In this sermon, Pastor Babij continues teaching on the second of the Ten Commandments. After a brief review, Pastor Babij explains several reasons why God cannot let idolatry go unpunished or faithfulness unrewarded. Christians, therefore, must undertake firm action regarding any form of idolatry in their hearts and lives. Pastor concludes the sermon by urging Christians to grow in their love and worship of God in accordance with the Scriptures and not in accordance with their own devices.
Of all the times I’ve been in ministry, I have never really done anything on the Ten Commandments. At least, not like this, and it’s been very interesting as I study through these how pertinent they are to our lives and to understanding the character of God. I know they’ll benefit you to as you understand and follow them. So, let’s turn our Bibles to Exodus 20:4-6:
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.
Father, as we come to Your word, we thank You that we have it. It has been inscribed to us in a written form. Lord, it has been tested and tried throughout the centuries, and it has proven to be genuine and accurate. It has come from Heaven to Earth, and Lord, You have protected it. It has been preached throughout time, and Lord, it will be preached until You come again. I pray as we look at the Old Testament and the Scripture that You decided to put in stone, You would impress it upon our heart. That we would be able to examine ourselves by the things that are contained within Your commandments. Also, Lord, to evaluate and guide us in live our Christian life and interacting with people with in the world. Lord, bless our time and Your word. Teach us what we need to know. In Christ’s name, Amen.
First, we looked at the prohibition revealed in the second commandment, and of course that was the prohibition not to make idols. It says 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 is very different from the first where the first commandment condemns the worshipping a false god, and the second commandment condemns the making of any image or symbol even of the true God. Underneath that is the prohibition to not worship them where it says in Exodus 20:5:
You shall not worship them or serve them.
As I mentioned last time, it’s fitting to bow down to the true and living God, Yahweh, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have many Scriptures that tell us that like in Genesis 24:26:
Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD.
The command for anything else is prohibited. Not to worship them, not to serve them, and not to make offerings to them. God does not want us to look at something that is visual in order to help us worship, nor something that is tangible in which we can touch and carry with us. There are two situations in which a person may think about images and it’s that of worshipping God under the symbol of a material image, and also worshipping God under the symbol of an intellectual conception.
It may be alleged that the figure of wood, stone, or metal is the real God. It is regarded by some as being only a symbol of the unseen presence to which the worship is actually offered. In other words, the visible form makes the visible God more real. For example, the golden calf. At the Louvre in Paris, there is a whole section on idols and it’s because people are prone to do this. They still do these kinds of things and they also do it in the sense of intellectual conception, which is thinking about God and formulating a God in their mind that they could manipulate and worship in the sense of who they think God is.
They form for themselves an intellectual image of God and worship by means of that. In both instances, the representation is apart from the divine greatness and glory of the true and living God. Both are guilty of the violation of the first and second commandments. In one case, it really is the work of one’s hands, and in another case, it’s the work of one’s intellect. The purpose of worshiping the material or the intellectual symbol of an unseen God is actually a gross offense to the Lord, which these commandments are forbidding to those who are followers of the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Any attempt to portray God by creation will actually confuse the Creator with His creation. When that happens, it actually diminishes the greatness in the sovereignty of God over all things, of being God Almighty, of being God omnipresent, and it would diminish all those things.
If someone needs some visible or tangible object like crosses, statues, pictures, and even other things like music to get them going in the sense to bring up religious emotion and thoughts about God, then that they would be in danger whether it is in a visible way or as an intellectual representation of God. That’s the danger of idolatry. The images become more than originally intended. Idolatry is a kind of worship that has been distorted from its original intention.
Last time, I mentioned that the word connected to the sin of idolatry is iniquity, which means it’s a bent and twist in the truth. Then, idolatry is something that is not as it should be and not what God intended. Of course, that led us to the reasons for the second commandments prohibitions. The first reason is that God is a jealous God. Exodus 20:5 tells us:
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God
The whole thought of jealousy brings to our mind: how can God be jealous? We think like that because we cannot wrap our minds around this attribute because jealousy is such a defect for human beings that we try to give the same definition of what we think it is with God, but it is not so because it gives us understanding that in God’s self-revelation in giving us who He is, God being jealous is, as it says in Scripture, a jealous God jealous for His people, jealous for His will to be done, and jealous even for His own name. Ezekiel 39:25 tells us:
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’s jealousy is aroused when people worship anyone or anything besides Him, so keep in mind, man is not the measure of his maker. Further, human beings often show the corrupting effects of sin when they do act jealously, but not so with God. God’s jealousy is as J.I. Packer defines:
God’s jealousy is not a compound of frustration, envy, and spite, as human jealous so often is, but it appears instead as a praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious.
