Christian Churches of God
The First Commandment
(Edition 1.0 20211205-20222305)
The First Commandment says: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage, or slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Christian Churches of God
(Copyright © 2021 Diane Flanagan, ed. Wade Cox)
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The First Commandment
The paper The Ten Commandments No. CB17 is the summary paper which should be reviewed prior to this series on each of the commandments. It includes a general overview of the purpose of God’s Laws and a brief description of each of the commandments.
The Law of God has always existed. In Isaiah, the Bible tells us that Lucifer was filled with iniquity and desired to take over God’s throne. At this point, Lucifer (who was renamed Satan) broke the first commandment and separated himself from God. The Bible also tells us that Adam and Eve sinned, and we know God’s laws were in effect in the Garden of Eden because without the Law there would be no sin. At the time of Moses, God communicated these laws to physical Israel through the spirit being that later became Jesus Christ. The Ten Commandments were spoken to physical Israel at Mount Sinai around the time of Pentecost. They were given as instructions by God teaching us how to worship God and love our neighbor. The first commandment is found in Ex 20:2-3
Exodus 20:2-3 “I am the Lord your God who has brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Let’s begin by first understanding who is the Lord our God.
The One True God and the Shema
God the Father always existed and He alone decided on what He wanted to do and create. God was alone and He is the One True God. We learn of the One True God from Deuteronomy 6 which is called the “Shema”.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear oh Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Here we see that God is one, He is not a trinity and is not made up of numerous parts or beings. This is a basic belief of the faith that God is monotheistic, which means One being.
In the New Testament in Mark 12:28-30 we see Jesus repeating the Shema. The Bible clearly emphasizes God is One being.
Mar 12:28-30 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" 29Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' (RSV)
We see that God is One; there are not multiple gods. The Hebrew word for God used in the Bible is Eloah. It is a word that is used to refer to God the Father and it is singular in meaning. Elohim is a word that has plural meaning. At times, spiritual beings are referred to as the Elohim, but only God the Father is referred to as Eloah. Since Hebrew has many different words that are sometimes translated as the same word in English, it is important to look at words and origins of words in the Bible.
The law of God helps us learn the importance of worshiping and loving the One True God with all our being. In Deuteronomy we continue to read that Israel was commanded to purposely and diligently focus on God’s words and laws in everything they did.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God and His Law
The Bible is an amazing book that tells us so many things about God and His Law. The Bible describes both God and His law as holy, righteous, goodness, perfect and truth. Scriptures also show us that we, as God’s children, are also to become holy, righteous, goodness, perfect and truth. That is how we take on His divine nature and ultimately become part of God’s Family.
The Bible tells us that no one, except Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life. We all fall short of the glory of God and sin on a daily basis. When we sin, we repent and say we are sorry. Repentance means we try to change and do better in the future. The wonderful thing is that God sees our heart and He knows our intentions. The more we strive to obey and keep His laws, and repent when we make a mistake, the more we become holy, righteous, goodness, perfect and truth and grow closer to Him.
Through God’s laws we learn how to love God with all our heart, mind and strength. We need to love God at all times and it is through our thoughts, words and deeds people can begin to see God working through us. (For more information see Lesson: Law at our Doorposts (No. CB80) and The Law of God (CB25).)
God is not a respecter of persons. God’s Laws apply to humans and the spiritual beings. Lucifer was the first spiritual being that broke God’s law when he was filled with iniquity and tried to take over God’s throne. In the future, even Lucifer/Satan will be made a man and given an opportunity to repent and begin to keep God’s first commandment.
Isa 14:12-17 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.' 15But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit. 16Those who see you will stare at you, and ponder over you: 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’ (RSV)
How does God communicate His laws to us?
Because God always existed, there was a period when He was totally alone. Once God formed His plan of creation, He began with the spirit beings, or angels, as they are called in the Bible. For more information on how God became a family see The Creation of the Family of God (CB004) and Who is God (CB001).
God the Father created angels to be messengers. One of their purposes is to go to mankind with teachings from God. Scripture tells us no man has heard God’s voice or seen his face (John 5:27). God uses angels as messengers who speak on His behalf. An example in the New Testament is when Gabriel was sent to speak to Mary before she was pregnant (Luke 1:26-28).
The Angel of Presence or Jesus Christ spoke to Moses from the burning bush and gave the Ten Commandments. He was the primary messenger in the Old Testament. Christ had a spiritual existence that he gave up to become a man and pay the price for our sins so we can be reconciled back to the Father. As a man, Jesus Christ came to show us how to live by God’s law.
The Two Great Commandments
God is full of love and mercy and order and only wants the best for all His creation and that is why He gave the creation the two Great Commandments. From Matthew 22:37-40 we read what Jesus said when asked about the great commandment.
Matthew 22:36-40: Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (RSV)
The two Great Commandments focus on two different aspects of love. The First Great Commandment is made up of the first four Commandments which show us how to love God. The first four commandments include: you shall have no gods before me, no idolatry, you shall not take the name of your God in vain, you shall keep the Sabbath day holy. All four of these commandments assist us in knowing how to worship the One True God. The last six commandments, beginning with the Fifth Commandment, which is the only commandment with a promise, teach us how to love others. In this lesson we will focus on the first commandment which is found in Ex. 20:2-3
Exodus 20:2-3 “I am the Lord your God who has brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage. You shall have no other gods (elohim) before me.”
Meaning of the First Commandment
We know the first commandment states “You shall have no other gods before me.” Yet what does that actually mean? It means we should not place anything or anyone above God. If we don’t know who the One True God is, it is easy for us to become confused and led astray by the many false religions and beliefs that Satan tries to market as the correct way to love God.
That is why it is so important that we understand who we pray to. We should only pray to the One True God in the name of Jesus Christ. We should never pray directly to Jesus Christ, Mary or any other gods of the world religions. Christ repeatedly stated all things came from his Father. Christ always gave all praise and glory to the Father and said he is not due any praise. Those that pray to Christ or saints or Mary are breaking the first commandment.
Also, anything we place above our relationship with God breaks the first commandment. This can mean toys, movies, money, anything we place more importance on than God. That is why all the other commandments relate to the first commandment. When we keep the first commandment, it helps us to become closer to God because He is always first.
It is important to understand that God does not want us to keep the first commandment (and all of the other ones) out of fear of punishment, but rather we chose to obey God because we love Him. God and His laws are not about creating feelings of anxiety or inadequacy, but rather remind us of God’s love for us. He wants each of His created beings to follow his laws so that the individual can receive blessings and have a happy and blessed life.
The Ten Commandments of God have been in place from the beginning of the creation. The First Commandment anchors our relationship with the One True God. As we make sure that we don’t put anyone or anything above God the Father, we are allowing our relationship with Him to grow. We should try to remember that all things in our life revolve around obeying God and keeping His commandments.
Ecclesiastes 10:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His Commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Proverbs also shows us that when we focus all our thoughts, words and actions on loving and obeying God and His commandments that He will make our decisions clear and direct our ways.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the Lord and He will establish your ways.”