And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3
When He finally had Moses’ attention, the Lord begins to lay down the 10 commandments, the most important of which was the first. That fact will be more apparent as the days linger on in the desert. Some have even suggested that if you kept this commandment, all the others would fall into place.
Of course He meant the physical idols that people literally bowed down to worship.
But there’s also a much broader application of the term to mean anything that you put ahead of God. In our age it could be sports, money, fame, relationships, works, self-righteousness, art, culture, work, government, education, science, or any other topic you put ahead of God.
The Lord knew that we have a tendency to elevate the things of this world to a higher status than they deserve, but He also showed us the standard, Him.
Some times it’s best to step back and take an audit of the things we truly care about to see if we’re displacing God with that thing. It’s difficult to know because we care about it a lot, and it’s hard to be objective about it.
Still, we could ask ourselves a few questions:
- What do I spend my time doing?
- What would others say my most important things were?
- If someone told me I was putting that thing on a higher level than God, what would my reaction be?
- What would putting this thing above God look like in my world?
All of the commandments were written for us as much as they were for Moses and the Israelites. The first merely sets the stage for the remaining nine.