Questions 40 & 41


What is the first command?


The first command is: Do not put any other gods ahead of me.


Exodus 20:3Isaiah 45:5-6



What does the first command teach?


The first command teaches us to worship* God only.

The ten commands are the laws* God gave to his people, Israel.* They were part of the covenant* he made with them.


God gave the commands to Moses* when the people of God gathered near the mountain. [1] They saw a cloud covering the mountain. They saw lightning. They heard the noise of the storm. They heard God’s voice as he spoke to Moses there.


But before God gave any commands, he begins the covenant with these words. [2] ‘I am the Lord* your God. I brought you out of Egypt.* That is the land where you were slaves.’ He says this so that the people will know who will give these commands. He is the Lord. He is the one God who made all things. Everything belongs to him. Even these people belong to him. He also chose them. These were his special people. He chose them when he made his promises to Abraham.* He told Abraham that he would become a great nation. Now this nation stands before him. He also is the God who has delivered them from Egypt. God is the one who made them. God is the one who rescued them. They are the people he has chosen.


Then God gives the first command. ‘You will put no other god before me.’


When the people lived in Egypt, the people in that land followed many gods. But not one of these gods was the real God. In fact, they were not gods at all. The people in Egypt had created these gods in their minds. Then they made stories about these gods. They taught their children to believe in these gods. As many years went by, people came to believe that the gods were real. But the gods in Egypt were false gods. These gods could not protect them. These gods could not take care of them. There is only one true God. He is the Lord their God. This is why they must trust* him alone. They must worship him only. They must worship no other god.


God made our first parents, and each of us, so that only one thing can be first in our lives. Only one thing can be most important. Since the Lord alone is God, they must put nothing and no one before him. The people of God would be tempted* to follow other gods. They would remember the gods of Egypt. Or they would hear of new gods in the land where they were going. They would hear that another god could bring them good things. They would hear that another god could rescue them in times of trouble. But only the Lord God could do this for them. They must never turn away from him. God is telling them, ‘Since I alone am God, you shall trust in me alone and no one else. You must not look to anyone else for the good things you enjoy. You shall not turn away to find shelter in anyone else in times of trouble. When you do you have begun to trust another god. That will only hurt you.’


One day, many years later, a man asked Jesus a question.[3]‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘which is the great command in the Law?’ Jesus answered him and said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart* and with all your soul.* Love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and great command.


That is the first command. God’s people must never value anything more highly than they value God. They must never think that anyone else can do only what God can do. They must never trust anyone or anything more than they trust him. That would not honor* God. And that would only bring them trouble.[4]

[1] Exodus 19:16-25
[2] Exodus 20:1,2
[3] Matthew 22:34-40; Deuteronomy 6:5
[4] Deuteronomy 28:15-19