[Exodus 20: 4 -6]
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the second session on the Ten Commandments.
In the last session, I preached on the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
The only one God is the one who created men and heaven and earth, and who can give eternal life and blessings to men. When people worship meaningless gods, they will go through sufferings because of the enemy devil and Satan.
So, God of love gave us the first commandment so that we will worship the only God alone and receive protection and blessings.
Today, let us look into the second commandment, the prohibiting of idol worshiping.
This tells us that we must not make any idols, bow before them, or worship them.
But this does not only mean that we must not worship an idol crafted by men’s hands.
Even if you think you are not worshipping idols but only God the Creator, please listen to this message carefully and find out whether or not you have a spiritual idol in you.
By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will remove the meaningless idol from your life and become blessed children who are loved by God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, an idol is ‘an image of a god that has no shape, which is an object of worship’.
They make images of men, animals on the ground, insects, birds, or living things in the sea, the sun, moon, and stars, or even things of imagination, with trees, rocks, metal, gold, or silver, and worship them.
Idolatry is to make these physical images, worship them, and serve them.
Idols made by men have no life and they don’t have any ability or power to answer us or bless us.
So, if men, who are preciously created after the image of God the Creator, are worshipping idols made by men’s hands and asking for blessings in front of them, how foolish and ridiculous this is!
That’s why Isaiah 26:6-7 says, “Those who lavish gold from the purse And weigh silver on the scale Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; They bow down, indeed they worship it. “They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; They set it in its place and it stands there. It does not move from its place. Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; It cannot deliver him from his distress.”
Not only making images of gods, but also relying on amulets, worshipping dead people, or any other sorcery and magical things all belong to idol worshipping.
People believe amulets drive away disasters and bring blessings, but in fact, it is exactly the opposite. If you see the spiritual realm, dirty demons and evil spirits gather around amulets and idols, so because of these, disasters and trials come on people.
Therefore, you should keep in mind that no idol but only God can bring blessings, and idols bring only disasters. Why, then, do people make these meaningless images and tend to worship them?
It’s because men have the attribute that they are satisfied only when they can actually see and touch something with their eyes and hands. In Exodus chapter 32, the people of Israel who came out from Egypt had experienced numerous works of God’s power, but they made idols and worshipped them to cause anger of God.
They served and followed Moses like a god, whom God gave them as their leader, but when Moses was away from them to receive God’s commandments, the couldn’t wait for that period of time and made idols.
They made an image of a calf and said it was their god who brought them out of Egypt.
Because of this, God’s wrath fell on the people of Israel. God who is spirit is not seen by our physical eyes, and we cannot make Him into a physical image, either.
Therefore, we must never make any image and serve it as God. But in some cases, some believers make idols of their own with things that are not really idols and serve them.
For example, they worship or pray to the paintings or image of Jesus, or worship the image of the Virgin Mary, or other fathers of faith.
But this is also idol that God abhors. The Virgin Mary or the fathers of faith are all creatures, and they are not objects of worship.
Only God the Trinity, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are the ones whom we are to worship and pray to.
Also, even though they make the image of Jesus, it is not real Jesus but only an image of a painter or a sculptor, so each of them make faces of Jesus differently.
If we worship or pray to these things, this finally becomes idol worshipping.
But some people boycott idols so much that they say even the cross at church is an idol. But this is not an idol but a symbol of the gospel that we believe.
Jesus took the wooden cross for sinners and died after shedding His precious blood. The reason why we are looking at the cross is to remember the precious blood of Jesus and the grace of salvation.
Therefore, the cross itself is not an object of worship or idol.
Also, some holy paintings like Jesus holding a lamb or the painting of the Last Supper do not become idols by themselves.
They are just paintings to express the ministry of Jesus or that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We don’t worship or pray to the Jesus in the paintings.
But if we express Jesus in an image of painting and worship it, it becomes an idol.
For your information, there are some people who say even Moses made an idol in the Old Testament, if we tell them we must not worship idols.
Namely, they are talking about the people of Israel when they were bitten by fiery serpent in the wilderness after complaining against God.
