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How Big is Your God?

Exodus 20:4-6



One day a little girl was drawing a picture, and even skipped recess because she was so focused upon it.  Her teacher asked what she was doing and she said she was drawing a picture of God.  “Oh honey, you can’t do one knows what God looks like.”  She held up the picture and said, “They do now!”


Most of us have a concept of God that is far too small.  And the 2nd commandment is all about this.  Don’t live a limited life, because we serve a limitless God.  Accept no substitutes.  Don’t try to reduce God to a material object.  Don’t try to localize a God Who is infinite!  [text]


The first commandment teaches us who God is.  The 2nd teaches us how to worship the One and Only.  We must not only worship the right God, but we must worship Him in the right way.  It’s possible to worship the right God but in the wrong way.



Leviticus 10:1-2
1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.


One common way that man attempts to worship wrongly is by fashioning something tangible that he can see.


As with all the commandments, something is prohibited, but something is also protected, which is our personal relationship w/ God.  [jealous]


And then there’s something that’s projected [into the future].  V. 5, generational sin.


The Prohibition

It’s not art that’s prohibited, not statues, pictures, etc.  But rather the same items for worship, which is supposed to be in spirit, not in person!


We’ll study the tabernacle soon, which will include artwork, even graven images, but not for worship.  Not saints, not the Lord, for we should worship no one and nothing in that way.


But we see Israel do just that w/ the golden calf at the bottom of the mountain where God is giving the commandments to Moses.  Later they worshipped the brazen serpent, which God told them to fashion.  But He never told them to worship it, rather, He had already said in our text NOT to do so!


Remember in the tribulation, the end of the world, all hell breaks loose, and it all culminates around the breaking of this commandment in the 3rd Jewish temple.  The antichrist erects a graven image of himself and declares himself to be God, requiring people to bow and worship him.


But man has always had a propensity to have a tangible god that they can see and touch.  It’s still common today in many nations around the world, but you need look no further than America to find people worshiping statues and images, sometimes even of the right God, but not in the right way.


It’s one thing for the heathen to worship idols...that’s really breaking the 1st commandment more than the 2nd.  But to do this in the name of God, and Jesus, is a terrible tragedy.


This leads to a discussion of the Roman Catholic Church:

I must speak the truth in love, so allow me to start with the love part, and then get to the truth.  I can appreciate that church, their good works, their stands on several moral issues important to me as well.  I don’t have anything personal against them, and I’m not a Catholic basher.  My best friend in high school was a Mexican national who was raised Catholic, and though I disagreed, we could be friends.  But I’m thankful today that a few years after I witnessed to him and took him to church camp my friend came to the knowledge of Jesus it goes further than just the hand and the head.  It’s deeper than any of the objects he was to worship in his old church.  By the way, he was disowned for this by his family!


We have a lot of Catholic neighbors, and they are great people…they would make such great Christians.  The media calls them Christians, but it’s not the biblical definition.


Now the truth [still in love]:  I feel sorry for multitudes lost in this movement, because I believe it is just paganism dressed up.  I don’t doubt than some of them come to have a real relationship with God, but usually it’s in spite of what their church teaches them.  I know of good people who are those rare, born again Catholics, and I can’t figure out why they stay associated with the church other than for political gain, for family reasons or tradition, or some other motive, because they reject the idolatry and the ‘other gods’ that church makes out of Mary and other “saints.”  Those saints don’t want that worship.  They aren’t aware of it, or they would decline to receive it. 


A saint on the dashboard won’t keep you safe when you drive.  A statue in your yard won’t protect your home any more than and ADT sign when you don’t really own the system!  And a cross around your neck is fine, but it doesn’t sanctify you even when you are living like the devil. 


Even if the only statues they worshiped were of Jesus, it would be wrong.  But they say, well, that aides me in my worship of Him.  Let’s think about that...

Ill.—ladies, picture walking into a dark restaurant with a friend, and you notice in a back booth your husband with another woman...he’s all over her, passionately loving on her.  You confront him and he says, it’s not what you think, when I walked in here I saw her and she bore an amazing resemblance to you.  I’m thinking of you, and she is just aiding me in my affection towards you.

        How many ladies would buy that?  Sadly, some guys try to make the same kind of claim about using pornography, but their wife doesn’t buy it and knows in her heart he’s lusting after that woman, and not loving his wife as much as a result.


What’s wrong with a graven image?


1.     It distorts God.

He is a Spirit, not a localized item. 

Isaiah 44:10
Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

He was being facetious, and went on to talk about a carpenter trying to make a god, and a cook trying to cook up a god.  It’s an absurd thought, because you can’t whip up anything, no matter how hard and long you work, that is sufficient to represent the omnipotent, omnipresent God!

Psalms 115:5-7
5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

He’s being sarcastic. 


