Sunday, 18 February, 2018

No Other Gods

Exodus 20:3

The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” makes a theological, not a philosophical demand. It does not speculate whether there are any other gods and, if so, how many. It states a categorical demand that total allegiance is the choice put before the Hebrews after Yahweh’s act of total liberation. “Before me” (literally, “to my face”) should be translated more sharply as “in defiance of me,” or “in opposition to me,” or even by the English idiom “to my face” (as in the expression “He insulted me to my face”). Yahweh demands a one-to-one relationship excluding all other deities. Translated into practical terms for Israel, the demand means, “Offer no sacrifice to any other god.” All worship belongs to Yahweh alone, and he will brook no opposition. In the twentieth century, the commandment means, “You shall have no other priority in life before God.” The first commandment is just as relevant today as it was at Sinai and much more frequently rejected.

Ashby, G. W. (1998). Go out and meet God: a commentary on the Book of Exodus (p. 88). Grand Rapids, MI; Edinburgh: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Handsel Press.

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