The First Commandment – Here is Where Liberty Begins
This is my fifth post on the Ten Commandments using Buddy Dano’s study: FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM and the first post to actually deal with one of the commandments. There is a lot of information here so I am going to make at least two posts on the first commandment.
I suppose that the first commandment (‘‘There shall not be to you any other gods beyond Me’’) is the one that causes most people to believe that the Ten Commandments advocate a theocracy. Israel was indeed a theocracy but this command isn’t the one that established God as ruler of Israel. This command is really a personal one. Nations can establish national religions which are idolatrous (this is most certainly wrong) but no one can be forced to worship an idol in their soul. The example that always comes to my mind is the prophet Daniel who could not be forced by either the Babylonians or the Persians to worship a false god.
Notice in this excerpt how Pastor Dano emphasizes freedom in the soul as being the point of this commandment. I suppose that this will not be a popular thing for me to say but we all follow a master in this life. No one is truly a free spirit no matter how much we wish it were true! We either follow the true God or we follow a false one. The truth, which comes from the true God, is the source of soul freedom and therefore physical freedom. To deny this will lead to soul enslavement.
Now, here is Pastor Dano:
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
HERE IS WHERE LIBERTY BEGINS
‘‘THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.’’
The literal translation is, ‘‘There shall not be to you any other gods beyond Me.’’ Notice the change in the translation. What is actually being said here is that there is room for only One at the top, and that place is occupied by the God of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. And this in no way distracts from the doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus Christ is the only revealed Member of the Godhead. He is the Creator and the Saviour of the universe as well as the God of Israel.
The protection and the proper exercise of freedom demands recognition that the God of Israel is alone at the top. The verb translated, ‘‘Thou shalt have no’’ literally means ‘‘There shall not be.’’ This then is not a ‘‘Thou shalt not’’ commandment, but rather, ‘‘THERE SHALL NOT BE OTHER GODS.’’ The reference then is to the prohibition of idolatry. BUT THIS IS SOUL IDOLATRY. The first commandment is dealing with idolatry in the soul, while the second commandment deals with overt idolatry.
THE PRINCIPLE: FREEDOM BEGINS IN THE SOUL.
The Jews did not suddenly decide to manufacture a calf in the desert while Moses was upon the Mount receiving the Ten Commandments from Jesus Christ. They had that calf in their minds from the day they walked out of Egypt. Now their bodies were free, but their souls were not. God freed the bodies of the Jews, but God could not free their souls because that requires individual volition.
‘‘Operation golden calf’’ merely demonstrated the fact that the Jews of the Exodus generation had not freed themselves from idolatry. They had idolatry in their souls. Their souls therefore were involved in emotional rebellion. They were ruled by their own emotions instead of being ruled by the mentality of the soul where the Divine norms and standards are stored.
The mind has been designed by God as the authority of the soul. Slavery of the soul is a part of the emotional revolt of the soul. Such slavery is the most subtle slavery in the world. It is the result of the old sin nature dictating to the emotions, rather than the emotions being under the authority and dictates of the mind. When the emotions, which are the appreciators of the soul, are responding to the old sin nature, it is like a woman responding to her Wrong-Man. And then as a result the soul becomes enslaved.
There are three categories of emotional rebellion in the soul:
1. Mental attitude sins, such as fear, worry, guilt reactions, etc.
2. The lust pattern, such as approbation, power, or materialism lust, etc.
3. The principle of human good, such as pseudo-brotherly love, or social action, or any combination of the three, all of which are an abomination to the Lord.
When a people go contrary to God’s establishment of the basic authority of their own souls, they will reject every authority in life, and become lawless.
THE COMPARISON BETWEEN MOSES’S GENERATION AND JEREMIAH’S GENERATION.
Here are the two great men of the Old Testament. Moses and Jeremiah showed their greatness under conditions of total adversity. Their ministry was to people who were physically free, but were enslaved in their souls.
The slavery of the soul inevitably leads to the slavery of the body. The conditions that existed with the Exodus generation as they came out of slavery were similar to the conditions that existed with Jeremiah’s generation as it went back into slavery.
The Jews were 40 years wandering in the desert to get into the land from 1440 to 1400 B.C. Likewise the Jews spent 40 years in Jeremiah’s day getting out of the land, from 626 to 586 B.C. It took a decadent generation 40 years to get into the land, and it took a decadent generation 40 years to get out of the land. After providing physical freedom for the Jews of the Exodus generation, God offered them, through the Mosaic Law THE BLUEPRINT FOR FREEDOM OF THEIR SOULS, THE REAL PERSON.
