God has given the Ten Commandments to us. In the very first of these commandments, God says something about himself. This commandment is the foundation of all the commandments. In fact, if this commandment were kept perfectly, there would be no need for the other commandments.
From this commandment we learn certain important things about God and about our relation to God. The First Commandment is this: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
One of the first things this commandment teaches us is that we should have a God. The commandment is stated in the negative, we are not to have other gods. But the implication is that we should have God.
What does it mean to “have a God?” It means to recognize that there is a being over us and all things, to regard him as the highest and treat him as the highest. In other words, to “fear, love and trusts in him above all things.”
There are many thing we can fear, love and trust. Whatever we fear the most, whatever we love the most, whatever we trust the most is our God, whether we call it “God” or not. The point of the First Commandment is that we should fear, love and trust in God above all things. Then we have God as our God.
It is foolish to say there is no God. That would be denying what we can see and know from nature. It is foolish to say that the well-designed and intricate things in the universe are here by accident. It is foolish to ignore the hand of God in our own lives, to live and act as though there were no God over us, and to pay no attention to him.
The First Commandment does not even bother to say that there is a God. It simply takes it for granted. It is a fact that needs no proof and a fact we should all know. And so we should “have a God.” We should recognize this supreme, all-powerful being who is over us and we should “fear, love and trust in him above all things.”
Another thing we learn from the First commandment is that there is only one true God. If that were not true, then you could have any God you wanted and it wouldn’t matter. And the First Commandment would never have been given. But the First Commandment has been given because there is only one true God and a lot of false gods.
Many different gods have been worshipped. The ancient Greeks and Romans had their gods. Animals have been worshipped as god. But God gave the First Commandment saying, “You shall have no other gods before me.” There is only one true God and all the other gods are false. The True God is that God that is found in the rest of the Bible.
It is popular to believe that it doesn’t make any difference what god you believe in. If that were true then God would not have given the First Commandment and the Israelites would not have been continually warned about false gods and punished for idol worship.
One of the most fundamental teachings of the Bible is that we know the true God and that we have no other gods. That is taught in the First Commandment and throughout the Bible. The true God is what Christians refer to as the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(Pastor Marc Frey is the pastor at Peace of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Preschool (WELS) New Carlisle, OH www.peaceofoursavior.net)