The Ten Commandments, For a Blessed Life – Kerygma Materials Commandments 1-3. The LORD alone is God.

  1. Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 are identical in the NRSV.

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

  1. Other possible translations
    1. ”I the LORD, am your God.”
    2. Read Exodus 3 “13 But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”(or “I AM WHAT I AM” or “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” Hebrew “ehyeh aser ehyeh”. Eyeh in Hebrew is represented “YHWH” and is also translated “become”. ) He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations. 16 Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt.
  2. “You shall have no other gods before me (Hebrew “al panaya”” is literally “on my face” and can translate “in front of me”, “in my presence”, in addition to me”, or “in defiance of me”.)
  3. In Israel’s time
    1. Nations had their own gods. Amen-Ra, Baal, Marduk, Zeus, Jupiter, Mithras.
    2. Early Genesis refers to the “sons of God” and the “Nephilim.” Genesis 6, 1-4. The “sons of God” also appear in Job 1, 6.
    3. Polytheistic or pagan cultures had many gods.
      1. Attributes of life might have a god in charge. Fertility, war, storms, families, trickery.
      2. There may be a high god, creator god, king of the gods, above all the others.
      3. People may not relate to a distant high god, but worship gods related to their own lives.
      4. There may be other various spiritual beings, attached to places and qualities.
      5. Leaders may claim to be installed and empowered by their nation’s Gods.
      6. When people live in proximity, they may accommodate their neighbors’ gods, particularly if they intermarry.
  4. Israel’s confessions about God, lead to conclusions about their conduct. Deuteronomy 4, “31 Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.” Deuteronomy  7 “ 11 Therefore, observe diligently the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today.”
  5. Issues for our time.
    1. Abstractions like monotheism.
    2. “Is there a God?” v. “What are God’s qualities and attributes?
    3. A seminary professor whose student told him he was losing faith in God said “tell me about the God you don’t believe in. Maybe I don’t believe in that God either.”
    4. Christian trinity and Sonship of Jesus. Is our God different from the God of Jews and Moslems, who don’t have a Son or a trinity?
    5. Conflicts with science and modernity.
      1. Do we attribute to God things we can not explain? What if we learn more?
      2. Creation. Is Genesis literal science or poetic theology? Is science evidence of ” intelligent design”? Could a loving God operate by evolution? Is Biblical literalism the only alternative to moral chaos?
      3. Does a mechanistic science negate the power of people and God to change what happens? What if the science of quarks and relativity and randomness is less machinelike?
      4. Are science and religion about different questions, how v. why and what is meaningful?
      5. How much of this conflict reflects cultural issues?
    6. Jim Wallis says “that which commands our time, energy and thoughts is what we really worship.” We don’t worship Baal and Marduk today but may worship money, power, dominance, status, or perhaps material things, hobbies or various cultural attributes. What does the First Commandment say about these?
    7. Can we separate God from the church and the evil done in God’s name?
    8. How much about God can we know and how much is unknowable?