That would be a God-like jealousy, and a God-like jealousy would be zeal to protect a love relationship, or to avenge it when broken. The precious thing is God’s covenant relationship with His redeemed people. God’s jealousy is aroused in reaction to Israel’s or anyone’s violation of the Covenant. As in a marriage relationship, jealousy rises when unfaithfulness is suspected in that relationship, and things go very bad when that happens.
God’s jealousy is His fervent, passionate protection of what is His. He will not transfer the honor that is due His name to another or some other object. 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, which is His glory, and He seeks His glory in and through His people. He is a jealous God. His jealousy, in all it displays, are just as the Scriptures point out. The Lord has His zeal for what is His. What should our response be to that jealousy? Our response should be that we should be all so zealous for the Lord. A right response to God’s love is to love Him, so our right response to His jealousy is zeal for Him, zeal for His person, zeal for His cause, and zeal for His honor.
A zealous person, in religion, is pre-eminently a person of one thing. One thing that is on the mind of somebody who wants to be zealous for God and bring Him glory is simply this: I want to please God. I want to find out what He wants me to do, and I want to please Him. I want to advance His glory in the world. That’s what I want to do. That should be for all believers. That’s the motive of all believers every year and each year.
I want to please God, and how can I do that? I learn the word of God. I find out what it says, and then I live my life in a way that pleases God. When I find that I’m doing something that doesn’t please God, I quickly take care of it because I know that is sin, which is something I repent of, put aside, put to death, and I press on to the high calling of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, God refuses to share His people with another god whether made or imagined. God demands from those whom He has loved and redeem utter and absolute loyalty. If His people betray His love by their unfaithfulness, then He will vindicate his claim by stern action, which is where we left off last time.
We find out that jealousy is not a doorman characteristic. It’s a verb that is very active when someone is jealous. It’s always present, in Scripture, as a motive to action. For God, it’s either action of wrath or mercy. In other words, God cannot let idolatry go too long without addressing it. God’s jealousy leads Him, on the one hand, to judge and destroy the faithless among His people, who fall into idolatry and sin, and on the other hand, to restore His people after judgement and after He has disciplined and humbled His people to restore them. What motivates God to these actions, for either one or the other, is the jealousy 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.
Before I go and move into the passage, I want to take a peek at how prone the sons of Adam are to idolatry. In Numbers 21:1-9, we see the judgment that God sends among His people for their disobedience. Of course, the sin that they committed here in the wilderness was that of coming against God’s leaders and God himself:
Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” 6The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” 9And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
This was God’s remedy for their sin of coming against Moses and Himself by grumbling and complaining. Now, the same narrative is brought up by Jesus when He was speaking to a spiritual leader and teacher in the nation of Israel, whose name was Nicodemus. Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about how to be born-again, how to have eternal life, and how to enter the kingdom of God, right? Jesus got Nicodemus’ attention when He said in John 3:14-15:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
That’s when the light switch went on for Nicodemus and he became a believer. He knew that it was not something you had to do, but it was simply like those people bitten in the wilderness by the snakes. If they looked at the standard, they would be healed. Just to look at Christ, that’s faith. We can be saved from the greatest sting, which is the sting of death that will condemn us forever to hell.
In saying all of that, take your Bibles to 2 Kings 18:3-6. Here, we will find the very instrument God used to carry out His will to save the people from the sting of the serpent, He must destroy. This is what it says:
He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. 4He 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. 5He 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. 6For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.
In other words, the king trusted, clung to, followed, and obeyed the Lord and His commandments. We must learn from Hezekiah because this is how we crush our idols – by repentance and by turning and living for God. Human beings are so religious that they will bow down to anything. Relics, images, or apparitions because they think somehow God is there.
