The First Commandment is the Hardest

ReDiscovered Word

(Exodus 20)

The First Commandment is the hardest.

“You shall have no other gods before me,” He told them. Even then, God knew they would choose other gods. Under every tree on on every hill, they would build their images and bow down to gods they could manage, gods they created out of stone and silver and wood.

The gods we build are small, and completely unable to promise what they deliver. We like them because we can control them. They don’t threaten us, because they are utterly powerless.

God’s jealousy is not borne of insecurity. He insists on exclusivity because He is the only living God. He is jealous for us because He loves us. He knows — and we so easily forget — that Life is only found in Him.

To put it plainly: There are no other gods. Anything we worship besides God is a product of something He made. We worship the creation rather than the Creator. Every time we bow to a foreign god, to an idol, to our own desires, we lose a little bit of the life He has given us.

No other god can deliver life, or love, or security, or peace. The gods of the Canaanites promised so much: sexual pleasure, abundant crops, victory in battle. They promised so much, and they delivered nothing but nothing. Their gods were not much different from our own.

The First Commandment is the hardest, but it’s an immeasurably good gift. The God who made us wants to know us. He wants to give us Eternal Life that can never be taken away. He simply insists that we recognize its Source. “Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all of these things will be added to you.” We try to reverse that order and wind up with empty hands and broken hearts.

To worship God alone is not to abandon Life, but to receive it. But it’s so hard to do. Like the Israelites, we construct our own gods and believe their false promises. We are as unable to obey as they were, as desperately in need of help as our ancestors. We need help, so God provided it.

We would not return to God, so He came to us instead. He came, God in the flesh, the only Son, to show us the Life that only He could provide. He swallowed death and sin in victory and promised to live with us and in us forever. To wash away the idolatry and rebellion that corrupted our hearts. To demonstrate that His jealousy is good, because He is the only God who can promise Life and then deliver it.

Yes, the First Commandment is the toughest, but it is good. Like the One True God who gave us Life.

Tags: rediscovered word

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