3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.
Exodus 20:3-6,23 (New International Version)
No Other Gods
In Exodus 20, God makes Himself known to the children of Israel. He explains to His people how they should live as His chosen nation by given them ten commands. The first of these commands, and probably the most important of all, was that the Lord alone was the only one which the Israelites were to worship. They were not allowed to make for themselves any god of silver or gold. Furthermore, it was forbidden for them to make any image that depicts something from heaven or earth and worship it like a god.
A Foreign Concept
This exclusiveness in worship was something that was foreign to the nation of Israel. They lived in a culture where people worshiped multiple deities that were represented by idols made of metal, stone, or wood. The purpose of each idol was to fulfill a need that the worshiper had. For example, if he wanted a good harvest, there was an idol for that; and if he wanted a healthy family, there was an idol for that too.
The Example of Marriage
Why was the Almighty so insistent that Israel worship Him and Him alone? The best example I can think of to explain this exclusiveness is the covenant of marriage. When a man and woman says “I do,” to each other, they are saying that their focus in life will solely be on their spouse and nothing else; and that all their needs would be satisfied in each other. A spouse who seeks satisfaction in multiple things in addition to their significant other however, whether that be career pursuits, family, or intense hobbies; runs the risk of making their life mate feel less significant.
He Alone Meets Our Needs
When the Lord commanded Israel to worship Him alone, He was telling them that in Him, all their needs will be met. They no longer needed an idol for a good harvest or for a healthy family; He can and will satisfy both needs and more. However, this blessed experience can only be realized if the people of God devoted themselves to Him only.
We live in a time that is quite similar to the time which Israel lived. Although people don’t worship idols of gold, silver, wood, or stone, idol worship still exists in the form of social status, wealth, material possessions, and relationships; each idol claiming that they are what we need to make us satisfied. As followers of Christ, we must be careful to not to believe these lies; for their promises of empty and only live us unfulfilled.
Satisfaction in God
Our satisfaction is found only in the Lord alone. Therefore, let us devote our attention to His ways and walk according to His commands; for in them we are fulfilled, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. If we have idols in our lives, we must get rid of them; for the blessings of God are not realized in there entirety if our devotion is divided.