In this sermon, Pastor Babij continues his series on the Ten Commandments with his exposition on the Second Commandment. After a brief review of his previous sermon, Pastor gives several prohibitions contained in the Second Commandment and reasons God gave the Second Commandment. Pastor concludes the sermon warning that those who practice idolatry hate God even if they believe they love Him.
We’re continuing to look at the Ten Commandments. I thought after doing 1 Peter, we would look at an Old Testament passage or topic, and I have always been intrigued with the Ten Commandments. Parents, if you’re going to teach your kids anything when they’re young, teach them Ten Commandments. Put in their heart already the very things that are important for them to understand God in His character and what He requires. Again, we’re looking at Exodus 20, and I want to read through Exodus 20:1-6:
Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4“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. 5“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, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Lord, as we come before Your word, we bow humbly before You, Lord. For we know that this is the word of God. This is not a Word that originated with men or could have. We could have never come up with the Ten Commandments, and Lord, we know that they are perfect. They are written in stone. They are eternal, and they will never pass away because they are part of a Your character, of who You are, and what You require of us. I pray, Lord, as we understand them and think about them, the principles of Your commandments would be evident in our daily thinking, life, and practice. Help us, Lord, to understand them better. In Christ, I pray this. Amen.
The Commandments reflect the character of God, and His standard of living required of holy people. By way of review, the first thing we looked at, in Exodus 20:1-2, is that the person revealed in the first commandment is a God of revelation. Meaning, God can be known. The Lord has made His will known to us and His will is found in the word of God. God reveals Himself as a very personal God. There is something very warmly and personal about the statement in Exodus 20:2:
I am the LORD your God
Secondly, we saw that the person revealed in the first commandment is that He is a God of Redemption where He says in Exodus 20:2:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
That is the picture of God bringing us out of the slave market of sin and saving us by the blood of Christ. He’s delivering us from something we could have never delivered ourselves from, so He is a God of redemption.
God not only communicates clearly to His people who He is and what He requires, but also acts on their behalf. Notice that God did not say, “because I created you, I am giving you the law.” Rather, He says:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
It was on the basis of this great act of redemption that He sought their obedience. Therefore, God deserves first place in the lives of His people because of who He is and because of what He has done for them. Then, the second thing that we learned is the principal revealed in the first commandment is that of that defining other gods. Exodus 20:3 says:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
In this first commandment, the absolute sovereignty and preeminence of Christ and of the Creator is insisted upon, and since He is who He is, He will tolerate no competitor or rival. His claim upon us is paramount because He is God. If the people were not worshiping the true and the living God alone, then they were worshipping some other God because we have to worship. We are created to worship. Arthur Pink said:
There are other “gods” besides idols of wood and stone. Money, pleasure, fashion, fame, gluttony, and a score of other things which make self-supreme, usurp the rightful place of God in the affections and thoughts of many.
Remember, the commandments are about loving God, and God showing His love toward us in giving us these commandments. Once we realize who God is, then we need to dethrone all other gods that we could be giving our affections and times to. Again, it says in Exodus 20:3:
You shall have no other gods before Me.
The command here is, “Thou shall have no other gods to confront me,” or, “to be objects in front of me.” You see, gods that are set up over or against Jehovah may be said to be before Him or in His sight. They are God’s besides and in addition to Him. More than this, they are gods opposed to Him. So, there is to be no god in your heart that you are giving allegiance to except Jehovah God, the Covenant making God and the God who has displayed His love towards people.
If you are, then that god must be dethroned and disregarded. Your full loyalty must be given to the true and the living God, who was revealed Himself in verbal and written form. Faithfulness must be given again to God alone where Deuteronomy 32:17 tells us:
They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.
When Jesus was being tested as the second Adam in the wilderness, Satan had come against Him. In coming against Him and His weakness in the full power of temptation, Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world. Matthew 4:8-10 says:
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”
The word “only” is to be stressed there. The principles contained in these Commandments are not to be ignored by Christians. Our Lord did not come to destroy them, but to fulfill them. Now, Christians live under the law of Christ, which includes the moral law and the Ten Commandments. Contained within His law, of course, are the moral law. Christ laid bare the inner impulse of the law, which is love to Him.
To love God supremely and then to reflect His love to others is to fulfill the commandments. Bottom line, the first commandment is that the most intimate of all relationships on the human plane – marriage – became an analogy for God’s intimate relationship with His people. The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” implies that there may be no intruding third parties in a marriage.
We become one in the Lord when we become believers. Therefore, there can be no other intruding parties within our relationship with God. Just as a husband and wife cannot have other intruding parties. There cannot be a third party according to God’s foundation of marriage found in Genesis.
