Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 09:54:05 +0100 Reply-To: email@example.com 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 accordingly. 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 commandment? 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 God. 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 - firstname.lastname@example.org 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 .