We're in our series on the Ten Commandments and as you can see, we're on the second commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images. You know, this is a commandment that we really don't need. Because, who of you went out this morning and bowed down before some image made of stone or wood. So, really we don't need this commandment, do we? Graven images? We don't have any problem with graven images. We are too intelligent for that. We have electric light bulbs so why would we ever worship the sun? We are Protestants. We don't have a problem with the second commandment. So is there anything we can gain from the second commandment? Let's read it and see.
Exodus 20:4 KJV "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."
Do not worship an image of anything representing God in the water, in the skies, or on the land. That's the command, isn't it. I guess you could say that a left-handed god could be star worship. Maybe astrology! Maybe consulting your horoscope. That would sort of be catering or bowing to its dictates. Some folks do live by their horoscope.
The Bible warns us about bad images. Modern times inundate us with thousands of images every day. We see them on billboards, we see them on television, we see them on the monitor, we see them everywhere. In a hundred ways we are flooded with these images of every day. Can these things be idols? Well, I don't know. They could become an idol if they begin to rule our thoughts and if they begin to control our cravings. They could become an idol. For instance, if you idolize money and you keep acquiring more and more material things they will begin to control you and God will lose out. We human beings are at the apex of God's created handiwork. Therefore we modern intelligent people are capable of the highest forms of idolatry.
An idol is not always made of stone or wood. The second commandment doesn't limit it to that, does it. The facts are that we might be our own idol. Did you ever think about that? You might idolize yourself. Some folk bow down to their own image. They've got mirrors all over the place. They worship their body. They've got to be sun-tanned just right. They've got to be perfect. They worship their looks. Let's face it, we will never, ever going to look like Barbie!
Come to Psalm 135 in your Bible. Here is the law of idols. Psalm 135:18 says: Those who make them will be like them. That's the law of the idol. If you make an idol, you're going to soon become like that idol. In other words, you will soon become like the images that dominate you. Wow! We need to be careful, don't we. What images we allow to consume our daily thoughts, that's what we are becoming like.
If you make an idol of wealth or wine or women or any other thing, those things will soon become your pleasure and passion. They will begin to dominate your life. This is the law of the second commandment. Heaven will fade away, and the Bible will get boring. If the image of fashion consumes you then you will soon be governed by fashion. If the image of position and prestige is dwelt on long enough you will soon be controlled by them. So be careful. Let's see how this works.
Let's say that I become charmed by a certain sports figure, or movie star. I begin to wear the same brands of clothes they wear. I purchase the same sun glasses they use. I begin acting as they act. If they endorse a certain product on TV I go out and buy it. Soon I create a mini god of them by elevating these famous celebrities to a high status in my life.
If I compare my enthusiasm toward them with my enthusiasm toward God, which is the most? Now, right here is where you can begin to tell if they're becoming your god. Okay, here's how you can tell. If my true devotion to my real God is higher, then maybe this is okay. Maybe it's not going to crowd God out. We have to be careful here. I might compare my love for reading God's Word to my delight in watching my star on TV. Which do I get the most excited about? And if I only have so much time, am I going to spend it with this? Or am I going to spend it watching my star? That's how you can tell if this is becoming your god. Would I get excited about buying trading cards of all the saints in the Bible? Would that excite me? Or, maybe all the saints in my town or my church? Dr. Laura said, "Imagine trading cards of all the people who have received Nobel Prizes." Would we get excited about that? Would that turn us on? Do we do that? The bible says that we become like the gods that we idolize. So, be careful.
Anything apart from God, that becomes the focus of your energy, the focus of your love, the focus of your time could become an idol. Yes, it could. Anything carried to the excess could become an idol. This is especially true if it short-circuits my commitments to my God or my family or my church. For example: You spend umpteen hours surfing the web while your Bible is gathering dust, or while your house is falling apart. Let's suppose you spend umpteen hours chatting in the chat room while your family is disintegrating in the other room. Let's suppose that you spent all kinds of time on your E-mail at your monitor while God waits for you to communicate with Him. Then you have made these things your idol. Yes, the modern world can abound with idols.
Our goal in preaching this series on the Tender Hearted Commandments, which is what we're in the process of doing, is to do exactly what Jesus did in Matthew 22:37-38 where Jesus takes and restates the Ten Commandments in positive terms. Are you aware that eighty percent of the Ten Commandments in Exodus are stated in the negative. What Jesus does, is He restates them in the positive. Now, I think that is a good thing to do. And that's exactly what we are doing in this series. You see, loving God, loving His image. That's what we chosen to do. So, that's what we're doing. Love God; love your neighbor. That was Jesus' summary of the Ten Commandments. It's stated in the positive. So today, What would be the positive of "Don't make graven images?" Well, we have chosen to call this one "Loving God's Image." I think that is a very positive thing.
A few moments ago we read a warning in Psalm 135:18 where it says that those who make graven images will become like them. Let's restate that verse in the positive sense. "If the image of God dominates your thoughts, your time and your love, you will eventually begin to reflect the Image of God." Isn't that a beautiful principle?
Jeremiah 2:5 KJV states it this way: They... walked after vanity, and are become vain! Whatever you walk after, you are becoming. This is at the heart of the second commandment. What you bow down to is what you will very soon resemble. So, be careful what consumes your life.
