There can be little doubt the LGBTQ movement has gained both momentum and power in America and sadly, within too many churches. Now with the transgender part of the LGBTQ being rolled out, the Left is winning the battle for the public square in part by having successfully shaped public opinion over the past several decades. It’s interesting this directly correlates with a growth in biblical illiteracy and an increasing belief that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God.
Today we discuss five of the biggest deceptions being perpetrated on Christians and the American people by transgender movement. Since most media, government and public education caved to political correctness and increasing pressure from the LGBTQ camp, these lies and delusions are now repeated so often that most simply accept them as being true.
The majority of today’s program – as it is each Friday now – is dedicated to your comments and questions from the week on a variety of topics. And no subject is off limits.
Most of us understand there is nothing new under the sun and that includes sin. Though this may seem like a more recent shift, America and many Christian Churches are have been gradually seduced by lies and deception regarding the transgender movement in our nation. As City and State governments rush to pass legislation pandering to political correctness in the name of fairness, love, and equality, it seems few are bothering to evaluate the scientific facts about this deception, much less the biblical truth about creation and humanity.
Our lack of knowledge, along with our desire to conform and be politically correct is putting thousands of children at risk for a life of misery and confusion, along with elevated health risks as well as suicide attempts.
This morning we take an in-depth look at a statement on transgenderism from the American College of Pediatricians that addresses and confronts the lies and deceptions of Hollywood, the media, the LGBTQ community and its sympathizers.
We will also share some of the chilling effects of this legislation as it has been implemented around our nation.
1 John 4:1-3: “Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
Matter settled: Islam is a spirit of antichrist because it denies that Jesus is God in the flesh…so why are so many professing Christians believing that Christians and Muslims worship the same god?
Elijah Abraham, a former Muslim and now born-again believer sheds some light on this deception.
In our final segment we look at the continuing hypocrisy of the left regarding freedom of speech and religious expression.
In Matthew 15:7-9, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by saying:
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
The first step for us as born-again Christians is to admit that we speak and act like hypocrites far too often. The second step is to be committed to allowing the grace and Spirit of God to bring our hypocrisy to an end as we grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. Because of the continuing sinful nature within us and the pressures in this world that will be a life long battle, but one we should be committed to fighting.
How often do we damage our testimony and witness to lost people when we behave in a way that contradicts the Word of God? Does your spouse and children see a different you compared to the one people see when you’re in church? Do we want enough of God’s grace to be saved; but not enough to be sanctified and made holy?
Dave Wager of Nicolet Bible Institute and Silver Birch Ranch is here to help us look internally at our hearts and the hypocrisy we too often display.
It is very easy to become distracted or overwhelmed with all that’s going on in our world. North Korea and its threats; ISIS and the wars in the Middle East; increasing attacks on Christians and Jews around the globe; and Christians being marginalized and pushed out of the public arena here in the U.S.
But if we stay anchored in God’s Word and keep our faith and focus on Him, we will understand the times and see these events from a big picture perspective. With the Bible as our foundation, we will be encouraged and equipped to stand strong in our faith and trust in God’s sovereignty.
Pastor Carl Gallups joins us this morning to help sift through the noise and keep our minds focused on God’s Word and promises. We will also discuss the growing threats to Christian Churches and if it is time for more churches to take the safety of its members more seriously by implementing security measures.
. . . finish reading Nation Approves Plan To Push Hollywood Into Pacific Ocean.
Right now, New Apostolic Reformation prophets from more than 50 nations are meeting in Dallas, Texas, for what they are describing as a historic event in church history, a three-day “Global Prophetic Summit,” sponsored by an organization called the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. Many well-known NAR prophets are being featured at this event, including Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, James Goll, Stacey Campbell, and Bill Hamon.
