Summary: The second commandment teaches us that there is only one way to worship God the only true God. We are not to approach God through images and neither are we to make images of God because God is infinite and spirit.
“The Only Way to Worship the Only True God” Exodus 20:4-6
In our last study we examined the purpose of the Law and the essence of the first Commandment. We saw that it was the right of God by creation as well as redemption that God can give His Law to His People. The Ten Commandments state God’s Covenant Commands for those whom He has saved. It is fitting for man as well as the duty of man to worship the One and Only True God as He has revealed Himself; and it is God’s command to worship Him alone.
Even saved man does not do this perfectly: That is why Jesus came in the flesh from Heaven. He came to live a perfect life of submission and obedience to the Father and then to become the perfect substitutionary sacrifice, taking upon Himself the sin of the world so that those who will believe in Him might graciously receive forgiveness and life by faith in His work.
Today we focus on verses 4-6, the second commandment, but we’ll read Exodus 20:1-6: And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image (an idol), or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
The first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before Me”. The Lord alone is to be the ONLY object of our worship (and the most important of our lives!) The second command is, “You shall not make for yourself a carved (or graven) image, or any likeness of anything…nor bow down to them!” Here we understand “HOW” we are to worship God.
God’s people are set apart to the ONE and Only God so it would stand to reason that God’s people are forbidden to make images of any false gods. There is also the command that God’s people are not to make an image of the One True God because God is infinite. Man could only MIS-represent God in any vain attempt at making a likeness of God, which would also be a gross sin. God is spirit and not made of material. This One God who created and redeemed also commands that there should be NO images or idols made of Him with anything created.
The heathen nations built idols of all kinds and of any and all materials and for all kinds of reasons. Pagans would bow down and worship before these lifeless idols, bringing sacrifices and waiting in vain for answers and help. The Hebrew God, Yahweh was the eternal LIVING God. “I AM that I AM”. He created all things, revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and now came to speak to all of the Israelites, commanding He NOT be worshiped by or through manmade images.
Isaiah 40:17-18 says this: “17 All nations before Him are as nothing, And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless. 18 To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” In Chapter 44, Isaiah goes on to say how ludicrous it is for man to try and “capture” the essence of the eternal God with either metals or wood. It explains that a person cuts down a tree, carves an image from part of it and prays to it, but burns the rest of the same tree to stay warm. How ludicrous!
We are not to bow down or worship anything that God has created. We don’t need a mediator made from created matter or the created order. We do not worship “through” the created; we worship the CREATOR and Redeemer by faith because He has revealed His greatness through what He has created. Our focus in worship is upon the unseen but Almighty God, Yahweh, who has done all things well. We worship Him by faith but NOT without substance: He has revealed Himself mightily and clearly in Creation, Redemption, by His Word, by His Spirit, and in these last days, by His own Son, the Lord Jesus.
And so the One True God is to be worshiped through “imageless worship”. His greatness cannot be duplicated. The Creator cannot be re-created. Believers worship the God who we believe and worship by faith and we do so as He has dictated in His Word. The only way to worship our Great God is in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24); These are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks, worshiping God from your very heart and spirit in and through the Truth of the Lord Jesus Himself and who He is.