Exodus 20:4-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 27, 2008


We hear Christians say, “I’m not under the Law, I’m under grace”.  Does this mean that there is no value in the law?

Last week we pulled some principles from the New Testament to give us some guidance as to just how we should look at this thing called the “Law”

1.     Jesus didn’t come to get rid of the Law. He came to fulfill and explain it.

2.     It shows us how sinful we are.

3.     It is good.

4.     It shows us our need for a Savior.

5.     It cannot save you.

6.     It becomes our model.

Last week we looked at the first commandment:  “You shall have no other gods before Me”, the principle that God is number one.

:4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved 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;

carved imagepecel – idol, image; from pacal – to cut, hew, hew into shape

likeness[email protected] – form, image, representation

This second commandment isn’t just about carving things.  It’s about making an image, making a representation of what something is like, an image that you would worship.

Throughout Israel’s history we will see them backsliding on this commandment, making images to worship.

Just a few days from now we’ll see Aaron collecting gold …

(Exo 32:4-5 NKJV)  And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!" {5} So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD."
The “golden calf”, perhaps a tie to the Egyptian gods, but keep in mind they held a feast to Yahweh…

A few years down the road there will be a man named Micah who had stolen some money from his mom …

(Judg 17:3 NKJV)  So when he had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, "I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you."
This silver image would be stolen by the tribe of Dan and become their tribe’s idol.  It too might have been the image of a calf.

Toward the end of the kings, Manasseh was king of Judah …

2Ki 21:7 He even set a carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD had said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever;
The Asherah was a pornographic image of the Babylonian goddess Astarte, and he put it right in the Temple.

Before Jesus comes back there will be one more image, a false prophet making an image of the antichrist,

(Rev 13:14-15 NKJV)  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. {15} He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

Keep in mind, God isn’t say you can’t make images, just images that you will turn around and worship.

Some take this to the point where they don’t have pictures of anything in their church.  All art is considered evil.

Yet when the Tabernacle is being built, there are images of things in heaven and things on earth, like the cherubim:

(Exo 25:18 NKJV)  "And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.
But these images were not worshipped, God was worshipped.

Look closer at the words used:

bow downshachah hxv – to bow down; prostrate oneself; this is a word that speaks directly of worship

serve ‘abad dbe – to work; to serve as subjects; to serve (God); to serve (with Levitical service); the grammatical form of the specific word used in the verse is in what is called the “Hophal” stem, giving it the flavor of “being led or enticed to serve” – there’s a sense that there is something “enticing” with these carved images.

There is something enticing about other “gods”
Have you seen that new Honda van commercial about the “van gods”?  A very ingenious advertiser put together a clip made up of pictures from these old seventies-styled painted vans that come to life and tell you that the “van gods” are rejoicing at the new Honda van.

In a sense there are “car gods”, more than a few people worship their cars.  What is so “enticing” about the “car gods”?  They promise you “coolness”, power on the road, status, sexiness, whatever… J

The god of “money” entices you with the ability to buy “stuff”, with the promise of security, with the promise of power.
The god of “education” promises you with the sense of superiority over the lowly masses, of making you better than everyone else.
The god of “sex” and pornography entices you with the promise of pleasure, of trying to fill that emptiness inside you.
There is something enslaving about other “gods”.
The god of “cars” enslaves you with all those payments, keeping the thing washed and waxed, keeping it from getting scratched.
The god of “money” enslaves you with long hours at the office, always worrying about what is going to happen to your money, missing out on the real treasures in your life.
The god of “sex” or “pleasure” enslaves you with trying to find something that gives you just a little more pleasure, people going from level of debauchery down to the next, going from one drug to one that gives a better buzz.

:5 For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,

jealousqanna’ – jealous (only of God); from qana’ – to envy, be jealous, be zealous; to excite to jealous anger

I think we need to be careful not to put too many of our own personal ideas about jealousy on to God.

God is not jealous because He’s somehow insecure and is afraid of losing you.

God is jealous because He loves you and wants the best for you.
God knows that the best for you is to know Him and follow Him.


God knows the pain of betrayal.

I think this sense of God’s jealousy is tied to the sense of betrayal.
Some of you have been hurt deeply by a spouse who has been unfaithful to you.
The pain you have experienced is VERY much what God experiences when we turn our backs on Him.

