“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
I like that God takes the time here to claim his own people. To their faces. This is the beginning to the “ten commandments” as Moses listens to the Law from God’s own mouth, so we’re familiar with it (too familiar, even). But don’t just gloss over this intro and recite the Ten. God is so very to the point, but these few thoughts are heavy. In the ancient world of many gods in many cultures, this God is very specific. I am the LORD, I am Yahweh. I am YOUR God. I am the one who set you free from your captivity. God sounds intent on not being mistaken for anybody else, and being known for these great deeds, and reminding the people they belong to one another. That’s almost intimidating, or almost forceful, for those of us who have some bias towards Old Testament God.
But above all, as sinful and sometimes absurd people, it should be a great honor for God to speak to any of us this way. Let alone being set free. This isn’t human jealousy that is scarily possessive or controlling; this is the God who created our freedom to choose and be our own people. But it is also the God who created us to need God, and to only be complete in relationship with him. Having no other gods before the Lord is as much about justice and honor as it is about a prohibition. We’re selling ourselves far short, and the LORD of heaven and earth, if we bow ourselves to anything or anyone else. Today, God takes seriously his devotion and faithfulness to you; if you find yourself ever feeling unworthy know that it is God’s own voice that constantly says, “I am yours. You are mine.” For honor’s sake, for goodness’ sake, for love’s sake, worship no one and nothing else.