Exodus 20:17

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:17

We are now on the last of the ten commandments.   This one speaks of covetousness.  Two different Hebrew words are used in the passages condemning coveting.  These are our focus verse and then “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Deuteronomy 5:21.  I will not get into the actual Hebrew words, but they both mean to lust after or to long for with great desire.  And since both references to this commandment are worded as something we should not do, the desire in this case is for something that the one who desires does not rightfully own and should not lust after it.  In this commandment, we are told not to lust after others possessions such as their house, land or animals.  We are also not to lust after people in their lives, such as spouses, children or anyone else. 

Whereas several of the ten commandments prohibit certain actions such as theft, murder, or bearing false witness this one focus’ on internal desires of the heart.  James put it this way.  “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:14-15.  Many sins are conceived from coveting what another has but we desire to have at their expense; improperdesires ofhavingsomethingwhich will be a gratification to ourselves.  “Oh how I desire to have his car” or “Oh to have his estate”.  This is desiring the things of another.  This is far different than desiring one like they have.  Coveting has the idea of having what they have to their loss.    

At its root, coveting is the result of envy, a sin which, once it takes root in the heart, leads to worse sins.  An example of this is coveting or lusting after a neighbor’s wife, which in essence is adultery.  Also, when we desire something so strong we may succumb to other sins, such as stealing something and then lying about it.  And if things get bad, lying in court or possibly killing them.  This in the vast majority of cases is not going to happen, but you can see the possibilities here. 

The reason covetousness is condemned is a good one.  At its very core, coveting is love of self.  And envious, selfish citizens are unhappy and discontented citizens.  And besides, covetousness is a form of idolatry.  “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” Colossians 3:5.  And idolatry is definitely a sin which God detests.  In  the end, envy and covetousness are tools of the enemy to distract us from pursuing the one thing that will make us happy and content, that being God Himself.  “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8. 

The apostle Paul struggled with covetousness and he learned this lesson of contentedness.  “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13.  If we learn how to accept our life and ways as God has given them to us, we can learn how not to covet anything and please God in all we do.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:16

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:16 

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:16

We are now on the ninth commandment which we see above in our focus verse. 

This commandment forbids any type of lying or deception which can or will be at the detriment of our neighbor.  And by our neighbor is meant any person.   This can be lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor.  This can take the form of either lying to the person or lying about them.  This idea of bearing false witness is mentioned many times in the bible, and pretty much exclusively as a negative idea.  In the book of proverbs it says, “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:” Proverbs 6:16.  In these seven things God hates, you will find at least two that are intended in this ninth commandment.  “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” Proverbs 6:17-19.  God himself considers these as an abomination to Him.

Now this does not include playing jokes on someone, such as telling them their favorite football team, like the Seattle Seahawks lost when they actually won, you forgot to pick up their shirt at the cleaners when it is sitting in your car, or that you like a certain food that you really do not.  These are harmless words that have no real negative impact.  The types of deception intended here is what can cause problems to them. 

The idea of bearing a false witness is one who stands up and swears before others that something untrue is true, especially with the intention of hurting someone else or ruining his or her reputation.  David experienced this and he prays that his adversaries do not get their desired objective.  “Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.” Psalm 27:12. and the Jewish leadership searched for false witnesses against Jesus but were not successful.  “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.  They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.”  Matthew 26:61. 

Another example of bearing a false witness is to tell a person to perform an action that will benefit them which actually has a negative outcome.  I remember being invited to a presentation where several men were offering income to people who would give them 100 leads, they could pursue for selling a service, and after all these leads were used up, then they could begin earning money themselves.  After asking a few questions, I realized this was a scam and the intention was to exhaust their benefit entirely from their family and friends.  Once they determined I had figured this out, several men asked me to follow them, and they proceeded to make me leave.  One of the clues that led me to question it was they locked the door with a key from the inside.

The lies told by a false witness come from the sinful human heart.  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:19-20.  Their only intention is to benefit in some way from another’s demise.  This shows no love for anyone else but themselves, working solely for their own benefit.   This is not what God has called us to.  We are to do good to everyone over and above our own self.  “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9-10.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:15

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:15

“You shall not steal.” – Exodus 20:15

“We move on now to the eighth commandment which we see above in our focus verse. 

