Today we are going to look at the World of the Text of the first commandment as found in Exodus 20: 1-3:
Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
The first commandment is often summarized as You Shall Have No Other gods Before Me. That is the actual command, the thing that the people are called to do, but before we look at that, let’s look at what all is around it. First, we see that the 10 Commandments are directly from God. It starts off by saying, God spoke. This is directly from God. Moses transcribed, but this is God speaking. This is a word for the people. And the first thing that He needs the people to fully understand is this.
He is God.
The Hebrew of this text is very stern. Harsh almost. God wants it abundantly clear to the people – He is God. Don’t mess around with this, understand this clearly and cleanly. He is God.
The language used in “brought you out of Egypt; slavery” is very strong as well. God is basically saying, I bought you. I freed you. But you are not free in a generic sense, you are free for me and free to serve and worship me. I bought you. I paid for you. You are mine. You are free from slavery, but you are not a free agent. You are mine. God is not merely reminding them of their history, but He is telling them – I freed you. You owe your loyalty, your existence, your freedom, everything to me. Do not forget that.
God is demanding obedience.
God is telling them in this that they owe Him their loyalty and service. No other gods names the context that the people find themselves in previously (Egpyt) and soon to be (Cannan). They were surrounded by neighbors that worshiped many different gods and here YWHY, the God of the universe, the God of all that is, strongly and firmly says – NO. I am God. I bought you. I freed you. You are mine.
You are to have NOTHING before me. I am God. I demand this of you. In this commandment, God is ordering the life of His people.
Tomorrow we’ll look at what this means to our lives today.
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