In fact, that’s only one example. I am not even going to bring up the example of Gideon’s ephod where the Bible says the people begin to play the harlot with that, so it became a snare to the household of Gideon. Then, you wonder why we can’t find the original Ark of the Covenant or the ark that Noah was on because you know what we would be doing? We would be bowing down to that thing.
We would be making something special about those things that are not special at all. They’re just things. Of course, they have special significance connected to it, but to worship it would be exactly what God says not to do. So, we are very prone to make up a God in our mind or before eyes and worship it.
This is not how God’s children show love to God. Instead, our love for God is reflected by obedience to His words. God tells us how to love Him appropriately. Jesus said it really simple:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Pretty simple, isn’t it? That is the simple statement that God gives us so we can understand it and actually do it. Meaning, we cannot love God in any old way we please. To do so would actually constitute idolatry. Underneath every sin is idolatry. Idolatry is putting someone or something else in the place of God.
We must see our idols for what they are and idolatry for what it is. Idols are already in the human heart. We’re born with the capacity. The Apostle Paul clearly tells Christians that the works of the flesh are already in the human heart. For example, Galatians 5:19-21 tells us:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Idolatry is sin, and a fruit of the sinful nature. It’s already there in us. Idols are also impersonal and powerless. If I were going to just bring some things up from Scripture, idols are deaf, blind, helpless, and dead. Idols are stupid and dumb. Idols are nothing. Demons are behind idolatry.
Idols are not God. Idols provoke the Lord to jealousy. He will not share His glory with another. Idols have no comparison to the true and living God. In fact, for those who practice idolatry, the Bible says forget God, go astray from God, pollute the name of God, and defile the sanctuary of God. They, in a sense, forsake and provoke God. In our passage, it says they hate God.
Also, Romans tells us their vein in their imagination. They are ignorant and foolish. They are inflamed by their idols. They hold fast to the deceit and the lies. They are carried away by it. They go after idols in their heart. They are mad for their idols. They boast about their idols. They have fellowship with demons. They ask council of their idols. They look to idols for deliverance, and they swear by their idols.
In scripture, God warns us not to do these things. God takes this very seriously. In fact, when I was looking at this, there were so many Scriptures and there is no way I can cover all of them. I just gave you a whole list of everything connected with Scripture. That brings me to the reasons of the second commandment’s prohibitions, and the second reason would be that God cannot let the sin of idolatry go unpunished, or faithfulness going unrewarded. Those who continue in a loveless relationship and disobedience to God are actually cursed. The sin of idolatry has long fingers.
If not repented of, it reaches to the succeeding generations affecting great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Exodus 20:5 says:
visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.
This text does not say that God holds one son or grandson personally responsible for their father’s sin. Like Ezekiel teaches already in the Scripture that the person who sins will die, the son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. However, in saying that, the notion that others are affected by one’s sin is not foreign to the Old Testament or to the Bible itself.
The Bible warns us often that our sin can affect other people and influence other people even though they did not commit it, they are affected by it. As a punishment, in Exodus, is for the father’s sin of idolatry. This text does hold out the threat that one’s descendants may suffer for their parents’ sin of idolatry.
Parents have a great influence over their children about how they think about God, and how they respond to God. They will not only see that in your words, but they will mostly see it in your lifestyle – how you live and what you do. Is God really first in your life, or is God just an add on to your schedule? If I get to it, then maybe I’ll do it.
Is God first in your life where you have a seriousness about how you are reflecting your relationship with God to other people, especially to your children. Leviticus 26:27-30 says:
Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me, 28then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins. 29‘Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat. 30‘I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols, for My soul shall abhor you.
In this context, it’s about where the person’s love is and where the person’s priorities are. If parents are guilty of idolatry and pass on this practice to their children and if successive generations continue the sins of the parents, then, according to Scripture, there will be a punishment that’s connected to that. Those who transgress God’s will and do not keep His commandments show that they do not love God. They love and worship something, but not the God of the Bible, heaven, earth, and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
They actually hate him, which means that God punishes this sin by removing His care for, His protection of, and help regarding disobedient and idolatrous people. The only way the sin of idolatry can be squashed is by putting idols, in our heart, aside and to death. In turn, serve and love the true and living God.