Stealing is defined as taking another’s property without permission and without intending to return it, in essence making it our own.  Even if the person has made it known they do not necessarily like an item, to take it without them knowing it is still stealing, maybe not the current owner, but ultimately the person they may have planned to give it to.  I have had various items stolen from me, some that did not affect me that much, but also some that created in me a sense of loss.

However, there are many different forms of thievery.  For instance, taking longer on our lunch breaks at work without making up the time, or leaving early and/or arriving late without ensuring the hours paid for are covered.  I remember when I worked for an IT consulting company.  On my last day, I turned in my time sheet and my supervisor told me to amend the time sheet so they could bill the client for forty hours that week.  I told him I could not do that because I was assigned to other work as well and could not put in the full forty.  He demanded I adjust my time sheet, but I told him I would not, for that would be charging them for hours not worked.  When he continued to insist I comply, I told him I would not because they did not owe anything for time not devoted to them.  Another form of theft is taking credit for what another has accomplished.  This could result in the theft of bonuses that were awarded or in acclamations accorded for the effort given.

It is important to understand that the victims of theft know the horrible feelings that these actions produce.  The very act of someone taking what may have been an especially precious gift from a loved one causes deep hurts and wounds as well as make us feel vulnerable and often times angry.  Theft has a tremendous impact on society as a whole.  It disturbs societal stability and often excites feelings of fear and possibly desires for revenge.

Stealing from another, whether we know the person or not, goes against the two commandments that Jesus said encompass all the other laws and the prophets.  “And He said to him, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend on the whole Law and the Prophets.“. Matthew 22:37-40. If we truly love God, we will desire to honor Him in all we say and in all we do, and ultimately do not do such as not stealing.  And if we love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not take from them anything that is theirs without their knowledge and permission. 

So, in closing, let us make our focus in expressing our love to God and to our neighbor by doing what is truly loving and in their best interests.  God loves us far beyond our ability to comprehend.  And we should express this love to each other.  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12. And stealing is a sign of greed, not love.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:14 

“You shall not commit adultery.” – Exodus 20:14 

We move on now to the seventh commandment which we see above in our focus verse. 

According to modern dictionary’s, they define adultery as voluntary sexual relations between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.  In the old testament, in the law of Moses, we see a similar idea.  “You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her.” Leviticus 18:20.  Moses is more clear and specific about consequences in Deuteronomy.  “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.” Deuteronomy 22:22.  It is clear from these definitions that adultery refers to a consensual sexual union. What is not explicitly clear is whether or not both partners in this illicit sexual union are married. The biblical commands prohibit a man from taking another man’s wife, but do not indicate whether or not the man is also married. Be that as it may, it is safe to say that if a person who is married willingly seeks a sexual encounter with another person, whether or not that person is also married, both people are guilty of committing adultery.    

God made it clear that a man and a woman who are married to each other are to be committed completely to each other.  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24.  These two shall be one flesh, shall be considered as one body, having no separate or independent rights, privileges, cares, concerns, etc., each being equally interested in all things that concern the marriage state.  That does not mean they cannot have independent interests; they just cannot bring separation between the two which may result in a breaking of the marriage relationship.

Now, just as in the sixth commandment where what is in the heart or mind of an individual, referring there to hatred of someone being equivalent to murder, in the case of adultery, it is lust that is its equivalent activity.  Jesus speaking to His disciples said, “You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28.  Many people, as the Pharisees did, see no problem or sin in what is happening in the mind, as long as it is not exhibited in an external act.  However, Jesus throws that idea out with declaring hatred = murder, and here lust = adultery.  And this includes  pornography which fuels the lust that is found in the heart.  We must be careful to keep our mind free of lustful thoughts, for even though no one else knows what is going on, God knows our hearts and knows absolutely everything about us and nothing is hidden.

Adultery is in essence absolute corruption of the  marriage bond which God created for out good.  Through this sin, our enemy tempts us to seek fulfillment of these desires in ways outside of what God has ordained.  Adultery tears the fabric of our society by ripping apart marriages and families which are the foundation of society.  And through it, Satan is luring people away from what is good, true and loving; that which is of God.  

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:13

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:13   

“You shall not murder.” –  Exodus 20:13

We move on now to the sixth commandment which we see above in our focus verse.   

