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Commandment #1: No Other Gods

For the next 4 days of this week we are going to focus on one of the first 4 commandments.

Exodus 20:3

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

The first command of the ten is to have no other gods but YAHWEH. His relationship with Israel is to be exclusive. This is stipulation number one of the covenant relationship. This is to be the foundation of this covenant between God and his people.

Literally, this verse could be translated, “There shall not be to you another god before my face.” The preposition “before” is a word that has a broad range of meanings depending on the context. So this phrase could mean “in the presence of” or “against my face” or “prior to”. It’s most likely the “against my face” idea that is in view here. no other god should challenge him for their devotion. The idea is that God is the only God the Israelites are to serve and he is to be their God exclusively. Absolute loyalty to YAHWEH is in view.

This command assumes that other cultures have other gods that they worship. To be quite honest, this statement isn’t as monotheistic as we would like and really the whole of Scripture actually teaches. It kinda assumes other gods exist or at least it doesn’t just come out and say they don’t exist. Don’t misunderstand me, Scripture certainly teaches monotheism, it just does it through the narrative story. The people of Israel at this point seem to assume other gods exist and God will show them that he is the only one true God throughout their story. As their story unfolds they constantly fall into idol worship and worship of other gods. Solomon is a good example of how the people were constantly drawn to worship other gods. By the end of his kingship he had been worshipping other gods as well as YAHWEH. He thought that he could have his cake and eat it too. He could have YAHWEH and the gods of his wives. Throughout their idolatry the people of Israel come to realize that God is the one true God and there are none other. Think of the story of the Exodus where God demonstrates his unchallenged power and might to deliver his people from slavery in a very powerful nation. Also, the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 when Elijah has a showdown with the prophets of Baal and shows Baal to be the fake phony small g god that he is.

This idea will be carried forward in the next commandment which we will discuss tomorrow.


Today i’d invite you to reflect on the exclusivity of your relationship with God. Think of it in the context of a marriage covenant relationship. Any third party involvement is a violation of the covenant relationship. Are there any third parties involved in your devotion to God?

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