Exodus 20:1-11 Commandments 1-3
Bible Background: The Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20, and Deuteronomy 5, with slight variations. Today we’re looking at the first three Commandments, that focus on our relationship with God.
Digging Deeper: #1 “You shall have no other gods.” The 1st C realizes that there are multiple things that can become ‘gods’ in our lives. Luther notes: “Whatever you fear/revere, love, and trust most-that is your god!” The gods of our culture may be $$$, things fame, power, success, guns, drugs, pleasure, sex, entertainers, politicians, athletes, military heroes-you name it! We have many! But there’s only one God worthy of filling that role in our lives: the Lord God-who made the heavens and the earth; the same God who brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. (“You shall not make for yourself an idol” is considered part of the 1st C.)
Luther always finds what each commandment is instructing us to do! So he writes “We are to fear (revere), love and trust God above all things.”
#2 “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.” Typically, we were taught not to cuss using God’s name; and not to utter God’s name when we don’t mean it. That’s a start. The more serious misuses of God’s name would be like invoking God’s name to bless a misguided war effort: think of the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Most candidates for high office will end a campaign speech with “God bless America!” Is God’s name being used to get votes? Or is that a sincere prayer of a humble, God-fearing candidate? Be mindful!
Luther reminds us to “Call upon God in prayer, praise and thanksgiving!”
#3 “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy!” The very idea of sabbath is always a gift and always a blessing from the very start of creation! All of God’s people-Israelites, neighbors, aliens in their towns, slaves and household servants, need a day of rest! All of God’s creatures do too! (Obviously, dairy cows have to be fed and milked 7 days a week, and obviously some people have to work on the sabbath!) The idea is not just a religious idea. It describes God’s economic system where 1 day of the week is reserved for not making money, for not striving harder, but for trusting God to provide for us. Our culture has become a 24/7/365 go, go, go culture. How can we reclaim this gift of sabbath in our own lives?
Luther reminds us that this commandment is also about taking time to devote to God’s holy Word, and “gladly hear and learn it.”