When so many people were bitten by fiery serpents and dying, Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a standard. When those who were bitten by the fiery serpent obeyed the word of God and looked at this serpent, they were saved.
But the reason why God let Moses made this was not to make the people worship the image itself. God gave it to us as a symbol that symbolizes Jesus Christ, who was to save us from the curse of the law.
This symbolizes that, just as those who looked at the bronze serpent didn’t fall into destruction by their sins, when those souls who are going to the way of death due to sins believe Jesus who is hung on the cross as their Lord and accept Him, they will be saved and gain life.
Those who misunderstand that even Moses made an idol say so because they don’t understand this spiritual meaning.
Moreover, after a very long time, when the king Hezekiah removed all idols, 2 Kings 18:4 says, “He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan(bronze piece).”
This tells us once again that the bronze serpent was made by the will of God, but it must not have been an object of worship.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, until now, I explained the primary meaning of idols, but what is more important is the spiritual meaning contained in this commandment.
In spiritual meaning, idol worshipping is everything that we love more than we love God.
Idol worshipping is not only bowing down before Buddha’s image or before ritual tables. If you follow your lust and love your parents, husband, wife, or children more than God, they become idols for you.
To the one who loves you the most and regards you the most valuable, you are the idol for that person. This does not mean you must only love God and not anyone else.
For example, it is very obvious that children have to love their parents in the truth, and God also tells us to respect our parents.
But if we violate the truth only because we love our parents, this is same as idol worshipping because it means we love our parents more than God.
For example, let’s say your unbelieving parents do not like it if you attend church on Sundays. Here, if you violate the Sabbath just to please your parents, you love your parents more than you love God. This will not only disappoint God, and furthermore, we cannot say you truly love your parents either.
If you truly love somebody, you will guide that person to receive salvation and eternal life. This is true love.
Therefore, you have to keep the Sabbath yourself and also you have to pray and evangelize your parents. Only then can we say we respect and love them truly.
It’s the same as parents. if you truly love your children, you have to love God first and you have to love your children within God.
No matter how much you try to protect them, men’s hand cannot save anybody from the enemy devil and Satan.
You cannot cure them if they get an incurable disease. You cannot also make them taller even though they are short.
But when the parents fear God and commit them into God’s hands and love them in the Lord, God Himself will raise them. He will give them spiritual and physical health, and also He will give them prosperity in all things.
It’s the same with the love between husband and wife. Those people who do not know the true love of God will love fleshly love.
They say they love each other, but they argue and quarrel with each other, and sometimes their love itself changes and they get a divorce.
But if you love in God you can love true, spiritual love. You will love the true and beautiful love that does not get angered, act unbecomingly, seek its own, or ever change.
Likewise, only when we first love God the Father in His love and love everybody within that love, can we share true love with each other.
Therefore, God tells us to love Him first and not to worship idols. You should not misunderstand what this means. You should not say, “At the church, they teach that you should love God only and not love your family members.”
Also, if you love money, fame, or knowledge and violate the command of God, this becomes your spiritual idol. Today, even among believers, there are some people who love money more than God, so they don’t keep the Sabbath properly.
To keep the fame and authority they enjoy in this world, some believers violate the commands of God.
Being a believer, if you violate the Sabbath just to keep your wealth, fame, or authority, or if you do not live by the truth compromising with the world, this is also spiritual idolatry.
There are also some people who love movie stars or athletes more than God and make them their idols. There are some members of our church who are working in entertainment. Also, you may like those who are good at acting or in sports.
But they should never become idols that are prior to God for you.
For example, there are also many performing art teams in the church, and you may like some of them because they sing very well and they are gracious. But they do not become your idols.
In the same way, you may like and respect entertainers of this world. But if you love them and cherish them in your heart all the time more than you love God, you will be farther and farther away from God because of that.
God cannot obviously be happy with this.
Other than this, if children have a doll or something they cherish very much and if their heart is taken by those objects completely, these objects can also be idols.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in latter half of Exodus 20:5 and verse 6, we can find the blessing for those who keep this commandment of prohibiting idol-worshipping and a warning for those who violate this commandment.
