Summary: To note that there are no substitutes for God.

The 10 Commandments #2:

Take God as He is

Text: Exodus 20:4-6

Thesis: To note that there are no substitutes for God.


(1) Illustration – There is a temple in Kyoto, Japan, called “The Temple of the Thousand Buddhas.” Inside, there are 1,000 statues of Buddha, each one slightly different than any of the others in the temple so that the worshiper can go in, find the image of Buddha that looks most like himself, and worship that one.

(2) The “first command insists on God’s preeminence over everything else in our lives … the second command goes a step further to command us not to degrade God by comparing Him to anything that exists” (L. Lawson, The Ten Commandments 33).


I. The Command

A. “You shall not make for yourself an idol”

1. “Make” comes from a Hebrew word that means “to carve.”

2. Idolatry is “worshiping anything that ought to be used or using anything that ought to be worshiped” (Augustine).

a. This may be practiced by worship of false gods.

b. Also, this may be practiced by false worship of the true God.

B. What idols do we carve today? Money? People? Traditions? Religious symbols?

II. The Reason

A. “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God”

1. Jealousy here means a “single-minded devotion to an object.”

2. This is what Paul calls “godly jealousy” (2 Cor. 11:2).

3. God longs to bless His people, but we remove ourselves from this possibility when we turn to idols.

B. Further, consider the folly of idols.

1. Isaiah described a person who cut down a tree and made an idol only then to bow before it saying, “Deliver me, for you are my God” (Isa. 44:17).

2. Jeremiah correctly observed: “There is none like You, O Lord, You are great and great is Your name in might” (Jer. 10:6).

III. The Consequence

A. “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who have Me”

1. Israel was eventually punished for idolatry by Babylonian captivity.

2. The children also suffered the consequences of the sin of idolatry.

B. We will also be punished one day if we turn to idols.


(1) In Exodus 32, the Israelites made a golden calve while Moses was gone because they wanted a visual representation of God.

(2) Will we learn to take God as He is?

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