Summary: For most people, their image of God is too small. A proper view of God controls your obedience, your faith and your peace.
June 4, 2000 Exodus 20:4-6
“Chiseling away at God”
Every time that I go into Wal-Mart, I am reminded that there is a major group of American soldiers that does not yet have a memorial in Washington, DC. This group is composed of the men and women who served our country so bravely during the 2nd World War. Many of you have probably been to Washington at some point in your life. The last time that I was there was when Victoria was not quite a year old. It was an awful day. Victoria was in one of her really crummy moods. Nothing seemed to appease her. We didn’t get to see very much that day because of V’s fussiness and because of the fact that everything closed at 5:00 that day, and we didn’t get into town until around 3:00. Thankfully, I had been there a couple of times before, so I had already seen most of the monuments. DC is a city with filled with monuments to dead people. There’s a monument to Abraham Lincoln, and to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. There are monuments to the soldiers who served in Vietnam and the Korean War and World War I. We build monuments to these men and women to make sure that we never forget their contributions to our way of life today and so that we will not repeat the same mistakes that led to the sacrifices that they had to make. During one of my trips to DC, our tour guide directed our attention to the monument to Richard Nixon – he was pointing to the Watergate Hotel. How would you like to be remembered for that?
I would hate to be the one who was given the task of designing and building one of these monuments to soldiers who served in any of our wars. Think about the virtually impossible nature of their assignment. How in the world do you capture in a limited amount of space all of what went on in that war? How do you capture the essence of what it meant to those who fought in it, those that they left behind, and what was secured for America and the world by their sacrifice? Imagine trying to capture the fear that the soldiers faced as they stormed the beach, the sense of loss that wives endured when they received a telegram with terrible news, the exhiliration of successfully capturing an enemies stronghold, and the relief and sense of pride when you came home the victors. Imagine trying to capture that much human experience using wood, stone and metal and capturing a world-wide event only having maybe a quarter acre of land to work with. Its foolishness to even try.
Now imagine something different. Imagine trying to capture the totality of all of who God is using wood, metal and stone – things that He has created – and then trying to confine Him to an image of something that is a part of this universe. Imagine trying to put God in a box. That is the essence of the 2nd of the 10 Commandments in vs. 4-6 of Exodus 20 – “Thou shalt not make for yourself a graven image [idol]”. At first examination, it might look like this would be the easiest of the 10 to keep. I mean, after all, this isn’t India, or the jungles of Africa and South America. We don’t have little carved images of stone and wood in our homes that we bow down to every night. We can handle this one. It’s not too difficult to grasp. It’s in the other ones that we need lots of help – the ones that talk about not lying, and not committing adultery, and not wanting what my neighbor has. Those are the hard ones. Those are the ones that I need help with. This one I can handle. It must not be as easy as all that because the first commandment that the Israelites broke was not those ones that I just listed. It was this one. Before Moses ever came down from the mountain with the stone tablets, the Israelites had already made themselves an idol. If it wasn’t so easy a command for them to keep, could it be that we are weak in this area too? And could I also suggest that getting a handle on this command will greatly enhance our ability to obey the other commands as well.
I want you to repeat this after me, “My obedience to God is determined by my image of God”. Here’s what I want you to do this morning. I want you to allow the Holy Spirit to challenge your view of God this morning. I want you to ask yourself, “Is the God that I worship the God that is presented in the Bible, or have I reshaped God to be a god of my own making?” Let’s take a look at Exodus 20:4-6.