Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | May 11, 2017

“You shall not make for yourself an idol”

Today’s devotion comes from Isaiah 44:9-20.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+44&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit;  even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame.  Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit?  Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men.  Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame.

But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image.  He falls down before it and worships;  he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”  Isaiah Chapter 44:  Verses 9-11 and 17.

—————

We may quickly dismiss application of this Scripture to us, thinking:  “I would never make such an idol.”

But, as we will see later in today’s devotion, the Reformed Creeds make it very clear that the only idols are not only such wooden idols or other idols made of precious materials.  As stated in the following Westminster Larger Catechism Question and Answer 109, we can make an idol “either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image”. 

Let us first start with the importance of not making any idol.  It is important enough to be the second commandment of the Ten Commandments. 

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them;  for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  Exodus 20:4-6.

 

Here is what the Heidelberg Catechism states:

Q. 96.  What doth God require in the second commandment?

A.  That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.

Q. 97.  Are images then not at all to be made?

A.  God neither can nor may be represented by any means.  But as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make or have any resemblance of them either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.

Q. 98.  But may not images be tolerated in the churches as books to the laity?

A.  No;  for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have His people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of His Word.

 

Here is what the Westminster Larger Catechism states:

Q. 108.  What are the duties required in the second commandment?

A.  The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his Word;  particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ;  the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word;  the administration and receiving of the sacraments;  church government and discipline;  the ministry and maintainance thereof;  religious fasting;  swearing by the name of God;  and vowing unto him;  as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing all false worship;  and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Q. 109.  What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counselling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever;  all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it;  the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them, all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever;  simony;  sacrilege;  all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

Q. 110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?

A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments;  are, besides God’s sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom;   accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.

 

Let us look at some of the other Scriptures which speak about idols.

Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods;  I am the Lord your God.”  Leviticus 19:4.

‘Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’  And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’”  Deuteronomy 27:15.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”  1 Corinthians 10:14. 

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Galatians 5:19-21. 

 

So, knowing both the importance of not making an idol and knowing how we can make idols in different ways, we “become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin and righteousness in Christ;  likewise, that we constantly endeavor, and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us in a life to come.”  Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 115.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:16.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:22-24.

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