"There is something about this God of Israel unlike any other deity of the ancient Near East: You either worship him only or not at all" (Bill Arnold, The NIV Application Commentary, 1 & 2 Samuel, Kindle edition, Loc. 2612).
The preceding quote caught my attention as I doing some reading in preparation for a recent sermon. The more I reflected on the statement, the more convinced I became that it strikes at the heart of why much of the world reacts strongly against the God of the Bible. He demands exclusive worship.
This principle is found throughout the Scriptures. The Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant were headlined with this sentence from God: "You shall have no other gods before (or besides) Me" (Exodus 20:3). Later, as Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land, Moses reiterated the exclusive nature of serving God: "You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you" (Deuteronomy 6:13-14). Jesus reaffirmed the concept in His own ministry as well (Matthew 4:10; 22:36-38).
And that's the rub. Most of the world (and, sadly, many professing believers) only want God IF they can worship\serve Him AND someone or something else. They wouldn't say it that way, but that's how it works out. God AND financial security. God AND country. God AND politics. God AND success. God AND materialism. God AND religion. God AND ???
But if you are claiming to worship\serve the God of the Bible, it can
only be God AND nothing! He is an exclusive God. He shares His
throne with no one. It's non-negotiable. This truth cannot be
made more palatable just because our world rebels against
exclusive claims. Perhaps a periodic review is in order. Am I allowing
ANYTHING to divide my whole-hearted devotion to my
God? If so, then some temple-clearing is also in order. My God
desires ALL of my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
God loves you! -Mike