The Ten Commandments:

2 -- You Shall Have No Graven Images

an article based on a sermon

by Jon Bowles

given 2 June 2007

(PLAY FROM START)

Today we live in a culture that is moving further and further away from God and His Way. Notice this excerpt from a recent article from WorldNetDaily.com, entitled "University OKs pagan festival, bans Christian event":

Druids, heathens, shamans and witches welcomed at school that banned Bible.

Scotland's UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh, after proposing a ban on Bibles and denying a Christian campus group the right to hold a conference on the immorality of homosexuality, has extended the welcome mat to the school's Pagan Society to hold its annual meeting on campus next month.

This illustrates the way in which society is moving, not just in the United Kingdom or in Europe generally, but in America, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as well.
The pagan conference will feature presentations on a variety of topics, including Magic and Witchcraft in the 21st Century, Pagan Parenting, Pagan Marriage, Pagan Symbolism and Practice and Ancient Greek magic. A workshop in tribal dance will be held at the university Student's Association.
Notice another article from the same source with the subheading: "Gideons arrested after school officials complain they were handing out Bibles."
Two men who are members of Gideons International, the Christian organization that is famous for, among other ministries, placing Bibles in motels and giving them to children, have been arrested after trying to hand out Bibles on a public sidewalk in Florida.
And from an article in the Daily Mail entitled "Don't teach that marriage is best say academics":
Academics are calling for teachers to be banned from promoting marriage in the classroom. They say homosexuality must be given equal status to stop the spread of 'bigoted' attitudes in schools and university campuses.
Continually these kinds of news articles appear in our papers. We are living in a culture that is moving more and more away from God and His Ways, going with anything that will replace Him.

Let us look at the second of God's Ten Commandments and, as we did with the first commandment, magnify it, get to the principle of not having graven images, and understand the mind of God who gave it. In doing this, we will look at five specific areas.

The Difference Between The First and The Second Commandments

Exodus 20:1-6 And God spake all these words, saying [Here is the First Commandment, which we previously covered.], (2) I am the [Eternal] thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (3) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (4) [Here is the Second Commandment.] Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: (5) Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the [Eternal] thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (6) And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Surely, one would think, this Second Commandment is covered by the First Commandment. If you have an image and you are bowing down to it, is that not putting another god before the true God, as is forbidden by the First Commandment? What is the difference between the First and Second Commandments?

In Exodus 32 the Israelites were worshipping the true God. They were making a feast "to the Eternal," the first occurrence of them breaking the Second Commandment. It is the instance of the golden calf.

Exodus 32:1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron...

They had just received the Law forty days before this, possibly the day of Pentecost. Moses had gone up the mountain and had received instructions as to how the tabernacle was to be built, as well as received the two tables of stone. As that came to an end, he then came down and the following was in full swing.

Exodus 32:1 (cont'd) ...and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot [know] not what is become of him.

What gods are they talking about? They had just kept the Passover. They had just come through the Red Sea after its splitting. Manna had come. They had seen water come out of the rock. Now with Moses gone, they needed something to look at, to go before them as "mighty ones."

Exodus 32:2-4 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. (3) And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. (4) And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. ["Here is a representation of the gods that brought you up out of the land of Egypt."]

Who brought them up? It was the Eternal. They recognized they had had this Power that brought them up, but they wanted something there to represent this power.

Exodus 32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the [Eternal], [the YHWH, the One who was, who is, and who will be].

In looking at the Second Commandment in Exodus 20, it is not so much "You shall have no other gods before me," it is more, how do you worship the true God? How do you worship at all?

The Second Commandment does not refer to the making of artwork. If all you read is Exodus 20:4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth," then pictures of horses and dogs would be wrong to have. In fact, the lion picture that we have on our Church website would be illegal in God's mind.

That is not what the Second Commandment is talking about, as we can see clearly in Exodus 25. Here instruction was given to Moses for building the ark, where the two tables of stone were to be kept, at the same time the people were making the golden calf.

