And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:1-6)
The Father Demands Allegiance
When Moses brought the Law to the people of Israel, he was not striking a new cord as if the Lord had never required these commands from men. The Law of Moses is a specific body of work that was directed to only one people in covenant. Looking at the Ten Commandments the principles were established long before the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. The first two commands were not new to man. Adam and Eve were expected to be obedient to God serving Him and none other. In the early history of man, the will of God demanded that all men serve Him and Him alone. While the Law of Moses has been abolished as the nation of Israel the law of God remains unchanged. There can be no other gods before service to the only true and living God. Nothing can be put in His place.
Few people would think of bowing down to an idol in our day and time. Our society is not built upon such worship. However, it must not be concluded that since we do not bow down to Baal, Asheroth or some graven image we do not serve other gods. The lesson from the first two commandments is to show that nothing can come before obedience to the Lord. Nothing! As a Christian, our service to God is singular. When we allow our jobs to conflict with our worship or service to the Lord we are bowing down to an image that prohibits us from allegiance to God. If we allow religious affiliations to hinder our service to the Lord we are serving other gods. Even our families cannot come before obedience to the will of God.
The Lord must be first place in everything. He does not allow 90% of our lives to be for Him and 10% to do what we will. He told the Hebrews they were not allowed to have anything before Him. First place is the only place God demands and anything less is unacceptable. This is hard for many people because they feel as if they can give most of their life to the Lord but not all. Jesus told His followers that unless they take up a cross and follow Him they could not be His disciples. When a person takes up a cross they have already given themselves wholly to the cause, suffered severely because of the cost and are willing to finish the course to the place of death. There is not turning back. There is no going halfway. Crucifixion is a total commitment to the Father.
There can be no other gods, no other things that hinder our obedience to God. He expects those who come to Him to give up all the things of this world and put Him first in every part of life. Anything less is unacceptable. He will bless those who put Him first because He sees the love they have for the Father. Seeking first the kingdom of God is implanting the rule of God in every part of life. Full surrender is the will of the Father. Jesus left us an example of the meaning of giving all for the Father. Can we do any less?
To be crucified means, first, the man on the cross is facing only one direction; second, he is not going back; and third, he has no further plan of his own. (A. W. Tozer)