For the climax of this event, the prophets plan to release their “Word of the Lord” for 2018 before a live audience. They haven’t said exactly how they plan to deliver their Word of the Lord. In past years, the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders–a group of about 25 prophets from North America–has met privately to discuss the prophetic revelations they believe God has given them individually for the upcoming year. Those revelations were synthesized and compiled into a single “Word of the Lord” document that was disseminated through the prophets’ organizations and NAR-friendly media outlets, such as Charisma Magazine.
This year, however–after receiving a prophetic word from one of the prophets, James Goll–the group believed it was time to take their prophetic council to the next level–by inviting prophets from around the world to participate and by hosting a summit, where their “Word of the Lord” could be delivered live. The entire summit, including breakout sessions, is being streamed live for people who cannot attend in person.
The NAR prophet Cindy Jacobs, of Generals International–a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders–said of this event, “Never before in history have so many prophets gathered in the same place to seek the Lord, pray, worship, and share what’s on His heart for the nations of the earth.”
You can view the summit via the live stream for $35 or save your money and wait for the document to be released following the event. See the “Word of the Lord for 2017” to get an idea of the type of revelations this document typically contains.
Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.
God’s favor and blessing is not for sale. If there’s one thing our recent series on indulgences has made clear, it is that simple point.
Yet we now live in a day where Johann Tetzel has been emulated and duplicated by prosperity preachers. While Tetzel sold bogus promises about the afterlife, the prosperity gurus of today sell bogus promises about our bank accounts. The prosperity they sell is a lifestyle of affluence and ease in return for giving generously to their “ministry.”
So many people have now been scarred or scared off by the false gospel of health and wealth that they’re understandably wary of anything to do with prosperity. But there is a true biblical form of prosperity.
The critical difference between the prosperity gospel and true Christian prosperity is that the former is man centered, while the latter is God centered. One feeds our lusts and carnal cravings—the other furthers God’s kingdom. One relies on extortion—the other flows out of godly generosity.
In his sermon, “The Path to Prosperity, Part 1,” John MacArthur examines the New Testament pattern of Christian giving and the cycle of divine blessing it produces. The message centers on 2 Corinthians 9:6–11, which opens with the familiar words, “He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
The paradigm John lays out is in stark contrast to the inherent greed of prosperity theology. As he explains, true biblical prosperity is utterly selfless.
The reason God gives back to you with such overflowing generosity is so you can use it to do more good deeds. It is not to consume it on your own desire. You will be given by God all you need to meet the demands of your generous heart so that you are able to do every good deed you desire to do. God will just replenish your supply. When God finds a giver, a generous giver, He sets an unusual element of His affection on that generous giver and keeps replenishing in abundance because He knows the heart of a giver is going to continue to give. You just get into a constant flow—you give, God replenishes so you have more to give, and your generous heart is allowed to express itself and do every good deed it desires to do.
Second Corinthians 9:6–11 describes a glorious cycle of Christian prosperity—a pattern of joyous giving, being blessed in return, and then using that blessing to continually grow in God-honoring generosity.
Even so, giving cheerfully doesn’t come naturally to many Christians. Spurgeon said, “It takes a great deal of grace to make some men cheerful givers. With some the last part of their nature that ever gets sanctified is their pockets!”
In a world full of spiritual sharks and charlatans it is easy to grow cynical. Our fallen instincts gravitate toward stinginess, born out of a lack of personal contentment. But “The Path to Prosperity, Part 1” rightly points out that discontentedness is usually the result—not the cause—of our own miserliness. In fact, John MacArthur considers the lack of generosity of many believers to be the reason they miss out on so much of God’s generosity in their own lives.
There are God-glorifying purposes in both our generosity toward the Lord and His reciprocal generosity to us. New Testament giving is not to be done “grudgingly or under compulsion” but freely and joyfully according to our own convictions, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
“The Path to Prosperity, Part 1” reminds us that all our possessions ultimately belong to God. Consequently, we should embrace a lifestyle of godly generosity and break free from the crippling cycle of worldly greed. John’s message sheds much-needed light on how we should give as Christians, and how we should examine our hearts as we do so.
