Sermon Notes: The Second Commandment – The Right God, The Right Way

23 01 2016

Last week I was on Sunday School, but I’ve just found time to sit down and listen to the sermon.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them”

The first commandment forbids us from worshiping false gods. This one forbids us from worshipping the true God falsely.

The Rule“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” – v4
This means man made representations of divine beings. They could still make things, but not to worship them – the verse continues “you shall not bow doen to them or worship them.” Nothing in the tabernacle represented God directly, the items were to aid worship, not to be worshipped. These days we have things like banners and the cross in church, they’re to help us worship.

The Reason“for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” – v5a
God loves His people with a jealous love. Jealousy doesn’t get a good press, it’s often a negative thing these days, but in the bible it means that God burns with love for us. God loves us too much not to be jealous.
“A God who was not jealous… would be as contemptible as a husband who didn’t care whether or not his wife was faithful to him. Part of our problem with this profound covenantal reality is that we have come to regard religion, like everything else, as a matter of ‘consumer choice’… We resent monopolies. But the unique and incomparable, only living God makes necessarily exclusive claims and has the right to a monopoly on our love….Jealousy is God’s love protecting itself.” – Christopher Wright
He loves us, and wants to be loved in return.

The Warning“punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” – v5b
Not many of us these days have carved idols at home, we have more of an issue with idols of the heart. An idol is anything we love or trust more than Jesus Christ.
The idea of punishing children for the sin of their ancestors is something that is very hard for us to understand in our individualistic western culture. In those days, three or four generations would have been likely to live together, and so if the head of the household worshipped idols, it would likely mean that the rest of the family would too. They worked in family units, not as individuals.
Discipline is part of love. It’s not loving to allow your children to do wrong and just let them get on with it and say it’s ok.
“because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” – Proverbs 3 v 12

The Promise“but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – v6
The promise is so much more powerful than the warning: 1000 >>>>> 3 or 4!
We know that children, grandchildren and so on have the ability to make their own decision and turn away, but Grace is available.
What kind of legacy are we leaving? Will it be a blessing?

This still applies today
“The human heart is a perpetual factory of idols” – John Calvin
As Christians there are even more subtle ways we manage to make idols. Any time we try to make God into something we can contain or control we’re making an idol. We may try to bargain – “If I do this for God he will do that for me”, or think there are formulaic ways to get God to answer prayer.

We make an idol when we choose to worship God for some of his attributes but not others. For example, we’re happy with a compassionate God, but less keen on a God who keeps us accountable for our sin. We shouldn’t ever want to water God down, that’s putting Him in our image. “Who wants to worship a God made in mans image?” – Julian Barnes

Rather than making God in our image, we need to be made in His. Adam and Eve twisted His image in us, and Jesus came to restore it.

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