Q: What is the first commandment?
A: The first commandment is, You shall have no other gods before me.
Revelation 14:7 And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
There are a few things to notice as we look now at the ten commandments. The first is to notice that many of the commandments are stated in the negative. We generally, today, do not like this. Were we to write the 10 commandments, we'd probably try to state the positive instead of the negative. So instead of saying, "you shall have no other gods before me", we might try to put a positive spin on it by saying, "God shall be your only God" or something like that. But, as James Fisher pointed out in his "Catechism on the Catechism", the commandments are intentionally put in the negative because, "negative precepts are the strictest obligation, binding always, and at all times".
Secondly, as Fisher points out, this first commandment is set out in front of the rest to show us that God alone should be our God, and that the law serves to show us and remind us of this fact. The law is given to show us, to teach us, to point us to obedience of the one true God. And so the 10 commandments begin with a strong reminder that it is God alone that we should be striving to please in our obedience, in our worship, in the whole of life.
On the surface, it seems like such a simple commandment. But as we move into the next few weeks, we will see how complicated things get as we begin to unpack the idolatry that is in all of our hearts. We will begin to see just how high the standards of the Holy God truly are, how far short we fall of keeping them, and how glorious and gracious God truly is.