A little review, and let‟s say them all together again:
The Ten Commandments –
1. Thou shall have no other god before Me.
2. Thou shall not make for thyself an idol.
3. Thou shall not take the Lord‟s Name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness.
10. You shall not covet.
Where are they found in the Bible?
What do they do?
laws of Western They form the basis of morality and rules of civilized society –
Each of the Ten Commandments have their parallel in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the only one who has ever been able to keep them. Over the course of the next several weeks I will draw a parallel of each of the Ten Commandments with the message of Jesus and His fulfillment of the law, and His gift of salvation available to all who call upon His name.
The Ten Commandments are not some sort of abstract rules open to situational interpretation. They are law and they are meant to be obeyed.
Today we are going to deal with the second Commandment; “You shall not make for yourself an idol.” Exodus 20:404-6 and Deuteronomy 5:8-10. Both are identical. Here is the full text:
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or 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 fathers 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.”
Now, there is always two ways to look at the Bible; what it says and what it means. Both ways always point to the identical reality:
; God loves us.
; We are sinners.
; There is no hope for us in and of and by our own volition.
; Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father
but by Him. (John 14:1-6)
What the Bible says in this passage is “You shall not make for yourself an idol,”
what the Bible means by this passage is, “You shall not make for yourself an idol.” But
what does this, the Second Commandment, “You shall not make for yourself an idol”
mean for us today, right here and right now?
Well, let‟s first look at what it meant to the people of Israel when they first encountered “Charlton Heston,” when he came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten
I must pause here and commend to your memory the great actor and human being, Charlton Heston. I don‟t know about you but I always think of Charlton Heston when I think of Moses and the Ten Commandments. His movie of the same name, which, although it took liberty with the Scriptures, was still a great flick that was respectful of Scripture and did a pretty good of brining the story of the Exodus to the big screen. Oh, for the days when Hollywood heroes were larger than life rather than Hollywood‟s
current fascination with porn kings, draft dodgers drug addicts and assorted losers.
Anyway, if you read the Exodus story when Moses comes down from the
mountain, He finds that the people have built for themselves and are worshiping – what?
THE GOLDEN CALF.
While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the people, left to their own devices, made for themselves an idol, a graven image.
Even though the people had seen the hand of God in action, even after being delivered from Egypt, led through the Red Sea, fed, watered and protected in the desert, they still wanted the familiar gods they could see and shape into whatever image they desired.
The fact that the idol or graven image was a male calf reflected the influence of the people of Israel‟s sojourn in captivity in Egypt and exposure or familiarity with the religions and the fertility cults of the pagan peoples.
Unfortunately Israel‟s temptation to embrace or at least tolerate pagan fertility cults was to be a recurring problem throughout the Old Testament, even involving King Solomon, and led to Israel‟s downfall.
The golden calf was a fertility god, symbolizing and guaranteeing virility and fertility to both crops and people. The golden calf was a symbol the people could see and understand, whereas God was invisible and had to be embraced by faith.
Are we so different from the people of Israel? Isn‟t it easier to depend on something you can see than trust in something you cannot see? Maybe. But do we see?
The people of Israel fell into worship of a manmade pagan deity that they could see. They had been exposed to such worship in Egypt, from whence they had recently come, where the Egyptians venerated the Apis bull. Among Egyptians and their Hebrew neighbors in the ancient Near East and in the Aegean, the Aurochs, the wild bull, was widely worshipped as the lunar bull, as the creature of the god El.
The golden calf was a god the people could see. God was a God they could not see. However, they could have seen His work, it was all round them, but they were blind to it. Are you? Are we?
God had delivered a slave people out of the hand of a mighty Pharaoh and out of the land of Egypt. He had led, fed, defended them as they left captivity and journeyed in freedom to the Promised Land.
Rather than worship and cleave to the God who delivered them, led them, protected them, they chose instead to create and turn to a false god. Have we?
In today‟s Gospel, we have an example of idolatry at work, the parable of the
shrewd manager. Note in the parable Jesus makes it plain that the manager is sharp. He shrewdly doctors the books to protect himself from audit. Yet he fails in the end, for he fails his master.
Parable Luke 16:1-13:
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting
his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, „What is this I hear about you? Give
an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.‟
“The manager said to himself, „What do I do now? My master is taking away my job.
I‟m not strong enough to dig, and I‟m ashamed to beg- I know what I‟ll do so that, when
I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.‟
“So he called in each one of his master‟s debtors. He asked the first, „How much do you
owe my master?‟
„Eight hundred gallons of olive oil.‟ he replied.
“The manager told him, „Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.‟
“Then he asked the second, „And how much do you owe?‟
“‟A thousand bushels of wheat,‟ he replied.
“He told him, „Take your bill and make it eight hundred.‟
“”The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it
is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is
dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else‟s‟ property, who will give you property of
“No servant can serve two masters. either he will hate the one and love the other, or he
will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and
Jesus says you cannot serve two masters. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16:13)
For the Shrewd manager, his idol is money. What is yours?
The Bible says: “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol.”
I believe the idol we are most susceptible to worship stares back at us from the mirror.
It is us; ourselves, our egos, our needs, wants and desires. It is so easy to see ourselves as the center of the universe that we forget that God is. Friends, life is not about you. It‟s not about me. For Christians, it needs always be that life is about Jesus.
Don‟t we often spend more time worrying about and working on our finances than we do about or on our faith? Don‟t churches often spend more energy in maintaining their buildings and raising their budgets than they do in reaching the lost? Idols are everywhere and we need to be on the look out for them.
A friend of mine had a parishioner who he had led to Christ and was active in his church. One Sunday after church, the man came to him and said that he was leaving the church because he didn‟t like organ music and couldn‟t get anything out of the service. He likened the hymn “Almighty Fortress is our God” to a funeral dirge.
There is a bigger problem with that attitude beside questionable taste. And that attitude is a cancer that can affect every Christian and every church, causing them to create idols. The problem is that God is totally absent and man is the absolute center.
Greg was the stock clerk at the National Park service Headquarters in Boston where I worked while I was in college. One day he told me how disappointed he was that he got the Mass schedule wrong at Scared Heart and ended up at the Folk Mass that he couldn‟t stand. “I hate the Folk Mass,” he said. “Why‟d you stay?” I asked. “Cause it‟s the Mass,” he replied, looking at me like I had two heads. Greg had the right attitude and my Baptist friend‟s parishioner did not.
Worship is about Jesus. It‟s not about the music, the stained glass windows, the
choir, worship team, pastor, parishioners or whatever. It‟s about Jesus. It is so easy to forget this and look at worship as only a feel good experience limited to one hour a week. Christianity is relational and self -effacing for it brings us into a relationship to God who says, “Thou shall not make unto thyself an idol.” Amen.