[CF Devotionals] 2019-19-10-27 - The Second Commandment: Against Idolatry

The Commandment Against Idolatry

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Introduction: In this part of our study, we will consider the contemporary problem of Idolatry and finally, we will examine how we make sure Christ hold’s first place in our life.

The second commandment is a warning against idolatry. Idolatry is defined as “… worship of idols. - excessive devotion to or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is defined as “… an image of a god, used as an object of worship: sometimes applied to any heathen deity. - any object of ardent or excessive devotion.” I think you can already see how we maybe able to find a way to directly apply this commandment, but let’s not jump the gun for first we need to discuss the commandment itself.

  1. The Commandment Against Idolatry: The command to not make idols follows directly on the heels of the command not to have any other gods in the first place. Since most of the gods of the other nations were portrayed by the manufacture of idols, it seems the obedience to the second command would go a long way in helping out with obedience to the first. In fact, we will see that at the same time that Moses is receiving the ten commandments, that the children of Israel are down in camp, disobeying this one.

Anyway, in addition to the problem the Israelites had with idolatry, let’s read what the prophet Isaiah says:

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”” (Isaiah 44:9–20 ESV).

We find Paul running into the same sin in Ephesus.

“For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”

When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!“ So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel” (Acts 19:24–29 ESV).

Idol worship is not a new problem. It still exists today in the classic form of worship of a man-made gods. There has been some feeling the images of Christ and in some churches of “saints” represent a direct violation of this command. And it well may be, depending on whether or not these images are truly worshiped.

Notice the commandment specifies images are not to be made to be the focus of worship. It didn’t matter if the images were of “gods” or anything in heaven or earth, birds, animals, etc. The point was no image was to become an object of worship. Historically Hebrew art never included anything from nature so they would not be violating the commandment. This was an example of excessive zeal in that the command wasn’t against art, but against art becoming an object of religious veneration. While I might argue against us having pictures that ostensibly portray the Lord, it wouldn’t be because I see it as a violation of this commandment.

It is important we recognize the difference between the first and second commands. The first refers to who is to be worshiped, God, and the second, how – not with images. Notice not only would this warning be against the worshiping of idols of other gods, but also no image of God Himself or of His creations should be made or worshiped. We may often assume from Scripture these other gods could be real, i.e. demons presenting themselves as deity. After all, Lucifer fell because he wanted the worship that belonged to God.

“Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy moun- tain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”” (Ezekiel 28:11–19 ESV).

Not only were the people not to make images, but they weren’t to bow down before them either. This also means if they came across idols in other lands, they were not to bow down them, either. When King Nebuchadnezzar, having built an image of gold to himself, commanded the Hebrew children to bow down to it, he received the following answer from three:

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”” (Daniel 3:16–18 ESV).
Unfortunately, the area of idol worship was one of on going failure during the history of the nation.

Exodus Study to be continued.

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[email geoff]The Second Commandment: Against Idolatry GKragen@aol.com

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CFD | October 2019 | Geoff's Devotions | Geoff's Studies | Devotional Topics