Exodus 25:18-21 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (19) And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

The Ten Commandments were to be placed in the ark. The mercy seat, which was the lid that went on the ark, had two cherubim with their wings going over the side. They were fashioned; but they were not idols, because they were not to be worshipped or bowed down to.

Through the example of Exodus 25:18, it is clear that the Second Commandment is not a case of just not having any likeness. Rather, it is a case of not having any likeness, or anything that is physical -- or even mental -- to bow down to. Because "I the [Eternal] thy God am a jealous God." Only the true God do you bow down to, only the true God do you serve; and you serve Him in the Way that He specifies. The making of pictures or images or even statues is not prohibited.

The Limited Image

There is a basic, fundamental problem that is addressed by the Second Commandment that God wants us to understand. When you are bowing down to, worshipping a graven image, you are bowing down to a "limited image." The image is not the true God at all. It is a limited thing. The First Commandment says, "You shall have no other gods before Me." The Second Commandment says not to bow down to anything that is not the True God.

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the [Eternal] thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Why do you not bow down to them? Because this Individual is a "jealous God." God (the One who became Jesus Christ) brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, not a calf of gold. There may have been cherubim [angels] involved with bringing them out; but you do not bow down to them, let alone a calf of gold. God is jealous of what He, in fact, does:

Isaiah 42:8-9 I am the [Eternal] [I am the One who was, who is, and who will be, the "I AM."] that is my name [God's name carries all authority.]: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (9) Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

This individual, this being is One who speaks, and things happen.

Isaiah 42:10-11 Sing unto the [Eternal] a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. [Notice the context of this in the next verse.] (11) Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar [the Bedouins] doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock [petra] sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.

If you read about how "I have long time held my peace, I have been still and refrained myself, but now I am going to cry," (Isaiah 42:14) and the other verses that lead into this, about a bruised reed He will not break and the smoking flax He will not quench and how He will eventually put that to one side and will sort out the world (Isaiah 42:3), in that section He is saying very clearly that He is the Eternal, that is His name, and His glory He will not give to another. This was the Being that took the children of Israel out of Egypt; and His glory He would not give to an image, something that was less than Him.

How do we get the principle of this entire subject of not having any graven images?

Isaiah 48:11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

What are the nations that serve other gods, that bow down to idols, actually bowing down to? They are bowing down to a representation of something. They are not bowing down to the physical thing. Catholics bow before a statue of Mary. Are they bowing down to worship the physical thing? Of course not. They are thinking of "the spirit of Mary" that is "up in heaven," and they are focusing on that.

This is the same way the Pagans worship. We have all heard of the "genie in the bottle" where you rub a bottle and out pops a genie that will grant your wishes. This comes from the Pagan concept that within an image there is a spirit that you can invoke that will grant your wishes.

The true God is not a limited spirit. You cannot shove the true God into a bottle. He is not something that is behind an image, not merely a nebulous spirit essence. Yes, He is spirit. He is, in fact, THE Spirit who is "on High." He can do anything because He is God. As He said in Isaiah 42:9, "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare..." Whatever He says is done. His Word defines the reality of all things.

Psalm 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Israel limited God. When they make an idol, and they say they have this spirit behind the idol, and they have something physical to look at, they are looking at a limited being, something that cannot do what needs to be done.

Exodus 17 records an incident that happened just before the Law was given. 17:1-3 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the [Eternal], and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. (2) Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the [Eternal]? (3) And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

What are they actually saying?

17:4-7 And Moses cried unto the [Eternal], saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. (5) And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. (6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the [Eternal], saying, Is the [Eternal] among us, or not?

The true God took them out of the land of Egypt. And what had He actually promised them?

Exodus 13:3-5 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the [Eternal] brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. (4) This day came ye out in the month Abib. (5) And it shall be when the [Eternal] shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.

They had a clear, unambiguous promise from the Eternal that their nation was going to go into this land. Yet when they came to Rephidim and were without water, what did they say? "You have brought us out here to die." Disregarding the promise, they looked at the physical circumstances, not realizing that they were not dealing with a "genie." They were not dealing with a god of all the nations round about, but with the Eternal who brings to pass whatever He says.