:5  visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Don’t misunderstand:  A child is not punished for the sins of their parents.

(Ezek 18:2-4 NKJV)  "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge'? {3} "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. {4} "Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

The people had developed a saying that gave people the impression that children were being punished for their parents’ sins, as if the parents ate sour grapes but the children were the ones that tasted the effects.
It’s the soul that sins that is punished.

The words used here are kind of interesting.

visitingpaqad –to attend to, muster, visit, punish

iniquity ‘avon – perversity, depravity, guilt, consequence, or punishment of iniquity

Though it may be that this is saying that God is going to punish the sin of people, it might also be carrying the idea of God gathering or “mustering” the “consequence” of the sin that was done to the fourth generation.

It seems that this is talking about the cumulative effect of sin.

My sin affects my children. 

My kids will tend to follow in my footsteps, including my sins.

They say that child abusers are often people who have been abused as children.  Their parents’ sin affected their life, influencing them to sin in the same direction.



Perhaps you have made mistakes, perhaps you have sinned against your children.
I’m not talking to you parents who feel guilty over everything you’ve ever done.  I’m talking about the ones who have truly done things to hurt their kids.
Saying you’re sorry is a start, but it isn’t enough.
Make things right.  Make amends.
When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he challenged them about some areas where they had seriously messed up.  He challenged them to make some changes.  He challenged them to repent.  When he writes, his second letter to the Corinthians, he commends them for the kind of repentance they had demonstrated.  They didn’t just “say they were worry”
(2 Cor 7:11 NLT)  Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.

I think that as parents one of the most important things we can do for our kids is to let them know that we know we’ve made mistakes.  It’s not weakness to admit you were wrong, it takes character.


Set a good example

In His Mother's Steps
A mother named Davida Dalton writes:

It was a busy day in our Costa Mesa, California home. But then, with 10 children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic. On this particular day, however, I was having trouble doing even routine chores-all because of one little boy.

Len, who was three at the time, was on my heels no matter where I went. Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around, I would trip over him. Several times, I patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied. “Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?” I asked again.

But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce happily along behind me.

After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, I began to lose my patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other children. When I asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at me with sweet green eves and said, “Well, Mommy, in preschool my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.”

Maybe you weren’t raised in the most wonderful home, but that’s no reason to not make sure that your kids don’t have a better chance.
If my kids are going to follow in my footsteps, I hope I leave a pretty decent example for them to follow.  It won’t be perfect, but I hope it will be good.

:6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

showing‘asah – to do, fashion, accomplish, make.  God doesn’t just “show” you mercy by giving you a peek at it, God “DOES” mercy to you, He makes mercy for you.  It’s real.  It’s solid.

to thousands – God isn’t stingy with His mercy.  While we might want to get caught up in God punishing sin, don’t forget that God is HUGE when it comes to mercy.

mercycheced dox (mercy) –goodness, kindness, faithfulness

One way of defining a word in another language is to see how it is used.  If you look at the first three times that checed is used in the Bible, you get a clue as to its meaning.

When Lot was brought out of Sodom by the angels and escaped God’s wrath, it was called checed.
Gen 19:19  "Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have increased your checed which you have shown me by saving my life …
When Abraham told Abimelech why he had lied to him about Sarah being his sister, it wasn’t because she owed it to Abraham, it was because of Sarah’s checed, her undeserved kindness.
Gen 20:13  … ‘This is your checed that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, "He is my brother.’
Later when Abraham was forming a peace treaty with Abimelech, Abimelech reminds Abraham of the checed that he had shown Abraham by not killing him when he had lied to him.  Abraham didn’t deserve this kindness, but Abimelech gave it anyway.
Gen 21:23  …swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the checed that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt."
When Abraham’s servant arrived in the homeland to find a bride for Isaac, he prayed that God would show him the right woman, and called this action checed.
Ge 24:12  Then he said, "O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show checed to my master Abraham.

To sum it up, I’d define checed as “underserved good deeds”.

This is what God has for those who love him.