As we are introduced to the second commandment, keep in mind that there are Ten Commandments, not ten suggestions as if one has a choice of taking or leaving them. The order of the commandments is very important as we grasp them. The first four concern our human responsibility God-wards. The last five concern our obligation man-wards.
The fifth commandment suitably bridges the two. In a certain sense, parents occupy to their children the place of God where their children are first to obey their parents. If their parents are obeying God, then the parents are teaching them how a child is to respond to authority. Of course, the ultimate authority would be God himself.
There is a discernible flow to the next commandant, the second commandment, which prohibits the manufacture and the worship of any kind of image in an attempt to worship God. As we look at that this morning, we will find that there is a prohibition revealed in the second commandment. The first one is in Exodus 20:4:
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.
The second commandment condemns a very different sin than the first commandment. The first commandment condemns the worshiping of false gods. The second commandment condemns the making of any image or symbol even of the true God. Thus, we’re looking at the prohibition not to make them or to manufacture them. Just think of Israel’s history… Israel had a very rich and colorful history. They had plenty of material to violate this command.
You can think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the stories that go along with them. You can think of Sodom and Gomorrah, and God pouring a fire-and-brimstone on them for their sin. You think of Jacob’s ladder to heaven, or Jehovah’s recent plagues poured out on Egypt down, which is found in the context of this passage. With any of these, the people of God might have attempted to perpetuate a visible and a permanent form of worship such as a carved image or a painted picture with the intention of making them the objects of religious reverence and worship.
If you go anywhere in the world today, you find that people are still making idols. They’re still bowing down to images. They still require some kind of thing to look at, touch, and see in order for them to be able to worship God correctly. However, in Scripture is that God never wants us to do that. He never wants us to make some kind of image that we are to bow down to, or that should inflame our passions to increase our desire to worship.
Then, the second one would be that there is a prohibition here not to worship them. It’s not only not to make them, but then not to bow down to them. Exodus 20:5:
You shall not worship them or serve them…
Obviously, the Lord knows that because of who we are and because of our sinfulness, we are going to want to worship something, and we will be worshiping something, someone, or some object. Also, we know that it is very fitting for people to bow to Yahweh, the true God. When somebody bows to the true God, then that true God receives their worship. Like Jesus received worship when people bow down to Him because He was God.
Every time one comes into the presence of God, in Scripture, they are bowing down. They are giving Him allegiance properly. They ought to do that, and that is fitting for all believers to do that. Just consider these few passages Scriptures. Genesis 24:26 says:
Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD.
Then, in Genesis 24:52 says:
When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the LORD.
All of these are fitting responses of someone who is worshipping the true and living God. They are bowing down to Him because of who He is and because of what He revealed Himself to be in Scripture. So, the command for anything else is prohibited.
Do not worship them, do not serve them, and do not make offerings to them. It is not fitting for human beings to bow down to any other. If they do, then that would be idolatry. Of course, these commandments are hedging against idolatry. God does not want us to look at something that is visual in order to help us to worship, nor something that is tangible in which we can touch and carry with us.
Let’s consider two situations in which a person may think about images. R.W. Dale, writing on the Ten Commandments, brought up these two things which are common understandings of worshipping God under the symbol of a material image:
No one, it may be alleged, supposes that the figure of wood or stone, or gold, is the real God. It is regarded as being only the symbol of an unseen and awful or gracious or glorious presence to which the worship is actually offered. The visible form makes the invisible God more real.
In other words, the visible form makes the visible God more real. God’s invisible, right? He’s an unseen God, so if I could just make something to try to reflect who I think He is, then that’s how people would worship, through that image.
If a person will say, “Well, I don’t really believe in visible representations of God,” then the second one would be worshipping God under the symbol of an intellectual conception of God. For those who reject that visible representation of God, form for themselves and intellectual image of God and worship Him by means of that.
Both instances, the representation that it would give to the divine greatness and glory of God diminishes actually the greatness and glory of God. Both are guilty of the violation of the first and second commandment because in one case, it is a work of one’s hands, and in another case, it is the work of one’s intellect. See, the problem is that we cannot conceive of who God is on our own.
We have to get revelation from God, from Him directly, and from the word of God to be able to understand who He is and what He has done. We can get it from nowhere else. We would have never come up with this, and that’s why there is so much idolatry in the world. As one person said, our hearts are idol-making factories.