Romans 4 talks about Abraham -- an individual who like his descendents had also been given a promise, but in his case he clearly understood that he was not worshipping an idol, a physical representation, a mere "genie," but he understood how he was worshipping the only true God.

Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee [Abraham] a father of many nations)... [The promise was very clearly given to Abraham that he was to be the father of many nations at a time when Abraham and Sarah were well past age and childless.] ...before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth [makes alive] the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

This is the difference between the Israelites, who wanted something physical that they could see, and Abraham. Abraham understood that this is the Being who created all things, who, when He speaks, that is what is going to happen. An idol can by its nature only be a vastly limited representation of the true God, while the true God is the One whose Word upholds all things -- whether that true God be the Father or whether that true God be the Word who became Jesus Christ. They are both eternal. They are both the Creators. Abraham believed the true God. Abraham believed the true God who makes alive the dead, calls those things that are not as though they were.

Romans 4:18 Who against hope... [Looking at things physically, there was no hope, since Abraham and Sarah were past child-bearing age.] ..believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

God's promise had been made to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that their descendants, as a people, would inherit this land of Canaan, a land of milk and honey. But they -- the descendants, the children of Israel -- did not believe God. Instead, they wanted something physical to look at as the "gods" they reckoned took them out of Egypt. Abraham did not. He had a totally different view of life. He looked at -- and believed -- the God that said, "So shall thy seed be."

Romans 4:19-21 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb [an impossible situation]: (20) He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; (21) And being fully persuaded that, what he [God] had promised, he was able also to perform.

In looking at the Second Commandment, the inference for us is huge. We are not looking at a genie. We are not dealing with some kind of airy-fairy individual. We are dealing with THE true God whose Word upholds all of reality, the One who says, and it will be -- and Who has also made promises regarding His people today as well.

Romans 4:22-25 And therefore it was imputed to him [Abraham] for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who [Jesus our Lord] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

It is a case that we believe in this same Individual that Abraham believed in, because He has said that certain things are going to take place. It is not just an airy-fairy spirit that is behind an idol. When I say "idol," I am not talking just about an idol being a carved image, but about idols being in our mind, about our idols being human beings.

We are not to look at any man, including Mr. Herbert Armstrong. The reason why we are here within the Church is because we see beyond Mr. Armstrong to the source of the information that was passed to us. We see that that did not come from a human source. It came from this same Being who upholds all of reality and, having given that word, will bring it to pass, guaranteed.

I John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

In other words, there is a certain approach that is necessary for every one of us begotten by the Living Word of God to become the firstfruits of His creatures. It is aiming for a time when we will be not only sinless but also not able to sin. We will get to a point where, as resurrected spirit beings, we will have a set character that is the same as God and Christ.

I John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

There is a huge contrast between these two groups -- between we that are of God, and the world that lies in wickedness. Even though we still sin at times, we of God are moving progressively in the direction of God -- who is sinless.

I John 5:20-21 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true. [We have this relationship with the Father and with Jesus Christ.], and we are in him that is true [We are walking in the same flesh that Jesus Christ walked in, subject to the same spiritual laws of God.], even in his Son Jesus Christ. This [walking in this same attitude, this Spirit this Way of Life -- this character and life style Christ walked in of Godly love] is the true God, and eternal life. (21) Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Verse 21 indicates clearly that this is the original ending of I John. It has not been chopped off. Why? Because there is an "amen" (which means "so be it") at the end, which you find at the close of books that are finished. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." In other words, do not go to anything else which is a limited image.

Not bowing down to a limited image is the heart and core of the Second Commandment. Anything that limits God is a real problem for us. Why? Because we have been given a promise, just as Abraham was given a promise -- yet both are totally impossible.