Click here to listen to “The Path to Prosperity, Part 1.”
Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B171117
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Vice, which is among the top one hundred websites in America, ran an article about “The Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.” The term, Woke, is urban slang originating with the pop-culture film, The Matrix, and refers to someone who has been awakened to the important cultural realities around them (for those of you not hip enough to dig their jive). Highlighted in the article are five up-and-coming “Christian” leaders who are breaking stereotypes about evangelicals not being bleeding heart, gay-affirming, environmentalist Marxists.
In a piece we posted by Pam Frost titled The Interface of Medieval Mysticism and Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation we wrote in the intro:
What is the goal of mysticism? According to [Pam] Frost, “the goal is ‘to alter one’s perception of reality, redefining the self, the world, and the Divine according to mystical intuitions of Universal Consciousness as Ultimate Reality. Thus mysticism serves as the basis for a collective spirituality that transcends religious distinctions and is therefore the force behind the growing interfaith movement in which ‘Christian’ mysticism plays an important role.”
Research shows that there are dangers associated with mindfulness and meditation. We’re posting a piece by Lighthouse Trails (LHT) that includes a list of some of those dangers. Now to the obvious question: Why are public schools teaching children to do something that can cause them harm? Two examples are visual hallucinations and psychotic depression — and there are many more dangers listed.
LHT has put together an outline of how to address this issue with school officials:
Today we received a call from a concerned woman who found out that a local public school was about to introduce mindfulness meditation to children at the school. She called the school and has been granted a 5-minute time slot at an upcoming school meeting to explain why the school should not teach mindfulness meditation to children. During our phone conversation with the concerned woman, we developed a short outline of how to address this issue with school officials. Meditation (and Yoga) will soon be practiced in most public schools in America. …
Two years ago TIME magazine highlighted an evangelical “megachurch” whose pastor had led the congregation to affirm gay marriage and to welcome LGBT persons as full members of the church (see the sermon announcement above from two years ago). The story made quite a splash at the time, even though many pointed out that the church wasn’t really a megachurch and could hardly be seen as a bellwether of things to come.
27 It is understandable, then, how Paul concludes vv. 12–27: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” This is how Paul began the discussion about the body in v. 12, and now he ends it in a similar manner. These two verses frame the entire discussion of the church as the body of Christ.
12:27 / Verses 27–31a apply and explain the metaphor of the church as the body of Christ in relation to the Corinthians’ situation. Verse 27 begins with the bold declaration, you are the body of Christ. This statement means there is diversity among the Corinthian Christians in terms of their gifts, although they are united by God’s design and work among them. Despite the differences, each one … is a part of the body, and each and all are necessary for the good of the whole.
Our individuality (27)
As the body of Christ operates in this way, so the individual members will find their real needs met. The need for security is met in the assurance that ‘I belong to the body’. The need for identity is met in recognizing and working at the fact that ‘I have a distinctive contribution to bring to the body’. The need for a proper sense of responsibility is met by assuming concern for others in the body: ‘I need you; I feel with you; I rejoice with you.’ So each individual grows as a person and as a Christian in direct relation to his finding his place as a member of the body. The Scriptures speak of individuality, not of individualism. The latter phenomenon is a perversion of our calling in Christ. It plagues the church of God, spoiling its witness and shrivelling individuals.
This discovery of our individuality within the life of the Christian community remains as revolutionary a message in today’s world as it was in that of Paul and his Corinthian readers. It is a radical alternative both to the tyranny of totalitarianism and to the empty dreams of personal fulfilment through individualism.
