Summary: An exposition of Exodus 20:4-6

Islington Baptist Church

February 3, 2002

Exodus 20:4-6

Scripture reading: Exodus 32

Series: The 10 Commandments

How not to worship God

A few years ago I made a mistake. I was visiting an elderly Christian lady who happened to have a lamp, but no ordinary lamp. The lamp had a big fat Buddha as its base. This offended me as a Christian because I happened to know that the 10 Commandments and the scriptures restricts Christians from having idols in their possession. I am also convinced that a Christian having an idol or some other occult item in their house, even just as a “keepsake” or “souvenir” serves as an invitation to the Devil and evil spirits. Any ways, instead of bringing my concern to her immediate attention as I should have, I opted to tell a close Christian friend of hers—asking him to bring the issue up with her. The end result was that she got rid of the Buddha- like she should have- but was ticked off at me for a little while for my not directly talking to her about it.

2 points:

1. If you’ve got something to say to somebody, say it yourself.

2. If you have any idols in your house, being any representations of any of the people of this world’s gods, or any other occult items, get rid of them

Last week when we were together we considered the first of the 10 Commandments. The first commandment addresses the subject of WHO we are to worship. There is only one is worthy, the LORD God who made the heavens and the earth, He being the only and true God.

The second commandment raises the question of HOW we are to worship God (read Exodus 20:4-6)

While the question of How we are to worship God is raised by this commandment the literal words of this command deal with How one is NOT to worship God.

HOW NOT TO WORSHIP GOD: do not make an idol, a representation of God

As human being we are disposed to worship—its just part of us and our make up—the problem is the worship of the wrong things and the worship of God in the wrong way.

Thankfully, we have God’s word which tells us WHO to worship—being Him alone, and how not to worship Him.

In spite of the clarity of God in respect to how we are to worship to Him, people- at times even including us who are his followers - have persisted in trying to worship Him in their own ways—dreaming up ways of worship that they think will please Him but in fact anger Him.

The Bible is full of examples of people drawing near to God to worship in the wrong ways and paying the price for their disobedience.

For example: In Leviticus 10:1-3 it says “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censor and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near ME I must be regarded as holy; and before all people I must be glorified.”

As our creator and the only LORD, God has every right to tell us how and how we are not to approach and worship Him.

In the second commandment God here says that we are not to make for ourselves any sort of image that is intended to represent Him.

This commandment is intensified and strengthened in nature by the fact that God lists examples of the sorts of images that we are not to try to make to represent Him***

In spite of this clear command examples abound of people making images that are intended to represent God.

As many of you know, Hinduism is a religion that features 1000’s upon 1000’s variously carved and crafted images.

Roman Catholicism is a major offender as well. Every statute of Mary, every crucifix with a depiction of Jesus upon it, every icon and statute in their buildings is but an idol and an abomination unto the Lord.--- for what is it that people do? They light candles before these images, they pray for these images, they cover these images with their kisses and tears—such is worship, but not worship that God has ordained or accepts as unto Him.

One of the cruelest of all ironies regarding this command, concerns the behavior of the Israelites at the very same moment God was giving this and the other commandments to Moses (which we read this morning Exodus 32).


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