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 slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.”Exodus 20:1-3
At this time in our history, the world is in great need of purpose and direction. It is not possible for human governments to provide these things. Why? Because human governments are run by humans who are ensnared by sin and opposed to God. Robert Kennedy is often quoted, “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” I like George Carlin’s version better, “Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” A little humor never hurts!
Back to Kennedy. He, or his speech writers, did not come up with that inspiring and visionary statement. He used it to try to get people to focus on the why not and not the why. The origin of the statement is interesting. It comes from George Bernard Shaw’s play Back to Methuselah. It begins with a scene in the Garden of Eden. There, Eve encounters a snake that is beautiful and wise. The snake says to Eve,
THE SNAKE. I can talk of many things. I am very wise. It was I who whispered the word to you that you did not know. Dead. Death. Die.
EVE [shuddering] Why do you remind me of it? I forgot it when I saw your beautiful hood. You must not remind me of unhappy things.
THE SERPENT. Death is not an unhappy thing when you have learnt how to conquer it.
EVE. How can I conquer it?
THE SERPENT. By another thing, called birth.
EVE. What? [Trying to pronounce it] B-birth?
THE SERPENT. Yes, birth.
EVE. What is birth?
THE SERPENT. The serpent never dies. Some day you shall see me come out of this beautiful skin, a new snake with a new and lovelier skin. That is birth.
EVE. I have seen that. It is wonderful.
THE SERPENT. If I can do that, what can I not do? I tell you I am very subtle. When you and Adam talk, I hear you say ‘Why?’ Always ‘Why?’ You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’ I made the word dead to describe my old skin that I cast when I am renewed. I call that renewal being born.
- Shaw, George Bernard, Back to Methuselah, In the Beginning: B.C. 4004 (In the Garden of Eden); Exported from Wikisource on October 7, 2020.
How interesting that a quote by a politician who is trying to sway the public is taken from a quote by the serpent trying to entice Eve to sin. I am not saying that we should not dream and vision as a way of setting goals and priorities. However, just like government, which is ordained by God for his purposes, dreaming and visioning must be subject to God who is the Creator and Savior of humanity. This also, is for his purpose which is his glory.
Therefore, God has made us to be like him. To be like God means that our character is to be like his character, as far as the finite can be like the infinite. God’s character is revealed to us in many ways, such as the Creation, God’s activity in history, and most clearly, in his Word. Many modern day Christians cringe when the learn that God’s word includes his law. But it does. And even though some aspects of the law of God no longer need to be observed, like bloody sacrifices, it is not because the meaning of these laws is no longer of value.
The moral law of God has never been changed. It existed in the Garden and it exists today. It was for Israel in the desert and it was also for the Egyptians. That is why they lost the war Pharaoh declared against God. Any politician, movement, ideal, or activity that goes against God’s moral law will be defeated by God’s hand. Therefore, it behooves us to read, study, and learn God’s law.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.Psalm 119:10-13
This is at the heart of the first commandment of the Decalogue. There is only one God. Any other is no god at all. The gods of Egypt were each mocked and defeated in the ten plagues God inflicted upon the Egyptians through his minister Moses. Any god other than the God who made us and who gave us the Scriptures is the work of man’s thoughts, ideas, plans, and hands. None of these things alone are bad until mankind elevates its ideas and plans above God’s plans and works.
The church has long been silent on the violations of God’s Law because they don’t want to be subject to it themselves and it’s easier to keep silent withing the shroud of personal comfort. But there is no excuse. In addition, too much has been passed off as politics which in this age, the church has cowered by a tax code that says we may not proclaim the truth from the Word of God in our churches. This has gone on for so long that the average parishioner will rebuke a pastor who violates this anti-Christian position. When we become more concerned with our tax deductions than we are about murdering children, forcing upon us the religion of humanism, by denying God in every sphere of life, then we too have become anti-Christs.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” As far as I can tell, there is nothing that is more significant than our faith, worship, and work for the Kingdom of Christ and the glory of God. And everything, including history, philosophy, mathematics, economics, humanities, politics, society, Covid-19 or any other disease, or anything else you can think of falls under the reign of God and the rule of his Law Word. And if I am correct, then everything is a valid topic for conversation, reason, debate, inside and outside of the Church and her worship. I didn’t even say sex, though Solomon would be disappointed I left it out.
To not have any other gods before the one Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth means, at the least, that the voice of the church must not be silenced, the proclamation of the whole counsel of God must be restored, and none of us should ever take offense when the truth is at stake. The world depends on it, our country depends on it, our cities, churches, schools, homes, playgrounds, shopping centers, media, and more depend upon the one and only foundation for all of our existence, namely the Law Word of the one true God. Let’s get ourselves back on track.