I’m glad I have a God Who speaks to me.  And He can hear me when I speak to Him.  He can see me.  It’s more important that He see me than I can see Him.


On Mt. Carmel the prophets of Baal called out to their gods and idols for hours w/ to no avail, then Elijah prayed a short prayer and fire fell from heaven! 


Don’t fashion a God with hands to worship, but be aware and be thankful that He does have hands.  His fingers made the universe!

Psalms 89:13
Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.

John 10:28
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Don’t make an idol with feet.  The idol worshiper has to use his own feet and go to his god, but our God comes to us, knowing otherwise we can’t get to Him.  And He walks with us and talks with us...


The idolater has to carry his god around, but my God carries me and carries my burdens for me.


Because idols have mouths but can’t speak, the idolater has no promises to claim.

Because their idol may have eyes that cannot see, the idolater has no protection and is all alone.

Because their idol has ears that cannot ear, the idolater cannot have his prayers answered.

Because their idol has hands that cannot handle, the idolater has no power.

Because their idol has feet that cannot walk, the idolater can’t truly be in the presence of his god.


A graven image distorts God...


2.     A graven image degrades God

Romans 1:21-25
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man... 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator...

Something prohibited...


Something Protected

v. 5  “Jealousy” – it’s not always bad.  Envy is always wrong, but there’s both a good and bad kind of jealousy.  The root word is akin to the word zealous.  And God is zealous to protect His relationship with us, His children.  He protects His own glory as well.  This is His right!


You can be zealous of another person.

…like your spouse, because they belong exclusively to you.  I’m not talking about a suspicious jealousy, or a lack of trust.  It’s just a zeal to protect that person and your relationship to one another. 


And God owns us, and He wants us to love Him not only supremely, but exclusively!  Anything you fear more than God, anything you trust more than God, anything that you love more than God...this is idolatry!


Something prohibited, something protected...


Something Projected

v. 5b        at first glance this seems unfair, unjust.  It doesn’t say that God holds your children guilty or punishes them for your sin, it says that the sin is visited.  It’s a simple fact that we affect one another, and the way we worship God now will have an affect on our children.  They’re still responsible for themselves, have a free will, and must answer to God, but we want to give them every advantage, and not pass along proclivity to our sins to them.


Physical disease often runs in a family history.  Emotional problems are often inherited [tell me about your father!]  It’s true in the spiritual realm as well.


Here’s a classic OT example:

King Uzziah in 2 Chron. 26 had a major falling out w/ the priests, specifically about how he was trying to worship the right God in the wrong way.  He was stricken w/ leprosy himself, but then his son Jotham was affected in the next chapter.  We see that he believed in God, but decided to take it all personally about his father, and not go into the temple at all [ch. 27].  In chapter 28 we see his grandson Ahaz, and he worships graven images and idols, and offers his children as living sacrifices.  See the slippery slope this family is on?  And it all started w/ the father’s sin.  He had misguided worship, his son had neglected worship, and his grandson then had corrupted worship.


And we are all projecting something into the lives of our kids, and affecting the next generation, so we’d better be sure about how we worship the true and living God.


What we allow in moderation our kids will abuse in excess.


One generation generates wealth.

The next speculates wealth.

The next dissipates wealth, and it’s gone.


My generation needs help.  The greatest generation is passing away.  We shouldn’t allow them to pass on until they have passed on their legacy.


Young people have big decisions to make, and little wisdom with which to make those decisions.  But right here in the room there is an older generation with lots of wisdom, but few decisions to make.  This is why the Bible teaches for the elder to teach the younger.  This requires willingness of both parties.


Barna research does Gallup style polling, and a study released last month was shocking to me:

Here are the 8 components of a biblical worldview…

[say amen to each with which you agree]

1. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.

2. God is the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator and He still rules today.

3. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned.

4. Satan is real.

5. A Christian has a responsibility to share his faith in Christ with other people.

6. The Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.

7. Unchanging moral truth exists.

8. Moral truth is defined by the Bible.


The research shows that only 1 out of 22 young people (ages 19-29) who claim to be Christians embrace all 8 elements listed above!


No wonder young people leave the church and abandon their faith.


Just as our bad practices are often passed down to our kids, so will be good ones.


The elder generation read their Bible every day / prayed together as a family / came to evening services / arrived early and stayed late to fellowship / viewed themselves as contributors, not consumers / didn’t try to see how much they could be like the world, but like Christ.



Perhaps the biggest idol ever fashioned is the one that so many of us in this very room have created:  a different God more to our liking.  This one is made in our image!  He loves us just as we are and is ok with our staying that way.  Many today have carved out another Jesus who is just happy that we study His Word in church once a week… “it’s His privilege to have me!  And He would want me to be comfortable, and indeed I am!”


If we could see into the future and our descendants, we would be shocked to our core at where this is heading.

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