By Pastor Bud Talbert
The phrase “I am the LORD your God” is found forty-two times in the Old Testament, twenty-one in Leviticus alone. Just as Yahweh, the personal name of God indicated in English by all capital letters, is Israel’s God instead of all the Egyptian and Canaanite deities around them, so He is also our God instead of all the false deities around us today. And as our “God” (Elohim) He is our supreme one, just as He was for the Jews under the Old Covenant.
What exactly does it mean that Yahweh is our Elohim? First, it means that He will provide for the needs of His people. This is indicated by the phrase “… you shall know that I am the LORD your God.” The greatest example of this is when He redeemed Israel from Egyptian oppression. For instance, in Exodus 6:7 God promises Israel, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment (i.e. the plagues). 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (see also Lev 23:43, 25:55, 26:13, Psa 81:10, Isa 43:1-3). The LORD provided bread for Israel to show that He was Yahweh their Elohim (Ex 16:12). When this expression is used it means that God will protect, deliver and provide general for we who are His people.
Second, the expression means that His people must obey Him. He prefaces Exodus 20 by pointing out, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (therefore) 3 You shall have no other gods before me ….” (see also Deuteronomy 5:6) Observing all Ten Commandments was mandatory for Israel precisely because Yahweh was their Elohim. See how clearly this connection between relationship and obedience is expressed in Leviticus 18:4 “You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God.”
Also, Israel was obligated to obey the LORD’s commands under the Old Covenant because He had delivered them from Egyptian bondage. Is there not, then, an obligation upon those of us who have embraced the New Covenant to also obey the commands of our Savior because He has saved us from sin? This relationship to Israel and to us becomes the ground for His many commands. Do these things because you are My people (Exodus 20:2, Leviticus 11:44, 18:2, 30, 19:3, 4, 10, 25, 31, 34, 36, 20:7, 24, 23:22, 24:22, 25:17, 38, 26:1, Num 10:10, 15:40-41, Jud 6:10, Isa 48:17-19).
When we say to God “You are the LORD my God” we can urge His grace that we may obey Him. And we can plead His covenant relationship with us to provide for us, protect us and deliver us!