God does good things for those who love Him

Does this concept sound a little familiar?  It ought to.  Paul wrote,
(Rom 8:28 NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Sometimes the “good” things are the nice, easy, lovely kind.
Sometimes God turns an ugly situation into a beautiful one.  Sometimes God heals the sick.  Sometimes God parts the Red Sea.
Sometimes the “good” things aren’t so nice or lovely.  Sometimes they hurt.
This is where we get confused.  We think that if someone loves us that they will always give us candy and bon-bons.  But the truth is that sometimes a loving parent needs to give their child broccoli and spinach.

(Psa 119:71 NKJV)  It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

(Prov 3:12 NKJV)  For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Don’t confuse difficulty with God’s displeasure.  If you are loving and serving the Lord, then the difficult times are meant to deepen you, mature you, and help you grow. And that’s good.

love Me and keep My commandments

It’s easy to say you love someone, but true love is something that’s not proven with words but with actions.

Jesus said,
(John 14:15 NKJV)  "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John wrote,
(1 John 5:3 NKJV)  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.


Don’t limit God

I think this is one of the challenges of the second commandment.
Our images will always fall short.  They could never be enough to explain God.
Be careful of putting God in a box defined by your image of Him.
He’s way bigger than your box or your picture.
Little Leroy came into the kitchen where his mother was making dinner. His birthday was coming up and he thought this was a good time to tell his mother what he wanted. “Mom, I want a bike for my birthday.” Little Leroy was a bit of a troublemaker. He had gotten into trouble at school and at home. Leroy’s mother asked him if he thought he deserved to get a bike for his birthday. Little Leroy, of course, thought he did. Leroy’s mother, being a Christian woman, wanted Leroy to reflect on his behavior over the last year. “Go to your room, Leroy, and think about how you have behaved this year. Then write a letter to God and tell him why you deserve a bike for your birthday.” Little Leroy stomped up the steps to his room and sat down to write God a letter. Letter 1 Dear God, I have been a very good boy this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one. Your friend, Leroy. Leroy knew that wasn’t true. He had not been a very good boy this year so he tore up the letter and started over.  Letter 2 Dear God, I have been an “OK” boy this year. I still would really like a bike for my birthday. Leroy. Leroy knew he could not send this letter to God either. So he wrote a third letter. Letter 3 God, I know I haven’t been a good boy this year. I am very sorry. I will be a good boy if you send me a bike for my birthday. Please! Thank you, Leroy. Leroy knew, even if it was true, this letter was not going to get him a bike. By now Leroy was very upset. He went downstairs and told his Mom that he wanted to go to church. Leroy’s mother thought her plan had worked as Leroy looked very sad. “Just be home in time for dinner,” Leroy’s mother told him. Leroy walked down the street to the church on the corner. Little Leroy went into the church and up to the altar. He looked around to see if anyone was there. Leroy bent down and picked up a statue of the Virgin Mary. He slipped it under his shirt and ran out of the church, down the street, into the house, and up to his room and sat down with a piece of paper and a pen. Leroy began to write his letter to God. Letter 4 God, I’VE GOT YOUR MAMA. IF YOU WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN, SEND THE BIKE. Signed, YOU KNOW WHO
I don’t know about you, but I don’t always appreciate it when people think they have me figured out and they make decisions for me based on what they think.
I’ve had times when people assume that I must be mad at them for something they did, and so they stay away from me because they don’t like me being angry.
But sometimes I’m not angry.


Look at the right image

It’s not that God doesn’t want us to know what He’s like.  He just wants us to be sure to have the right idea of what He’s like.
Jesus is the best picture of God you’ll ever see.  Paul wrote,
(Col 1:15 NKJV)  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is …
(Heb 1:3 NKJV)  …the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person
John writes:
(John 1:14 NKJV)  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:18 NKJV)  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Jesus said,
(John 14:6-9 NKJV)  Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. {7} "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." {8} Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." {9} Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
If you want to know God, you need to know Jesus.


Be the right image

God wants to make you into the image of Jesus
(Rom 8:29 NKJV)  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
(2 Cor 3:18 NKJV)  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
(Col 3:9-10 NKJV)  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, {10} and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
The world needs a good picture of what God is like.
God wants you to be that picture.
God doesn’t want us making an image, God wants us to be the image.


The Second Commandment is:

Get the picture right