Date:         Thu, 2 Mar 1995 09:54:05 +0100
Sender:       Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From:         Teus Benschop 
Subject:      Catechism, 6
     Q Which is the first commandment?
     A The first commandment is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
  This command, like also the others,  is given as an order: "Thou  shalt".
  It does not say "it is better to do thus and so". Nor says it: "please do
  this". It is a  command of the only  God: "Thou shall do so". Other  gods
  are forbidden, in whichever form they appear. A very direct transgression
  of this  commandment is, when you have images,  which are served as gods.
  The heathens  do so,  and the  Roman-Catholic Church, besides  some other
  churches. They will  receive their reward for  so direct a transgression,
  though they invent various excuses. Before God,  any vain evasion will be
  rejected.  It can be, when you are  discussing with those idolaters, that
  you cannot  convince them. They will not let go their idle refuges in the
  discussion. This  is a  sign  the more  that the  idolaters harden  their
  hearts. However,  before God, on  the day of  judgement, such discussions
  will have  no place.  God commanded  a commandment,  and  will say:  "You
  obeyed Me not, therefore  you deserve punishment". Whatever their defence
  is, is not important then.
     There  are, besides direct transgressions also  more subtle ones. Even
  ones,  which we not see in ourselves, like  David said that he had secret
  errors,  meaning  that  he sinned  while  he  didn't  know  it. "Who  can
  understand his  errors? Cleanse thou  me from secret  faults." (Ps.19:12)
  Likewise have we many sins which we not know through our inexperience and
  ignorance in God's Law.
     When God forbids something, He,  at the same time, commands something.
  In like  manner, when  He commands  something, He also  forbids anything.
  Therefore, though the first command forbids  to have other gods, the next
  question asks what is required.
     Q What is required in the first commandment?
     A The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be
     the only  true  God, and  our  God; and  to  worship and  glorify  him
  The first commandment  requires us to know  God. Not a knowledge  like "I
  have heard one  speaking about God", but  an own knowledge, like  "I know
  God". "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only  true
  God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
  This commandment requires  us to  acknowledge God as  the only true  God.
  Again, a  general confession is not enough, but we must know him as "our"
  God. For example, reciting "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD"
  (Deut.6:4) is not enough, for it is but done with the mouth. We must know
  and acknowledge  Him besides with  our mouth, also  with our whole  life.
  When  you say that you worship God, the one  God, and no god besides Him,
  then you  will despise the worshipping of the  Torah. For the Torah isn't
  God; it is  but His Word. Also  in the Torah itself,  we nowhere see that
  the people bow  themselves down before the  Torah, or kiss it,  or clothe
  it, like is done in the  synagogue. Some praise the Torah, or sing  songs
  about it. This all is idolatry. Worship God and nothing besides Him.
  This commandment also requires to glorify  God. Again, not with the mouth
  only, but with  our whole life. The  Bible writes about people  who serve
  God only with their mouth: "The Lord  said, Forasmuch as this people draw
  near me with  their mouth,  and with their  lips do honour  me, but  have
  removed their heart far  from me, and their  fear toward me is  taught by
  the precept of men." (Isa.29:13) They had the external worship, but their
  hearts  were far  from God. The  external liturgy  was there, but  it was
  taught by  the precept of men,  and therefore worthless before  God. They
  feared God, yes,  but not according to  His will. Likewise in  our times.
  They fear  God,  say they,  and have  reverence  for all  sorts of  human
  precepts. But in the meantime, God has no pleasure therein.
  A true worship is necessary, with the  whole heart. Only a heart, renewed
  by God's Spirit, can worship Him according to His will.
     Q What is forbidden in the first commandment?
     A The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and
     glorifying the true  God as God, and  our God; and the giving  of that
     worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.
  Many confess  God with  their lips,  but deny  Him with  their deeds.  On
  Sabbath, they do as if  they serve Him, but during the week they  show no
  difference with the world. With  the mouth they glorify him, while  their
  heart is in the world at the same moment. While singing or reciting songs
  or prayers, they think how to earn most money, or how to solve a problem,
  or  how they make their house better.  They worship the true God as if He
  could not see their heart.
  Some give worship to  the findings of modern times, the  high technology.
  They  work hard for  a nice car,  or a fast computer,  or the like. These
  people worship the goods of the world. All this is forbidden by the first
  commandment, besides many other things.
  This command being thus explained, we know why king Solomon said "Who can
  say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" (Prov.20:9)
     Q What are we specially taught by these words "before me" in the first
     A 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.
  We cannot think that, because it is dark, God does not see us. God, being
  spiritual, does not need the daylight to know all things. We need to know
  that we are under the all-seeing eye of God. Therefore, changing God with
  any other god, even in the secret thoughts of our heart,  much displeases
  We see  in this  commandment, that the  service and  obedience of  God go
  above all other  things. No creature is  allowed to keep us  from obeying
  God's voice and  commandments. When there is a dilemma, we have to choose
  the obedience  of God.  It must  be so,  they we  rather let  go all  the
  creatures, then that we even the least do against His will.
     Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament
              Editor: Teus Benschop  -
                      No copyrights on this publication
            Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands
End of  Catechism, 6

file: /pub./resources/text/ipb-e/cate: cat-006.txt