We are told explicitly not to take the life of another.  Now this does not forbid our necessary defense or decisions made by courts who are responsible for keeping the peace.  And this is because these authorities are established by God.  “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”  Romans 13:1-2.  And why are we to follow them?  Because these authorities are ministers of God for the good.  “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:3-5. 

This command refers to the protection of life from wrongful death.  We see the first murder in Genesis four, and we also see how God abhorred it.  “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.  Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.”  Genesis 4:6-10.  And God rebuked him and laid out the punishment.  “Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Genesis 4:11-12. This punishment was so severe that, “Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear!“ Genesis 4:14.  God made it clear that any form of murder is unacceptable.

The reason Cain killed Abel was he was angry, for God accepted Abel’s offering but not his.  God told him “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7.  Anger and hatred were welling up in him, and God connects hatred with murder, as John wrote “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15.   Therefore, we must not hate anyone, but as the scriptures states, “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31.

So, what is murder?  From a human perspective, it is the physical act of taking another’s life outside the jurisdiction of the courts.  However, we must also consider that God defines it as we do, however He goes beyond this including any thought or feeling of deep-seated hatred or malice against another person.  In other words, it is more than just a physical act that constitutes murder to God. for He tells us that anyone who harbors hatred in our hearts for another is also guilty of murder in the eyes of God.  The disdain towards another person never has to be demonstrated outwardly because God looks in our heart for the truth.  And if we do not obey this, we will face the consequences at the judgement.    

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” – Exodus 20:12

In the last Daily Devotion, we looked at not using the name of the Lord in a way that was vain and not honorable and reverent which He is worthy of.  The first four commandments were on are found on what is known as the first tablet, addressing our relationship.  These next six are found on the second tablet which addresses our relationship with our fellow man.  This goes perfectly with what Jesus said to the Sadducee that asked Him what the greatest commandment was.  “And He said to him, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend on the whole Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:37-40.  Note the two parts.  “You shall love the Lord your God” goes with the first tablet; commandments 1-4, while “Love you neighbor as yourself” goes with the second tablet; commandments 5-10.

The word “honor” comes from the same Hebrew word from which “glory” does.  We are to show them reverence as Moses said in Leviticus.  “Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:3. This is not to infer that we are to worship them, but that we honor them for who they are, our parents, the ones who gave birth to us and cared for us when we could not care for ourselves.  We should come when they call, go where they send us, and do what they bid us to do.  We are not to do what they tell us not to do, in all things doing them cheerfully and out of love.  We are to respect them and respect their advice, for they desire the best for us. 

Paul wrote this to the Church in Ephesus regarding this verse. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” Ephesians 6:1-3.  Paul is emphasizing the promise in this commandment, that being “that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12b.  We see a clarification of this in Deuteronomy.  “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Deuteronomy 5:16.  If they honor them, things will go well for them in the land which the Lord has given them.  Long life was considered a blessing in itself.  And the wording “that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.” denotes the blessing of a long and fruitful life.

It is important that we honor our parents by following their advice and obeying them.  They gave birth to us and they spent many years taking care of us, and preparing us for the life we live now, and will live if we are still at home.  Too many kids today do not listen to their parents, and they find themselves getting in trouble from going astray.  And as adults, we should still listen to our parents for they can be the source of much wisdom.  They can tell us times where they were struggling and help us not to struggle in the same way.  Therefore, listen to what they say and do not ignore them  Learn from their mistakes and their wisdom.  Things will go well if we do.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:8

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:8

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” –  Exodus 20:8

In the last Daily Devotion, we looked at not taking the Lord’s name in vain in our conversations or actions.  Today we will look at the fourth commandment which states, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 10:8.  The Israelites under the Mosaic Law were to remember that no work could be done on the seventh day of the week, which falls on Saturday. It covers the time period of sundown on Friday until sundown Saturday.  And this requirement not to work applied to all in Israel, men, women, children and servants.

The reason and basis for this is found in verse eleven.  “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11.  The word Sabbath has the meaning ‘day of rest’ or ‘intermission’.  Because God finished His work of creation in six days and rested, or took a day of intermission, on the seventh. And He blessed this day upon completion.  “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:3.  This was a day in which he took delight and pleasure, having finished all his works, and resting from them, and looking over them as very good.  And looking at the focus verse, He commanded the Israelites to ‘remember’ the Sabbath Day.  God conferred on the seventh day a specific honor and gave special privileges above those of the other six, being separated from common use and dedicated to sacred service.