Abraham was given the promise that he was going to have a son, and that son was going to be born to a man 100 years old. We have been given a promise that we are to become children of God with perfect, holy, righteous character. That, from human flesh, is impossible; but that is the promise. If we put another god before the true God, whether it be a god in our head or a man or a church or whatever is not the true God, is that god going to save us? No. "Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." No!

We have to believe -- as Abraham believed -- a totally impossible situation, humanly speaking. Anything that limits the true God, the Eternal, is an idol. This is the essence of the difference between the First Commandment and the Second Commandment. The Second Commandment deals with not limiting the true God, not limiting this Being that you are worshipping.

Syncretism

There are a number of ways that this limiting actually takes place. Syncretism is one way that we find within today's society and today's religions all around us. As I pointed out in the introduction, there is a multiculturalism today. That is not the way the One who became Jesus Christ defined as the way the nation of Israel was to behave.

Numbers 15:15-16 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the [Eternal]. [This is talking about the way sacrifices were to be given.] (16) One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.

Numbers 15:29-30 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. (30) But the soul that doeth ought [anything] presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the [Eternal]; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Here we see the concept of "multiculturalism" was not to be within the nation Israel. The idea of syncretism -- in this case, taking the true and correct worship of God and mixing it with another culture, another way of doing things -- was not to be within the nation Israel. This syncretism is part of having a "limited, idolatrous god" and looking at things in a limited, idolatrous way.

Numbers 15:32-34 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. (33) And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. (34) And they put him in ward... [and they had him stoned.]

The implication here is that this must have been a stranger, because of the things said just before this particular passage. This was a stranger who was being presumptuous, who essentially was saying, "I don't care. This Eternal is not my god. I am an Egyptian (or whatever nationality he happened to be). I will do what I want on the Sabbath Day." There must have been a presumptuousness there.

Ephesians 1:19-23 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places [literally "heavenlies".], (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (22) And hath put all ["things" is not in the original] under his feet, and gave him ["to be" is not in the original] the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Jesus Christ is given to the Church to sanctify it.

Ephesians 2:1-2 And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins: [How were they dead in trespasses and sins?] (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Where did the concepts of the man who was out gathering sticks come from? His concepts were coming from this spirit that actually works in the children of disobedience. It was a spiritual source.

Where does depression come from? Depression is a spiritual thing. It comes from a spiritual source. If your mind goes in a certain direction, it starts to tune in to spiritual sources which are not right. One of the techniques you can use is to tell the spirit to go, to leave you alone, because it is a spiritual source. James 4:7 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. This aspect is something we need to be aware of.

This "prince of the power of the air," this broadcast that is there, has influenced all the religions of this world -- of this age. There is only one true word of God that came originally from the One who became Jesus Christ, and the true word of God personified was Jesus Christ when He was here. The true Word of God leads the Church of the true God also, to this day. God has quickened us -- made us alive -- "wherein in time past we walked according to the course of this world, according to prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."

Ephesians 2:3-6 Among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ, [by grace ye are saved] (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places [heavenlies] in Christ Jesus. [We have the same perspective as Christ.]

As we read in verse 20, Christ is now sitting on high viewing things from this heavenly perspective; and He has now given His true Church the same kind of perspective. We are looking at things in a totally different way. God's way is a way of life, a way of doing things that is totally different.

Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

This is so we can be the very sons and daughters of God. To do this, you cannot have syncretism. You cannot have God's way mixed with something that came from the spirit of the power of the air, that came from the wrong source. Syncretism does not fit at all with God's way.

Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater... [To covet something and mix it with the truth is a form of idolatry.] ...hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 5:6, Let no man deceive you with vain words...

Do not let anyone pull the wool over your eyes, that you can take anything from a source outside God's word, mix it with the truth of God, and it still be true. It is like taking food and mixing it with poison. Is that still food? No.

Ephesians 5:6 (cont'd) ..for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

As we saw before, such things are coming from the "prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Such a mixture of concepts is therefore utterly lethal to God's future children.