Any attempt to betray God by His creation would confuse the Creator with part of His creation; thus, diminishing His greatness and sovereignty over all things. If someone needs a visible or a tangible object whether it is a cross, statue, picture, or music to bring up religious emotion and worship, they are in danger of the visible and the intellectual representation, or some other thing, becoming something more than what they intend. That’s the danger of idolatry.
In Deuteronomy, which means second law, we have a further interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 4:15-20 says:
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, 16so 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, 17the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18the 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. 20“But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.
Again, Deuteronomy is flushing out a little bit more the warning that God gives to His people about any kind of visible representation in which you use to induce worship. Many times, in the Old Testament, we find that that worship is somebody trying to worship the true and living God by an object whether it be intellectual or whether it be made.
For example, if every day I bow before the crucifix in prayer, if I address it as if it were Christ though I know it’s not, then I shall come to feel for it a reference and a love, which are the very essence of idolatry. Once you permit the deeper religious emotions to become attached, however slightly, to a material symbol, then there’s the beginning of the very superstition of which the second commandments actually forbid.
In other words, things become mystical and things become superstitious. In many religions, the point of their system is that you really never get answers. It’s all about image, atmosphere, and feeling, and it rises up a mystical thing where they say, “Oh, this must be great. I feel something.” Then, they begin to worship in that way and that is exactly where idolatry takes a person. See, we don’t need aid in order to worship God. Religious devotion not found in the truth, the word of God, must itself be false.
I tell people that my father, after witnessing to him for some twenty-five years and sharing the Gospel with him, called me one day and said:
You know what… I’ve become a Christian.
So, I asked him how that happened, and he said:
I was reading Exodus 20. I saw the first two Commandments, and I understood them for the first time in my life. I realized that I worshipped Mary and that everything was about Mary. I realized there that I was an adulterer.
When he called me and told me that, he started coming to the church here and studied the word of God for about eight and a half years after he became a believer. Scripture is a powerful thing that will set us free from things we think we’re doing right, but when we come to Scripture, we find out we’re doing them wrong. Idolatry is a kind of worship that has been distorted from the original form, object, and intention of worship.
One of the Hebrew terms for sin in connection with worship is the word iniquity, which means to be bent, curved, or twisted. So then, idolatry is something that is not as it should be or as it was intended to be just as the Psalmist contrast really the weakness of idols as compared to the greatness of God. For example, Psalm 115:5-8 tells us:
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
6They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
7They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat.
8Those who make them will become like them,
Everyone who trusts in them.
In other words, idolatry is really bringing someone to the place where their visible or intellectual representation of God actually becomes something other than they ever intended to be. They begin to be an idolater even though they think they are worshipping, at many cases, the true and living God.
The people of Israel, hardly moved from the trembling presence of God, felt beside Mount Sinai in giving the Ten Commandments to Moses. The delay of the leader, Moses, of coming down from the mountain led them to plea with Erin to make them a visible God to go before them. In Exodus 32:1-4, Moses is up on the mountain getting the commandments from God, and he is coming down to the people to present to them the commandments. Meanwhile, this is what takes place while he’s absent:
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4He 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.”
Here, they were worshipping the true God through an image, which is idolatry. People form something they think God is like, and they worship through that while thinking they’re worshiping the true and the Living God. Then, Exodus 32:5-6 says:
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.” 6So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
In other words, they were worshipping passionately. Not based on the molten image, but based on what they already experienced about what God has done for them in bringing them out of the bondage of Egypt into the wilderness where God would form a people for Himself.
The golden calf was not intended to represent any false god, any deity worshipped by heathen races, but Jehovah himself. The feast in His honor was a festival to Jehovah. Then, Exodus 32:7-8 says:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’”
In saying all this, I’m showing you an example of what usually takes place when a person begins to misrepresent, with even good intentions, who God really is, and they move away from the truth. In other words, idolatry is actually quite absurd before God. It’s absurd to the point where it is so foolish that they would even do anything like that, which becomes an Abomination before the Lord. Isaiah 44:14-20 says:
Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. 15Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. 16Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.” 18They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. 19No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!” 20He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
How did they become like the idol? They are deaf and remain deaf. They remain blind and they remain dumb. They do not ever get to the truth of who God really is. Someone who worships an idol does not know they are believing a lie. They don’t know it. They’re blinded to that. Only by God entering in, saving someone, giving them eyes to see, ears to hear, transforming their heart, regenerating them, making them new, and then bringing the word to them, do they get the truth. That’s when worship begins.
In fact, you have never worshipped God in your life until you become a believer and regenerate. You thought you did, but you didn’t. You were just religious. You weren’t a believer and you weren’t born again to God’s family. When you come to know the Lord in this way, then you are no longer believing a lie, but you are believing the truth, and if you believe the truth, the truth shall make you free from this bondage of idol making and worshipping God by your own conceptions and by other means.
