The Ten Commandments or the Law of God Series
As always I would be remiss if I did not point out the context of the scripture verse I quote. The overall theme of this chapter is God has stressed to His chosen peoples, false gods are helpless gods. Here in our main text He points out that they (here indicating all who will listen) need to remember the things of old that only the true and living God could know and do.
I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 2Thou shalt have no other gods before me. –Exodus 20:1-2
Many times I have been told that the Ten Commandments and for that matter, much of the Bible is a series of ‘egotistical statements made up by a nonsensical, dogmatic god.’ As you can imagine statements like usually these come from folks who have never actually read the Bible, but have had some bad encounters with Christianity and therefore convinced themselves it is completely bad.
Well, it may surprise you that I can partly agree with them. I agree that God is dogmatic if we define dogmatic as1 given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts. In the first commandment, God declares He is God and there is none other. Christ declares He is the only way to the Father and there is none other.
Consider for a moment why this is needed. Look back to Genesis 3, for a moment. All it took was five simple words, Ye shall not surely die: to convince Eve to give up Eden. God needs to be dogmatic (clear and decisive) because of man’s inherent ability and desire to sin.
From Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 (it includes scripture references from the ESV) we find the following about the First Commandment:
50. Which is the first commandment?
The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Ex. 20:3
51. What is required in the first commandment?
The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God and our God,107, and to worship and glorify him accordingly.108 107. 1 Chron. 28:9; Deut. 26:17 108. Mt. 4:10; Ps. 29:2
52. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
The first commandment forbiddeth the denying,109 or not worshipping and glorifying the true God,110 as God and our God,111 and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due unto him alone.112
53. What are we especially taught by these words before me, in the first commandment?
These words before me, in the first commandment, teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of and is much displeased with the sin of having any other god. Ex. 8:5, to the end
Here is an excerpt from Thomas Watson’s Classic The Ten Commandments:
This commandment is addressed to each person in particular, because the commandment concerns everyone, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to taking privileges to ourselves—yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others!
We come now to the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This may well lead the van, and be set in the front of all the commandments, because it is the foundation of all true religion. The sum of this commandment is, that we should sanctify God in our hearts, and give him a precedence above all created beings. There are two branches of this commandment:
1. That we must have God for our God.
2. That we must have no other God.
1. We must have God for our God. It is manifest that we must have a God, and “who is God save the Lord?” 2 Sam 22:32. The Lord Jehovah (one God in three people) is the true, living, eternal God; and him we must have for our God.
 To have God to be God to us, is to ACKNOWLEDGE him as God. The gods of the heathen are idols. Psalm 96:5. And “we know that an idol is nothing” (1 Cor 8:4); that is, it has nothing of Deity in it. If we cry, “Help, O Idol,” an idol cannot help; the idols themselves were carried into captivity, so that an idol is nothing. Isa 46:2. Vanity is ascribed to it, we do not therefore acknowledge it to be a god. Jer 14:22. But we have this God to be God to us, when, “from the heart” we acknowledge him to be God. All the people fell on their faces and said, “The Lord he is the God! the Lord he is the God!” 1 Kings 18:39. Yes, we acknowledge him to be the only God. “O Lord God of Israel, who dwells between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone.” 2 Kings 19:15. Deity is a jewel that belongs only to his crown. Further, we acknowledge there is no God like him. “And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord; and he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you.” 1 Kings 8:22, 23. “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?” Psalm 89:6. In the Chaldee it is, “Who among the angels?” None can do as God; he brought the world out of nothing; “And hangs the earth upon nothing.” Job 26:7. It makes God to be God to us, when we are persuaded in our hearts, and confess with our tongues, and subscribe with our hands, that he is the only true God, and that there is none comparable to him...
Personally, I do not have an issue with God being dogmatic. I want my God to be Large and in Charge, as the expression goes, not some wishy-washy can’t decide if today is a good day or not kinda god. The kind of God that Elijah called upon when he was up against the servants of Baal. What about you?
Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 – Modern
Thomas Watson’s classic The Ten Commandments
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Chapter XIX, The Law
The Ten Commandments, by A. W. Pink
Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, The Ten Commandments
The Doctrine of Law and the Grace Unfolded – John Bunyan
A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel by John Colquhoun, D.D