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Deuteronomy 5:8-10 - No Idols

Deuteronomy  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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[READING - Deuteronomy 5:6-21]
Deuteronomy 5:6–21 NASB95
6 ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. 8 ‘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. 9 ‘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, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 11 ‘You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. 12 ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 ‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. 16 ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the Lord your God gives you. 17 ‘You shall not murder. 18 ‘You shall not commit adultery. 19 ‘You shall not steal. 20 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 21 ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’
[CONTEXT] The God who rescued Israel from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land was and is the only God; there is none besides Him; there is none like Him.
Therefore, Israel shall have no other gods before Him.
Israel shall not make for itself any idol—any graven image.
That’s the second of God’s Ten Commandments.
[TS] Let’s think about a few QUESTIONS related to this commandment…

Major Ideas

QUESTION #1: What does this commandment command?

Deuteronomy 5:8 NASB95
8 ‘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.
[EXP] There are two sides to every commandment—the negative and the positive—the ‘do not’ and the ‘do’.

The Negative Side - The ‘Do Not’ of the Second Commandment

Do not make for yourself any graven image of God or of anything else in creation.
In the exodus Israel came out of Egypt—a land full of idols—and almost immediately Israel worshipped God the way an idol would be worshipped.
Exodus 32 tells the story of the golden calf where God’s people made an idol—an idol that represented Him—and then made offerings to its, feasted before it, and rose up to play as they delighted in it.
That incident was, however, just the initial dalliance with idolatry in Israel’s long history of worshipping idols.
In fact, after they enter the Promised Land and take possession of it, Joshua will die, and Israel will worship idols (Judges 2:11-13).
During the time of the judges, Israel would obey God when led by a judge, but commit idolatry when not led by a judge.
During the united monarchy—Saul, David, Solomon—Solomon married foreign wives and worshipped their idols (1 Kings 11:1-8).
During the divided monarchy both Israel and Judah worshipped idols.
Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, (after not getting the memo about Exodus 32) made golden calves for the northern kingdom to worship instead of YHWH (1 Kings 12:25-33).
Idols were worshipped in the southern kingdom of Judah as well. Only the kings Hezekiah and Josiah tried to stomp it out (2 Kings 18:4; 23:4-25).
During the Babylonian exile the prophets condemn Israel for its idolatry (Isaiah 42:17).
After the exile, intermarriage with foreign women was condemned (Malachi 2:10-16; Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 13:23-31) because foreign women worshipped foreign gods—i.e., idols.
Throughout Israel’s history it did exactly what it was commanded not to do in this second commandment.
They made for themselves idols or graven images.

The Positive Side - The ‘Do’ of the Second Commandment

In order to see the positive side of this command we have to remember a few verses from Deuteronomy 4
Deuteronomy 4:12 NASB95
12 “Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice.
Deuteronomy 4:15–19 NASB95
15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. 19 “And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
In vv. 12 and 15 the Israelites were reminded that they saw no form when they encountered God on Mt. Horeb (i.e., Mt. Sinai), but they did hear God’s voice; He did speak to them.
Thus, they were to make no grave image of God because they didn’t see His form, but they were to focus on His Word because they had heard His voice; they were to focus on what He had spoken to them.
[ILLUS] Back when I was a youth minister, a student came up to me after a Bible study and said, “I feel like all I get from you is words, words, and more words.” I wasn’t a very creative youth minister. There wasn’t a lot of videos or movies, but there was a lot of explaining the Bible. That’s what he referred to as ‘words, words, and more words.’
I had an adult tell me after service one Sunday that I needed to use more visuals in my sermons. In his words, ‘It’s a lot of talking; sometimes we need to see something.”
[APP] But what has God given to us? Not a picture book, but a book full of His Word. And His Word must be explained with more words so that His people can understand it and worship Him appropriately.
Just as it is much easier to watch TV than to read a book, it’d be much easier to make an idol of God than to understand and obey God’s Word.
Nevertheless, we are not called to easy but to right—and it is right to focus on His Word.
[TS] ...

QUESTION #2: Why should we obey this command?

Deuteronomy 5:9–10 NASB95
9 ‘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, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
[EXP] We should obey this command because...

…there is a price to pay for worshipping serving idols.

