Moses watched on Sinai as the two tables of stone were carved out with the very finger of God. The first commandment written on those tables by God’s finger declared, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” God not only proclaimed who He was, He also declared what He had done for the children of Israel. The next words written by the finger of God were an everlasting commandment that echoes down through the corridors of time. He said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
For those Israelite slaves that came out of Egypt’s bondage, this Commandment was all too clear to them. They were to put aside the false gods they had exalted for four hundred years of captivity and establish Jehovah as the one and only true God. They understood that God was proclaiming that polytheism was a thing of the past and monotheism was to consist of no one but Him.
However, with today’s philosophies of life, our unprecedented push to obtain material things and our loose lifestyles, we lose sight of what’s really being said in this text. Sure, we grasp the truth of having no other gods before Him, but do we miss the mark by assuming that we may embrace, esteem and idolize other gods after we’ve establish Him as our first God. Are our jobs, houses, cars, big screen plasma televisions and Rolex watches running God a close second? The Children of Israel came out of idol worship and we should be reverential enough not to advance into worshiping our modern-day idols.
We must not fail to pursue our fate into the following verses. They read, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” It’s easy to say; “Father, I will place no other gods before thee because you are number one in my life.” Then we attempt to bring our little “ungodly gods” before the Ark of His Presence. God will not allow this to happen because He’s telling us, never place anything above Me and never bring your earthly idols into My presence.
This was tried in days of old by the Philistines. It not only failed, but the results brought devastation to the Philistines and their cities. 1 Samuel 5:1-7 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day. But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof. And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
God will never permit us to bring any of our “personally gained gods” before Him, have any gods after Him or ever allow us to bring any unholy thing into His presence.
It was no accident that the head and the hands of Dagon were cut off and the part of Dagon that was man had fallen face down on the floor. This is in direct relationship to our feeble “other gods” approach to the Lord. This could be God’s way of showing us that as the One True God, His power will never be figured out by the carnal mind of man. Our self-sufficiency, self-reliance or enormous egos will never produce one infinitesimal particle of God’s power.
Is this a type of God telling us that the hand of man alone will never do the work of the Father? God and God alone will do His will and His work through the hands of man. However, we must come into the presence of God and fall on our face in total humility before Him.
Could this be God’s way of revealing to us that our “after God god’s” may not just be external things which we can hold in our hands? Perhaps there are some false gods innate within us that must always fall face down in the presence of our Lord.
I believe He meant it both ways. I believe God meant, thou shalt have no other gods before Me, and thou shalt have no other gods after Me.
Pastor Hal Steenson