However, God is a gentleman. He does not interfere with human volition. He does provide information whereby human volition can respond and become free. The Mosaic law was designed to free the souls of the Jews, thereby their freed souls would be compatible with their freed bodies. But it depended, of course, on their individual volition. UNTIL THESE PRINCIPLES WERE UNDERSTOOD, THE JEWS COULD NOT ENTER THE LAND.
Even though Moses constantly taught them the Law, the Jews of the Exodus generation never understood it as principles of freedom. And as a result, they remained in soul slavery for 40 years after their physical liberation. Their failure was in the sphere of faith in the promises of God, and their understanding of the Magna Carta of human freedom, the Ten Commandments. That is why, the reason why that generation, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, never went into the land.
The next generation who went into the land lived in freedom as a nation through the provision of the Ten Commandments, referred to by Jeremiah as the ‘‘Covenant.’’ But through idolatry they gradually enslaved their souls, until in Jeremiah’s day, too, the Jews were free of body but enslaved of soul. The overt manifestation of soul slavery was the same in both generations, idolatry. In the Exodus generation, it was revealed by ‘‘operation golden calf,’’ and in Jeremiah’s day it was revealed by ‘‘operation Baal.’’
Both 40 year periods were characterized by the constant pouring out of God’s GRACE. In fact, both periods of time could be called era’s of ‘‘an abundance of God’s GRACE.’’ But, through the constant rejection of the Word of God in Jeremiah’s day, the nation returned to slavery from which the Lord had previously delivered them in His matchless GRACE.
FREEDOM COMES THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD.
The Jews were the nation of people appointed by God to receive the Gospel from Him and to transmit it to the Gentile peoples. They were His people chosen for this purpose, and in this sense, they were His possession. Now we have to keep this principle in mind when we later on encounter the passage that says, ‘‘I the Lord thy God, am a jealous God.’’ Jealousy is a sin. God does not sin. Jealousy therefore is a reference to go in, an expression of possessiveness based upon the fact that God is free. If you are going to respond to God, you must be free to do so. God is possessive of your freedom.
When God says ‘‘No other gods beyond Me,’’ God is saying, ‘‘Beyond Me there is nothing.’’ This means that God stands with His arms open, but you have to be freed to come, as it were, into His arms. So in order to maintain freedom, the origin of it is God. This must be recognized. This principle is clearly stated in John 8:32, ‘‘AND YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH (the Word of God), AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.’’
Here is the other side of the coin. These words from this verse appear on at least one building of every campus in our country. And other famous quotes around the campus always seem to cite the source, as Shakespeare, Ben Johnson, or some other person. But the source of John 8:32 is never cited. Who said it? Well, we know, and the Scripture says that Jesus Christ said it. This is the mind of Christ. He also gave the first commandment to Moses. Knowing the Truth and having the soul free by the Word of God, whether it be from the slave market of sin for the unbeliever, or from the Mosaic Law for the believer, are one and the same with the commandment.
‘‘There shall not be to you other gods beyond Me.’’ Now you are a citizen of the United States of America, and you are twice blessed. You have freedom of soul in what still may be called a free country. And you also have freedom of body, although this freedom is rapidly being destroyed. You have freedom to take in the Word of God, and no matter what adversity you may face, the Word of God is your source of strength and stability. The Word of God can never be separated from the soul. Nor the soul from the Word when you are functioning daily under the principle of perception by GRACE. No matter what happens to your body, your soul cannot be touched. Martin Luther expressed this so beautifully in that great hymn, ‘‘A Mighty Fortress,’’ ‘‘the body they may kill, God’s Truth abideth still.’’ This is the principle that the ‘‘Word of God lives and abides forever,’’ 1 Peter 1:23.
NO NATION EVER SURVIVED THE VIOLATION OF GOD’S PRINCIPLES. ‘‘There shall not be to you other gods beyond Me.’’ This is a nation’s protection against slavery.
SUMMARY OF THE FIRST COMMANDMENT:
This commandment recognizes free will and volition, which is the basis for maintaining freedom, by knowledge of the Truth. The commandments were given to the Jews only after God had freed them physically. The national entity must operate on the basis of personal freedom, which means personal privacy.
‘‘There shall not be TO YOU.’’ There is your personal freedom. ‘‘TO YOU, no other gods beyond Me.’’ The freedom the national entity depends upon is the freedom of all within that national entity to make the choice between God and other gods, as well as upon a maximum number making the right choice.
‘‘Other gods’’ in context indicates that there can be false gods in the minds of people, being beyond God, which are nothing. An idol is nothing.