The language of Deuteronomy 5:8 should remind us of the language of Genesis 1 where God created creatures to fly above the earth, walk on the earth, and swim in the waters under the earth.
But then God created man and woman in His image and said, “…let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” (Gen. 1:26).
An idol is a created thing reflecting created things—things in the ‘likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.’
For man to worship a graven image in the likeness of sea, sky, land, or any type of creature is a reversal of God’s created order.
Only God is to rule human beings created in His image. Man was created to rule over such creatures, but he forfeits that most basic responsibility when he bows down to images of created beings and allows them to rule him.
The price for such a thing, which you can see in v. 9, is to have the iniquity (i.e., the sinful consequences) of idol worship visited upon subsequent generations.
What are those sinful consequences? Well, there might be many. God’s people were defeated in battle because of idolatry. Whole families of Israelites died because of idolatry. And just as bad as military defeat or physical death is to be spiritually lifeless before God.
We studied Psalm 115 not too long ago during our Wednesday night Bible study. Listen to how it describes idols...
Psalm 115:4–7 NASB95
4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of man’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; 6 They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell; 7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.
There are other passages like this one that highlight the irony of worshipping lifeless idols (e.g., Psalm 135:115-18; Jeremiah 10:1-16/ Isaiah 44:9-20), but listen to Psalm 115:8 says...
Psalm 115:8 NASB95
8 Those who make them will become like them, Everyone who trusts in them.
Everyone who worships idols becomes spiritually lifeless, spiritually useless just like the idol they worship.
And that doesn’t just affect the idol worshipper but every subsequent generation of his or her family for three and four generations to come.
The idol worshipper leaves a legacy of spiritual lifelessness, spiritual uselessness, spiritual death.

…there is a reward for worshipping and serving God.

To commit idolatry is to hate God.
To commit idolatry is to arouse God’s jealousy—His rightful desire to have what is His—our worship and service.
And if we will love Him and obey Him as He commands in His Word and not as we make up on our own, then He will show lovingkindness to thousands of generations to come.
It is no surprise that the prize for obedience far surpasses the price for sin.
Whereas those who break this commandment can expect to see the curse of rebellion for three and four generations, those who obey this commandment can expect to see the blessing of obedience for thousands of generations to come.
And what is the blessing? God’s lovingkindness; His steadfast love walking with us throughout life and eternity.
[ILLUS] Whenever I think about these first two commands in the Ten Commandments, I think about the rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking about eternal life. Ultimately he walked away from Jesus because he wasn’t willing to give up his god, his idol—Mammon (i.e., money).
The lovingkindness of Jesus was enough for Him. The steadfast love of Jesus didn’t convince him to give up his idolatry.
The graven image on those pieces of money were too attractive to give up for the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.
But the rich young ruler should’ve remembered whose image he bore.
In Mark 12 Jesus was asked about paying taxes to Caesar. He asked for a denarius—a Roman coin stamped with Caesar’s image. He asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s”. Jesus then said in Mark 12:17
Mark 12:17 NASB95
17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.
[APP] We are stamped with the image of God! Therefore, we belong to Him! He is our God and He is jealous for our worship and our service!
Will we give it to Him?
Will we give ourselves to Him?
Will we love Him and obey His commandments?

A FINAL QUESTION: Is idolatry still an issue for us today?

[APP] Yes. In the NT idolatry is the making of idols just as is referred to in the second commandment but idolatry is also anything that turns our worship and service away from God, which you can also see in the second commandment.
Deuteronomy 5:8–9a NASB95
8 ‘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. 9 ‘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, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

What sort of idols might steal our worship and service away from God?

The idol might be food.

Paul warned the Corinthians that they could not participate in idolatry but eating the sacrifices made to idols and still drink of the Lord’s cup and partake of the Lord’s table (1 Corinthians 10).
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:14...
1 Corinthians 10:14 NASB95
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Consider your own relationship with food. While we what we eat likely hasn’t been sacrificed to idols, do we hunger for it more than we hunger for the Word of God?
Remember the positive side of the second commandment is to focus on the Word God has spoken.
Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).

The idol might be fornication (i.e., sexual immorality).

In addition to food sacrificed to idols, fornication (which usually accompanied idolatry) was also outlawed in the early church.
In Acts 15:29 the Jerusalem church wrote to new believers...
Acts 15:29 NASB95
29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
We live in a swamp of sexual immorality. It fills music and movies. It is celebrated in our culture. It has been increasingly monetized in new and creative ways to increasingly enslave those who bow down to the idol of fornication.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul wrote...
1 Corinthians 6:13, “…the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bough with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

The idol might be any sin.

Listen carefully to Ephesians 5:5...
Ephesians 5:5 NASB95
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
To be immoral, impure, or covetous is to be idolatrous.
Listen carefully to Colossians 3:5...
Colossians 3:5 NASB95
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
Each of these sins individually or added together equate to idolatry.
Any sin is idolatry… and no idolater will have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.


John Calvin said that the human heart is a factory of idols.
What we need then is a new heart through the grace that God gives in Jesus Christ.
We need a heart that is constantly renewed by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
When we come before this second commandment and understand what idolatry is and understand the price for it—we die.
But in Christ Jesus we live to worship and serve the living God alone.
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