Farther Along #1: First Commandment

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You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?

We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.


Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”


So you can easily understand what and how much this commandment requires. A person’s entire heart and all his confidence must be placed in God alone and in no one else. For to “have” God, you can easily see, is not to take hold of Him with our hands or to put him in a bag <like money> or to lock him in a chest <like silver vessels>. Instead, to “have” Him means that the heart takes hold of Him and clings to Him. To cling to Him with the heart is nothing else than to trust in Him entirely. For this reason God wishes to turn us away from everything else that exists outside of Him, and to draw us to Himself [John 6:44]. For He is the only eternal good [Matthew 19:17]. It is as though he would say, “Whatever you have previously sought from the saints, or whatever things you have trusted in money or anything else, expect it all from Me. Think of Me as the one who will help you and pour out upon you richly all good things.

See, here you have the meaning of the true honor and worship of God, which pleases God, and which He commands under penalty of eternal wrath. The heart knows no other comfort or confidence than in Him. It must not allow itself to be torn from Him. But, for Him, it must risk and disregard everything upon earth. On the other hand, you can easily see and sense how the world practices only false worship and idolatry. For no people have ever been so corrupt that they did not begin and continue some divine worship. Everyone has set up as his special God whatever he looked to for blessings, help, and comfort.

For example, the heathen who put their trust in power and dominion elevated Jupiter as the supreme God. Others, who were bent on riches, happiness, or pleasure in a life of ease, elevated Hercules, Mercury, Venus, or other gods. Pregnant women elevated Diana or Lucina, and so on. So everyone made his God that interest to which his heart was inclined. So even in the mind of the heathen to have a god means to trust and believe. But their error is this: their trust is false and wrong. For their trust is not placed in the only God, beside whom there is truly no God in heaven or upon earth [Isaiah 44:6]. Therefore, the heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God in idol. Ultimately, they put their trust in that which is nothing. So it is with all idolatry. For it happens not merely by erecting an image and worshipping it, but rather it happens in the heart. For the heart stands gaping at something else. It seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils. It neither cares for God, nor looks to Him for anything better than to believe that He is willing to help. The heart does not believe that whatever good it experiences comes from God [James 1:17].


Moses received [the covenant], but they were unworthy. But how did we receive it? Moses received it as a servant, but the Lord gave it to us, as the people of the inheritance, by suffering for our sakes. He was manifested that they should fill up the measure of their sins. Being made heirs by Him, we received the covenant of the Lord Jesus. For this reason He was prepared, so that when He appeared, He might redeem our hearts from darkness. They were already handed over to death and the iniquity of error. Thus He established the covenant by His blood. For it is written that the Father commanded Him to ransom us out of darkness and prepare a holy people for Himself.

Therefore the prophet says, “I the Lord your God called you in righteousness. I will hold your hand and strengthen you. I will give you for a covenant to the people, for a light to the Gentiles, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out of prison those who are bound, and those sitting in darkness out of the guardhouse.” Therefore we know how we have been ransomed.


John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Matthew 19:17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

Isaiah 44:6-8 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

John 1:11-12 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.


  1. How does Isaiah identify God?
  2. What does it mean to “have” God?
  3. Has there ever been a truly atheistic society?
  4. What is the difference between Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church?