There is a further perspective in this chapter, one which prevents such a community turning in on itself and becoming a pious ghetto of religious fanatics. The body of Christ is placed in the world to serve. Ministry is its daily vocation. As the community is mobilized under the Holy Spirit within the real world, its throbbing vitality will be sustained. Gifts are to be used in practical, costly and often very ordinary service (cf. 12:5). The ministry of Jesus through his physical body on earth is continued in the ministry of his body, the church. It is the same ministry: he came, ‘not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’ That is the purpose of the body of Christ now: ‘as the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’65
12:27. Paul next applied the analogy of the human body to the church as the body of Christ. He began with the declaration, Now you are the body of Christ. Paul used this metaphor for the church many times in this letter and in other epistles (Rom. 12:5; Eph. 3:6). Here he focused on the diversity and honor of the various members of Christ’s body, starting with this general assertion and then pointing to each person in the church at Corinth. Each one is a part of the body. Without exception every person who has trusted Christ receives a place in the body of Christ.
27. You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
- “You are the body of Christ.” Paul addresses the members of the Corinthian church with the personal pronoun you. They are the people who have been made holy in Christ Jesus and are called to be holy (1:2). Yet these people quarreled, caused divisions, failed to expel an immoral brother, brought lawsuits against fellow brothers, criticized the apostles, and did not properly observe the Lord’s Supper. In spite of all these shortcomings, Paul tells the Corinthians that they are the body of Christ.
In the Greek text, Paul uses the noun body in the absolute sense of the word. That is, the word appears without the definite article which, for the sake of acceptable English, we have supplied. Paul does not say “a body” or “the body,” but merely “body” to indicate that this is the one and only, for there is no other body of Christ. He is not referring to Christ’s physical body but rather speaks figuratively about the church as Christ’s body (e.g., Eph. 1:23; Col. 1:24). To say it differently, Paul states that the church to which the Corinthians belong is one entity without division.
The church as Christ’s figurative body exists in him and belongs to him. It is genuinely united with Christ, for every individual member is by faith included in him. Each local congregation is a microcosm of the entire church, so that everyone who observes the congregation’s various functions knows that this body is the church in action. Here Paul states the principle of unity in multiplicity. In the next clause he notes multiplicity in unity.
- “And individually members of it.” We have no information about the size of the Corinthian church, but Paul avers that every individual member is part of Christ’s body. By saying this, Paul underscores the individuality of the members, for each has received a different gift from the Lord. With these gifts and functions at their disposal, all the members together contribute to the well-being of the Christian community.
12:27 Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are the body of Christ. This cannot mean the Body of Christ in its totality. Neither can it mean a Body of Christ, since there is only one Body. It can only mean that they collectively formed a microcosm or miniature of the Body of Christ. Individually each one is a member of that great cooperative society. As such he should fulfill his function without any feeling of pride, independence, envy, or worthlessness.
27 The Corinthians are the body of Christ and each one of them is part of it. Some felt superior and as a result others were made to feel inferior in their ministry. They were tempted to withdraw, or actually withdrew, from any active role in the Christian meeting. Just as some Corinthians failed to recognize the body in 11:29, so here they exercised their ministry in a way which had a negative effect on other members. They showed partiality in their response to others—something which clearly happened in secular society
12:27 body of Christ Implies that the Church belongs to Christ. The Church must maintain the values of Christ (mutual love and concern) rather than the values of the nonbelieving Corinthians (self-sufficiency and arrogance).
 Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 369). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Soards, M. L. (2011). 1 Corinthians (p. 266). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Prior, D. (1985). The message of 1 Corinthians: life in the local church (p. 216). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 220). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, p. 440). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1794). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Winter, B. (1994). 1 Corinthians. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1181). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Co 12:27). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
3 The righteous are described as “wise” (Heb. maśkilîm; v. 3a). The parallel expression, “those who lead many to righteousness” (v. 3b), further describes “those who are wise” (cf. Baldwin, 205). The “wise” were introduced previously as those who “will instruct many” (11:33). These wise or righteous Jews are similar to the “righteous servant” of Isaiah who will “justify many” by his knowledge (Isa 53:11). Collins (Daniel, 393) outlines the two different views on how the “wise” make “many” righteous: either by their propitiatory death as martyrs (cf. Lacocque, 230) or by their teaching, meaning “instruction rather than martyrdom is the means of justification.” Clearly the latter understanding is more likely given the context of chs. 10–12, but more important is Baldwin’s observation, 205, that “there is only one source of righteousness—God himself” (cf. Da 9:7, 14). No doubt Daniel and those belonging to his group (or the teachers among them) are included among “those who are wise” (cf. Longman, 284).
