Skip to main content

Exodus 20:3-6 & meaning...

You 

shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:3

Context

Exodus 20 [1.] God[a] spoke all these words, saying, “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Exodus 20 [3.] “You shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20 [4.] “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20 [7.] “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.


Meaning:

  • Exclusive Loyalty to God:
You shall have no other gods before me: The first commandment sets the foundation for exclusive loyalty to the one true God. It establishes God's primacy in the lives of His people.
Prohibition of Idols:

You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything: The second commandment expressly forbids the creation of idols or images for worship. This prohibition extends to anything in the heavens, on the earth, or in the water.
Warning Against Worshiping Idols:

You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them: The command reinforces the rejection of idol worship, cautioning against bowing down or serving created images. It emphasizes the exclusive reverence due to God.
  • God's Jealousy and Justice:
For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children: God identifies Himself as a jealous God, not in a petty sense, but to emphasize His exclusive claim on the devotion of His people. The mention of visiting iniquity on generations conveys the serious consequences of idolatry.
Divine Love and Kindness:

And showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments: Despite the warning, the passage also highlights God's character of love and kindness. Those who love Him and keep His commandments are recipients of His abundant grace.
Significance and Meaning:
  • Exclusive Devotion:
Exodus 20:3-6 underscores the importance of exclusive devotion to God. It establishes a foundational principle that sets the tone for the covenant relationship between God and His people.
The Dangers of Idolatry:

The passage warns against the dangers of idolatry, recognizing the spiritual and moral repercussions for generations. It highlights the seriousness of turning away from the one true God.


Relevance for Today:
  • Modern-Day Idols:
Exodus 20:3-6 challenges us to identify and avoid modern-day idols that may compete for our devotion—be they material possessions, ideologies, or anything that takes precedence over our relationship with God.
  • God's Unchanging Character:
The passage assures us of God's unchanging character. His jealousy is not rooted in insecurity but in a desire for a genuine and exclusive relationship with His people.


Cross-References:

Deuteronomy 6:14-15: "You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are around you; for Yahweh your God in the middle of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of Yahweh your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth." Deuteronomy reinforces the prohibition of pursuing other gods and emphasizes God's jealousy.

1 John 5:21: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." A New Testament exhortation echoes the sentiment of avoiding idolatry, maintaining a pure and undivided devotion to God.



In Our Daily Lives: Exodus 20:3-6 prompts us to examine our hearts and priorities. It encourages us to cultivate a devotion to God that excludes any rival claims on our worship and allegiance.



idolatry
PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible