Devotional Thought for Today – 11/05/21

The Ten Commandments or the Law of God Series

CONTEXT: In this chapter we have from Matthew Henry: I. Daniel’s prayer for the restoration of the Jews who were in captivity, in which he confesses sin, and acknowledges the justice of God in their calamities, but pleads God’s promises of mercy which he had yet in store for them (v. 1-19). II. An immediate answer sent him by an angel to his prayer, in which, 1. He is assured of the speedy release of the Jews out of their captivity (v. 20-23). And, 2. He is informed concerning the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ (of which that was a type), what should be the nature of it and when it should be accomplished (v. 24-27). And it is the clearest, brightest, prophecy of the Messiah, in all the Old Testament.

I find our text for today appropriate for our study of the Ten Commandments, in that Israel had continuously failed to love God or keep His commands. The first we looked at yesterday, the second today:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:… 

Exodus 20:4-5a

Again Looking at Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 (it includes scripture references from the ESV) we find the following about the Second Commandment:

54. Which is the second commandment?

The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Ex. 20:4, 5, 6

55. What is required in the second commandment?

The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances, as God hath appointed in his word. Deut. 32:46Mt. 23:20Acts 2:42

56. What is forbidden in the second commandment?

The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images (Deut. 4:15-19Ex. 32:5, 8), or any other way not appointed in his word. Deut. 7:31, 32

57. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?

The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us,117 his propriety in us (Ps. 45:11), and the zeal he hath to his own worship.118  117. Ps. 45:2, 3, 6  118. Ex. 34:13, 14

In a nutshell the Second Commandments forbids idol worship of any kind in any manner. Yet man always seems to find a way to create his own idols. I am not necessarily speaking of golden calf’s like that of ancient Israel, although some religious groups still worship such statues. No I am thinking more along the lines of money, power, additions, and the like. The material things that the world says are good for you and “Just Do It!”

Thomas Watson comments from his classic The Ten Commandments:

In the first commandment worshiping a false God is forbidden; in this commandment, worshiping the true God in a false manner is forbidden.

[1] To make a true image of God is impossible. God is a spiritual essence and, being a Spirit, he is invisible. John 4:24. “You saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spoke with you out of the midst of the fire.” Deut 4:15. How can any paint the Deity? Can they make an image of that which they never saw? “There is no depicting the invisible.” Ambrose. “You saw no similitude.” It is impossible to make a picture of the soul, or to paint the angels, because they are of a spiritual nature; much less can we paint God by an image, who is an infinite, untreated Spirit.

[2] To worship God by an image, is both absurd and unlawful. (1) To worship God by an image, is absurd and irrational; for, “the workman is better than the work,” “He who has built the house has more honor than the house.” Heb 3:3. If the workman is better than the work, and none bow to the workman, how absurd, then, is it to bow to the work of his hands! Is it not an absurd thing to bow down to the king’s picture, when the king himself is present? It is more so to bow down to an image of God, when God himself is everywhere present. (2) To worship God by an image, is unlawful; for it is against the homily of the church, which runs thus: “The images of God, our Savior, the Virgin Mary, are of all others the most dangerous; therefore the greatest care ought to be had that they stand not in temples and churches.” So that image-worship is contrary to our own homilies, and affronts the authority of the Church of England. Image-worship is expressly against the letter of Scripture. “You shall make no graven image, neither shall you set up any image of stone —to bow down unto it.” Lev 26:1. “Neither shall you set up any image; which the Lord your God hates.” Deut 16:22. “Confounded are all those who serve graven images.” Psalm 97:7. Do we think to please God by doing that which is contrary to his mind, and that which he has expressly forbidden?

Sin is the issue, as Calvin points out in the above quote man is prone to sin and creating his own idols. Something God clearly can not tolerate:

the Lord your God, am a jealous (impassioned) God [[a]demanding what is rightfully and uniquely mine], visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers on the children [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers], to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Exodus 20:5b (AMP)

A.W. Pink refers to this in his book:

This Commandment is enforced by three reasons. The first is drawn from the Person who pronounces judgment upon those who break it. He is described by His relationship, “thy God”; by the might of His power, for the Hebrew word for “God” here is “the Strong One”, able to vindicate His honor and avenge all insults thereto; and by a similitude taken from the state of wedlock, wherein unfaithfulness results in summary punishment — He is a “jealous God.” It is the Lord speaking after the manner of men, intimating that He will not spare those who mock Him. “They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they Him to anger…. They have moved Me to jealousy with that which is not God” (Deuteronomy 32:16-21 ff).

Secondly, a sore judgment is threatened: “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me.” “Visiting” is a figurative expression, which signifies that after a space of time, in which God appears to have taken no notice or to have forgotten, He then shows by His providences that He has observed the evil ways and doings of men. “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:9, and cf. 32:18; Matthew 23:34-36).

This was designed to deter men from idolatry by an appeal to their natural affections. “The curse of the Lord righteously rests not only on the person of an impious man, but also on the whole of his family” (John Calvin). It is a terrible thing to pass on to children a false conception of God, either by precept or by example. The penalty inflicted corresponds to the crime: it is not only that God punishes the child for the offenses committed by the parents, but that He gives them over unto the same transgressions and then deals with them accordingly, for the example of parents is not sufficient warrant for us to commit sin.

What is it that is an idol in your heart? Think about it, maybe it is something small and insignificant you do not realize it is an idol. Remember anything that detracts or takes away from your worship of God is an idol.


Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 – Modern

Thomas Watson’s classic The Ten Commandments

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Chapter XIX, The Law

The Ten Commandments, by A. W. Pink

Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, The Ten Commandments

The Doctrine of Law and the Grace Unfolded – John Bunyan

A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel by John Colquhoun, D.D

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