The first two commandments tell us a lot about the ancient world -- and about God. During that era, it was normal for families, towns, and nations to pledge allegiance to a whole playlist of gods. In return for your worship (ceremonies, sacrifices, rituals), the hope was that those gods would pay you back with good crops, military victories, and lots of babies -- and keep bad things from happening to you.
God's commands told the Israelites that He wanted to be their one and only. He wanted them to turn to just one source for supernatural protection and blessing: Him. Period. That's it. No other gods. No man-made idols. He wanted all their hopes and fears focused on Him.
Too easy? No "house gods" in your joint? Wait: Paul later described something else as idol worship -- greed. (See Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5.) Greed could be defined as "making a goal out of getting more than you need." These commands just got a lot harder.
Think: Do we really believe God is the only source of everything we need and want? Do we put more effort into worshipping Him or serving jobs and relationships we think will "pay off" in more predictable ways?
Pray: Ask God to help you to notice if you've made an idol out of anything in your life. Ask Him to help you not to be greedy and to turn to Him for help with everything you need, want, and fear.
Do: Make a quick list: What, specifically, are the contestants and fans of shows like "American Idol" in danger of worshipping if they don't set all of their hopes on God?Tweet