So the second commandment is of highest importance. What is at stake here is your destiny. Both God and the Devil are contending for your image. Both want you to reflect their image. That's what they want. On page one of the Bible God sets His purpose: Genesis 1:26 - "Let us make man in our image." That is God's purpose for every human being is that we might be in the divine Image. He is still working to make His children into the divine Image. Romans 8:29 NLT says For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like His Son... That's the goal of heaven. We have been chosen to be like Jesus. That is God's purpose for us. How do we become like Jesus?
*The Law of Beholding says that by beholding we become changed, 2 Corinthian 3:18. Whatever image you keep looking at is what you will be like. Thou shalt not make any graven images. Do not make images of anything in the heavens above the world, or of anything in the world or anything in the waters beneath the world. Don't put the world in your sights. The opposite of this is to put Heaven in our sights. Focus on God.
I John 5:21 "Little Children, keep yourselves from idols." What was the first commandment that the children of Israel broke? The second one! But let me tell you that if you can really get into the grand purpose of the second commandment you will keep all the others with ease. Why? If it becomes your goal to reflect more and more of the IMAGE of God in your life, then you won't ever want to lie or steal or do anything to compromise the goal of Christ-likeness.
An idol is a substitute for God. An idol is not the real thing but an image of the real thing. It is a stand-in or counterfeit. I have a ROLEX watch right here on my wrist. Actually it is not a real ROLEX but a look-a-like. A cheap substitute for the real thing. If I depended on this thing to keep me exactly punctual I would be let down. God wants us to have the real thing. God is so good. He always wants what is best for us. Don't be attracted to the false images of life, go for the real article. Go for God s image.
Exodus 20:5 "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God...
Is jealousy a good or bad character quality? God is possessive. Sometimes we grow up thinking that God is watching our every move. He is out to spy on us to condemn us. Don't you believe it. We have been hearing some awful stories in the news about evil men capturing little girls to do them unthinkable harm. Most of the girls never come back. This TV story has made us even more protective as parents and grand parents. Why? Because we love our kids. We are jealous for their safety and well- being. That s the same type of jealousy God has for His children. He is jealous when we associate with the Devils bait. Those evil images will take us down a path from which we will never come back.
PROTECTION is an excellent component of God's Law. I think the 10 commandments were put in place as a wall of protection around us. Shielding us from all kinds of evil. If everybody kept the law of God there would be no need for a military budget. No Pentagon. No need for police protection. No jails. No courts. No locks or keys. No security systems. There would be no more crime of any kind.
These two tablets of stone written by God's very own finger are a wonderful protection for each of us. The path of obedience is the only path to safety. Praise God for His law. We do not keep it to be saved. We keep it because we are in love with Jesus Who is the great Law Giver.
God is jealous if we are pursuing worldly images. Maybe we are chasing temporal cosmopolitan values which the Devil dangles before us like a carrot in front of a running rabbit. We burn out our strength chasing the wrong image. The Twentieth Century New Testament says we were created to resemble God Ephesians 4:24. The second commandment urges us to spend our energies chasing the right image.
Christians should develop a deep love for God s Image. We should also love His image in others. And we should love His image in ourselves.
"By beholding and imitating His life we shall become renewed in His image. The glory of heaven will shine in our lives and be reflected upon others." - EG White, Volume 5. of Testimonies for the Church, p.307.
Let's continue with the second commandment: Exodus 20:5,6. "I the Lord your God, am a Jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
Do you see the contrasts here? Hate and Love. Do you see a contrast in the length of time here? The punishment lasts how long? 3-4 generations. The love lasts how long? 1000 generations! The punishment of sin might last 75 years but the results of love will last a thousand generations! Did you know that the second commandment is the only commandment where love is mentioned?
Who does God show His great love to? To those who love Him and keep His commandments. This sounds very much like Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 14:12 says the Saints are those who obey His commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
Human beings are warned not to create an image of what they think God might look like. Just as soon as we cast an image of God we have reduced Him to something we can handle. Some of us want a God of 100% love. So we carve up a god that does not include any works or very little commitment on our part. We want a designer god...tailor made to our specifications.
Rather than redesign God to meet our wishes, why Don't we allow Him to redesign us to fit His plan for our life? We are not little potters down here on this earth forming god into an image of our own making. Instead, we are the clay sitting on the Divine potters wheel awaiting His loving touch to mold us into an image of His choosing.
The second commandment is really one of surrender to God's purpose. Romans 8:7 says that we are to Submit to God's Law. It is here at the second commandment where we submit to the divine pattern maker. It is not we who carve up an image. No. It is God Who holds the chisel. When you take the chisel into your own hand and you carve up an image of your design you break the second commandment.
Are you willing to surrender all to God? Pray to reflect more of the Divine Image. I want to be like Jesus. I want His character to be my character. The great goal of my life is this: To be like Jesus
Sources: The Ten Commandments, by Laura Schlessinger
Hymn of Praise: #6, Worship The Lord Scripture: Exodus 20:4-6 Hymn of Response: #311, I Would Be Like Jesus 020810#521
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last updated 8/11/2002 by Bob Beckett.