This week, we begin a study of the Ten Commandments. Lord willing, we will look at one commandment per week for ten weeks. As we consider the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3), we must also consider the preface to the Ten Commandments: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)
The moral law reveals to us God’s holy character. It drives us to our need for a Savior in Jesus Christ. It restrains sin in the world. And it serves as a guide for Christian living. But God grounds His commandments first of all in who He is and in the deliverance that He has accomplished. He is the true God–He is the LORD. He is the God who is eternal, almighty and self-sufficient. He is not dependent upon any creature. And He is the One who has the right to make laws binding upon all people. But He is also the God who has made and kept covenant with His people and who has redeemed His people. He showed His people grace–in the Exodus account He brought His people out of slavery in Egypt and through many toils and snares. Does this not parallel our own salvation? God has delivered us from sin’s curse and brought us into fellowship with Him, and He continues to guide His people through danger and temptation until they reach their eternal home.
So commandments are given, but they are grounded in the character and grace of God. There is much we need to learn from this preface. One of the best expositions of the Ten Commandments and related truths available is found in Westminster Larger Catechism 91-151. In Larger Catechism 101, we are asked, “What is the preface to the ten commandments?” The answer given is:
“The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being Jehovah, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom: and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep his commandments.”
In other words, because of who God is and all that He has done, “we are bound to take him for our God alone.” It is in understanding this that we may understand the command “You shall have no other gods before me.” It is this preface and this commandment that we will discuss in more detail during worship at 9 AM this Lord’s Day at 9820 W Markham St. in Little Rock (the sanctuary of Faith United Methodist Church). For more information, click here or contact us. You can also watch our service on YouTube, with a link posted to our Facebook account.