You shall have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20:3

 

Here we are, finally.  The last week of our series, and the very first commandment.  I’ve been waiting for today.

When we started down this road, revisiting a dusty portion of scripture that many of us learned about as kids and promptly stuffed in drawer somewhere in the attic, I had no idea where we were headed.  I should know by now, however, that when we ask God to teach us something – He will show up.  Every. Single. Time.  I live for these moments, but the “walking through” is, admittedly, not always easy.

Worship God Only     •    Don’t take Him in Vain    •    Remember the Sabbath    •    Honor Your Parents    •   Don’t Kill          Don’t Commit Adultery      •     Don’t Steal     •     Don’t Lie     •     Don’t Covet

Simply put, if this were just about rules, these 9 would have covered it.  But then, it wouldn’t have been God the FATHER talking if He’d stopped here.  Even in His restrictions, His heart for us is always evident.  We just have to look.

I had been certain that Moses was on Mt. Sinai, by himself, and he alone heard these commandments.  Then he etched them on stone tablets and brought them to the people.  Right?

We probably have Charlton Heston in the movie “The 10 Commandments” to blame for that misconception, because this is what actually happened:

The Lord said to Moses: 1 “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” … 16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.  Everyone in the camp trembled.  17 Then Moses LED THE PEOPLE out of the camp TO MEET WITH GOD, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.”  Exodus 19:1,16-17

This information matters…

A LOT.

And it’s also important to know that Jews weren’t the only ones there to hear it.  It’s estimated that more than 1 million non-Jews left Egypt with the Isrealites.  So, at the bottom of that mountain, they ALL stood – many races, many nationalities.  And they knew WHO was speaking.

God started with this: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Exodus 20:2

In other words, before He gave a single command, He wanted to set the stage:  Remember who I am.  You’ve seen how I love you.  You know how I care for you.  Don’t be scared (despite this dark cloud, thunder, lightening, trumpet sound and shaking mountain).

And then the very first command He gave was, “You shall have no other gods before me”.  It is an incredibly important beginning because while this is a command, it’s also a beckoning

He’d announced:  To all of you people standing down there, I want you to KNOW ME.  But you have to leave behind the rest of what you are valuing more than me.  Those things won’t serve you no matter how long you wait.  Put me first.  If you do, I can help you, hold you, direct you and deliver you.  I AM GOD and I am your FATHER.

Just a few verses before, He’d said (for all to hear):  “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  Exodus 19: 5-6

Today, to you and me, this commandment foreshadows salvation.  Long before Jesus even came to earth and gave us access to God through the cross, the plan was in motion.  The seed of Christ was already there – waiting – in a line of 28 generations from Abraham to Mary.  Even in this moment on Mt. Sinai, He was protecting that seed through this chosen nation of Israel.  And this would change everything.

He’s STILL calling us to Him today.  And before I go any further, I have to ask:

Have you answered Him yet?

I’m just a girl, sitting alone, writing because He told me to do it.  But YOU – He found YOU to read these words.  This is Him pursing you.  It’s your invitation.  And it may not be the first one He’s given to you.  Do you feel it?

All it takes is a YES.  “I choose you God.  I believe in your Son.  In all my failures, your grace is more than enough. Forgive me.  Make me Yours – A treasured possession of the God most high“.

And once we’ve made this decision, to be sure, it can’t be undone.  “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”  1 Peter 1:23

I have a son, Brenner.  No matter what happens, there is absolutely nothing and no one that can change that he is my child.  Even if he hates me, fails me, disobeys, leaves or asks to be someone else’s – what’s done is done, and he is mine.  Just like I am God’s.

I’ve spent the last 9 weeks digging deep.  As I’ve seen myself through the lens of these laws, I’ve been broken by how short I fall.  The tears of recognition have burned time after time.

However, this was never about settling in for a good lashing.  We have a Father who knows us – each individually – so very well.  And He gave us rules to keep us safe… the same way we’d give our children rules to keep them safe.  Not only that, but these commandments position us to be who He’s calling us to be.  They equip us.

If we strive to get this ONE first commandment right, the rest will fall into place.  If we seek to place God above all else, we will automatically begin seeking to do His will in other ways too.

And we’ll fail.  We’ll lie and get jealous and curse.  And we’ll get back up, because His hand is always there reaching out.  He’s our Father and we are His treasured possession, after all.  The God who spoke the universe into being… He treasures YOU.

I write a blog.  And it often feels small and insignificant.  Which makes me wonder why I do this.

And THEN I remember.

My Father asked me to do it.  And He treasures it.  So, before you all, I’ll lay out the broken pieces of my failed attempts to keep His commandments.  But I have unspeakable comfort in knowing to whom I belong.  There will be no other gods before Him in my life.  Answering this one commandment is the most important decision I will ever make.  If I get absolutely everything else wrong from here on forward, His grace will help me fix it.  The “rest” are just the details He’s working out in me (and in you).

Our access to God is different today than it was for the Israelites.  It’s now far easier.  The cross changed that.  We don’t have to gather at the bottom of a cloud-covered mountain to hear His voice.  It’s over coffee, while brushing our teeth, in our work cubicle, as we block out fighting children, on the subway and everywhere in between… He’s talking to us.

“Put me first.  Put me first.  Put me first….”

It’s not about God’s ego.  He doesn’t need you to boost it.  It is about His plan for you.  Seek Him first.  And the rest will happen.  Because the more you seek, the more you WILL find, and what you find will change you.  Everyday.  Over and over and over.