As in the case with “the wise” (v. 3a) and “those who lead many to righteousness” (v. 3b), the phrases “like the brightness of the heavens” (v. 3a) and “like the stars” (v. 3b) should be understood as parallel synonymous expressions (cf. Miller, 319). Collins (Daniel, 393) connects the exaltation of the wise with the exaltation of the servant who acts wisely; “he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted” (Isa 52:13). Lucas, 295, finds an allusion to the motif of the wise shining like celestial bodies in “dew of light” mentioned in connection with those who will rise from the dead in Isaiah’s “little apocalypse” (Isa 26:19).
Both Lacocque, 244–45, and Collins (Daniel, 393–94) take the promise to mean that the wise will become angels in the next life, based on the influence of Hellenistic beliefs and later intertestamental apocalyptic literature (e.g., 1 En 104:2–6). Goldingay, 308, and Longman, 284, however, caution against pressing the language of an obvious metaphor too literally. Seow, 188–89, aptly calls attention to the reversal of destiny between the humiliation of those who attempt to ascend to the stars (cf. 8:10; 11:36–37) and the vindication of those who act wisely (v. 3).
12:3 “The discerning” who “set the multitude right” had had their teaching despised, and some of them had lost their lives. Their position, then, will also be reversed, not merely by restoring them to life, but by giving them a position of pre-eminent honor. They “will shine as bright as the sky, … shine like the stars to all eternity.” The stars can be taken to represent celestial beings: cf. 8:10; also Judg 5:20; Job 38:7; 1 Enoch 104; T. Moses 10.9; 51. It is difficult to tell how literal and how metaphorical these passages are. In the light of 8:10, “the stars” here may well indicate celestial beings. “Like the stars” then compares the discerning with these, but does not necessarily thereby suggest that they will be located among them, still less will become stars/angels. It may point in the opposite direction (Nickelsburg, Resurrection, 26; contrast Collins, Vision, 136–38). A poetic couplet echoing an earlier scriptural passage (Isa 52:13; 53:11) within a visionary flight into the future cannot be pressed.
But what is the significance of comparing the discerning to stars or locating them among the celestial beings? In earlier OT thought the king has been spoken of in these terms (Num 24:17; 1 Sam 29:9; 2 Sam 14:17, 20; Isa 9:5 ), against the background of an assumed correspondence or other linking between heaven and earth, heavenly powers and earthly powers, such as we have noted in connection with Dan 10. The last northern king had himself sought to storm heaven’s gates. In 12:3 such notions are not quite democratized, but they are applied more broadly to the “discerning” leaders of the community: cf. the designation of prophets as Yahweh’s messengers/angels (מלאכים)? It is these “discerning” who partake of the honor of a place in Yahweh’s council (see Wifall, “The Status of ‘Man’ as Resurrection,” ZAW 90  382–94). They receive the honor the last northern king wrongly and vainly sought. Here, too, we should not be literalistic in interpreting the poetry of vv 1–3: the vision is of life on earth lived by beings who are still human. But neither should we be prosaic in our understanding: it envisages a life of a heavenly character, the life of eternity. The discerning share in the theophanic glory of the new Jerusalem (Cavallin, Life, 27; Martin-Achard, RHPR 59  449; Nickelsburg, Resurrection, 26).
12:3 have insight. Those having true knowledge, by faith in God’s Word, not only leaders (as 11:33), but others (11:35; 12:10). To “shine” in glory is a privilege of all the saved (cf. the principle in 1Th 2:12; 1Pe 5:10). Any who influence others for righteousness shine like stars in varying capacities of light as their reward (as in 1Co 3:8). The faithfulness of the believer’s witness will determine one’s eternal capacity to reflect God’s glory.
