of God but living in contradiction to His will. We not only take his name in vain with our words but also with our actions. Another ouch.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8) Yay. This isn’t a “thou shalt not” commandment. But really, in these days and times can we afford to set aside a day to keep holy? Well, if we want to obey God, then YES, we must. From the beginning of time, God worked six days and then He rested on the seventh. God wasn’t tired but he was setting the stage for what he knew we would need. He knew that work could become our god. He knew that we would think there were not enough hours in the day, or days in the week to get things done. Not keeping the Sabbath means we are not trusting God for our provision. Ouch again.
So that I don’t get too long in this post, I think I will spend a little more time on this fourth commandment in next week’s blog. It is one that has actually divided churches over its meaning and can become very legalistic if we are not careful. And it’s probably one that we don’t take very seriously. So until then, let’s keep a check on our idols, things that we try to make into the likeness of God and our use of the Lord’s name. That should keep us busy enough!