It says, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
When God says He is jealous, this jealousy is different from the jealousy of men.
Jealousy of men originates from fleshly attributes, and it is dirty and filthy, and is harmful to others.
For example, in this world, if the love of the husband changes and he loves another woman, and if the wife becomes jealous, she will cause harm to her husband.
She may quarrel wit her husband being filled with anger and hatred, and she may spread the wrongdoing of her husband to cause shame on him. Sometimes, she may even sue that husband and put him in jail.
The jealousy and envy to revenge her husband is not jealousy of love but jealousy of hatred.
If she loves her husband in spirit, she won’t be jealous like this in flesh, but she will first look back on herself and examine herself carefully.
She will first think of whether she acted rightly before God and whether she truly loved and served her husband.”
Also, she won’t make the wrongdoing of her husband known to anybody but try to gain wisdom of God to change the mind of her husband.
Brothers and sisters, then, what kind of jealousy of love does our God have?
If the believers worship idols, God turns His face away from them. This means He allows the enemy devil and Satan to do their work on them. God doesn’t give disasters Himself, but He has to give them out to Satan by the law of justice, because of their sins.
So, when people suffer from various trials and disasters, they become poor in heart, realize their wrongdoing, repent, and come back to god.
This is the result of God’s jealousy.
Likewise, the jealousy of god is the expression of His true love to stop His children from falling into the way of destruction and to guide them to the way of eternal life.
If God is not jealous and does not turn His face away from or just keeps on forgiving the believers no matter how much commit sins, what will happen to them?
They will not turn away from their wrongdoings, so their commitment of sins will be repeated once, twice, and many times continuously, so they will finally fall into eternal death.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God is the Creator and our Father, and He opened the way of salvation for all men by giving out His one and only Son as a sacrifice.
He controls all our lives and blesses those who fear Him.
But when we men love idols more than God and worship them, God hates this. this is like high treason against God who is the king.
Those who are hated by God in this way will receive the retribution, and it will go down to 3 to 4 generations. As said, look at some people around you. You will probably be able to find that the families that worship idols so much and do so much evil will have constant problems with their family members.
Many of them will get an incurable disease, disability, or mental disorders. They may even get demon-possessed or commit suicides. Various hardships including financial difficulties will follow. If these disasters continue for 4 generations, the family will completely collapse and not be able to recover.
But what is the reason that God did not specify the retribution will go down to 4 generations but left a room by saying 3 to 4 generations?
This is the compassion of God.
Namely, even though the ancestors worship idols so much and stood against God, if any of the descendants repent and seek God before their entire family is ruined, the family will receive God’s compassion and the disasters will stop.
But when the ancestors stored up so much evils standing against God and worshipping idols so much, it is not easy for the children to believe in God, and even though they accept the Lord, they have a spiritual cord connected with their ancestors, so they have difficulties in leading Christian lives.
The enemy devil and Satan keep on bringing charges against them and disturb them from having faith in an attempt to take them to death again.
But even in this kind of situation, if they with humble heart repent of the sins of their fathers on behalf of them and ask for the compassion of God casting off their evil, they will surely be protected by the grace of God.
On the contrary, those who love God and keep His commandments will receive God’s grace for thousand generations.
Disasters are only for 3 to 4 generations, but the blessings are for a thousand generations. By seeing this, we can once again feel the love of God contained in this verse.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if you do not worship idols but fear God, you will be blessed, and also your descendants will be blessed.
But it doesn’t mean that all descendants will be blessed just because their ancestors worshipped God very well. For example, Abraham, the father of faith, was loved by God so much and God promised him that God would bless his descendants for many generations. But even among Abraham’s descendants, those who did not fear God did not receive the blessings.
David loved God very much, and God promised him to bless his descendants, but those descendants of David who left God had nothing to do with that promise of blessing.
Only when they themselves loved God, dwelt in truth, and not stained themselves with idols, could they receive all the blessings accumulated and coming down from previous generations.
I hope through this message that you will never make any idol for yourself or worship any of them.
By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that, you will abundantly receive and enjoy blessings that are promised for a thousand generations.