When Christ was tempted by Satan to cause the stones to be made bread, He said, "No. We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. By that shall a man live." This is a principle. We therefore have to have the same perspective -- the perspective of the One who currently sits on high in the heavenly realm. We do not mix anything that has its roots in this age with The Way of God that proceeds from God.

Notice Jeremiah 10, the chapter we turn to regarding the Christmas tree. We can see that we should not take things (like Christmas trees) from outside the instruction of God and mix them with God's truth. 10:1 Hear ye the word which the [Eternal] speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 10:2, Thus saith the [Eternal]. Learn not the way of the heathen.. [the nations around Israel].

Deuteronomy 12:30-31 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. (31) Thou shalt not do so unto the [Eternal] thy God: for every abomination to the [Eternal], which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.

Deuteronomy 7:1-2 When the [Eternal] thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; (2) And when the [Eternal] thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them:

They were to utterly destroy the whole system that was there; because Israel was to be holy, clean before God.

Deuteronomy 7:3-6 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. (4) For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the [Eternal] be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. (5) But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. (6) For thou art an holy people unto the [Eternal] thy God: the [Eternal] thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

Jeremiah 10:2 Thus saith the [Eternal], Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. [Do not seek after astrology.]

Jeremiah 10:3-7 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. (4) They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. (5) They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. (6) Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O [Eternal]; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. (7) Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

You do not make a limited image. You do not take the images of these limited gods and bring them into the worship of the true God. You do not start syncretizing because, when you are looking at the true God, there is none other like Him.

Jeremiah 10:8-10 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. (9) Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men. (10) But the [Eternal] is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

We are looking forward in prophetic terms to when Christ actually returns, and this will be a reality.

Jeremiah 10:11-12 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. (12) He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.

He is the one true God, the Creator God; and you do not have a limited image of God. Anything you start mixing with the worship of the one true God becomes a limited image. It limits this Being. The true God has no limits. Whatever He says is. His Word is a definition of reality. That is why there are no limits.

Jeremiah 10:13-16 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. (14) Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. (15) They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. (16) The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The [Eternal] of hosts is his name.

This Individual is the true God. Not only making an image to represent Him, but making an image that represents Him and mixing it with the worship of the true God, syncretizing it, bringing it into the worship of this one true God, is foolishness.

This is why we do not keep birthdays. Observing birthdays comes directly out of paganism. Why does someone keep a birthday? And specifically, keep a birthday according to a pagan calandar? What is the purpose of it? Because it was important to recognise the astrological sign. And why? Because for that date, they believed that certain spirits were in ascendancy; and you -- if you wanted demon based power during that day -- would go to somebody who has that birth date and give them a present. And part of the ritual was to have candles "that bring the ascending powerful spirits up." The whole thing is steeped in paganism. You do not take that and merge it with the true religion.

What about pagan hymns? Is it right to take a song dedicated to Shiva, a pagan god, and sing it to the Eternal? Should we take a song dedicated to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (the Trinitarian doctrine, which is totally false) and sing it to the Eternal? Do we mix pagan songs into our songs that we sing to the Eternal God? Some feel it is all right to do that. I do not agree with that at all.

As to Christmas, which is Baal worship, and Easter, which is Ashtoreth worship (two specific deities mentioned in scripture), again, it is bringing in something that is limited, something that limits the Holy One of Israel. The "Holy One of Israel" is not just "of Israel." He is the Creator of all things. He is the One who "spoke and it was," the One who became Jesus Christ. And his Father is even greater than He.

Whom do we pray to? We pray to the Father, by Christ's instruction, by Christ's direction; and in doing that, we are praying to THE Creator God, the highest Being in the universe. You cannot make or concoct an image of Him. We have to be very careful not to get an image in our mind of what God is and pray to that. Yes, He describes Himself in human terms as a father; but do not limit Him or try to turn Him into a genie because that goes against what the Second Commandment is all about.

