Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Zealous Sovereign Lord God Who Loves Us

In the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) the first commandment exhibits a definitive monotheistic pronouncement implying, "I am... your God" and you will have no other. It is hard to believe that some do not take this passage at it's word. Please read below the passage, noting the italic words with this in mind.

From Exodus 20

1 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 You shall have no other gods before [1] me.

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. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands [2] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Covenant Stipulation

Firstly we should note before anything else that the commandment is a covenant stipulation spelling out the obligations of treaty between God and man. He is the Sovereign Suzeran (the greater king) and we are the lesser obligator (historically the vassal/servant king) who must embrace His law. Yet He doesn't just give merely commands for observance and duty but commands for our ultimate care.

Verse 2 explains this well. "I am the Lord your God" is spoken in the same breath with the greatest work of God, our deliverance. The illustration of Him, "who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" is the both immediate and local to the hearers of the passage (the Hebrew people) as well as symbolic throughout scripture. It stands as a depiction throughout redemptive history carrying over from the Mosaic/Davidic Covenants to the Christolic.

The Prophesy:
Hosea 11.1
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.

The Fulfillment in Christ (add to this His death for sins):
Mt 2:14-15
14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

A Jealous God

It is perhaps foreign to some that the word jealous is used in verse 5 as usually jealously is often robed in so many non-sacred scenarios in our day. Yet when we begin to dig through the Old English and Latin versions of the word we finally come to the Latin word "zelus" which is the origin of the word "zeal". So in reality jealous is very close to the word "zealous" here. Therefore in context, God is both zealous of His Lordship (v.1) as well as His name (v. 7 , the second commandment), but He defines His worthiness of both of these by the sacrifice for the deliverance He has provided for us.

It is not that God waits like a discontented lover weeping in the dark and begging for the assurance of our service and love. This is truly a contemptuous depiction of God, for herein He is reduced to a covetous, tormented soul not worthy of praise but pity. No, rather God sits as sovereign lord and creator, steadfast and immovable. He is demanding our exclusive affection and loyalty with a steadfast love willing to sacrifice of Himself on our behalf to bring us into His holy court. He is thus more than worthy of our love and worship in return.

So now finally, "You shall have no other gods before me" (v3) does not mean that we can have many gods as long as we place Him in front, but rather this is a further statement of this grand kingly court. It is a statement that the Reformers knew well. "Coram Deo: Before the face of God."

The Zealous Sovereign Lord God Who Loves Us will have no other gods in His presence and He desires us before Him.

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