3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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 nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Here God is setting down 4 principles for Israel to live by if they accept the terms of the covenant.
1) No other gods
The Hebrews believed at the time that God was still One of many gods but He would be the only one they were allowed to worship. Gods were believed to be territorial at the time as well so to them He was the God of this particular people or territory they were working their way towards.
There were a couple of rival gods known at this time:
1) Baal – The god of power
Bael, means “Master or Rlord.” Probably a general term for a variety of local deities.
Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove,[a] and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.
Baal was considered a god of power whose symbol was a bull. He was believed to be a direct descendant of the creator god El. He could be the prototype for the Greek god Zeus mainly because he is pictured at times holding a lightning bolt in his hand. This deity normally required the sacrifice of children, mainly the first-born male child.
He was believed to have defeated the gods of the sea, storms, and death. This idea of his defeat of death was repeated every year, as he was resurrected from the land of the underworld, or death, bringing rain and the sunshine to renew the earths fertility.
2) Ishtar – The goddess of fertility
Her symbol is the rabbit. Ishtar is the Western European name for her. “Astarte” is her Canaanite name, her Greek name is “Aphrodite” in Rome she was called “Venus” but she was mainly known as “Ashtaroth,” or “Asherah.” She was worshipped near trees and poles called “Asherah poles” or “Groves.”
Worshipping her lead many, especially Israel to become involved in all kinds of sexual immorality. She is the main player in the Sumerian legend of Damuzi (Tammuz) and Inanna (Ishtar.)
In one of the many accounts of “The descent of Inanna” when Tammuz dies, Ishtar, his wife is grief-stricken and follows him to the land of the underworld. She then enters through 7 gates where her earthly attire is completely removed. She is judged and then killed. In her absence the earths crops stop producing and the animals stop reproducing.
Her faithful servant seeks help from many of the gods but only Enk/Ea responds. He creates some creatures that sprinkle the plant and water of life on Inanna and brings her back from the underworld, however she must obey the conservation of souls law, which required her to find her replacement in the underworld.
The demons give her several options in her friends and consorts but she couldn’t pick one as they were all in mourning for her. She eventually finds and chooses Tammuz because he is not in mourning at all. Tammuz sister agrees to stand in his stead and it is agreed that they each take a six month stay in the underworld. Inanna is so sad during the six months that Tammuz is gone that her powers of fertility wane only to come back fully when he returns.
3) Mammon – The god of prosperity
He would have been the god of money or possessions.
9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail,[c] they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
4) Moleck – The god of success
Also known as Moloch, this Ammorite deity is pictured as a man with a bulls head and is very similar if not equal with Baal.
His worship consisted mainly in the sacrifice of the firstborn male child. These children were placed in his arms and burnt.
26 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? 28 Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it. 29 And the Chaldeans who fight against this city shall come and set fire to this city and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me to anger; 30 because the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only evil before Me from their youth. For the children of Israel have provoked Me only to anger with the work of their hands,’ says the Lord. 31 ‘For this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My fury from the day that they built it, even to this day; so I will remove it from before My face 32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me to anger—they, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. 35 And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’
These gods are still around today. We still worship money, we still want power, and sexuality has taken over our entertainment industries.
Don’t believe me then think about this for a minute:
Do you put anything before God?
Pray about it. Ask the Lord to show you anything you may be putting above and before Him in your life. You might be surprised at what He shows you. I honestly was.
Sometimes it is the most innocent and well meaning things but ANYTHING and ANYONE we put above our relationship with God is a distraction and/or a Breach in our relationship to the Lord.
Do you watch immorality on tv?
If you watch just about anything on tv you do.
Do you worship money over the Lord?
Do you worry about bills?
Do you work as much overtime as you can?
Do you want more things or are you content with what God has provided?
Money/Mammon won’t save you
Power/success won’t save you
Sex/immorality won’t make you happy
Only a relationship with the Lord will save you
Only abiding in Christ will give you what you need.
Only Christ will supply you needs and hopes
19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Trust God and pray that He shows you the things that you may be placing before you walk with Him.
Then pray for the strength and guidance to take those things out of the way.
You will be glad that you did.