Speaking to the Soul – January 24

The Commandments

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.” Exodus 20:2-4

The Ten Commandments are remarkable in many ways but possibly the most amazing fact is that they are so short. Since they were delivered to Moses, governments have laid down tens of millions of laws, but these ten commandments offer us the solid foundation for any society which wants to build its life in a godly and sustainable way. Whichever way you say the word, ‘commandments’ don’t sound jolly! They sound severe and restrictive, so we need to remind ourselves of those words with which they begin. God reminds his people that he is their saviour and was the one who led them miraculously out of Egypt. It was because of his love for them that he gave them these laws, which would ensure that they would continue to be blessed. Any loving parent will put in place very clear rules and boundaries for their children, in order to ensure that they thrive and live safely. God is no different, and has given us these foundational rules so that we can enjoy life to the full.

The first two commandments demanded that the people should only worship the one true God. There were plenty of other gods on offer in Moses’ time and the people knew it. The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 400 years and would have been familiar with the many gods that were worshipped in that land. The Pharaohs were believed to the sons of the sun god, Rah. Indeed, every part of life was dominated by different gods. They worshipped the River Nile and honoured Apis, the chief god of Memphis, in the form of a sacred bull. They also worshipped Serapis, who defended the land against locusts.
On all sides they were offered gods they could follow but God demanded exclusive worship.

Our society is also full of gods. There are not only innumerable other religions and philosophies but our material possessions, ambitions, careers, hobbies or sports can be just as demanding in calling for our commitment and devotion. But God alone deserves our worship. We need to build our homes, communities and nations on this foundation principle. If we are to build our lives on the Ten Commandments, this is where we have to begin.

In what ways do these first two commandments shape your life?
Lord God, help me to give you the first place in my life. Amen