“You shall have no other gods before me.”
The very first command that God gave the Israelites was to have no other gods before Him. It sounds simple enough but Moses didn’t make it down from Mount Sinai before the Israelites were bowing down to the golden calf.
It seems like it would be easy to follow this command over the others. After all, when is the last time that you had a temptation to construct an idol and bow down to it?
The Israelites had great problems with idolatry. God had instructed them to remove all the foreigners and their foreign gods from the land but instead they made compromises and signed peace treaties. Peace is usually desirable but not when it goes against the direct instruction of God.
The Israelites didn’t allow foreigners and their gods to remain around with the expectation that it would cause problems later on. But this is how most sin creeps in. We make compromises on things from which we assume nothing bad can happen. In the Israelites’ case it led to the nation being flooded with idols and the people intermarrying with foreigners and bowing to foreign idols.
Of course an idol can be anything that we place ahead of God, not just a statue. The devotions on worship cover this topic in more depth. We must be careful about compromises because they often have unintended consequences.