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Summary: A look at the second commandment encouraging people to accept no substitutes for a real relationship with the real God, embracing His passion, enjoying His protection, and experiencing His promises fulfilled for 1,000 generations to come.

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Accept No Substitutes

Exodus 20:4-6

Some time ago, a young man crowded into an airplane seat next to a businessman. They both fastened their seat belts, and the businessman good-naturedly inquired as to whether the young man was traveling on business or pleasure.

“Pleasure,” the young man replied. “I’m on my honeymoon.”

“Your honeymoon?” the businessman asked, mystified. “Where’s your wife?”

“Oh, she’s a few rows back. The plane was full, so we couldn’t get seats together.”

The plane hadn’t started rolling yet, so the businessman said, “I’d be happy to change seats with her so that the two of you can be together.”

“That’s okay,” the young man replied. “I’ve been talking to her all week.” (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, Zondervan, 2000), p. 154)

That young man was already tired of his new wife.

Sometimes that happens in our relationship with God. If we’re not careful, we get tired of Him; and before we know it, we find that we have substituted other things for a real relationship with the real God.

How then do we as believers keep our love for the Lord strong? How do we keep from losing our first love and continue to maintain a real relationship with the real God?

Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to

Exodus 20, Exodus 20, where the second commandment shows us how. Exodus 20, starting at vs.4 (read)

If we want to maintain a real relationship with the real God, then we must ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES. WE MUST NOT REPLACE GOD FOR THINGS WE THINK LOOK LIKE GOD. WE MUST NOT CREATE IMAGES IN OUR MINDS, OR OTHERWISE, THAT ATTEMPT TO REPRESENT GOD.

The word “idol” in the Hebrew is literally a “carved image.” In Bible days, people didn’t take photographs, but they would often carve images of people and things in wood or stone.

Well, God says, “Don’t carve any images of Me. Don’t make any pictures of Me.” Why? Because no one has seen God at any time. No one knows what God looks like. No one has God all figured out.

Rob Bell once said, “The moment God is figured out with nice, neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, Zondervan, 2005)

God is not like anything in ALL of his creation. He is not like anything in heaven. He is not like anything on earth. & He is not like anything in the sea. God is holy! He is wholly other. & There is nothing in all of creation to which we would even dare compare Him, so we shouldn’t even try.

If we want to keep our love for the Lord strong, then we must accept no substitutes for the real God Himself.

As most of you know, Sandy and I just got back from a trip to Kansas where we took our last son, Tim, to college. We are very proud of him and excited for him as he begins a new chapter in his life.

This is also the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Sandy and I are now “empty-nesters.” And while we look forward to more freedom in our relationship and more productivity in the years ahead, we feel a little “empty” without any of our children around.

I can understand what Dave Davila’s parents went through when he, at age of 24, left his close-knit family in East Moline, Illinois to take a job in Chicago. Family gatherings just weren’t the same without Dave. So his mother took a digital photo of him, had it blown up to his actual height – 5 foot 8 inches – and mounted it on heavy cardboard.


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