BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page


Bible verses about The Second Commandment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The basis of all idolatry is that self-centered, rebellious human beings refuse to surrender themselves to worship the true God as He commands. The people of this world do not understand how to worship God because they lack His Spirit. Without God's help, human nature tries to limit God to the confines of physical objects that he understands. Men fabricate images or representations to aid them in worshipping a god that they themselves have concocted. These images are called idols, icons, symbols, or objects of devotion.

The first commandment expresses that it is a sin to place a higher value on anything than what we place on God. Building upon the foundation of the first commandment, the second forbids the use of physical "aids" in worshipping the invisible God. Such aids include statues or paintings of "Jesus" or "Mary," nativity scenes, crucifixes, steeples, stained-glass pictures of God or Christ, and many other things. Living in such a "visual" age, we need to be aware of such common idols in the society around us.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Exodus 20:4-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The natural mind cries out for something to "help" it worship God, but nothing in man's limited imagination can measure up. So any time a man devises an image of god other than the true God, a predictable effect will occur. Asaph writes of this effect in Psalm 78:40-41: "How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." A human mind will limit God. How can anyone rationally think that a creation of man can be any greater than man?

II Timothy 3:1-2, 5 adds a sobering note for those of us living at the end. "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will . . . [have] a form of godliness but [deny] its power. And from such people turn away!" Limiting God creates idolatry because we must turn to another source if we want to be delivered from what is unsettling us. Do we limit God by failing to use His counsel in dating, marriage, child training, healing, or tithing because we fear it will not work or by refusing to humble ourselves to try His way?

The real basis of idolatry, other than ignorance, is that self-willed man refuses to surrender himself to worship God as He commands. Remember, worship is our response to God, and it occurs in many ways every day. For example, to tithe is not only to obey, but also to worship, since it is our response to God's command.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:4-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Many do not perceive the difference between the first and second commandments. The first stresses the uniqueness of the Creator God, who is the Source of truth, right values, and standards that will produce right relationships. It deals with what we worship. An idol is something we make and assign value to here on earth, but God comes into our life from beyond this physical realm.

The second commandment covers a specific area of idolatry, God's spirituality. Jesus says we must worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). God wants us to worship, be devoted, and respond to what He is and what He is doing, not what we think He looks like. He wants us to emulate His character and the way He lives. The second commandment deals with the way we worship.

The second commandment's most obvious aspect governs the use of physical "helps" or "aids" in worshipping the invisible, spiritual God. It prohibits the use of anything that represents God or could become an object of veneration. It forbids any kind of likeness of Christ such as crucifixes, pictures, and statues.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 20:4-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God does not condemn every picture or image, but as the command states, "You shall not bow down to them nor serve them." It is the use of art or sculpture in worship that God condemns. Solomon had God's blessing to build a Temple, where he erected golden forms of two cherubim inside the Holy of Holies. On the walls of the sanctuary were carved figures of angels, trees, and flowers, none of which Israel worshipped.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Exodus 20:4-6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The second commandment teaches that He wants no one to be concerned about what He looks like. He has purposefully hidden this knowledge except to tell us that we generally look like Him. However, we do not know specifics. He has done this because physical attributes can be misleading about character. In our relationship with Him, He wants us to emphasize the spiritual—His character, the qualities of His spiritual attributes, and His purpose. The second commandment, then, involves the way we are to worship Him—in spirit and in truth, always aware that man does not live by bread alone.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fifth Commandment


 

Exodus 32:1-5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

As this episode began, the people were not really asking for a change of gods but rather a new human leader. Moses had borne much of the brunt of Israel's discontent, and now he had disappeared! In their impatience, they wanted to entrust their leadership to one who could make a god. But this highly offended the true God and Moses! To them the golden calf was an attempt to redefine God's nature and control Him according to their desires.

In like manner, the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches say the ornaments, icons, crucifixes, Madonna statues, and Christmas trees are only to keep God in mind. But this is the same principle involved in Exodus 32! It is not long before people associate the image with God.

