Scripture Reading: Exodus 19:1-20:26 / Mark 1:29-2:17 / Psalm 22:12-21
Hideyoshi, a Japanese warlord who ruled over Japan in the late 1500’s, commissioned a colossal statue of Buddha for a shrine. It took 50,000 men 5 years to build, but the work had barely been completed when a massive earthquake brought the roof of the shrine crashing down and wrecked the statue. In a rage, Hideyoshi shot an arrow at the fallen shrine and shouted “I put you here at great expense and you can’t even look after you own temple.”
God reminded Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exodus 20:1) The protective, powerful and provisional hand of God was assuredly over their lives. He emphatically declares, “I am your God”. He laid claim to them and further commanded, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (v.2) The Lord was to be their one and only exclusive God!
Israel struggled with their allegiance to God. Every country had national gods that numbered into the thousands. The danger wasn’t that Israel would abandon God but they would give equal allegiance to other gods. They would serve God as well as others, a blending of gods, whatever worked for their situation and need. They were driven not by their loyalty or commitment but by their flesh and selfish desires.
Worshiping other gods may seem far removed from us but they are still present in our society today without their historical names and images. We may not worship or bow down to the ancient sex goddess Aphrodite but millions religiously embrace and worship her sexual immorality, promiscuity and pornography. Baal, the god of financial success, is often worshipped in the land of affluence and opportunity.
A god has been described as anything we give our time, heart and soul to. That definition may be broad yet if God isn’t the supreme influence, power, master, and desire of our lives, we could be serving other gods. Jesus said we could not serve two masters because we would eventually love one and hate the other. God and mammon (money) could not both occupy Lordship in our lives – it was either one or the other. Do we trust God to provide for our lives and give proven financial Biblical instructions or do we look to a worldly financial system for security and prosperity?
God further says that He is a jealous God. (vs.5) The Hebrew root word for jealousy is “zeal”. God the creator of the universe, mankind and His redeemed people is zealous for His creation. He desires to embrace, protect and strengthen us because He is the One who has given us existence, hope and life. He refuses to share our human heart with any rival not because He is selfish but because He knows that our very life and eternity depends upon undivided loyalty to Him. God will not accept a divided heart or situational loyalty. He died to be our exclusive Savior and Lord. All of us have a god…either the God who made us or the gods we make!