12:3 The brightness looks forward to the brightness in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22–27; 22:5).
12:3 the ones having insight See Dan 11:33 and note. The Hebrew phrase referring to wise men”) sounds similar to the language in Isa 52:13. This makes the connection between the resurrected servant here and the resurrected Servant in Isa 53:10 more explicit.
the ones providing justice for the many In Dan 11:33, wise men are said to give understanding. Here, they turn many to righteousness. The two concepts are related and demonstrate how indispensable these teachers were—particularly in times of crisis. In addition to instructing, they modeled peace and hope for deliverance (see 11:33–35). The description of those who lead people to righteousness in this verse echoes language about the righteous servant from Isa 53:11—solidifying the relationship between these passages.
12:3 Amid the dark, agonizing days of tribulation predicted in Daniel, here is a promise of refreshing relief. Out of that great period of depression and in every period of history, those possessing the wisdom of God shine as the brightness of the firmament, especially those whose lives are given to the task of turning men to righteousness. These will glow like the stars for eternity.
12:3 The wise not only understand salvation themselves (2 Tim. 3:15), they also turn many others to the way of righteousness.
 Hill, A. E. (2008). Daniel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 206–207). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Goldingay, J. E. (1998). Daniel (Vol. 30, pp. 308–309). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Da 12:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1617). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Da 12:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Da 12:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1023). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
3 In the first commandment there is only one difficult expression. It is the phrase ʿal-pānāya (“before/besides me”). Nowhere does this Hebrew phrase mean “except me.” Such phrases do exist in Isaiah’s vocabulary: “There is no God apart from me [mibbalʿāday] … there is none” (ʾayin zûlātî, Isa 45:21) and “none besides me” (ʾên ʿôd, Isa 45:6). But none of these is chosen here. The Hebrew preposition ʿal has such a wide use that no one translation can be affirmed to the exclusion of the others. Once in a while the words carry a hostile undertone (e.g., of Ishmael: “he will live over against [NIV, ‘in hostility toward’] all his kinsmen,” Ge 16:12 [my tr.]; cf. also Ge 25:18; Ex 20:20; Dt 21:16). Thus W. F. Albright (From Stone Age to Christianity [2d ed.; New York: Doubleday, 1957], 297, n. 29) translates it, “Thou shalt not prefer other gods to me.” The result, however, is the same: “I will not give my glory to another” (Isa 42:8). Houtman, 3:31, renders the ʿal as “above” (Ge 48:22; Dt 21:16; Ps 16:2) or even “in addition to” (Ge 28:9; 31:50; Lev 18:8; Dt 19:9).
3 The first of the ten commandments is basic to the nine that follow it and to the relationship the Decalogue is designed to insure. It sets forth an expectation of absolute priority, a first and fundamental requirement of those who desire to enter into the covenant relationship with Yahweh. MT reads, literally, “It (or There) is not to be to you (singular) other gods in my Presence.” The singular verb and the singular subject and indirect object, along with the plural direct object, “gods,” make the application of the command unmistakably clear. There is not to be even one other god (Exod 34:14 even reduces “other gods” to the singular אל אחר), each single member of the covenant community is specifically involved, and there is no place where this expectation is invalid, since there is no place from which Yahweh’s Presence is barred (so Ps 139).
Zimmerli (Grundriss, 100) has contrasted the use in the first commandment of היה “be” as opaque and overarching (“unanschaulichen, weitgespannten”) alongside the other commandments in which more specific verbs are used to describe the deeds prohibited or commanded. He compares this “unusual” mode of expression with the “absolute commands” of the creator in Gen 1:3, 6, and 14, and suggests that it “obviously represents a final condensation of a foundational proposition.” עַל has variously been rendered (cf. Knierim, ZAW 77  25; Stamm and Andrew, Ten Commandments, 79–81) as expressing preference, defiance, proximity, exclusion, opposition, and the like. It is taken above in connection with Yahweh’s “face” or “Presence” to refer to Yahweh’s Advent to Israel. He has given himself to them, and they are therefore no longer to have any other gods save him. It is possible that “in my Presence” is an expansion of a briefer earlier form; if so, it could be an expansion especially appropriate to the Sinai-Theophany context.