In the Golden Calf episode, the first and second commandments were directly broken. Aaron proclaimed it "a feast to the LORD." The churches say, "These things are dedicated to worshipping God." The true God says in verses 7-8 that they had "corrupted themselves . . . and worshipped it." This sounds like today's Christmas observance. The people corrupted themselves by redefining God's nature and His way of worship according to their desires and ends.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Exodus 32:2-10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Israelites' lack of faith while Moses was on Mt. Sinai made them feel insecure. Moses was gone less than 40 days when the Israelites fashioned a calf of molded gold to substitute for the invisible Creator God. In their own minds, they had reduced God to something they could control and call upon when convenient. Those who repented were ashamed at what they had done.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Exodus 32:7-8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Just mere months after God liberated the slave-nation Israel from centuries of bondage to Egypt through awesome and terrifying displays of power, capping their redemption by dividing the Red Sea and drowning their captors in its waters, they reconfigured the nature of Almighty God into the form of a bull! One has to ask, what were they thinking as they cried, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"?

Is this not similar to what one may discover on the world scene today? People have created gods in their own image. They interpret God according to their own cultural biases, as well as what family, educational, and business associations have predisposed them to believe. They then attribute His favor to their political parties, athletic teams, motivations, and prejudices. All this is done with precious little careful study into, meditation upon, and especially wholeheartedly believing of His inspired revelation of Himself in the Bible.

At the worship service held in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a few days following the attack of September 11, clergy from Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim faiths participated. Which clergyman represented God? Which did God hear? Can they all be His representatives, even though they all believe differently? Do these differences not matter to Him? They must matter to those men; otherwise, they would not advocate their brand of faith. Certainly, God hears just as surely as He sees what is going on. He makes very clear that no one comes to Him except through Jesus Christ, eliminating two of those faiths immediately.

He also makes clear that those who approach Him with favor must be subject to His government. In other words, they must keep His commandments. The remaining two faiths keep none of His Sabbaths, and in fact, they tell people they do not have to keep the commandments—in other words, they need not be subject to His government in daily life—because His law is "done away."

Might God, as an act of mercy, nonetheless hear and respond by delivering us from future destructions planned for us? He might. It has happened before, for instance, when God mercifully forgave Nineveh after it repented at the preaching of Jonah, and He delivered Israel a number of times. Yet when that happened, it was accompanied by a wholehearted repentance that God was willing to accept. Have we as a nation repented? How deep must the repentance be? How many must repent before it tips the balance of God's judgment so that He moves in our behalf? In Genesis 18:32, God tells Abraham He will spare Sodom if He finds ten righteous people in it. Is God using the same standard of measurement for America today?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is God to Blame?


 

Numbers 33:51-52  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We should understand this in a religious sense since any representation of God changes Him from what He really is. Egyptians worshipped oxen, heifers, sheep, goats, lions, dogs, cats, monkeys, ibis, cranes, hawks, crocodiles, serpents, frogs, flies, scarab beetles, the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, fire, light, air, and darkness. And they could come up with "good" reasons why!

A young man once said to me that he could see nothing wrong with the Christmas tree because he did not bow down and worship it. He misunderstood. Do we? The first commandment covers this particular aspect of idolatry. If one was bowing down to the tree, that would be what he was worshipping.

The second commandment has to do with the way we worship, in spirit and truth. Christmas—and its trappings like the Christmas tree—is not part of the way God commanded we worship. It is not part of the truth of God. Therefore, the Christmas tree is a component of an idolatry created when man desires to worship God as he devises rather than as God instructs. So he breaks the second commandment even though he never bows down to the tree.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Deuteronomy 4:15-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Since they saw nothing of the God who liberated them and whom they now were commanded to worship, anything they contrived to represent Him would be a boldfaced lie. No one else has seen God in His glory either, so absolutely no one can even begin to catch even the essence of a true representation of Him. Nothing could even come close to a resemblance. Any representation by anyone throughout history is a lie. Do we want to worship a lie?