The making and the worship of images of Yahweh or any other God, as if there are any others, is flatly prohibited in the commandments. Now, why is that? The first reason is back in Exodus 20. It is a very important reason because it’s showing us who God is. It’s portraying to us the true God. Exodus 20:5 says:
…I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…
That’s why I am to take this commandment. God is jealous. Now, brethren, out of all the attributes one could imagine about God and glean from the word of God that would cause admiration towards God, jealousy would probably not be one of them. Yet, in God’s self-revelation, He has done that which we would not expect again. He has revealed Himself as a jealous God, and has put it on record, in permanent written form on the Ten Commandments. As Exodus 31:18 reveals:
When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.
On that stone was written:
I am a jealous God.
Even more striking is when Scripture says this about God in Exodus 34:14:
for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
Oh, wait a minute… Now, we’re getting to understand from the word of God about the very name of God, and a name has to do with the characteristic of the one who bears that name. In this case, it is the God who created the heaven and the earth. The God who delivered people. The God who wants to have a relationship with His people.
All over the Bible, we are told about God’s jealousy. Zechariah 1:14 says:
So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.
Also, Ezekiel 39:25 says:
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name.
God is jealous for His own glory, for His own namesake, and even as the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 78:58:
For they provoked Him with their high places And aroused His jealousy with their graven images.
See, God is jealous and is aroused when His people worship anyone or anything besides Him. So, we have a problem wrapping our minds around this attribute of God because jealousy is such a defect in human beings, isn’t it? Keep in mind that man is not the measure of his Maker. We don’t set the standard, but God sets the standard.
Meaning, human beings often show the corrupting effects of sin when they act in jealousy, but not so with God. God’s jealousy is not a compound of frustration. As said by J.I. Packer:
God’s jealousy is not a compound of frustration, envy, and spite, as human jealousy so often is, but appears instead as praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious
Now, what is that thing? What is that precious thing that God is preserving in the Ten Commandments and this commandment? The precious thing is God’s covenant relationship with His redeemed people. God’s jealousy is aroused in reaction to Israel’s violation of the covenant as in a marriage relationship. Jealousy rises when unfaithfulness is suspected like adultery.
Again, Pastor and Theologian, J.I. Packer, mentions that there are two sorts of jealousy among people. The first one is vicious jealousy, which is an expression of the attitude of, “I want what you’ve got, and I hate you because I haven’t got it,” and he describes it as:
an infantile resentment springing from unmortified covetousness, which expresses itself in envy, malice, and meanness of action
Many crimes of passion are driven by, committed with, and because of jealousy. Jealousy is the motive that will land many people in prison, and usually that happens in relationships such as husbands and wives when a third party enters in and violates that relationship. Jealousy rises, somebody takes the matter into their own hands, and then they commit a crime. Jealousy is an emotion that is very hard to control. Proverbs 27:4 says:
Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy?
Who can fight against jealousy? Jealousy is not rational. Somebody will not reason with you when they are inflamed with jealousy, which is human jealousy. However, there is also another kind of jealousy, which is looked at in a good and positive way.
It’s the zeal to protect a love relationship or to avenge it when broken. This sort of jealousy is considered a positive virtue because it shows a grasp of the true meaning of the husband-wife relationship together with proper zeal to keep it intact.
Scripture points out that a husband’s jealousy to guard his marriage against attack is a quite normal thing. It’s a good kind of jealousy – I’m protecting what God has given me. I’m protecting my own and taking an action against anyone who violates it as natural, normal, and right as a proof of the value of marriage and the value of the covenant relationship between a man and a woman.
For example, in Numbers 5, the Bible talks about the spirit of jealousy that rises up in a husband who feared that his wife was unfaithful. Then of course, they can go through a procedure to make sure and find out the results of what had happened to subside and put down his jealousy, so that it doesn’t carry off into some vicious act, which jealousy usually ends in.
The Old Testament regards God’s covenant as His marriage with Israel. Carrying with it a demand of unqualified love and loyalty, which is what should be in a marriage – unqualified love and loyalty. Meaning, the worship of idols and all compromising relationships with Non-Israelite idolaters, at least from the Old Testament perspective, constitutes disobedience and unfaithfulness, which God saw as spiritual adultery provoking Him to jealousy and vengeance.
So, God’s jealousy is His fervent passionate protection of what is His. He will not transfer His honor that is due His name to another or to some other object. As the Scripture informs us in Isaiah 42:8:
I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.