As a survey of other forms of this prohibition (see Knierim ZAW 77  23–25, for a helpful listing) makes clear, the first commandment is not an assertion of monotheistic conviction, that Yahweh is the only God, and hence the sole choice. The OT makes very clear that such was not the case in the world of ancient Israel. The first commandment, in a sense, was called for by the many gods who demanded of Israel the allegiance Yahweh alone had the right to command. The commandment does not specify that no one is to have “other gods,” but that Israel is to have no other gods. It is connected with Yahweh’s “jealousy” or “zeal” (cf. W. H. Schmidt, Das erste Gebot, 18–21, 30–33; Brongers, VT 13  269–70, 279–84), described more fully in the expansion of the second commandment.
This first of the commandments, in sum, is the essential foundation for the building of the covenant community. Yahweh had opened himself to a special relationship with Israel, but that relationship could develop only if Israel committed themselves to Yahweh alone. Yahweh had rescued them and freed them, delivered them and guided them, then come to them. The next step, if there was to be a next step, belonged to them. If they were to remain in his Presence, they were not to have other gods.
20:3 First commandment. Sole allegiance to ‘the Lord’ lies at the very heart of the covenant relationship. It is the foundation upon which everything else rests. The people were in practice to be monotheistic, worshipping only God. As is made clear elsewhere in the Pentateuch, the worship of other deities was punishable by death (Nu. 25:1–18; Dt. 13:1–18).
20:3 before Me. Meaning “over against Me,” this is a most appropriate expression in the light of the next few verses. All false gods stand in opposition to the true God, and the worship of them is incompatible with the worship of Yahweh. When Israel departed from the worship of the only one and true God, she plunged into religious confusion (Jdg 17, 18).
20:3 You shall have no other gods. Yahweh demands exclusive covenant loyalty. As the one true God of heaven and earth, Yahweh cannot and will not tolerate the worship of any “other gods” (cf. 22:20; 23:13, 24, 32); in other words, monotheism, the worship of the one true God, is the only acceptable belief and practice. before me. This Hebrew expression has been taken to mean “in preference to me,” or “in my presence,” or “in competition with me.” Most likely, “in my presence” (i.e., worshiping other gods in addition to the Lord) is the intended sense here, in view of (1) the creation account (Gen. 1:1–2:3), which makes any “other gods” irrelevant (since only the Lord is active); (2) the events in Egypt, in which the Lord displayed his superiority to “other gods” (cf. Ex. 12:12; 15:11; Ezek. 20:7–8); and (3) the persistent call to worship Yahweh alone (Ex. 22:20; 23:13, 24, 32–33; cf. Deut. 6:13–15). Even though this commandment does not comment on whether these “other gods” might have some real existence, Moses’ statement to a later generation makes clear that only “the Lord is God; there is no other besides him” (Deut. 4:35, 39; see also Ps. 86:10; Isa. 44:6, 8; 45:5, 6, 18; and 1 Cor. 8:4–6). See also note on Deut. 5:7.
20:3 no other gods before me Forbids any personal loyalty or relationship with any deity besides Yahweh—the core idea behind the modern term “monotheism.”
Biblical Hebrew has no verb meaning “to have.” Instead, it conveys the idea of possession in a variety of ways. The most common is the phrasing found here: “there shall not be to you.” When used in relation to items that are animate (e.g., a wife, livestock, a deity), the phrase connotes a personal relationship.
 Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, p. 480). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Durham, J. I. (1998). Exodus (Vol. 3, pp. 284–285). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
 Alexander, T. D. (1994). Exodus. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 107). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ex 20:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 176). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 20:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.