On Sunday we considered the God as being the ultimate Sovereign in terms of the breadth of his reign (all encompassing), the length of his reign (never-ending) and the quality of his reign (moral integrity, love and sacrifice). Our call to love God is a call to love him as Sovereign. We do this by a) trusting the breadth, length and quality of his reign with our lives, and b) exercising his reign in our daily lives by the way we live in accord with his reign.

I have been reading a book “gods at war” by Kyle Idleman (interesting surname!). Kyle considers the second commandment “Have no other gods before me.” An alternative translation (e.g. NIV footnote) is “Have no other gods besides me.” We have tended to think that we can have other “gods” provided they are not pre-eminent to God. Is this a mistake? Kyle argues that even the “before” can mean “in his presence” rather than order of priority. We might recall that in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant (which represented the presence of God for the people of Israel), Dagon the idol fell (1 Samuel 5). In 1 Kings 17v33 the writer critiques the settlers in Samaria “They worshipped the LORD, but they also served their own gods.” Or in the prophets, the people of Israel are critiqued because although they seemed on the surface to be worshipping God by their religious practices, in real life they were not (e.g. Amos 5v21-24, “I hate and despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies … I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”). Reading the whole section, the idols for the people of Amos’ time seems to have been not just “old style statues”, but a) their own success which caused them to not fully support the needs of others (whether financial or legal), and b) their own pleasure which caused them to not live rightly. Does this tie forward into the New Testament where John writes, “Anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen,” 1 John 4v20? Do I have gods beside God?

In my opinion, these things are worth thinking through further. Maybe you would like to get hold of the book.

With love and blessing,