The Perfect Ten – Love’s Choice
Key Text: Exodus 20:1-21
“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.” v.2-3
Choose your love and love your choice.
Mount Sinai is the memorial of the truth that God has chosen and gathered a people to Himself. We are the evidence of that. He has already shown them His love, redeeming His people from Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for His steadfast love endures forever; Psalm 136:12
At Mount Sinai, God is essentially declaring to His people and to us ‘I have chosen you, to love you and I will love you. And as I have chosen you, choose me and love me and you will know life as you love me.
The first commandment is a call to know God, not in some vague fuzzy way but know God as He is, the living God of pursuing, relentless, overwhelming love. This is the God who reveals Himself in and through Jesus the Christ of whom the Bible says John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He (Jesus) has made Him known.
John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. This is the God who calls us to belong to Him through Christ Jesus and to discover the saving love He has for lost people.
‘You shall have no other gods before me’ may sound harsh, aggressive or even threatening to our modern ears. But this modern world is addicted to choice, a pluralistic society telling us there are many ways to God or indeed there is no God at all. Do what feels right to and for us. It pushes us toward self-help, rather than helping others, the ears of this age hears the command ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ and winces, shudders and feels very uncomfortable. Like pharaoh in Egypt, our society angrily says that it doesn’t know Him and certainly has no intention of doing what he says.
In contrast, to His redeemed people, this is a call of freedom to throw out the life stealing false values and loves of our hearts and to choose to know the God who has chosen us. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Exodus 20:2
God declares His rescuing and covenant name YHWH. And as the rescuer and covenant maker, He is also owner of His people. As rescuer and owner, He has sovereign rights over us to call us to loving obedience. The commandment says ‘This is your God’ but only obedience says ‘This is my God.’
The commandment is a call to life, to live the whole of our lives as a response of worship to God, loving Him, Honouring Him in every single thing we do.
All of us though at times, feel the pull to want anything but God. Job satisfaction, influence, intellectual stimulation, personal gratification, a quiet life (or a noisy, hectic life) peer group approval or public praise – What’s on your wish list today? So often we are just not aware of the darkness in our hearts, the deceitfulness or we dress it up to make them sound very worthy and spiritual, even when we’re only trying to fool ourselves into thinking that all is well. We tell ourselves we are seeking this or that ‘blessing’ from God. The truth is, we are seeking a certain lifestyle or reward. And whether or not God is in it, is of little concern to us.
The first commandment exposes our religious gameplaying. ‘Choose me’, God demands of us.
And Yes, sovereign power has the right (and authority) to put a command on our affections and more so, when He is the God of perfect life bringing love.
Choose Jesus the Lord, when life is hard, when ministry is unproductive, when our dreams are frustrated, when all is uncertain, when sickness and death seem to be king, when all the scenery of life looks like a desert wilderness and when the promised land seems a very long way off – choose Jesus.
The Heidelberg Catechism (1563 – German reformed Church) treats the commandment in this way:
Question: What does the Lord require in the first commandment?
Answer: That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation avoid and shun all idolatry, magic, superstitious rights and prayer to Saints or to other creatures. But I sincerely acknowledge the only true God, trust Him alone, look to Him for every good thing humbly and patiently, love Him, fear Him and honour Him with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against His will in any way.
The first part warns us away from Roman Catholic mass and things that go bump in the night but the second part floods the heart with both challenging and exalting truth.
Will we really believe that our God can and will meet all our needs, so that we will bring Him all of the love and trust He is so very worthy of? God wants all of our heart, and unless He has that He is not satisfied by anything else that we do.
God is not reserved, cold or aloof. He is not standoffish. Through His son Christ Jesus, God stands amongst us, comes to us, embraces us, reassures us and encourages us. He is the God who touched Mount Sinai and made it shake, He is also the God man who died on Calvary’s cross. He loves us and He wants us to know that He loves us. Even when we can’t feel His presence, the gospel teaches us that He is always with us and that His arms are always around us.
We have to know this because if we don’t, this command ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ will always sound like a demand only and we will always feel indifferent about it. More than that it will stay on its stone tablet. If we are not convinced that God is kind and tender hearted and are not experiencing this love, its truth will meet our hearts of stone….unless, Unless we know who it is who is talking to us.
Unless we know that our God is our Redeemer, our husband, our good Shepherd, our friend, the one who has died for us and come back from the grave, who reigns on high, ruling in love and wisdom over our life and preparing a place for us so that we might dwell with Him forever.
If we know this, God loves us, delights in us, died to save us and sent His Spirit to empower us to love Him… the obedience becomes what it really is, a blood bought and spirit enabled privilege.
God does not give us commands just because He is Lord. He gives us knowledge and commands so that we will bring to Him the response of our heart and delight to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, so choose Him. Choose Jesus.
Choose your love and love your choice.