Text: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (idols, holy statues), or any likeness (so-called holy pictures, images, etc.) of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord (Jehovah) thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My Commandments.”
Good morning, true worshipper of Christ! On the full authority of God’s own Spirit-inspired Word, you and I are well taught that we cannot create, sculpt, paint, set up, or establish visual images of the Living Lord God Jehovah; of His Eternal Son, Jesus Christ; nor of any other aspect of the Heavenly Being. There are no exceptions to this Commandment of God.
To begin to create, make, paint, set up such ‘graven images’ – in church-buildings or in private dwellings - is to call down the wrath of the Lord God upon ourselves and upon the congregations of professing Christian believers with whom we join in public and private fellowship. (Deuteronomy 4:14-20)
We cannot disobey the 2nd Commandment of God and seek to please Him with our worship at the same time! The Lord places obedience above any envisaged ‘sacrifice’.
“...Behold (look and understand), to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou (king Saul) hast rejected the Word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
Throughout the history of ‘the church’ – which I define as all those who are Spiritually regenerated, ‘born again’of the Spirit of God; from all nations and containing members of every colour of skin and station in life – there has been a repeated tendency to create statues, paint pictures, engrave imagined ‘likenesses’ of the Lord God, and of Biblical characters on wood, and canvas, and in stone. The world’s cities are littered with such examples of mankind’s utter folly and disobedience to God’s Commandment.
Then, after placing such creations of fallen humanity’s imagination in positions where worshippers frequent – it is not too long before history has found people worshipping the images/ pictures that were created! Some foolish religionists have often been found bowing at the feet of statues depicting ‘Mary, the mother of Jesus’, weeping and imploring the piece of wood or stone to hear and answer their prayer! Such utter deception and disobedience!
The Devil seems to have used, and continues to use, fallen mankind’s inherent need to worship the Creator Lord as a ploy to divert mankind’s attentions away from the true and Living Lord God and worship of Him, to pathetic creations of fallen mankind’s own imagination. It is time for all serious and genuine Christian believers to divorce ourselves from such open disobedience to God’s own 2nd Commandment!
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
Let us now read what the great J.C. Ryle’s view of this vital subject was in his day:
“Let us beware of despising the Old Testament under any pretence whatever. Let us never listen to those who bid us throw it aside as an obsolete, antiquated, useless book. The religion of the Old Testament is the germ of Christianity. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud. The New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade. The New Testament is the Gospel in full ear. The saints in the Old Testament saw many things through a glass darkly. But they all looked by faith to the same Saviour, and were led by the same Spirit as ourselves. These are no light matters. Much infidelity begins with an ignorant contempt of the Old Testament
“Let us, for another thing, beware of despising the law of the Ten Commandments. Let us not suppose for a moment that it is set aside by the Gospel, or that Christians have nothing to do with it. The coming of Christ did not alter the position of the Ten Commandments one hair’s breadth. If anything, it exalted and raised their authority. (Romans 3: 31)
“The law of the Ten Commandments is God’s eternal measure of right and wrong. By it is the knowledge of sin. By it the Spirit shows men their need of Christ, and drives them to Him. To it Christ refers His people as their rule and guide for holy living.
“In its right place it is just as important as ” the glorious Gospel.” It cannot save us. We cannot be justified by it. But never, never let us despise it. It is a symptom of an ignorant and unhealthy state of religion, when the law is lightly esteemed. The true Christian “delights in the law of God.” (Romans 3:19-22) (Bishop J. C. Ryle. Expository thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew 5:13-20”
Exodus 20:4a: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Art, sculpture, creative design and architectural beauty are not, in general, placed under the prohibition of the 2nd Commandment of God. However, if the artist, sculptor, creative designer, or architect creates a figure, picture, etc. purporting to depict the Lord God, or the Lord Jesus Christ, or any aspect of God the Holy Spirit – then the 2nd Commandment of God forbids this act, and defines such an act, strictly, as an act of open disobedience to His Commandment.
Exodus 20:4b: “…Thou shalt not make unto thee…any likeness of any thing that is in Heaven Above. Creating ‘likenesses’ of Heavenly Beings, which after all, are merely the imaginations of the fallen human creator’s mind, are forbidden exclusively by the 2nd Commandment of God. No one has ever seen God’s face; the face of the Lord Jesus Christ was never painted, nor photographed during His human ministry. Therefore, you and I today have no idea what the features of God the Father, or God the Son look like; and God the Holy Spirit is invisible Spirit form, so our pathetic fallen, puny human minds can never dare to conceive what the face of Almighty God even looks like – never mind paint, or sculpt it!
Exodus 20:5. “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. Bowing in the presence of an idol, painting, imagined ‘likeness’ of God, is a sin against His 2nd Commandment! Let all true Christian believers revisit His Word – and try to keep it!
Thought: 46Q: What is forbidden in the 2nd Commandment? A. The Second Commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images (Deut. 4:15-16; Or any other way not appointed in His Word. (Col 2:18) (From Spurgeon’s Puritan Catechism)