So, the Lord is quite serious about this kind of sin that reaches into succeeding generations if not stopped. It brings the punishment of the original person who passed it on to the generations. Of course, the only thing that’s going to arrest this is someone’s faith in Christ. That will arrest your whole past.
When a person comes to Christ, all that is ended. Now, you’ll learn how to worship God the way Scripture teaches us, which brings me back to the second of Exodus 20:6. I am so glad it is here for those who love God and obey Him. They are blessed:
but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
In other words, Exodus 20:6 is in stark contrast with Exodus 20:5. Again, it shows God’s character to us, which informs us that the same holy and righteous God, who cannot let sin go unpunished, is the same God who shows His mercy not to a few generations, but to thousands of generations. Now, the remedy to end committing the sin of idolatry is simply God’s love. That’s what ends the sin of idolatry. Again, Exodus 20:6 says:
but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
He has shown us through the history, His love towards Humanity. Even Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His love to us. While we were sinners, He died for us and it was demonstrated by the Cross. What He accomplished on the Cross is a demonstration of all humanity of His love toward those who were created in His image, but His special love to those who actually believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and come to the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, forgiven, redeemed, and to be brought into the family of God and be made right with God.
God is showing loving-kindness to thousands, so if you pass on the Gospel to the next generation, to your kids, their kids to their kids, and onward and onward. God will bring that blessing to that generation. They will reap the results of that blessing, which is the kindness, the long-suffering, and the gentleness of God.
God also expects His people to love Him and loving God and keeping His commandments are one in the same. They are not separate from each other. Micah 6:8 says:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Man’s sin may ripple with negative consequences on to the fourth generation but look at the wonder of our texts here in Exodus where God’s faithfulness is not limited to but extends to a thousand generation. Meaning, there is no end to God’s faithful love. That is, those who love Him and keep His commandments.
This verse stresses God’s ginormous grace as a blessing for obedience. That means, His grace is a blessing for obedience and is infinitely greater than His judgment for disobedience. As I was studying, good families can last a thousand generation. That is, those who worship the God, but bad families often do not make it to the fifth generation, so what happens to them? They die out. Numbers 14:18 says:
‘The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’
We are warned, in Scripture, against idolatry and its devastating effects. Deuteronomy 4:19, 23-28 says:
“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…23“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. 24“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 25“When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger, 26I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27“The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. 28“There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
If you’re going to worship other than God, go ahead and do it, and you will bear the results of it. You will live a lie, and you will think that you were living what is pleasing and honorable before the true and living God, but you will not be.
In Biblical history, it really bears out. Because idolatry is so rampant, in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, the Judgment of God was inevitable, and it was because of idolatry. The northern kingdom was defeated by the nation of Assyria and brought into exile, and the southern kingdom was defeated by Babylon. The Babylonian exile landed a fatal blow to idolatry among God’s people.
When we come to the New Testament, we see the Apostle Paul, confronting in every place, he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We come to a book like Acts 17, and he comes to Athens and the Philosopher’s. In a very real way, the culture has replaced worship of the living God with philosophy. Man has the answers, so we are to follow what man says. As Paul was tromping through Athens, his spirit was provoked, and he observed the city full of idols have that happen. Then, he goes on to say in Acts 17:23:
Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
Then, he begins to proclaim to them the true and living God and he said it says in Acts 17:22-26, 29-31:
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23“For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…29“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
You can go to not only Athens, but in any place, you will find objects of worship that people are formulating in their mind as God and begin to give them trust and attention. So what should we do? In the present, there are some things that we should do according to Scripture. First of all, once you get a Biblical understanding of idols or idolatry, keep away from them. Joshua 23:7-8 says:
so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. 8“But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.
He tells us very clearly that we are to cling to the Lord, thy God. Then, in the New Testament, there is a very important passage of Scripture in 1 John 5. There is a sin leading to death and there’s a sin that is not leading to death. As I began to realize the sin that leads to death is the sin of idolatry, which is the sin of having a misunderstanding of who God is and then living your life accordingly. His advice to those who are reading is in 1 John 5:20-21:
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
21Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
For this reason, we are to be careful. If it doesn’t come from Scripture and Scripture is not formulating our understanding of God, then don’t go there. Don’t think God is something when He’s not. Don’t add or take away from a characteristic of God that is not there. So, keep away from idolatry. Second thing is to flee from idolatry. Very clearly 1 Corinthians 10:14 says:
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
In other words, run as fast as you can and as far as you can for my idolatry. Then, we learn from Deuteronomy that a third thing would be not to have anything connected with idolatry in their houses or in your house. Deuteronomy 7:26 says:
You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.
