February 26, 2010

A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 09



Monte Holland

This is the ninth in a series of daily Lenten devotionals called “Scriptural Lessons Leading to a Godly and Moral Life.” To start the study, click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Introduction or

To view yesterday’s A DAILY ON-LINE LENTEN STUDY GUIDE click on: A Daily Online Lenten Study Guide: Day 08

 Today’s photographs feature: St. John United Methodist Church in Rockport, Maine (Monte preached there in the fall of 2003):

 The Second Commandment: 4Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. 5Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the LORD your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me, I will punish your families for three or four generations. 6But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations. Exodus 20:4-6

     We have a natural tendency to like things: a fine piece of jewelry, a neat toy, a cell phone, or a shiny new car! The list goes on and on. In this commandment God reminds us that no “thing” is nearly as valuable as God, who has blessed us with these many nice things. We should never worship them like God. We should never elevate our “things,” making them something we value so much that we will do anything (even evil things) to keep them and protect them.

     Good things are nice, and need to be cared for, but they are made out of earthly materials and they will wear out or decay over time. Houses fall down. Old gravestones wear away. Junkyards are full of worn-out cars. Our computers quit. God is different. God never ages. God never wears out or decays. God lasts forever and thus nothing that is made or is material in nature should be held in as high regard as God.

     The moral, Godly, life never values things a fraction as much as having God in our lives. If the choice is between honoring God and honoring things, God wins hands down.

     This commandment is tricky. We may correctly say that we have never worshipped a golden calf (see Exodus 32:1-6) like the Israelites did while Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting the Ten Commandments. Or have we?

     Listen to what one author said about graven images (which are idols that we worship in place of God) in the book The Storyteller’s Companion to the Bible, Vol. 2 (edited, Michael E. Williams, p. 89): “How unique was Israel to abhor such images, the very stuff of all other religions.—No religion (in Israel’s day or since) thought that the graven image was really divine. Each religion requires something tangible to embody the meeting point between God and believers. Yahweh wishes that the faculty of faith be not the eye but the ear. But the distinction between a graven image or idol and a mere symbol is a tricky one. – Iconoclastic controversies, (e.g. whether to have a cross represented with Jesus on it), have simmered throughout church history. The only image positively appraised in the Bible is the human creature, made ‘in God’s image.’”

DO NOT MAKE ANY EARTHLY IDOLS TO BOW DOWN TO OR TO WORSHIP. (The Second Commandment tells us to make sure that images are never a replacement for God.)


Exercise 1: Let us identify a few “idols” that we may worship instead of God (unscramble them):

(yenom) ________________________ (more…)

Blog at