Even in the Holy of Holies there was no representation of God, and the altar was of simple turf or unhewn stones (Exodus 20:22-26). A meaningful lesson exists in this: From God's perspective, because man always infuses human nature into the objects of his worship, he always tends to ruin whatever he touches in his relationship with God. This is not good because the worshipper can rise no higher than the god he worships.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Deuteronomy 5:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Idolatry has an impact on later generations, and so it matters a great deal if we associate closely with idolaters. Children learn by example, and if their parents set the example that physical objects have excessive importance, then their children will pass down the same values. When we socialize with idolaters, we share in their ways. If we are not careful, we may also begin to share their idols.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Isaiah 1:13-14  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the past we have explained these verses by referring to the word "your," indicating they were not keeping His appointed days. This clearly indicates idolatry. But what if God refers to His true Sabbaths and festivals, but His concern is with the way people kept them?

This is a very distinct possibility. The crowds of people were in a festive mood, yet God rejects their worship. To Him their "holiness" was a sham. Since God calls their sacrifices "futile" and their incense "an abomination," the spiritual basis of their worship must be profane. The broader context shows these people had the morals of alley cats! Their eyes were hot with lust and greed; their fortunes had been built on crime. They were envious, murderous, deceitful, stingy, filled with hate and gossip—yet on the Sabbaths they appeared before God as if everything in their relationship was just fine!

What kind of idea of God had they conceived to think that He would accept such conduct? Their worship merely went through the motions with punctilious observance of the Sabbath and rituals. Obviously, the god they conceived was not the true God because He is more concerned with right relationships than scrupulous regard for ceremony.

They broke both the first and second commandments: They conjured up their own image of God and then worshipped in the name of the true God as they saw fit. Worship is the reaction to one's god at all times and cannot be separated from character and attitudes. The true God cannot be fooled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Isaiah 40:12-31  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Making and worshipping an idol is foolishness and a lie, because a manmade image can never truthfully represent the Eternal God. For a son of God, worshipping idols is irrational (Acts 17:29); to look to something physical as important or more important than God defies all wisdom. The way the world looks to physical objects is superstition (e.g., good luck charms, religious crosses, shrines).

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Jeremiah 17:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A person breaks the second commandment when he exalts himself against God by trusting in his own or another's reasoning and lives that way rather than the way God ordained and commanded. Too often, the heart is easily led to satisfy its own desires rather than follow revealed knowledge. But God faithfully searches and tests our hearts to rid us of all idolatries so we will follow His way as closely as possible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Jeremiah 25:5-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"The works of your hands" indicates something that comes from man's mind, not the Creator's. Their gods were their own creation, even as their standards were their assessment of right and wrong. Regardless of how men approached life, whether religious or irreligious, atheistic or agnostic, their gods and standards came from minds not in contact with the true God.

This has interesting and devastating ramifications. The nature of idolatry is such that its effect is more subtle than with other sins. The trauma it produces is usually obscured by the penalties brought on by other sins that spring from the original idolatry. Sometimes, the penalty comes so much later that it is virtually impossible for the carnal mind to connect it to the idolatry that began the process.

But the effect of breaking commandment number one is to break number two. Once a person is no longer worshipping the Creator, he must put something else in His place. Man will worship something, and as we have seen, what he worships is almost invariably himself! Even when he is worshipping the works of his hands, he is worshipping himself because he created his idol.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Habakkuk 2:18-20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Fifth Woe: Idolatry, particularly the second commandment, as God speaks mainly about graven images. Obviously, the first commandment also applies.

One can almost picture God pronouncing this woe with a shake of the head. How can any people be so stupid as to worship a gold- or silver-covered block of wood or stone? The idol is not even alive, much less can it give blessings or help in time of need! Yet, God is alive and active in the affairs of men. He is sovereign, sitting on His throne in heaven, and all everyone on earth should stand before Him in awed reverence. As Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Matthew 6:21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

He implies money, but the principle includes anything of such importance—apart from the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—that achieving it dominates our thinking, planning, and conduct. If it shapes our existence, we have a false god. The desire to "get" this thing replaces the devotion we should give to God and forces us into sins in other areas. Thus, we become idolaters.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Mark 7:7-9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

People keep the traditional holidays in God's name, but He is not pleased with them or in them.

