2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them / Area: Worship
One thing we should understand about God is that He is incomprehensible, yet knowable. He has revealed Himself so that we can understand His will and purposes for us. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 29:29 that the secret things belong to God but the revealed things belong to our children and us forever. God made space, time, energy and matter, but He is greater, and outside everything, He has created, although He is everywhere present (Psalm 139:7-12). He inhabits eternity, from everlasting to everlasting He is God, yet He lives with the contrite and humble in heart (Isaiah 57:13). God is far greater than human beings, yet God has made us in His image (Genesis 1:27,28) so that we can have a saving relationship with Him. God has made everything that exists, and He deserves all our worship. But because He is Spirit (John 4:24) we must worship God in Spirit and truth. That is what Jesus Christ revealed to the Samaritan woman in Israel (John 4:23). God doesn’t live in a Temple anymore as He did in the times of the Old Testament and He doesn’t live between the Ark of the Covenant like in the times when the Israelites traveled through the desert or when the Temple was built in Jerusalem.
We cannot make an image of God and think it resembles God in any way because God is far superior and greater and bigger than anything He has created, be it animals on land, birds in the air or fish or anything He has made in the sea. To make an image of God would be to bring God to our level. God, however, is infinite. His presence is unlimited and infinite; His understanding is infinite, and His ways and thoughts are above our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:6,7). His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33-36). The earth we live on is like a dust particle in God’s eyes in comparison how big the universe is, and God is bigger than the Universe! He made matter and space! Therefore to make a carved image or any image of God is forbidden because we would misrepresent God and that would be a lie. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
But not only are we not to make an image of God, but we are also not permitted to bow down to an image of God or to serve and worship it. This was the sin of the Israelites when God delivered them from the bondage of the Egyptians. When Moses received the ten commandments of God and stayed away for 40 days, the Israelites made a golden calf and worshiped it as if the calf was the one who delivered them from Egypt. The nations around the world in many cultures made images of what they believed to be God, like in India, where they literally make carved and molten images of their gods and bow down to them and worship them. The true God and Creator of the world, on the other hand, ought to be worshiped in Spirit and truth by faith (John 4:23,24; 2 Corinthians 5:7). We are commended by God if we come to Him by faith, believing His promises and trusting in His character and how He has revealed Himself in His word (Hebrews 11:1-6). The apostle Paul told us what true worship is: “…keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).
The Heidelberg Catechism says the following about the second commandment: “That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His word.” Question 97 asks: Are images then not at all to be tolerated? Answer: “God can, nor may be represented by any means. But as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or to have resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.” We must realize that the Roman Catholic “Church” made images of God in their art forms over the centuries and used them to resemble God because the common people could not read the Bible for themselves because the printing press did not exist before the 15th century. The Reformers were against this practice because it was unbiblical.
God forbids the following things by the second commandment:
Idolatry of statues: statues of Christ or Mary, the mother of Jesus or any other Saint being worshiped.
Idolatry of icons: sacred paintings or a mosaic of God used for adoration and worship.
Idolatry of pictures: pictures of Jesus are prominent across the Christian world. It is prohibited to make a picture of Jesus and to bow down to it or to have an image of God in your mind.
Idolatry of people: It is prohibited to have a picture of someone on your wall and praying to it, bowing down to it or worshiping it or using it to win favor of good “luck.”
Idolatry of false religions:
Hinduism/New Age: Millions of gods are worshiped in the forms of statues and images. Some forms believe in many incarnations of God.
Buddhism: images of different Buddha statues have been made across the world and are worshiped or revered as sacred.
Islam: Although Islam claims to serve the true God and don’t make images of God to bow down to it and worship it, they do bow down to a rock in Mecca and serve a false God. They don’t recognize Jesus Christ as God nor the Holy Spirit. Therefore they don’t serve the true God.
Taoism: This religion doesn’t recognize the supremacy of an Infinite holy God who created all things, but base their lives on a balance between evil and good, called yin/yan. Taoism is a form of dualism, which is contrary to sound doctrine.
Bahai: They believe that all religions serve the same God. This religion is false because Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). See also: Acts 4:12).
Scripture to consider: Jesus said: “But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). We walk and worship by faith,not by sight(2 Corinthians 5:7).