“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, 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. You shall not bow down to them or 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 the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4–6
Q: What is the second commandment?
A: You shall not make idols.
What does this mean?
Because we worship and love God, we should not make our own, pretend gods.
God’s people in the Old Testament were called Israel. They were a nation of people who were set apart for God and were called to display to the world around them what it looked like to have Yahweh (God) as their King. God loved them so much that He formally bound Himself to them in what is called a covenant. Have you ever heard of a covenant?
A covenant is simply a formal relationship between two parties that is founded on love. Both parties in the covenant agree to do certain things because they love each other. It’s very similar to a marriage relationship. A man and a woman love each other, and so they commit to loving and serving each other for life. God made a similar arrangement with His people Israel.
One of the reasons why God commanded His people not to make idols was that it was an insult to His covenant. All the nations that didn’t believe in God that lived around Israel all had idols that they worshiped that they crafted with their own hands. The idols were visible and tangible but these idols had not covenanted in love with those people. They were cold, sterile, and unloving.
In contrast to these idols, God could not be seen with human eyes, but they knew that He loved them, provided for them, and promised to bless them as they were obedient because He bound Himself to them through a covenant. To worship false gods was to insult God’s loving care for them in His covenant with them.
And He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you."
- Could the idols of the other nations do what God could do? Why or why not?
- What does this verse say about how God wants to use Israel for His glory?
- Who holds the power in our covenant relationship with God?
- How can God’s power be seen in your life? Would anyone know that you are trusting in Him alone and not idols? How could this be displayed?
Our Father, please make Your power and glory known through us just like You did for Israel many centuries ago. Thank You that we have a special relationship with You because of Jesus. Thank You that we know we don’t have to run to created things to satisfy us but rather can be known and know the true God of all the earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.