“You shall not make for yourself an idol 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; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6
The first and second commands seem pretty similar don’t they? So how are “have no other gods before me” and “not make an idol for yourself” different?
Well, the first is about WHO/WHAT we worship (God vs something else). The second is about HOW we worship. They are very connected- the who and the how very much go together. A misconception of the second commandment is that if we are not bowing down to a little figure (like a golden calf) then we are not worshiping idols.
But it is so much more than that. Yes, we worship God and only God. But we must worship him in the way he commands. We have a tendency to want to glorify (worship) creation instead of the creator. If you were on a desert island with nothing, you should still be able to worship God- a particular building/painting/trinket is not required! His Spirit is in us, and his law is on our heart. Hebrews says: “…I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Heb 8:10)
Yes, it is good to go to church- we worship with his people- but without these physical things, we can still worship God.
It can be really tempting to put more faith in the things of creation that we can see- a beautiful sunset, or gorgeous mountain. But those things will not save us; their creator will. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1.
Ask the Lord to help you see not just WHAT you worship (relationships? money? power?), but also HOW you worship. Remember he is gracious and helps his children to become more like him every day.
What are the idols in your life?