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03042018 - Ex 20:4-6 No Graven Images

The Law of the Lord  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

I have a fascination with cathedrals - Gothic cathedrals in particular.
Through travels - visited Salsbury - Westminster - Winchester - St. Paul Basilica in Rome
Chartres in France - in high school wrote a paper about Gothic cathedrals - particularly this one - “Compendiums of Time” - over 22,000 square feet of stained glass windows - one of the greatest assemblages of stained class in the entire world. The architects enlarged the window space beyond what had been normal in the Gothic style - the structure itself seems to be primarily a frame for the glass.
The glass depict hundreds of biblical events and theological concepts. The cathedral windows are like a gigantic Bible story book in colored glass and stone. In a day when few could read an practically no one owned a Bible this was the primary means of communicating the Bible’s message to the people.
Memory of God’s mighty works in the past is evoked by the exquisite scenes from the lives of prophets, apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ.
One medieval worshipper was recorded as saying that when he stepped inside the cathedral of Chartres he felt transported half-way to heaven.
At the same time, the mind goes to the second commandment:
Exodus 20:4–5 NASB95
“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,
Exo 20:4
The commandment raises questions:
are these things legitimate aids to worship or are they a form of idolatry? Is this art, or is it an abomination? What exactly does the commandment forbid. This is what we will consider tonight as we begin to study the ten commandments - this the second one:

What the commandment forbids

1. It doesn’t forbid the use of all art in worship

There are those who say use of all art for religious purposes is prohibited. These people argue that the commandment is absolute and non-negotiable: the making of any visual representation of anything for religious use is forbidden.
Such a position goes far beyond the intent of the commandment. It is clear that the Bible does not prohibit every use of artistic representation in worship.
Images of cherubim were woven into the curtains of the tabernacle. The temple contained a large basin supported by twelve oxen. The robe of the hight priest was embroidered with pictures of pomegranates.
There was the occasion when the Israelites, during their wilderness travels, were attached by poisonous snakes - acting on the command of God, Moses fashioned an effigy of one of the snakes out of brass and placed it atop a tall pole which was placed in the center of the camp. Whoever had been bitten was cured simply by looking at that brass snake.
These things indicate that it was never God’s intention to rule out the se of all art in worship.

2. It does forbids artistic representation of the invisible God

Exodus 32:4 NASB95
He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
Exodus 32:4–5 NASB95
He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.”
These things in
The image was not meant to be a substitute for God, but rather a visible representation of Him.
the
Where the first commandment is the worship of the true God and no other - the second is concerned, not about the object of worship, but the manner of it, How God is to be approached. This commandment tells us that we must not seek to approach God or to make contract with Him in and through any material and visible thing which is intended to represent him.
No visible representation can fully honor God. “God is Spirit - infinite eternal unchangeable in his being wisdom power holiness justice goodness truth.
Images mislead people and convey inadequate ideas about God
Go back to Aaron’s golden calf. Because God was represented by the image of a bull-calf, the people began to think of Him in accordance with what that image conveyed to them. They reached exactly the same conclusion pagan nations had reached regarding their similar deities who were believed to control the processes of fertility - that He could be worshipped acceptably in the same way that those nations worshipped their gods.
The feast of Jehovah degenerated into an orgy.
When people’s concept of God is molded by man-made images, the result will be to down-lay the true and perfect image which God has provided of himself.
There is only one who is the “image of the invisible God ()
Jesus Christ is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature ()
- “No man has seen God at any time; the only Begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained Him.”
The Apostle Paul said we have been given “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” ()
It is unnecessary - foolish and presumptuous - for man to make some other visible representation of God when He himself has sent His son for that purpose

3. It forbids giving to a physical object the reverence due to God

Let’s go back to the brass serpent on the pole.
2 Kings 18:3 NASB95
He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.
2 Kings 18:3–5 NASB95
He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.
Centuries after Israel had reached the Promised Land, the brass serpent Moses had set up in the wilderness showed up again. King Hezekiah has launched a movement in Israel to rid the nation of all false worship. Verse 3 we read that Hezekiah “did right in the sight of the LORD according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high placed and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the asherah.”
- Centuries after Israel had reached the Promised Land, the brass serpent Moses had set up in the wilderness showed up again. King Hezekiah has launched a movement in Israel to rid the nation of all false worship. Verse 3 we read that Hezekiah “did right in the sight of the LORD according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high placed and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the asherah.”
2 Kings 18:- Centuries after Israel had reached the Promised Land, the brass serpent Moses had set up in the wilderness showed up again. King Hezekiah has launched a movement in Israel to rid the nation of all false worship. Verse 3 we read that Hezekiah “did right in the sight of the LORD according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high placed and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the asherah.”
The people: we’re not worshipping the snake - we’re just giving reverence to God who had worked such an amazing miracle through it in the days of Moses.
Hezekiah didn’t buy that explanation. He knew it was wrong to direct toward a physical object an act of worship that ought to be directed toward God alone. He destroyed the serpent and God commended him for it.
When the language of worship or the actions of worship are directed toward a physical object, that is idolatry.
When someone genuflects before a picture, or burns a candle before a statue, a gesture of reverence is given to a thing which belongs to God alone.
When prayer is offered to, or forgiveness is sought from, a mere human being, living or dead, no matter how holy, something is sought from man which only God can give.
When someone things that good things happen will happen to those who carry religious object or wear a medal or a piece of cloth that has been “blessed,” that is idolatry because it involves looking to a material object for that which comes only from the Lord.

4. It forbids using a physical object to establish a special link with God

Sometimes people think that a physical, visible things can, in and of itself, bring them into contact with God.
Dawn and I had the opportunity to ‘chaperone’ a choir group (Judson College) to England, Scotland and Wales. We spent one night in a youth hostel - a gothic cathedral that had been converted to a youth hostel. Some of the girls were freaking out because they considered it a sacrilege - this building dedicated to the worship and presence of God - not used for something so mundane.
This ‘holy place’ had become an idol in the sense that they imagined that God was more present there than elsewhere.
John 4:21 NASB95
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
“An hour is coming,” said HJesus to a woman at a Samaritan well, “when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father” (John 4:21)
“An hour is coming,” said HJesus to a woman at a Samaritan well, “when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father” ()
Consider the Lords Supper
At the table we remember the love of God which sent the savior to the corss to die in our place, paying the penalty for our sin.
Simple physical elements, bread and wine, remind us of His body and His blood. The reminder awakens faith, and by faith we experience fellowship with the Living Christ Himself,
But if we think that there is something miraculous about the supper or the element used, that somehow the physical act of eating itself communicates something of the present of Christ to us, that is superstition and idolatry.
The communion service is intended to stir up faith, but it is the faith, not the supper itself, which is the link between ourselves and the Lord.
This principle applies to places, to pictures, to statues - to everything in this world which reminds us of Christ. If they stir up the memory and arouse faith, well and good. When they are thought to provide, in and of themselves, a point of contact with God, then they have becomes idolatrous.

What the commandment requires

5. It forbids the uninhibited use of of the imagination in understanding and worshipping God.

Just as the second commandment forbids the manufacture of molten images of God, so it forbids us to dream up mental images of Him.
How often have you hears someone say, “I don’t like to think of God like that; I prefer to think of Him like this - not a God of wrath, but a God of love - not a God of condemnation, but a God who rewards those who do good.”

Conclusion

Those who think they are free to think of God as they please are breaking the second commandment.
We must take great care then . . .
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