It is God’s unique identity which requires worship of him alone. Worship of other beings is inappropriate because they do not share in this unique identity.

Jews understood their practice of monolatry [worship of one God] to be justified, indeed required, because the unique identity of YHWH was so understood as to place him, not merely at the summit of a hierarchy of divinity, but in an absolutely unique category, beyond comparison with anything else.

-Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 12.

God has identity. This may seem very elementary but it is a very starling fact in this day and age. To most God is either far off and nebulous or a pattern of their own desires. There is nothing definitive about him/her/it.

As the Jews in the midst of pagan polytheism believed so we as Christians believe: God has an identity. He is somebody. Just like we each have our own identity which is not modeled by someone else’s desires so The Lord has a distinct identity.

This means, at first point, that what one believes about God really doesn’t mean anything. What matters is who God IS. Belief is grounded upon the actual identity of who God is. As Frances Schafer famously said we don’t have “faith in faith” we are to have faith in an actual being who has a definite identity. Our faith does make God. Our faith rest upon what YWHW has declare Himself to be, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7).

The second major point is that we do not decide that God is worthy of worship. His identity demands He is the only one worthy of worship. Where as the presents of our identities is a reflection of His identity categorically His identity is totally separate and unique. Our response is to be that of Moses after hearing YWHW reveal Himself, “And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped” (Exodus 34:8). So distinct and majestic is the Lord’s identity it is appropriate to worship Him alone.

Calling people to worship the Lord, then, is not seeking an exchange of personal preference. It calling people to quit the wrong practice of worshiping what does not deserve worship and to rightly worship Him who deserves it.

Just as faithful Jews stood alone in their world with their belief so we carry on the practice in claiming there is only one Lord and He alone is worthy of worship.

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