Of course, it could be also on the dashboards of your car or hanging on the mirrors of your vehicle. Statues, rosary beads, and all those things. Now, just think about that for a moment. Sometimes people have a statue of St. Christopher, Mary, or rosary beads around their mirror. What they’re thinking is that it has the power to protect them. Unconsciously or consciously, that’s what they’re thinking.
They are thinking that if it’s taken away, they will get into a car wreck. That’s their luck charm and little protection charm. Innocently, we may put that there and then we go and trust that it’s going to do something magical for us, and it’s not. They mean nothing.
I tell people the story that when I became a Christian and I was going overseas to join the Marine Corps, someone had given me a present and the present was a Saint Christopher medal. Saint Christopher is supposed to be the one who protects you on your travels, and I came to the place where I realized that’s not the case.
No one can protect me except God. When I actually became a Christian, I symbolically and actually through the Saint Christopher medal in the Mediterranean Sea. I did it for this reason, I realized that I was putting special emphasis on these images. Somehow there was some mystical thing connected to them that can somehow protect me and that’s just wasn’t true. I realized that these Scriptures are really serious about what we trust in to protect us.
Many times, it’s mystical and the fancies of our own mind create these things in our mind that somehow these objects have some kind of power to them and they don’t. That’s the great problem of all these things.
This leads me to the next thing, which is to not intermarry with those who practice idolatry. Once they understand what being a believer is, then an unbeliever should never ever consider marrying an unbeliever. They do not have what you have. They may get it, but you may not be the instrument of evangelism to share the Gospel with them where they may come to believe. From the get-go, you pray for someone’s salvation, but to marry someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ or isn’t a faithful genuine believer, then you should never consider marrying an unbeliever.
Make sure you’re a believer first, but never consider marrying an unbeliever. I can’t stress that more. When people do meet other people and they get bit by the love bug, all the theology goes out the window. Thank the Lord, He is merciful in spite of us to save some people who have done that and save both of them. If we’re not believers, we don’t know any different, but when we’re believers, we do.
Also, we should not make arrangements with those who practice idolatry. Meaning, those who worship heavenly bodies, angels, departed spirits, earthly creatures, images, or anything that replaces God. The objects of their worship are the sacrifice to them. They burn incense to them. They pray to them. They bow to them. They kiss them. They sing and dance to them. They even cut their flesh to them. 1 Kings 18:28 says:
So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them.
A lot of people do those things today because they have a wrong understanding of who God is. Lastly, we refuse to engage in it at all even if threatened by death. Now, if you remember Daniels three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar. They said in Daniel 3:18:
“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
That kind of staunch position against any kind of form of idolatry is what we are to have as believers and have a correct balance of things. Now, you say: what about in the future? In the future, idolatry will still play a huge part when the false prophet will go one step further and he will actually make an image appear alive. In Revelation 13, we learn that the image of the beast will be worshipped before the return of Christ. In 2 Thessalonians, it also tells us that they’re going to believe what is false.
They will believe the claim of antichrist that he’s a god greater than all gods. They believe the lie as if it is the truth, they believe in him, a false god, but not according to reveal truth, which is Scriptures, according to the signs, that point to the reality of his claim. They are keeping the rejector of truth spellbound in admiration to the lawless one as being God himself. In Revelation 13:12, the false prophet’s job was to draw worship to the first beast:
He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
Without going through it all, what happens in the end times when antichrist comes on the scene is that there is going to be a kind of mock death and mock resurrection where He is healed from a fatal wound. Satan’s desire has always been and will always be a desire to be God. To show himself that he is just as close to God as you can be, so Satan has a particular goal in mind.
