What do we really believe about God?
Devotional study from David Niednagel, Evansville, IN. David is a pastor/teacher and uses the S.O.A.P method for his morning devotional time. (study, observe, apply, pray).
5:6 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. 7 “You must not have any other god but me.
8 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 9 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 10 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. NLT
Since these people were little children, or not even born when God gave the Law at Mt Sinai 38 years before, Moses needed to review and re-command it before they went into the Land. Keeping it was going to be essential if they were to have God’s blessing. And without that help they were finished! Moses started with the 10 Commandments:
Yahweh had freed them from at least a century of slavery in Egypt, and it was 100% miraculous. There was no political uprising, no demonstrations – it was 10 supernatural plagues, one right after another. Each one affected the Egyptians while sparing the Jews. There was nothing else like it in history. No other nation claimed anything like that or ascribed anything like it to their gods. That was reason enough for Israel to give Yahweh 100% of their allegiance. Even the name “Yahweh” means the one who “IS” – the real one. He is not just a local deity, but the Creator of the entire universe. Whoever that God is – the Creator of everything and their Rescuer/Redeemer should have 100% loyalty.
Second, Yahweh commanded them not to make any physical image representing Him. He is not material, He is Spirit, so He did not want anyone to make an image of Him like all the nations did for their gods. He is not like other gods. And once people make a representation of their gods, they being to worship those representations, and not just use them as reminders of the god. Their parents made that mistake worshipping a golden calf when Moses was on Mt Sinai, and Israel did it later worshipping the bronze serpent that Moses made in Num 21. “Orthodoxy” has done the same thing with icons. Humans have a tendency to make physical manifestations of their hearts affections, because it is difficult to worship a spirit. A corollary of that is that humans “look on the outward appearance, But God looks at the heart”. (1Sam 16:7) It is easier for us to judge someone by outward actions than by heart motivation, but God doesn’t. He reverses that. And even if we don’t make “idols” of our “gods”, we have a strong tendency to value/worship physical objects that we can see (cars, houses, etc) more than qualities of a person’s heart (kindness, humility, love). This second Commandment speaks to a basic human inclination towards an “idolatry” beyond carving a stone and bowing down to it.
And God said He would not tolerate allegiance to something other than Himself. Israel had no excuse for idolatry. They experienced Yahweh’s direct deliverance, protection and provision every day for the last 40 years! If they turned from Him, their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren would all suffer. The decisions of parents do affect their children – as every child of an alcoholic, or lazy person, or angry person, etc knows. God’s ways are Light and Life. If we think we are smarter than God, and that our way is better, we will discover that we are not God, and will regret our foolishness. Moses was trying to prevent that for a whole nation.
Wonderful Lord, I praise You that You are the Creator of everything and therefore smart enough that that I/we should trust You in everything. And You are the Redeemer/Savior of Israel and of us. There is no other who loves us like You. I desire to gladly trust You, serve You and love You today. Help me remember You even though I cannot see you. Help me do better than Israel did! Amen