““You shall have no other gods before me. ” Exodus 20:3
“No other gods” is discussed 39 times in the Bible, and all in the Old Testament, so does this mean that this command is just an old fashioned command for those steeped in superstition and fables of other gods, but not really applicable to those in our modern era which don’t really believe the ‘superstitions’ of old?
“13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 6:13-15
I watched an Oprah clip from several years ago when she said why she turned away from the God of the Bible and chose to go after ‘another god’ that she felt was more appropriate. She was sitting in church one day when the verses above came up and when the phrase ‘your God in your midst is a jealous God’ hit her, it stopped her dead in her tracts. She decided that if this God was jealous, then that wasn’t the god for her as jealousy was a bad trait in her eyes, as she didn’t seek out the context of why God stated this in Deuteronomy. This one verse changed her entire philosophy on life, so much so, that this new god that she created to serve was a god who was exactly suited to her ideals. This god was an incredibly loving god with many ways to him, overlooking sin, and, eventually, her god became part of her as she now sees that her god is who she can become. She is a god.
“6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace[b] or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9 But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. ” Deuteronomy 13:6-9
God is very passionate about maintaining His character. He doesn’t have much pity on a person who not only goes after other gods, but entices those who have known Him personally to then pursue these false gods as well. It’s so destructive to go after these other gods that God states that for those who teach about false gods that they shall not only be rejected, but they shall be purged. Wow, that is serious!
Since God is our creator and ever-loving Father, He does have His rights to us; after all, we were designed and created in His very image and He breathed breath into us. He is the sustainer of our life and when He says our life is up, it’s up. He also gives us choices in life, called free will. God gave us free will so that we could love Him because we wanted to, not because He forced us to. But, with that, when we choose to not place our affections back to Him for all that He is and all that He has done for us, and we go so far to even deny Him as our creator, then God does become jealous. This jealousy is not like the jealousy that we think of when we talk about jealousy between people, but when God is jealous, He feels hurt (and angry too) and wants us back again because we are seeking after things that are apart from Him. So, He’s not jealous because He wants the things we are seeking after, but He is jealous because He wants us to return back to Him again where we belong… home.
- “Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more.” Judges 10:13
- “5 then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.” 1 Kings 9:5-7
- “35 The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36 but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice.” 2 Kings 17:35-36
- “Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.’” Jeremiah 25:6
Obviously we understand that as Christians, we don’t worship or pray to other gods such as Allah, Buddah, or numerous others from the past. That’s a given, so we are good there. But, this concept goes far deeper than just calling on the literal name of another false god.
Who are our false gods of today? A god is someone or something that you put either your affection on, your focus on, and / or your trust in as a priority above God. So, anything that switches our focus off of our Father & Creator God and onto something or someone else is a god, especially when we put ourselves in the place of God as our sustainer. Here are some examples that I can think of where we can put ourselves or others in the place of God. Take some time to think about our society and even your own life today to see where you see other focus shifts.
- Myself (Trusting myself in any of the below areas (or others) without giving God credit)
- Nutrition & fitness (focusing on both in order to keep you healthy to an excess)
- Education (focus on more education as a priority to continue to increase your status in life)
- Career (focus on your ability in your job to provide for yourself and your family, and focus on moving up in the ladder)
- Finances (focusing on your ability to work, save, & invest and trusting on those finances for security)
- Relationships (focusing on obtaining the affection and love of another to satisfy needs above God, counting on those relationships to bring you happiness and fulfillment)
- Celebrities (focusing on certain individuals in society or in our own lives and placing them on a pedestal and possibly even wishing we were them)
- House (focusing on your style and status of housing and its ability to give you not only protection, but status)
- Toys (focusing on purchasing or your purchases of non-essential items and counting on them to bring you happiness, or adding to your happiness in life, pursuing anything new)
- Happiness (focusing on events and circumstances in order to create feelings of purpose, create self-centered pursuits)
- Sorrow (focusing on negative perceptions of yourself or your circumstances, creates self-centeredness)
- Good Works (focusing on the pursuit of good works to earn status in society and / or with God)
- Self – Esteem (focusing on ways to add to, or maintain, our self-esteem to feel better about ourselves)
There are so many things that we can put before God, so “no other gods,” isn’t just something of the past, but is ever present today. Let’s try to focus on God in all situations and put our faith and trust in Him for all that we do, as it’s not our own abilities that sustain us, but rather He who gives breath and can take away breath.
“14 [a]Yet you do not know [b]what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 [c]Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your [d]arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” James 4:14-16
Father God, Forgive us for the times where we have made other gods in our lives, trusting in them above you who created us and loves us deeply. We turn once again to you today as our only God and Father. Keep us focused on you and help us to always realize that every good gift comes from you and for us to not trust in it, but to give you thanks for everything in our lives. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.