God seeks what He should seek – His own Glory. In and through His people, God is a jealous God, and if you have become a believer in Jesus Christ, God is jealous for you. He’s not going to let anything happen to you. He is not going to let anything come between you and Him, and if it does, He will immediately allow the Spirit of God to convict us of our sin, so that relationship can continue to grow as He does that. God is jealous for us.
That’s why salvation is eternal. If God saves us, if He sent His son to die in our place, rescued us from sins bondage, set us free, and gives us His spirit as a down payment, then He does that because He is jealous for you. He will keep you and He will not allow anything to come between you and Him, which is very important for us to understand when we consider the jealousy of God.
God’s jealous is connected to another word in Scripture and that is zeal. Actually, God’s jealousy and His zeal kind of go together. His jealousy, in all it displays, are just as the Scriptures point out. Where the Bible says:
the Zeal of the Lord of host.
So, what should our response be to God’s jealousy for His own glory and His own people? Well, the jealousy of God should really require us to be zealous for God. That our right response to God’s love for us is love to Him. Our right response to His jealousy, even His jealousy over us, is zeal for Him, for His person, for His cause, and His honor.
A zealous person, in religion, is preeminently a person of one thing. The one thing that a person has when it comes to responding to the jealousy that God has for us is to please and advanced God’s glory. Jesus is the supreme example of the zeal of the Lord for His people and for the glory of God. We saw Him in the temple throwing over the money changers and driving people out of the temple because they use the temple in a way to make money and not to worship, praise God, and pray to Him. John 2:17 says:
His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”
Our response should be to be zealous before God, which Hedges against breaking the second commandment and also shows our love for God. We are jealous of anything that would come between us and our relationship with the Lord. We will not allow it just as a husband or wife should not allow it in their relationship. They should protect that at all cost.
Also, the jealousy of God threatens churches which are not zealous for God. In other words, there could be a group of people that call themselves Christians, but there’s no zeal for God among the group of people. They are like the Church of Laodicea. The Church of Laodicea, the Bible tells us, was a church that brought an extreme offense against God. Revelation 3:15-19 tells us:
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
They have fallen away from the very motive that causes us to be on fire for God and zealous for God. How many churches today maybe sound and respectable, but they are lukewarm? There’s not a group of people there that are zealous for God, want to live for the Lord, and please Him in all that they do. Of course, we know not perfectly, but that’s what their desire is.
As we bring that all together, God refuses to share His people with another God. Whether made or imagined, God demands from those whom He has loved and redeemed utter and absolute loyalty. If his people betray His love by unfaithfulness, He will vindicate His Claim by stern action against them.
Jealousy is not a doorman characteristic. It is always represented, in Scripture, as a motive to action whether it be for wrath or for mercy. In other words, God cannot let idolatry go on too long without addressing it. God’s jealousy leads Him, on the one hand, to judge and destroy faithlessness among His people, who fall into idolatry and sin. On the other hand, to restore His people after judgement and discipline comes and the people are humbled, and they come back and repent. What moves the action of God in His jealousy is that He jealous for his own Glory. Isaiah 48:11 tells us:
For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.
God will not share Himself with anyone else except His people. That’s clear in Scripture, and that’s why God hates this. Next, we’re going to see that God cannot let the sin of idolatry go unpunished. Again, Exodus 20:5-6 says:
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, 6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Anyone who’s involved with idolatry, thinking they are serving and living for the true living God by some object, whether visible, tangible, or intellectual, actually hates God, and God will judge them for it. 1 John 5:21 says:
Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
Idolatry is one sin, other than not repenting and believing in Jesus Christ, that will condemn someone for eternity. People think that they go through life being religious and extremely zealous for religion, but they have been blind and they have not seen or heard the truth of the word of God to set them free. They will be under the Judgment of God. Let’s pray:
Lord, thank You for the word of God. Lord, I know contained in it are difficult things, but Lord, they are so needed for our spiritual understanding, for our advancement in maturity, for our becoming more like You, and for the transformation of our mind. It is so important for us, as Your people, to be aware of what the Scriptures teach about the very character of God. That’s why I pray, Lord, that You would take the truth of the word of God and impress them strongly upon our heart to the point, Lord, that it would change what we do and how we think. That we would come before You with a repentant heart, humbly wanting to please You in all that. Give us a zealousness for Your Glory and for Your honor just as You have a jealous zealousness for us to keep us and to have a relationship with us. I thank You, Lord, for that and I praise You for all that You have done and will do in our lives and in our midst. I pray this in Christ name, Amen.