The Pharisees' outward appearance of piety was a lie because it was not accompanied by total commitment to the true God's way. Their traditions distorted the law of God—and thus the very image of God because the law is a description of God's character. God's true holy and righteous character is the image of Him He wants us to bear and follow. Thus, Christ repudiates every addition, subtraction, and distortion men elevate to a specious "divine" authority. Their use breaks the second commandment because they are not part of the way God instructs us to worship Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

John 4:24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Worship, which is our response to God, is what we give in our devoted service. The worship of God involves the totality of life, therefore it cannot be confined to a particular location. Earlier, Jesus says, "Neither in Samaria, nor in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem." He means that God is not confined to any one place, nor is the worship of Him confined to any one place. Likewise, it cannot be confined to just an hour or two on a particular day because in a biblical sense the worship of God is our response to Him in all of life. So He cannot even be isolated to an hour or two on the Sabbath.

We have to respond to Him in our home: in the way we speak, act towards one another, rear our children, conduct our homemaking practices. Worship has to do with the way we work, with the way we drive our cars, with the way we dress, with the way we use our eyes, ears, nose, mouth—everything! It involves the totality of life, because religion is a way of life. Christianity is a way of life that impacts on every area of our being.

The second commandment deals with how we worship God. The focus of our worship is to be on imitating Him. We are to use no material aids in doing this because no man can capture God in a work of art, a statue, a picture, or a symbol. God wants us to concentrate on what He is and not on what He looks like.

It is not easy for human nature to surrender its dominance over one's life. Human nature's first step backwards—to giving up its dominance over our lives—is usually a grudging willingness to share time and energy with God. Yet, when Jesus is asked, "What is the first and great commandment," He replies that we are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Notice, it is not just with part of our lives but everything. The second commandment has to do with how to worship Him, and anything less than what Jesus states in Matthew 22:37 will affect the quality of our worship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)


 

John 4:24  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The second commandment deals with how we worship. The worship of God involves the totality of life, and thus it cannot be confined to a particular location or concentrated in a mere hour or two on a given day.

Our focus in worship is to be on imitating Him in the totality of life. We are to use no material aids in doing this because no one can capture in a work of art what God is. God wants us to concentrate on what He is, not on what He looks like. However, given human nature's strong attraction to the physical, it is not easy for a person to surrender the dominance of the physical over his life. A person's first step backward from conversion is usually to become grudgingly willing to share time and energy that should go to God with someone or something else.

When asked what the first and great commandment of the law is, Jesus replied, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Anything less will affect the quality of our worship. This is a high pinnacle to reach for, requiring a lifetime of growth in wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and character built by overcoming the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment


 

Romans 1:18-32  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In this passage, Paul gives a brief but appalling overview of the effect of people turning their backs on the Creator God. Mankind has worshipped the creation more than the Creator, and thus, God gave mankind over to vile affections and to a mind devoid of true judgment—his own natural mind. Since man's experiences shaped his judgment regarding conduct, his ability to judge truth became vague and led to the horrible perversions Paul lists. Today, the world groans with the weight of bearing the fruit of this idolatry.

Our own personal experience confirms the validity of these verses. Paul lists the consequences of a purely secular mind, which resulted from leaving the True Source of right standards out of our lives. He shows that when we follow the path described, we not only lose godliness but also true humanity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

Romans 1:22-23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God wants us to worship Him directly—not through an idol. When we set up an idol, we are in fact sacrificing to one or more demons! God wants us to worship Him humbly rather than the way the world worships idols. It is degrading to worship an idol. Conversely, God calls us into His own spiritual presence to worship Him directly. Whenever we stop short of our face-to-face relationship and worship of our sovereign God by placing a visible entity before Him, we break the second commandment. God looks to those who worship Him in humility and respectful fear and despises those who choose their own ways.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Romans 1:28  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

From the Revised English Bible: "Thus, because they have not seen fit to acknowledge God, He has given them up to their own depraved way of thinking, and this leads them to break all rules of conduct."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)


 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Dictionaries define an idol as "any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration." If we obey the dictates of a person, church, or some other group contrary to the direct commands of God, we are guilty of idolatry. The individual or group becomes the idol, replacing God.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Ephesians 5:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Covetousness is a strong desire for and a seeking after material things that become objects of our worship if we hold them as more important than God. Someone else's house or car can be an idol if we covet them. This attitude is identified with idolatry because it replaces God with self-interest and visible things.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 110,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
Printer-Friendly          E-mail this page
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2014 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.