No Other Gods!
“So have love for the Lord your God, and give him worship, and keep his laws and his decisions and his orders at all times.” – Deuteronomy 11:1 BBE
We are entering a portion of the book of Deuteronomy where Moses begins to unpack the commandments of God in practical ways. He is preparing the people for entering the land and giving them a recap of the Law that God had given them back at Sinai. He is explaining in greater detail the meaning of the various Ten Commandments and helping the people understand how they will apply to their life in the Promised Land. But in revisiting the commands of God, Moses is giving them and us a glimpse into the heart, mind, and will of God. We see how He thinks, how He relates, and what His desires are for the people He chooses. Chapter 11 is a call to love and obey God, to keep His commandments, to walk in His ways, and to hold onto Him. “Be careful to obey all the commands I give you; show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and clinging to him” (Deuteronomy 11:22 NLT). It paints a picture of blessings and curses based on obedience or disobedience to the commands of God. Chapter 12 is really an elaboration of the first commandment: “You must not have any other gods besides me” (Deuteronomy 5:7 NET). Moses is making sure the people understand the commandments fully so they can keep them completely and enjoy the blessings of God.
God gives the people very explicit instructions regarding the worship of Him when they arrive in the land. He makes it clear what they are to do and not do. They are to completely purge the land of all alters, high places, and shrines to false gods. They are not to leave any remnants of them in the land. Why? Because God knew the people would be tempted to worship these gods in place of Him or in addition to Him. They had to worship the one true God, not the god of their choice. They were not to worship their version of the one true God, but only God Himself. And not only were they to worship God and God alone, they had to worship Him correctly. They couldn’t worship Him using an alter built for a false god. They couldn’t worship Him in a place other than the one designated and determined by God. The bottom line is that God is very specific about how we are to worship Him. So He tells the people that it is going to be very different when the arrive in the Promised Land. He even tells them, “Today you are doing whatever you please, but that is not how it will be” (Deuteronomy 12:8 NLT). They were going to play by His rules and live according to His standards, not their own.
In the introduction to his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller makes this sobering statement: “Our contemporary society is not fundamentally different from those ancient ones. Each culture is dominated by its own set of idols. Each has its ‘priesthoods,’ its totems and rituals. Each has its own shrines – whether office towers, spas and gyms, studios, or stadiums – where sacrifices must be made in order to procure the blessings of the good life and ward off disaster. What are the gods of beauty, power, money, and achievement but these same things that have assumed mythic proportions in our individual lives and in our society?” We are called to love and worship God and Him alone. We are commanded to have no other gods beside Him. Yet each of us struggles daily with the temptation to offer our time, talents, money and attention on something other than God. We worship at the shrines of power, position, pleasure and possessions. We have taken the idols of our culture and made them our own. We seek satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, and contentment from them. We expect them to deliver what only God Himself is capable of providing. And we suffer as a result. We are disillusioned, disappointed, dysfunctional, dissatisfied, and distant from the very God who wants to bless us beyond our wildest dreams. But our God wants to be our only god. He wants us to worship Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He wants our undivided attention and love.
Father, You have called me to love and obey You. But to do that I must remove all the other gods in my life. And there are a lot of them. I worship anything and everything, including myself sometimes. And even though none of these things really deliver on their promises, I find myself going back to them time and time again. You have told me to have no other gods before me. You have commanded me to remove all these idols from my life. Give me the strength and determination to do just that. So that I might worship You and You alone. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men