This Being is beyond anything that we can physically represent. Even in our minds we do not really, fully grasp who and what He is. How can you have a Being that has always been? We cannot even grasp the scientific concept of "singularity". We cannot grasp getting all the galaxies and sucking them down together to an infinitely small point -- because at a certain place, time and space start to bend around in a circle. What happens then? We have no idea. What is time? What is an electron? This Being knows. He made them. His Work defines them. He is the One that we pray to -- an unseen God. He is not an idol, even an idol within our minds.

Food Offered to Idols

When we look at the subject of syncretism, mixing paganism into the true religion and coming up with the idols we see all around us today, we also find the concept of pollution of idols.

Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

Acts 15:19-21 Wherefore my [James'] sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: (20) But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. [These four things were predominant among the Gentile races at that time.] (21) For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

It is obvious that these people were going to the synagogues and listening to the reading of Old Testament scripture, because that is where they would find out about the law. It would be read to them.

Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols... [This is what the "pollutions of idols" actually was at this particular time, food offered to idols.]

There are various other scriptures in regards to this. In Daniel 1, you find Daniel's attitude (and Shadrach's, Meshach's, and Abednego's) towards the king's food.

In Acts 10:14 Peter said, "I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean." He had not only refrained from eating any unclean food, but any common food as well, which included any food that may had been offered to an idol.

This "food offered to idols" became a real issue in the Church at that time. They could not tell whether something had been blessed for use in idol worship or not, and so were actually becoming vegetarians. They could not buy meat that they could be sure was kosher, and Paul had to address this.

I Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

I Corinthians 10:6-7 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (7) Neither be ye idolaters [They were idolaters, worshipping the golden calf.], as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play [play sexually].

Remember, this incident with the Israelites and the golden calf was a feast "to the Eternal."

I Corinthians 10:11-14 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (14) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Paul did not mince his words. Fleeing from idolatry was something that had to be done.

I Corinthians 10:19-21 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? (20) But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [demons], and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils [demons]. (21) Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

I Corinthians 10:25-29 [Paul gives the answer to the problem] Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: (26) For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. (27) If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. [Paul is not talking about unclean food, but about common food, food offered to idols.] 10;28, But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for [your own] conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: (29) Conscience, I say, not thine own [not only your own], but of the other [person's]: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? [Better translated, "For what is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?"]

We see this problem in the New Testament Church and the way Paul said it should be handled. If something is put in front of you to eat, go ahead and eat it. Do not ask a question about it. If, however, you know it has been sacrificed to idols, do not eat it. "Flee from idolatry." Do not eat food that has been sacrificed in worship of an idol.

How does this apply to us today? At Christmastime, if you are given a piece of fruitcake or a serving of plum pudding, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if someone says to you, "Would you like a piece of Christmas cake, or Christmas pudding," do not eat for conscience' sake -- for his conscience sake as well as your own. If what is offered has a Father Christmas or reindeer on it, you know what it is. You do not eat for conscience sake.

It is the application of the principle concerning food offered to idols that we need to understand, and the principle applies right down to this present day. Food offered to idols is part of this syncretism that takes place. It was a particular problem within the Gentile churches in the New Testament, and is still a problem to this day for us. The solution is exactly the same. If you do not ask a question, you are fine; but if you know, then you should not eat.

Worshipping God In Spirit And In Truth

When Jesus Christ was dealing with the woman at the well she said to Him: John 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. She perceived that Christ was a prophet because He had just told her that she should not be living with the person she was living with. Christ knew the man was not her husband.

She then went on to say, 4:20-21 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. (21) Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

This is talking about the mountain of Gerizim. To this day you can go to this mount and find a Samaritan monastery with a "Book of the Law" in the original curly Hebrew script. The Jews changed their script to the present square form specifically to counter this heresy in the north. But the Samaritans will to this day tell you how wonderful their book is and how the Jews are reprobates and should not be listened to. This "Book of the Law" however, has passages such as those concerning idolatry removed, leaving only passages that do not contradict the pagan Samaritan religion.

John 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

In other words, the Jews were responsible for preserving the Old Testament scriptures; and they have preserved them faithfully.

