September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents 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 (NIV)
Building off of the first commandment, the second commandment gives more detail, instructing the people not to make idols for worship. You see, in that day, worship was closely tied to idealizing images in order to explain the work of a supernatural and eternal God. But God will not allow us to depict Him as any such image, to box His immensity into a golden calf, nor to replace Him with another image. This commandment prohibits making idols as an “aid” to worship because an aid in worship always become the object of worship.
Sadly, “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened . . . they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:21–26 NIV). Did you catch that? When we refuse to worship God as He desires to be worshipped, we lose sight of the truth of God and the heart of God and become susceptible to our basest desires.
We’re also told the Lord is “a jealous God.” Let’s be clear . . . God isn’t jealous of you or of images we make for ourselves. Instead, God is jealous FOR us, and this jealousy is a pure act of loving kindness on His part. How so? Because God refuses to share the human heart with any rival. Not because He’s selfish, vain, and wants us all for Himself, but because He knows our devotion and worship upon anything other than Him leads to bondage, pain, devastation, and ultimately death. But devotion to and dependency upon Him leads to life to the fullest and life everlasting, and potentially for our children and their children as we build a legacy of worship and faith!
Finally, God states He’ll punish children for their parent’s sins for generations. Again, let’s be clear . . . This isn’t saying God punishes us directly for the sins of our ancestors because all people are ultimately accountable for their own sins. Instead, this was directly referring to idolatry and judgment on a national scale. You see, nations that forsake the Lord experience consequences as a result of their rebellion that has lasting effects for generations. We’ve seen this all throughout history and continue to see it today.
When we live in rebellion to and rejection of God, our children experience the repercussion of that sin because they’re not being raised properly and trained up to know the Lord. Explained another way, we can say that when parents sin, their children often bear the brunt of their sin while also being deprived of being raised in the instruction of the Lord.
Pause: Why is it so dangerous to have images “aid” in worship or become objects of our worship? How can this lead to painful repercussions for those who come after us?
Practice: Think about your life today and your upbringing. How have the sins or lifestyle choices of your parents impacted you? How have your sins and struggles impacted the next generation?
Pray: Father, help me today to worship You in Spirit and truth, to worship You as You desire and command me to worship You. If I have worshipped You in any way that is not pleasing to You, please forgive me. Help me to not only worship You as You desire, but to teach and train future generations to do so, to worship You Father in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.