Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A God Among Gods (The First Commandment)

Back when Moses was wandering around Sinai, God decided that we need ten commandments to live by. The first one, found in Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:7, goes like this:

Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

Now, just what the hell does God mean by "other gods"? What other gods? Isn't He the only one? Isn't He the one that our money says we trust in?

So if He's the only one, what's He so worried about? How could anyone have any other gods before Him if there are no other gods? Shouldn't God just have written something like, "Worship Me because I'm the One and Only!" Better yet, why did He write this commandment at all? If He's the only god, then there couldn't be any other gods to put first, could there? Did He just want to make an even ten commandments? Did he have a blank space on His stone tablet that He needed to fill in? Couldn't He have used this space for some other good Christian commandment, like "Thou shalt tithe" or something?

But since this is The First Commandment, isn't it the most important to God? Isn't this the first one He was thinking of when he got out His stone tablet and chisel? So if He wrote it that way, are there really other gods out there?

Well, Exodus 12:12 says:

. . . . and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord

And Exodus 15:11 says:

Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?

And then Exodus 18:11 says:

Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods

Does all this mean that there are other gods? God is not alone up there? So if the Bible is telling us that there are other gods, how are we supposed to act towards them?

Exodus goes on to say that Moses threw a fit when he came back with The Commandments, and smashed the tablets. Well God wasn't going to do all that writing over again. He figured that since Moses smashed them, he could write them over himself. Maybe then he'd appreciate the hard work that goes into writing on stone tablets. So God just dictated. In Exodus 34:14 He tells Moses to write:

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

So in His dictation God cleared up one small grey area: no worshiping other gods. But are we supposed to just ignore them entirely? Is God on friendly terms with these other gods? Are we being rude to God's friends? Are we embarrassing God in front of some other deities? Should we at least be doing a little venerating of the others? If so, is there a hierarchy of deities? We know that God wants to be at the top, but who's second? And third? And fourth? What if we get the rest out of order? Will the whole gang be pissed?

And is God's name really "Jealous?" Should our money say, "In Jealous We Trust?"

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