To reach his goal, he must deceive the whole world and get them to worship him. His goal is, I believe two-fold, to wear out the saints and to get people to worship himself. Now, this kind of illustrates what I’m talking about because there is such a thing in Scripture as a diabolic trinity.
First, you have the unholy trinity. You have the dragon that represents Satan himself and he is the counterfeit father. Secondly, you have the Antichrist, from Revelations 13:1-10, he is the man of lawlessness. He is the counterfeit son and the beast out of the sea. Then, of course, you have the false prophet. The false prophet is the religious leader. He is a counterfeit holy spirit, and he’s the beast out of the earth. The dragon gives the Antichrist power, a throne, and great authority. Revelation 13:2 says:
And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
He was given the authority to rule politically because he will be the ruler of the final world empire spoken of in Daniel. He has a method of how to gain the following. Antichrist or the man of sin will truly be an amazing figure and will display a subtle magnetic draw upon people of the world. All idolatry is devil worship. Revelation 13:14-15:
And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
In other words, part of what’s going on there is that this image or idol will actually come to life, and it will speak. That will be quite amazing, right? Back in 1964, Walt Disney unveiled the technological marvel at the New World’s Fair. It was a representation of Abraham Lincoln that moved, spoke, and even rose to his feet from a sitting position. Disney called this new form of animation audio-animatronics. Man had found a way to make an inanimate object move talk and exhibited even facial expressions using the special form of robots. I actually went to see it somewhere else and it is quite amazing.
Since then, we have come a long way. You can see all types of man-made inanimate objects miraculously come to life through audio-animatronics. Even the Creation Museum and the Ark Project has implemented these in their life like displays, and they’re quite amazing. It remains to be seen how far technology will advance before the time comes for the lifelike image of the beast to make its entrance.
In other words, the false prophet will delude much of humanity into believing he has the power to create life. Remember, in real Biblical worship, we are always challenged with the exercise of the mind in which divine revelation mold and shapes us. False worship is ignorant worship because there’s no reliable source of truth to exercise the mind. To evaluate whether it is true or false.
Religion may begin with an emotional response, but in time there must come a thought response. We must examine what we are experiencing, feeling, or involved in. God’s people are always called to Biblical discernment and respect to teachings and experiences as to whether they are true or false.
These days, in which we live, there is an unhealthy trust in man’s knowledge to save the world. Climate change? Come on. We’re going to be able to change the climate and save the planet? This is a disposable planet. Don’t worry about the planet.
Today’s segments of society deify science and mankind’s capacity to make materials on earth to conform to his will. The mantra is man, human beings control life. Arrogantly, defying God. In other words, the worship of technology, science, and medicine where man’s own mind is trusted to obtain some kind of utopia on Earth, which can be generated by techno-wizards and scientists.
Instead of worshipping, like Paul says, the Creator, they worship the technological works of their own hands. With this philosophy widely spread throughout the world, who needs God? That’s what’s happening today. Who needs God?
Bottom line, in relation to the first two commandments, God did not reveal himself in a physical form. God has made himself known through his voice and has inscribed what He said on two tablets of stone and on parchment in the written word. This means that any symbolic representation of God, in order to depict Him in a physical form, will be a distortion and grossly insufficient to properly characterize who He really is. Therefore, that is idolatry.
Now, do you recall what is recorded in 1 Thessalonians when the people of Thessalonica came to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior? It says in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10:
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
Let us be careful to grow in our love for the Lord and our obedience to His commands, and that the motivation and zeal in our heart will be to please the Lord, Jesus Christ, in all things according to the Scriptures. I will end with like the Apostle John ended with:
Little children, guard yourself from idols.
Lord, I thank You for all that the Scriptures say about this subject. It is everywhere, Lord. It is in every culture. It is in every geographical area. It is in every religious community. It is even in the political and social realm. Lord, I pray You have guarded us with Scripture. You have told us truly who You are. I pray, Lord, if we have not come to believe in You through Jesus Christ, the only solution to our sin, to being forgiven, and to being made right with you, then today would be the day, so You can rescue us from our false understanding of You and our idolatry. I pray, Lord, for those who know You, keep us steadfast in growing in our relationship with You, our understanding of Scripture, Your character, and bring us to the place where we genuinely have a zeal in our heart to love and please You in all things. I pray this in the name of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.