We know this verse as the FIRST commandment. It is the cornerstone of all the commandments. The SECOND is like it.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” – Deut. 5:8-9
Got that? We are to worship only the LORD, nothing else. All our allegiance is to Him.
There is a whole collection of laws related to this command. They could be grouped into the following categories:
A. Laws Against Idolatry and Paganism.
Don’t make other gods (out of any material you can imagine), don’t sacrifice to other gods, don’t swear by other gods, and don’t sacrifice your children to other gods. Do not tolerate anyone among you who worships other gods and, in fact, you (nation of Israel) must completely destroy any city that worships other gods. You also cannot worship the LORD wherever and however you choose – there is a specific way to worship Him, and a specific place (the tabernacle, and later the temple in Jerusalem). (ref. Lev 19-20,26, Deut 12-14,17)
B. Laws Against False Spiritualists
Do not practice witchcraft, divination, sorcery, consult mediums or the dead, or cast spells – all such people must be put to death. Do not listen to those who tell the future, interpret dreams, claim to be prophets, or lead you to serve another God. Test the prophets and have no fear of them. (ref. Deut 18, Lev 20)
C. Laws Regarding Blasphemy
Do not take the name of the LORD in vain, do not misuse the name of the LORD. (ref. Deut 5, Lev 24) Did you recognize the third commandment?
D. Laws Requiring Dedications
In order to instill a proper sense of priorities and gratitude, God required that the first and best of everything be dedicated to the LORD. The Law of Moses required dedication of the firstborn son, all firstborn male animals, and the first crops/grain/fruit. The son can be redeemed and may return to the family, but the other dedications are used to support the work of the priests and Levites and to care for those with special needs. (ref. Ex 22,23,34, Deut 15)
E. Laws Requiring Tithing (ref. Deut 14,18)
F. Law of the Sabbath
The sabbath rest is noted twelve times in the giving of the laws and it is to serve as a day or remembrance and corporate worship and assembly. It was the fourth commandment and symbolizes the day God rested after creation. (ref. Deut 5, Ex 31, Lev 19,23, Num 15)
Whew. So what can we learn from this group of laws?
The LORD our God wants to be respected and honored – in our worship, our words, our labors and income, our children and all we own. He does not tolerate the worship of anyone or anything else.
“You shall have no other gods.”
* This format of the Law of Moses is found in The Daily Bible (Chronological) by Harvest House Publishers, commentary by F. LaGard Smith. I am so glad that someone grouped all the laws together and made sense of them for me!!
** Graphic from series, “What if God had texted Moses?” http://bjdhorehartford.blogspot.com/2011/05/if-god-had-texted-moses.html