“And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.’ ” Exodus 20:1-3
As a Pastor for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church I’m paid an adequate salary with benefits in exchange for which I preach and teach the Gospel, visit church members, provide leadership and other support for churches in fulfilling their mission, and numerous other church and mission related activities.
There are a large number of policies that define the rights and responsibilities of the Pastor to church and the church to the Pastor and one of them is a policy that basically says that I’m not allowed to have another job without the permission of my employer.
Basically, it’s a no competition clause. They want to ensure that no other job commitments will ever interfere with my being able to fulfill my responsibilities as pertains to being a Pastor. And I can understand why they’d want to make sure that there was no other job making demands on my time and energies. Being a Pastor means that I need to be available for meetings and appointments through out the day, from morning till evening. And at times I need to be available to support members in emergencies at anytime day or night. For that to be able to happen there needs to be nothing competing for my time and priorities.
As God begins speaking to the children of Israel from the mountain his first words are to establish with them a no competition clause. He asserts that it is he that has delivered them from their bondage and slavery in Egypt, that he is the Lord their God and that they are to have no other gods before him.
Israel has just come from a place where there are literally thousands of gods (One source said that more than 8000 gods had been documented). Israel is also on its way to a land in which there are many gods being worshiped. It would be very easy for the children of Israel to hold onto any religious loyalties they’ve developed in Egypt or to adopt new loyalties in Canaan but to do this would interfere with what God is trying to accomplish.
God wants a relationship with the people of Israel. He wants them to know him and he wants to bless them so that they’ll become ambassadors for him to the world. None of this can happen if they’re holding onto their beliefs in other gods and dividing their worship and loyalty between God and someone or something else.
There’s enough in life to distract us from God if we’re not careful: work, family, entertainment, hobbies, friends. These are all important for us but it’s too much to ask to try and bring another god into the picture. That’s why he says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”