Q49: Which is the second commandment?
A: The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor 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. Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord 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; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Q50: What is required in the second commandment?
A: The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing (Deut. 32:46; Matt. 28:20), and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word (Deut. 12:32).
Q51: What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A: The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images (Deut. 4:15-16), or any other way not appointed in his Word (Col. 2:18).
Q52: What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A: The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us (Ps. 95:2, 3), his propriety in us (Ps. 45:11), and the zeal he hath to his own worship (Ex. 34:14).

I. The second commandment pertains to the means and ways of worship

Only what God has instituted is allowed.
A. The second commandment stands alone: Roman Catholics and Lutherans combine the first and second commandments (Ex. 20:3-6), and divide the tenth.
B. The second commandment forbids making images for religious use and worshipping them; positively implied is that God shall be worshiped and served as He has appointed.

1. The life of Jehu illustrates the breaking of this commandment: Jehu was praised for eliminating Baal worship (2 Ki. 10:28), by killing Jezebel (9:30-37) and the Baal priests (10:18-27), but Jehu kept the golden calves which were intended to represent God (10:29; cf. 1 Ki. 12:28-29; Ex. 32:4-5).


II.  Required

The second commandment requires the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in His Word.
A. That religious worship consists of prayer (Acts 2:42); singing praises (Ps. 149:1); reading and hearing the Word (Jn. 5:39; Acts 15:21; Eph. 4:11-12; 2 Tim. 4:2); sacraments (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:23); fasting (Matt. 6:16-17); church government and discipline (Matt. 18:17-18; 1 Tim. 6:20; Heb. 13:17).
B. Duty regarding these ordinances: receive them in our principles and profession (Mic. 4:5); observe them in our practice (Matt. 18:20); keep them pure (1 Cor. 11:2); keep them in totality (Deut. 12:32; cf. Jer. 19:5; 2 Chron. 26:16-19).

III.  Forbidden

The second commandment forbids the making of an image of anything in all creation; irreligion, not honoring and complying with the ordinances appointed by God (Job 15:4). Israel came out of Egypt, where all types of animals were worshiped.
A. False worship and ordinances: that which God has not instituted or appointed.

1. Forbidden: all religious imagery is (Deut. 4:15-16, 19; Isa. 40:18; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:23), as they are monuments of idolatry (Ex. 23:24; Deut. 7:5; 2 Ki. 18:4).

a. Forbidden: pictures of Jesus, as we don’t know what He looked like, nor can a picture capture His divine image; such also dishonors the Holy Spirit who is the One who shows us the Savior (Jn. 15:26; 16:14; 2 Cor. 3:18).

2. Forbidden: all worshipping of saints, angels, etc. is forbidden (Lev. 26:1).

3. Forbidden: man-made traditions and will-worship (Mk. 7:7-8; Col. 2:20-23).

B. Irreligion: rejecting God’s ordinances and worship (Hos. 8:12); neglecting their practice (Ex. 4:24-25); prayer (14:4); preaching (2 Tim. 4:1-2); hearing the Word (Heb. 10:25); sacraments; church discipline (Rev. 2:14); inward irreverence (Ecc. 5:1); outward irreverence (Mal. 1:12-13).

IV. The reasons attached to the second commandment (Ex. 20:5-6).

A. God’s sovereignty (Ps. 95:2) over us, “I the Lord.”
B. God’s property in us, “Thy God.”
C. God’s zeal (Ex. 34:14) for His own worship, “I…jealous God, punishing….”

1. God hates idolatry (Deut. 16:22).

2. Fairness of children being punished: covenant solidarity (2 Ki. 10:1-17). [See Qs 16-17]

3. Promise is stronger: “thousand” generations (Ex. 20:5-6).


V. Application

A. Use, of knowledge

1. The second commandment is spiritual, reaching the heart. The heart is “a perpetual factory of idols” (John Calvin). Man is constantly trying to reshape God to his liking.

B. Use, of testing

1. Do we manipulate God: “If I do this, God will do that.” “Say the right prayer to unlock the

2. Do we worship God rightly?

C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints

1. Sinners. God cannot be worshiped until one comes to Him through the Son (Jn. 14:6); though man is without excuse for not worshiping God who has revealed Himself (Rom. 1:19-20).

2. Saints. Instead of making God into our image, we must be made into His. The only legitimate
image of God is what He has made (Gen. 1:26-27), and though the Fall marred that image, Christ is that exact image (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15), and His Spirit is remaking us into that image so that we can live for Him

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