Summary: This was the second in a series and looks at not making idols.
Last week we started on a journey through the Ten Commandments, which will take us ten messages. Funny how that works isn’t it? Last week was fairly straight forward, not a lot of room for discussion, not much controversy. Most of us would consider our selves monotheistic, that is we believe in one God, so the first commandment isn’t real tough, it says in:
Exodus 20:3 Do not worship any god except me. How can you argue with that? And so last week I spoke a little bit concerning not putting anything else in the number one spot in your life for a couple of reasons, the first being that if we put anything else in that spot we will be disappointed eventually, and second that we worship that which is above us, and so whenever we promote something to that level in our life, our career, addictions, sex, astrology anything we are saying that it is superior to us. The bible tells us that there is God, then there is man and that everything else is below us. And so if nothing is above us but God then there is nothing to worship but God.
But that was last week, when we spoke on the first commandment.
The second one, may be a little tougher, Through the years there’s even been a major disagreement whether or not this commandment should stand on it’s own or be included with the first commandment. If you have a Catholic background you might have been wondering why I was spending two weeks on the first commandment and only a week on each of the other nine. Because the Catholics and the Protestants number the commandments differently is why.
In the Catholic Church they combine the first two commandments as one, worship no other Gods and don’t make idols, and then they split number 10 so that 9 is don’t covet your neighbours property and 10 is don’t covet your neighbours wife. That’s the way the Catholics number the Commandments whereas the Protestants number them the right way, only kidding.
In trying to determine why the two groups differ here it didn’t take long to realize that it is much too complex to get into in this service.
Some Protestants, fairly or unfairly, and I’m not making any judgment calls here at all, some protestants feel that the Catholic church renumbered the commandments so they could continue the wide spread use of religious imagery, statues and relics in their worship. Fairly or unfairly it’s your call.
But the second commandment does say some things about images and objects and relics and whether they should be used in worship.
What does it say? The second commandment reads this way. It reads in Exodus 20:4-5 Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me, I will punish your families for three or four generations. God seems to be saying that people should not under any circumstances craft anything with their hands and then bow down in worship of it, or in worship of the true God through the representation or the focal point of a graven image.
Now I’m sure that when you realized that I’d be speaking on the second commandment this week that you must have thought, “Great, this is going to be an easy week for me because I have no problem with commandment number 2 or number 1 1/2 or however you want to number the thing, I have never ever made an idol in my life and don’t plan to start now, this message won’t apply to me at all.” You might well be clean on this one, but just to be sure, stick with me a little bit as we look at what God had in mind when he gave the second commandment. We know what the “What is”, that’s don’t make or bow down to any graven images, but what about the why?
Well if the first commandment had to do with keeping God in the right spot in our lives, the second commandment is there so we won’t reduce God. All around Israel the neighbouring countries all had their gods, and in each case they had a physical representation of what their god looked like. Large images that were housed in enormous temples where people could go and see their gods And it was tough for the Israelites to worship an invisible God. Others could point to idols and images and say, look this is my god here, where’s your god? And God knew that the temptation would be great to build or carve something that would represent God for them, and he said “Your are not to do that”.