“I am your God.”
In Bible Study we are studying the Ten Commandments. We are trying to understand what they meant to those who first heard them, what they meant to Jesus and how he interpreted them, and what they should mean to us today. The Ten Commandments are foundational for three major world religions, including ours, yet how many of us can even name all ten? Jesus knew them and meditated on them and taught them in such a way that all of us become aware that we have broken most, if not all of them. Jesus proclaims that he came with the express purpose of completing them. This means helping us understand what God meant all along when he said them. And it all starts with understanding that God is our God.
The first commandment, however we choose to separate it out, was heard by the entire body of Israelites. As Moses stood on the mountaintop of Mt. Sinai and the thunder boomed and the lightening flashed, all the people heard the beginning of God’s words, “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.” With this powerful Word, God addresses Moses and the entire group of former slaves assembled at the mountain, teaching the people the most important fact of their lives – God is their God. Depending on your tradition, the Ten Commandments are counted slightly differently, and we can learn from all of them. Many consider only v.2 to be the first commandment: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Others include v.3: “You shall have no other gods before me,” while some traditions include v.4: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,” while yet another tradition includes v.5 as part of the first commandment: “You shall not bow down to them or serve them.”
As we discussed this first commandment in Bible Study using Adam Hamilton’s course “Words of Life, Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments Today,” we saw how the different traditions number them and how the emphasis shifts depending on how you break them up. I was greatly moved by the words of a Rabbi, who was interviewed on the DVD, who said that for Jews, “I am the Lord your God” is not simply a foundational introduction, it is the first command. Even though it’s not actually a command, it’s a statement, our lives are defined by this Truth. He then boiled it down to say that when God comes to his people, the first thing he wants them to know can be summed up in four words: “I Am Your God.” This simple statement has been on my heart since I heard him declare it. Of course! Just think on this and let it sink in: God Almighty says to you and to me “I Am Your God!”
That means so much! First of all – Hallelujah! No matter what happens, he is my God! Think what else that means – no one else is my God. Nothing else is my God. Money is not my God. Health is not my God. What others think of me is not my God. The deep trials of my life are not my God. My nation is not my God. My political party is not my God. My pastor is not my God. My family is not my God. My career is not my God. My failures are not my God any more than my successes. My circumstances are not my God. I am not my God. “I AM” is my God. Always. Even when I forget.
Our life in God begins with this first commandment, which includes God’s promise and hope: “I am your God.” Live in this truth and come and learn more about these life giving commandments in Bible Study now offered at 10:00a.m. and 5:15p.m. every Tuesday. I hope to see you and learn with you. Until then-
I’ll see you in Church,