The four-word phrase, ‘to keep it holy’ is actually a single word in Hebrew meaning ‘consecrate’ or ‘sanctify.  As stated above, this day was to be dedicated to the Lord.   The priests were to double the daily sacrifices on the Sabbath.  “Then on the sabbath day two male lambs one year old without defect, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and its drink offering: This is the burnt offering of every sabbath in addition to the continual burnt offering and its drink offering.” Numbers 28:9-10.  This marked the day with increased sacred activity.  The rest of the Israelites were to mark the day with decreased activity—no work at all—in honor of the Lord. 

And finally, later in the Book of Exodus, the Sabbath Day is also a sign between Israel and God of a covenant between them.  “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Exodus 31:13.  And then a couple verses down, “So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:16. 

As Israel kept the Sabbath set apart, they were reminded that they were also being set apart.  As believers today who are under the New Covenant, we are not bound to keep this sign of the Old Covenant.  However, we are also set apart to be holy.  “As obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:14-16.  We may not be called to keep the Sabbath, but we should remember it and  keep in mind that we are called to be holy as He is for it is a sign to us of our relationship with God and it is He who calls us to holiness because He says to us as well, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:7

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” – Exodus 20:7  

Our focus verse this week speaks of the third commandment. This is a verse that many do not understand in the fullness meant.  Many believe this means using the Lord’s name as a swear word, and this is included in the meaning.  However, there is much more that is intended by this phrase.  First, let us look at the Lord’s names based on what scripture says.  His name plays an essential role in the scriptures. 

Let us look at several verses that show His glory is exhibited through His name.  “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!” Psalm 8:1.  And this one, “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.”   Psalm 111:9. In both of these verses, God’s name is exalted.  It is holy and awesome because of who He is.  His name is who He is; exalted, holy and awesome.  However, many times it is used in a less than a positive manner, and unfortunately, this shows how those who speak this way see Him.

In the Lord’s prayer, we are taught the manner we are to  address God.  “Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9b-10.  His name and majesty should be one of the foremost thoughts in our prayers.  But as I read recently, too often we barge into God’s presence with presumptuous ‘to-do lists’ for Him, without being mindful of His holiness, awesomeness and the vast chasm that separates our nature from His.  We must be careful when we go to Him in prayer that we remember who He is and our love for Him. 

Another way we take His name in vain is via hypocrisy.  By hypocrisy is meant making profession of God’s name, but not living up to that profession. If we call ourselves followers of God, then we should live as such.  This include making promises to God and not keeping them.  Also, when we make rash swearing in vows such as  “I swear to God I will do it.”  The scripture are clear about this.  “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” Matthew 5:37.  The idea is that we should not make a vow anytime, except when required in civic matters.  For if we do not follow through, then we break our vow.  This leads to using the name of God lightly and carelessly.  Examples of this are “Oh my God” or the name Jesus Christ in a form not referring to Him. 

There is so much that can be said here.  However, what is important is that we understand any reference to the name of God in a way that does not refer to His greatness, holiness, exaltedness should never be done.  He is the almighty  God who has no beginning or end, created everything that is and loved us so much that He provided forgiveness of all our sins through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus.  Knowing this, we should see Him for who He is, the Almighty One, and at no time should we use His name in any way that does not bring Him glory, honor, and praise. And if we do we will suffer the consequences of this act however God chooses.  “for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7b.  As Paul wrote “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8.  And as we think in this way so we should speak this way as well.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:4

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:4

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” – Exodus 20:4

In the first commandment, God declared He was the true God, and everything else was not.  He commanded that He alone should be worshipped and here He makes clear what is unlawful worship.  In the next two verses He states, “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  Exodus 20:5-6. 

In these three verses God shows that He is the one to be worshipped and non-other. We are not to make for ourselves idols.  We are not to make anything from any material into any image for the purpose of worship.  Under the leadership of Moses himself, figures of cherubim, brazen serpents, oxen, and many other things in the earth beneath, were made and never condemned.   What was condemned was making anything for the purpose of worshipping it.  And you see from our focus verse there is no exception for any image.  He states that we are not to make any likeness of things in the heavens, or on the earth, or in the seas.  This includes everything.  The things in heaven include but not limited to stars, planets, the sun and moon.  This can also include angels since they are in the heavens. In regard to the things of the earth again include but not limited to oxen, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, calves, etc.  Many animals were made idols/false gods in Egypt.  And of the water fish and crocodiles which were also gods of Egypt, along with anything else in the waters. 

