291. THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
There is not to any other God before my face.
These are the words of the first commandment (Exod. 20:3; Deut. 5:7). Their ordinary meaning in the natural or literal sense is that idols are not to be worshipped; for it continues:
You are not to make for yourself a carving or any likeness of anything in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth. You are not to bow down before them or worship them, because I, Jehovah your God, am a jealous God. Exod. 20:4, 5.
The reason why the ordinary meaning of this commandment is that idols are not to be worshipped, is that before this time and afterwards down to the Lord's coming, much of Asia practised idolatrous worship. The reason was that all the churches before the time of the Lord were representative and symbolic. The symbols and representations were such that ideas about God were presented in the form of various likenesses and carvings; and when their meanings became lost, the common people began to worship these as gods. Even the Israelite nation had this sort of worship when they were in Egypt, as is clear from the golden calf, which they worshipped in the desert instead of Jehovah. It is also clear that later on they were by no means averse to that sort of worship, as many passages in both the historical and prophetic books of the Word show.