Exodus 20:1-7 – The First Three Commandments

Walk Through Exodus

Devotions - Week 10

'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength'
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
During our online message this week we looked at the 1st - 3rd commandments. 3 commandments that all are about our worship of God, and we saw how the famous words from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 in a beautiful way summarises these 3 first commandments.

The first one, to love God with all our heart, the first commandment going like this: You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)

God is the only true God, the one that is to have all our devotion, our first love, our whole heart. God is passionate for our love as he loves us passionately. As a loving Father, God knows that only by worshipping him will we experience the fullness of the life he has created us for, and that worshipping anything else, might that be our career, our self-image, a position of influence and power. Drugs, alcohol or any other addiction, money, religion or sex, technology, leisure time, video games, worshipping anything else than him will eventually lead to our destruction. Worship is an all or nothing thing – we worship God alone, or we don’t worship God. He will not share our worship with anyone or anything.  So he tells us to worship him with all our heart.

The second one, to love Him with all our soul, the second commandment going like this: You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. (Exodus 20:4-5a)

The soul is the part of us that goes on and on, there is no end to our soul. Our soul is the part of us that can't be touched or seen, we know it is there, but it has no form. And God says we are to worship him, the limitless God with all our soul. We're not to box Him into an image, as if there is an end, or limit to him, as if a form could ever contain him. God is holy, awesome, majestic and he is passionate, even jealous about the fullness of who he is. He refuses to let us limit him to something we can see and touch. For his own glory’s sake, but also for our good. The journey of discovering who God is, is the most thrilling adventure on earth. Our life is meant to be a journey of discovering more and more of the beauty and majesty and wonder of who He is. So he tells us to love him with all our soul.

And thirdly, to love Him with all our strength, the third commandment going like this: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain’ (Exodus 20: 7).

We saw how the word 'take' here, actually means to 'carry'. God tells us not to carry him name in vain (vain = futile, worthless, empty, pointless), but to carry His name in a way that shows the world his glory, full of worth and honour. We do this by loving him with all our strength, in our words, our deeds, our energy, with all our body, our entire lifestyle - all to reflect His glory. And we saw how a name is a person's reputation. God is jealous for his own reputation - for his own glory’s sake, but also for the sake of this world. When his name is being proclaimed as it should, people will see who he is and be drawn to him. So he tells us to love him with all our strength.

These are the three first commandments, beautifully summarised in Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. But how is it possible to keep these commandments, how can I possibly love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength - at all time?

When the 10 commandments were given to the Israelites, they were carved on two tablets of stone (Exodus 31:18) And thinking of these tablets of stone reminds me of God's promises to his people by his prophet Ezekiel when he said: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36.26) and again by his prophet Jeremiah: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

The commandments, as well as being commandments from God that we are meant to keep, also plays a part in showing us how we all fail to measure up to God's standard. (Romans 3:20) None of us can keep all of this at all time. But thanks be to God that we live on this side of Pentecost, that we live in the time of the fulfilment of these promises that we just read. That we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. No, none of us can keep the commandments in our own strength, but God has promised that as we live a life with the Holy Spirit, giving more and more room to His Spirit in us, He will transform us to become more and more like Him. He is the one that gives us the will and the strength to keep his commands (Philippians 2:13), no longer written on tablets of stone, but by the Holy Spirit in us, written on our hearts.


  1. With your own words, what does it mean to you to love the Lord your God with:
     your heart
     your soul
     your strength

  2. Again thinking about these three parts of yourself; heart, soul and strength. Is there any of these three that you find it easier/harder to fully love God with. If so, why do you think that is?

  3. Read Philippians 2:13; do you have a testimony in your own life of this promise fulfilled?

  4. God starts his list of commandments with these three, that are all about our worship of him. And this shouldn't come as a surprise to us as we've already seen how he told Pharaoh to let his people go so that they could worship him. This is our first call, what we are ultimately created to do. Why don't you take some time right now, simply to give him your love by worshipping him for who He is.


Dear God,

My Father, my creator, my Lord, my Saviour, thank you. Thank you for all that you have done and all that you are, and in this very moment I want to commit myself to worship you, all of my days, with all that I am. With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength. You are the only one, the one I live for, the one I serve, the one I will spend eternity getting to know. I love you.

This Everyday Devotions was written by Elisabeth Radtke, who is a Deacon at our Croydon Plant.

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This Everyday Devotions is accompanied by a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube Channel.

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