John 4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. [If this is what God wants, that is the way we should be.] (24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

This is the way we are to worship the True God today. When we get on our knees and come before God in truly heartfelt prayer, we are worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. We are dealing with the Father directly. There is no idol there, and we have to make sure that in our minds also no idol exists. We who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth should therefore become progressively more aware of the spiritual reality -- a vast spiritual gulf that exists between us and the world.

II Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

If we are indeed worshipping the true God in spirit and in truth, how can you mix it? How can there be this syncretism as found in the world?

II Corinthians 6:15-16 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The One that we are in contact with has His Spirit in us, and His Spirit is flowing through us. It is the "love of God shed abroad in our hearts" by that Spirit (Romans 5:5), that enables us to become His sons and daughters.

II Corinthians 6:17-18 Wherefore come out from among them [unconverted people], and be ye separate, saith the [Eternal], and touch not the unclean thing [again, this food offered to idols, this "pollutions of idols" discussed in Acts 15]; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

There is a great distinction between the people who are under the sway of the prince of the power of the air, Satan the Devil, and those who are in regular contact with this Being, God the Father, and who have Jesus Christ living His life through them. There must be an understanding of this difference, and this difference has to be maintained.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

It is the word of God that sanctifies us, that sets us apart. "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God."

Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

Isaiah 65:17 is going right into the future. Verse 20 goes back one step to the 100-year period, which occurs after the Millennium.

Isaiah 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

Verse 21 goes back one more step to the millennial time." And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them."

Verse 25 also talks about this millennial time, the thousand years following Christ's return. "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the [Eternal]."

Go back one more stage to the time we are in right now, in our present time. Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the [Eternal], The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house... [where is the temple?]

II Corinthians 6:15 What concord has the temple with idols? I John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Why? Let's read on.

Isaiah 66:1-2 (cont'd) ...that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? [Where is the Godhead going to be resting?] (2) For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the [Eternal]: but to this man will I look... [But to this temple, this house, will I look. The word "man" is added.] ...even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

We who worship the true God do not syncretize, do not mix the true word of God with ideas from others outside the true Church of God. We have not come up with our own religion, our own concepts. We listen to what God says. We do not bow down to a limited image of the true God. We understand the true God is actually talking.

Isaiah 66:3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, [and it is their own ways that are the problem] and their soul delighteth in their abominations.

Isaiah 66:5-8 Hear the word of the [Eternal], ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the [Eternal] be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. (6) A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the [Eternal] that rendereth recompense to his enemies. (7) Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. (8) Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children [plural].

These are the actual sons and daughters of the Living God, the ones who have righteous character that has been fashioned, molded by the hand of God. We need to understand that this Being whose Word upholds all things that exist is in the process of His greatest creation ever.

To make a limited image, an idol, something that has the genie concept behind it, is ridiculous. We must worship the true God, which is a family consisting of the Father and the Son -- both Creators -- who have the same Spirit, the same mindset, the same way of doing things. And The Living Word that became Jesus Christ -- The Eternal of old that dealt with our forefathers -- made certain statements about what He and the Father are doing -- and will do:

Isaiah 66:9-13 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the [Eternal]: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. (10) Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: (11) That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. (12) For thus saith the [Eternal], Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. (13) As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

The born sons and daughters of God will be in the New Jerusalem, for as it said in Isaiah 65:17, He creates a new heaven and a new earth. The prophecy here in Isaiah 66:13 flows from the physical Jerusalem of the Millennium right down to the New Jerusalem of Isaiah 65:18 ...behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy... and the voice of weeping shall be no more...

Isaiah 66:14 And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the [Eternal] shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.

We will see this actually happen. We will see this because we will be worshipping the true God, worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth, with the principle that is behind all of His Laws.

The principle behind the Second Commandment is that we are not to erect anything at all that limits the true God. We have to believe what is totally and utterly impossible, that is, that God will make from human beings, out of human flesh, His own sons and daughters with His own character, with His own mind. He will make them with a glorified, resplendent, spirit body. The point of the Second Commandment is that NO idol can do that.

transcribed in article form by KA. Edited by JB.