The First Commandment (Exodus 20:1-17)

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In Exodus 20, the Lord gave Moses and the children of Israel the Ten Commandments. These commandments along with the rest of the Law, let Israel know what was required of them as God’s people. The Lord began with the introduction: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:2). The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups: 1) The first four commandments concern one’s responsibility towards God and 2) the next six concern one’s responsibility towards others. Knowing this helps us better understand why Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:38-39). 

The First Commandment

The first commandment from the Lord says: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex 20:3). This commandment calls us to acknowledge that the Lord (Yahweh) is the only God, He has made Himself known to us, and deserves our praise and worship. While we cannot know everything about God, there is much He has revealed about Himself. Let us consider some important characteristics of God so that we may better love and adore Him:

God is Trinity. The Bible teaches that there is one—and only one—God. Deuteronomy 6:4 says: “Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One.” The one God is revealed to us as Father, Son, and Spirit. God is one Being who exists in three persons (not three Gods). While there is no verse in the Bible that says, “God is Trinity”; the Bible clearly teaches the Trinity in two very important ways: 1) there is only one God (Isaiah 44:8) and 2) the Father is God (Eph 4:6), the Son is God (John 1:1), and the Spirit is God (Rom 8:9).

God is Eternal. Genesis 1:1 begins by telling us, “In the beginning, God…” God is eternal and therefore Self-Existent. This truth is hard to grasp for us because of our limited minds. The Bible teaches that God created time for His creation and is not Himself subject to it. God is eternal. He has no beginning. He has always existed. His existence is dependent on nothing outside of Himself. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

God is Holy. The Triune God is perfectly holy and is described as “Holy, holy, holy” in Isaiah 6:3. The Old Testament Temple had a Holy place and a Holy of Holies (also called the Most Holy Place) that contained the Ark of the Covenant and was the place where God’s Spirit would dwell on Earth (Lev 16:2). Jesus is the Holy One of God (Luke 4:34) and the Anointed One (Christ/Messiah). 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

God is Love. 1 John 4:8 tells us “the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” God shows faithful love in every word and action. He is the supreme standard of love and it is His supreme quality. God’s love is perfectly demonstrated through Jesus (Rom 5:8).

God is Just. Justice was defined by Aristotle as “giving a person what is his or her due.” When we speak of God being just, we mean that He is the one who defines justice and is the standard of what is right and good. He always acts in accordance with His justice. The Bible has much to say about justice and it is always regarding God’s commands. God is perfectly just and is incapable of being unjust.  

God is Good. Everything God makes, does, and says is good. God is incapable of sinning or doing, saying, and acting in any way that is not good. He is the basis for what we understand to be good. He is the one who tells us what is good and woe unto us if we call what is good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). Goodness can only be defined by God.

God is Omnipotent. Omnipotent means all powerful. In Revelation 19:6 a great multitude shouts: “The Lord our God the Almighty reigns”. Omnipotence means that God rules as King forever with no rival to His authority and none of His plans can be thwarted (Job 42:2).He has absolute authority and power. Nebuchadnezzar understood this and declared: “He does according to His will in the hose of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, what have You done” (Daniel 4:35).

God is Omnipresent. Omnipresent means always everywhere. God’s omnipresence can be hard for us to understand because we are human beings and limited by space and time. As humans, we cannot be fully present in more than one place at one time. God, however, is different because He is a Divine being. Being Divine, God is eternal and Spirit (John 4:24) therefore is not bound by space and time. See Psalm 139.

God is Omniscient. Omniscient means all knowledge. God has infinite knowledge. Nothing surprises God because He knows all things. There is nothing for God to learn or figure out. This means that nothing escapes God’s notice, nothing escapes God’s knowledge, and there is nothing outside of God’s concern. See Ezekiel 11:5: “I know your thoughts.

God is Creator. Everything that exists does so because God created it. God alone has the power to create and nothing can claim existence apart from God (John 1:3). God’s creative power is unique because He created the heavens and the earth from nothing; He spoke everything into existence. The answer to the question, “Who made you?” is always “God made me.” Because God is our Creator, He owns us, and we owe Him our love and worship.

God is Redeemer. The Lord told Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Ex 20:2). Psalm 78:35 records for us that the children of Israel “remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer.” God redeemed Israel from Egypt and made them His treasured possession (Ex 19:5). God redeems us through Jesus Christ who is our Redeemer.

God is Worthy. God is the creator and ruler of everything. There is no other god besides Him. Therefore, let us know, trust, obey, worship, and love Him. Let us regard Him as holy as we give Him the praise and glory He deserves. God has revealed Himself to us and wants us to know Him. We see his handiwork in creation, and we can know what He is like, what He wants, and how we can have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Are you a follower of Jesus? Have you been born again? If not, seek Him! If so, worship Him!

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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