In today’s episode of Caleb’s Journal I would like to discuss the Second Commandment. When using the Hebrew method for dividing the Ten Commandments, the Second reads:
“You shall have no other gods before me…”
Verses 4 through 6 of Exodus 20 then goes on to further describe the prohibition against the making and worshipping of false idols.
Today, many people do not consider this Second Statement to be very relevant to modern life. We don’t bow down to gods made of timber and stone, and we don’t think that we worship the gods of fertility, might and power that our forefathers did. However, contrary to what many believe we are surrounded by false gods today, and we interact with them on a daily basis. By not understanding how this Second Statement applies within our modern context we have created a world in which death, rather than life, reigns. So let us examine how this Second Statement is relevant to us today and how we are to apply it.
Choosing to enter God’s House
The Second Statement is represented by the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the bet, which in ancient Hebrew symbolises a house, that which is inside, or the family.
The Second Statement is our response to the First Statement, and expresses the reality that we choose to enter into the House of God.
In the First Statement God vows that He is our God, the One who has freed us from our slavery to sin. In response to this we declare that only He is God, there is no other. Doing so we enter into His house, into His family.
An Exclusive Covenant between God and Man
This action mirrors a husband and wife coming together in the marriage vow.
The husband declares “I am your husband” and the wife responds “I am your wife”, and both declare that “there will be no other”. The marriage vow defines the covenant that exists between them.
In the same way the Ten Statements define the covenant that exists between God and man. Like the marriage covenant the covenant between God and man is an exclusive one – one which expresses love in order to produce life.
The wholehearted exclusive nature of this love is expressed in the second verse of the shema:
“You shall love the LORD your God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.”
Loving with all that we have means that we have nothing else to give to a false god.
God and law
How does this apply to us today? In the introduction to this video I stated that we are surrounded by false idols and that we interact with them on a daily basis. What do I mean by that?
The Law of God defines His righteousness. Therefore the Second Statement
“You shall have no other gods before me…”
Can be written as
“You shall have no other laws before me…”
The modern state as god
Today, in our highly secularised world, the state has made itself god. It has rejected the biblical perspective and no longer maintains the law of God. By seeing itself as the ultimate source of both law and power the state creates a legal code in opposition to the law of God. It now operates outside of the jurisdiction that God has afforded it, and encroaches upon the jurisdictions of the family, the church, and even God Himself.
It does this through championing legality. Legality has reference to the legal code that is established by the state and its courts, whilst law has reference to the God-given order. Law and legality are therefore not the same thing.
Through its use of legality the state is able to embark on a course of radical lawlessness in its rebellion against God and His order. As a result we now see the destruction of the family unit, the rise of homosexuality, the killing of the unborn, the increasing oppression of the weak in order to enrich the strong, the mass destruction of our environment, and the list goes on.
This process of societal breakdown is not unique to our era, it has happened throughout history – and always with the same end result… the ultimate death of society. The Romans declared war on Christendom as did socialism and communism. Today Democracy, the will of the people, wages war against the Almighty God, and attempts to destroy His House.
So what are we to do as Christians? Is it our time to respond to the First Statement? Do we recognise Jesus as our Saviour and King, entering into the house and the presence of God by being covered in His blood, boldly proclaiming the reality of the Second Statement:
“You shall have no other gods before me”
Friends, this is not comfortable, nor is it easy… this is radical. It will require that we cast off our trust and reliance in the false god from which we believe we derive our progress and security. This god is clever and cunning. It promises us protection and security, health and fertility, economic strength and progress. Yet these highly desirable things do not originate in the power of the state that actively seeks to reject the Almighty God and to destroy His House, they originate in our Almighty God Himself.
Will we continue to fear the false god of our day, and passively support the destruction of the house of God and the continued rejection of our King?
It is time to surrender our lives fully to Him, and to enter into an exclusive relationship where God, and not man, is King.