What does the second commandment teach us?


To worship God in the right way and to avoid idolatry.

Commandment #2 is part of the “First Table of the Law.” It’s one of the four commands that teach us how to love God with all of our hearts. In Exodus 20:4, God says, “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…

Back in question six, we learned that God is a spirit. He does not have a flesh-and-bone body like you and I do. Since God isn’t made up of “stuff,” the Israelites couldn’t see him with their eyes or touch him with their hands. That was something they didn’t like very much – all the nations around them were able to see their “gods” So God’s people foolishly decided it would be a good idea to make their invisible God visible. They built idols: statues of wood, stone, or metal they could see and touch as they worshiped. This was a dreadful decision, and some of those foolish Israelites paid for it with their lives!

God is our Creator, and we are his creatures. He's in charge of choosing how he wants to be worshiped. In his God-breathed Word, he’s given us instructions on how to worship him. We can sing to him in song. We can talk to him in prayer. And we can live our lives obeying his commands. But carving stone statues or painting pretty pictures of him to bow down to and worship? That's totally off limits! No statue of stone or painted picture could ever compare to the glory of our great God! In fact, God is insulted by the very idea of it!

When we worship God, we shouldn’t try to make images of him with our hands. And we shouldn’t try to imagine pictures of him in our minds, either. We’d be wasting our time – anything we came up with couldn’t possibly come close to the real thing! To be honest, the pictures of God we imagine in our minds are usually pretty lame anyway. God is way better than some old man in the clouds with a long white beard!

The only image of God we ever needed was the one God gave us himself. Colossians 1:15 calls Jesus “the image of the invisible God...” By coming to earth to live as a human among us, Jesus was the image of God people could finally see! Unlike the lifeless idols made by the Israelites, Jesus had eyes that could actually see, ears that could actually hear, and hands that could actually hug!


+ Read Exodus 32:1-6. How did the Israelites break the second commandment in these verses?

+ Why would it be a bad idea to use statues and paintings of God as we worship him?


Is. 44:9-20; 46:5-9; John 4:23, 24; Acts 17:29; Ex. 20:4-6; Deut. 5:8-10

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