(Exodus 20:4-6), ” Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
In our introduction to the study of the 10 commandments I shared with you two truths concerning the 10 commandments and I want to briefly give those two truths again. The first is, the 10 commandments were never meant to be the means for salvation, not for Israel or for us. The law was given as a schoolmaster to point us to our need of a Saviour and to bring us unto Christ our Saviour. (Galatians 3:24-25), “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” The law was given in order that sin might be known for what it is. The seriousness of sin was not rightly known before the law was given. Therefore the law was given to make sinners see their transgressions. (Rom.3:20b), “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law was a temporary covenant given for temporary purposes, and when Christ the seed came, He fulfilled the law. (Matthew 5:17), “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” The law remains in force today to condemn the wicked. Secondly, not only was the law not meant for salvation, but it was also not meant to for staying saved. (Ephesians 2: 8 -9), ” For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We are saved by grace and not works; we are kept saved by grace and not works.” The 10 commandments were not given for the purpose of salvation but God has not done away with the 10 commandments as a moral standard for holy Christian living. The 10 commandments cannot save us but let us not ignore them because in their place they are just as important as the glorious gospel. (Matthew 5:17-19), ” Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” The first commandment that we looked at says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The first commandment us who God is and that we are to worship the right God. The second commandment that we are going to look at in this lesson teaches us that we are not to worship the right God in the wrong way.
• WHAT THIS COMMANDMENT PROHIBITS (v.4)
This commandment prohibits basically two things: the making of any graven image or likeness of God and the bowing down to or serving them. Graven images here refer to idols and statues made for worship. God warns us against idols and statues because there has always been a human tendency to do exactly what this commandment says we are not to do. Notice this in (Romans 1:23, 25), “…changed the glory of the uncorrutible God into an image make like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (25), Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…” Man has bowed down before creeping creatures, before images of dogs, and frogs, and crocodiles, and snakes, and all kind of beasts. In Exodus 32, the children of Israel made a golden calf and cried out , “These be thy gods, o Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” God prohibits the making of graven images because the making of graven images distorts and degrades God. It is impossible for a material image to represent a spiritual God. An image is fixed, unchanging and when you make a golden image of God, you fix God. Am image is limited. God is not limited. An image is material. God is spiritual. An image is temporal. God is eternal. When you make a graven image you distort God. Furthermore, to bring God down to the level of man or to that of bugs, frogs, dogs, beasts, or fish is degrades God. We are not to distort or degrade God by making graven images because, “God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
• WHAT THIS COMMANDMENT PROTECTS (v.5a)
(Exodus 34:14), says, “For thou shalt worship no other god, for the Lord thy God, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” The root meaning of the word jealous means heat and to be inflamed. Jealousy is zeal to protect a relationship. The Bible teaches that when you come to know the Lord you enter into a covenant relationship with him, which is compared to a marriage. In the Old Testament, Israel was called the “BRIDE” of Jehovah. In the New Testament, believers are called the “BRIDE” of Christ. We are in a spiritual marriage relationship. When God says I am” a jealous God,” He is trying to communicate a relationship we have to Him that is extra special to Him and which He is going to protect. God is saying you belong to me. “You are special to me and I am going to fight to maintain that relationship.” God is saying, “ I’m the only God there is. I am your God- you belong to me. I am jealous of that relationship.” He is protecting what is very precious to Him. And what God requires from those of who have been saved by His grace if the giving of our total life, love, and loyalty. God wants your undivided attention and time every day of your life. God wants you to love Him wholeheartedly and not let anyone or anything to come between you and Him. Idolatry is anything you love more and value more than God that comes between you and God. God doesn’t want you to let anything come between you and Him. God want to be absolutely first in your life. He doesn’t want a place in your life; He doesn’t want prominence in your life; but He wants preeminence in your life.
• WHAT THIS COMMANDMENT PROJECTS (v.5-6)
When we first read this, we contend that it isn’t fair for a helpless child to be held guilty for something the parents did. However, the Lord didn’t say the child would be guilty, but that he would visit the iniquity of the parents upon the child. The Lord is pointing out that that children sometimes pay an awful price because of the sins of their parents. For example, children who are brought up in a home of an alcoholic will bear the scars of that situation. It may be that some of you are in danger of visiting your iniquities upon your own children and your grandchildren by the way you worship God and by your wrong attitude toward God. You have a gripe, and you start fussing and fighting, and you have your children who are listening to every bit of it. Or, a Sunday night comes, and you say, “There’s something going on and I’ll just stay at home. Your children are hearing you say that other things are more important than worshipping God. The way you worship God is serious business. Your attitudes and words are making indelible impressions on your kid’s minds. There is only one movement that can stop that downward spiral of sin and incorrect worship, and it is the upward spiral of God’s mercy and grace. For the unsaved, all that can stop the downward spiral is believing and receiving the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and when they get saved they will worship the true God the right way. For the saved, all that can stop the downward spiral is a complete and full surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the saved completely and fully surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ so that His will is being done in their lives, they will worship the true God the right way. Let me ask you, are you saved? If you died in the next five minutes, would you go to heaven or hell? If you are not saved, please contact us and let us show you how you can receive forgiveness of your sins and be saved. If you are saved, are you worshipping the right God in the right way? Does God have your total life? Does God have your total loyalty?
Pastor Allen Jackson