Summary: Part 2 looks at the different relevant ways we cast images of God.

Exodus 20:4-6

Empty Images

April 26, 2009


4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for 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, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Have I recently mentioned that I love my wife very much? In the time Debbie and I have been married, I am more and more amazed at her love, grace and compassion today than I was when we got married.

SLIDE (cartoon picture of another woman)

But let me ask you a question, how do you think she would like it if she was going to put money in my wallet and she found a picture of another, almost as attractive woman in front of her picture? Do you think Debbie would shrug her shoulders and say, ‘Well, Michael has a right to live his life as he sees fit?’ Or do you think it’s more likely she would walk into the next room and ask me to explain myself?

And how do you think she would like it if I told her that this other woman and I had an ongoing relationship, and that I turned to her whenever I needed support, affection and encouragement? Do you think she would continue to believe me when I tell say ‘I love you?’ Who would blame her if she wanted to tear that photograph and me, into a few hundred pieces. Could you fault her for feeling jealous, hurt and angry over having to share my love and devotion with another?

CLICK (picture of my wife and I; as the other picture leaves the screen)

Debbie is my wife. She has every right to expect and insist that I will keep myself for her and her alone. Debbie should expect that there are no other pictures in my wallet other than hers. She has the expectation that I will be faithful in our marriage. And I expect Debbie to be the same to me.

This, I believe, is the spirit of the second commandment. This is what God is saying to us, “I am your God. I have saved you and redeemed you, I have given my Son to you. PLEASE, do not put anything in the place that belongs to me. I love you with all my heart, and I want to care for you, protect you, provide for you and bless you. Do not have any other gods in your life. I want to be the only One for you, so that I am your God.”


Would this statement from God strike you as being too restrictive or legalistic? Is it too much for God to expect us to worship only Him? Of course not. He is our God. And after all, what’s the difference between a carved image and a photograph? In essence God is asking us not to put any other pictures in our wallets in front of His. Don’t turn to a false god for comfort, stimulation, or satisfaction. God is able to meet every one of your needs. You see, it is a love and a relationship issue. Debbie does not want nor expect any rivals for my love, and my Lord does not either.

Most of us know that the second commandment tells us not to make carved images or idols. But did you realize what this whole commandment tells us? Not only are we not to make images or likenesses of God, we are also not to bow down or serve those idols. And we also forget about that last line, that there are consequences for worshiping and serving idols, and there are also rewards for worshiping God.

Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and relies on, that is your God.” Is there anything we love more than God, fear more than God, serve more than God, or value more than God? The greatest command is to love God with everything in us. Therefore, it is a sin when we love something more than God. It is a sin because we end up worshiping and serving that god, and that’s idolatry.


People have been worshiping idols as far back as we have recorded history. Last week I mentioned the Egyptians had 114 gods and goddesses. Scholars believe in the time of the apostle Paul, ancient Greeks worshiped upwards of 30,000 gods. Their homes and cities had monuments to them everywhere, because they wanted none to be offended. They even erected one monument to what they called “the unknown God” to make sure that if they missed any, he or she would not be angry with them.

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