I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20, verses 2 and 3.
The first is the most important. This commandment is the reason for all the others. It is the reason for creation; it is the reason for reason. Before spelling out the code for living that He gave us, God reminded us that He alone is God.
In this so-called modern age, I’ll ask the question that millions of young Americans regularly pose: so what?
So there I was last summer, sailing around the lakes of Northern Minnesota with two of my favorite people in the world (my son and my son-in-law). It was a place I had frequented with my Dad and Grandpa many years before when I was still a boy. All my life, I’ve thought of Minnesota lakes around the Canadian border is the single most beautiful place on earth. This was the first time in forty years that I had been back there, and I confess that I was overwhelmed with happiness. Basking in the sun, fishing for Northern’s, sailing the lakes, the crisp and clean air, time spent talking with my guys, reveling in the obvious glory of God’s creation: it was one of the best weeks of my life.
It was because of God. Because He made it all. Because it was all so alive, because of Him. Because He was there.
And just this morning, I was sitting at my daughter’s table with my grandson in his high chair beside me. He’s a miracle, at least to me. In reality, all life is miraculous, but I get to see him up close, watching him grow and develop. Miracle. When I was a young father, I was so busy living life, earning a living, being self-absorbed, and being consumed with the angst all young men have. I missed cherishing moments like these with my own kids, and I’m thankful more than my puny words can say to be able to share them with my grandchildren.
They’re because of God. Because He made them all. Because He gave them life, because of Him. Because He is here.
The first commandment reminds us that God is God and we are not. God is life is love is justice is power is patience is knowledge is reason is understanding is holiness is truth is time is everything. He is the founder of life and the reason for life. He is the life in the north woods, in my grandson, and in everything. God gives us the gift of LIFE, not of a few years and out: life, as in forever, as in eternity. THAT is the answer to every important thing. That is the reason why ‘so what.’
Lord, YOU are God and my God.
Read Exodus chapter 19. The Israelites arrive at God’s meeting place, and He has a few things to say.