They were told not to bow down to anything that they make and thus make it an idol.  They were not to serve them in a capacity or perform any religious activities to them.  For if they did, they were dishonoring the true God.   And He tells them He is a jealous God.  This shows in a most expressive manner the love of God to this people. He felt for them as the most affectionate husband could do for his spouse; and was jealous for their fidelity, because he willed their invariable happiness.  And if they did create an idol, their sons and remote descendants inherit the consequences of their fathers’ sin in disease, poverty, captivity, with all the influences of bad example and evil communications.  We see this idea from the writer of Lamentations where he said, “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities.” 

Now to those who love God and keep His commandments not because works provided anything, but because of their love for Him, He shows mercy and kindness.  He performs acts of grace and helps them by showing mercy to them.   And those who love Him will worship Him alone, and not creating anything else to worship instead of Him.  Remember the words of Jesus where He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”. 

And we are called to do the same.  We are not to make anything that we will worship aside from the true God.  There are many religions today who create images of things to worship aside from God.  And we must be careful that we do not fall into this practice.  What can anything we create do to deliver us from our troubles, provide for our needs, or love us beyond what our God does?  We are called to worship the true God only, the one who created all things, including ourselves.  Can these idols do this?  If we choose to create an idol to worship, what we are saying to God is  we do not love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  (See Mark 22:30).  And if we do not, then do we really love Him?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Exodus 20:3

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” – Exodus 20:3

For the next ten weekdays, including today, we will be looking at the Ten commandments.  These were given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.  God is saying more in these than just stating rules, and we shall look at them from this perspective.  Our focus verse today is the first one, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3.  What God is essentially saying is because of what is stated in verse two, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  Exodus 20:2.  He asserts He is the one we must look at as the only God, not just one of several or many gods. We must love Him and have supreme affection, worship, trust, self-surrender, aspiration, towards Him alone.  And the reason was that He was the one that delivered them from the cruelty of Egypt, where they had been afflicted for many years.  They suffered under great distress where they worked extremely hard in the bonds of slavery. 

Now, note the last two words in the focus verse: before Me.  This presents the idea of continuing to see Him as God, but in a secondary position where another so-called god would be looked at as greater.  He should be seen as the only God, for none other had or could have done anything for them as He had, delivering them from their captivity in Egypt which they could not do for themselves.  And He did it through a series of miracles that proved His preeminence over the Egyptians, their gods and any other people.  These miracles include but not limited to the pillars that led them out of captivity, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  The destruction of the armies of Egypt that came after them, and ultimately the parting of the Red Sea which brought them to safety through the water on dry land.

And He must be seen as “The Lord God” and not “A Lord God”.  He is not one of several, but He is one, the only true God.  Thus, He was the only one they should go to, and not place something else as god to seek something from it.  This was a common practice with the gentile races who practiced polytheism by having many gods for different times and purposes.  And in their many years in Egypt, some of them may have picked up on this practice, for the ancient Egyptians had over 2,000 deities in their pantheon.  So this may have been a call to forget all these false gods and see Him as the only true God who was Lord. 

Today, just as in Moses’ day, we have countless gods that are followed in our world.  We are called not to get involved in these other religions but to stay true to God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.  However, we do not have to embrace another religion in order to have another god.  If we hold anything as so important that we place it above the true God, then we are falling into this error.  It may be a practice we know is sinful, however we choose not to give it up even knowing it displeases God.  It may be something you own that you cannot give up even if God asked you too.  In either case, these things or practices are put before our devotion to God. 

I challenge everyone to examine their lives and see if there is anything that you place ahead of your devotion to our Lord God.  If so, make the decision to truly ask forgiveness and see God as infinitely greater than that thing or activity and place Him in front of them, and be willing to give them up if God tells you to.  He is the God who sacrificed His Son Jesus in order to pay the penalty we incurred because of our sin and has provided the way to eternal life with Himself.  Is there anything more important than that?   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.