NO PICTURES ALLOWED
Exodus 20:4-6 (NKJV)
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Ill. Trip to the President House and signs forbidding photography. This is supposedly or reasons of national security. These verses above make it pretty clear that God doesn’t want His picture taken either. Nor, does He want a statue made, or any other type of an graven image used for worship.
Ill. Many have misunderstood this commandment. They have taken it to mean that God is condemning any type of photography or pictures. Some feel that any art, statues, dolls, stuffed animals, etc, are forbidden. That view, however, is simply adding to the Word of God. This Commandment was given for the sole reason of preventing men from inventing objects to be used in prayer and worship.
Tonight, I would like to help you understand this passage. It may be hard for us as believers, people who have never been exposed to true idol worship, to comprehend exactly what God is saying. However, there are truths given in these verses that we all need to learn and understand. So, tonight, as the Lord helps, I am going to preach on this thought, “No Pictures Allowed.”
I. THE RESTRICTION OF DEITY
A. A Command To Follow – God says, in no uncertain terms, that producing an image intended to receive worship is forbidden!
B. A Custom To Flee – Ill. Since the early days of man’s civilization, he (man) has invented for himself idols, and representations of his concept of God, to worship. (Ill. Idolatry always seemed to be Israel’s weakness. This first manifested itself in Exodus 32:1-14, with the incident concerning the Golden Calf in the wilderness journey. Israel’s idolatry was rooted in the fact that their hearts were turned away from the Lord. This violates the first Commandment. They also seemed to manifest an over dependence on Moses and had elevated him to the place of a little god. Then, they tried to spiritualize their error by equating the worship of the calf with worship of Jehovah God. (Ill. When a person needs some image or representation of God to assist in worship, it is a sure indicator of a lack in the spiritual life of that individual.))
C. A Change To Fix Our Hearts On – Ill. Idolaters genuinely believe that their idols are truly god. This is proven by their bowing to it, praying to it, sacrificing to it, giving to it, etc. (Ill. Many even hold installation ceremonies where the deity is invited into the idol to take up residence.) You and I should resolve that we will allow no image to take the place of Almighty God in our hearts!
D. Man is forbidden from this foolish and vain activity.
II. THE REASON FOR THE DEMAND
A. Their Inferior Nature – No matter how hard man tries, he can never properly represent God. After all, God is a Spirit – John 4:24. Man, in his zeal to worship and honor God, has sought to flatter Him by producing images of Him. However, the Almighty cannot be limited to stone, wood, plastic or some paint on canvas. As hard as man might try, he can never properly depict God. No matter what form that image might take, it will always be inferior to the True and Living God – (Ill. Psa. 115:5-8; Jer. 10:1-7; Rom. 1:23.) (Ill. How does little man portray a big God?)(Ill. Note : Men usually become like the thing they worship.)
B. Their Insidious (crafty) Nature – (Ill. Insidious is a fifty cent word that means “crafty.”) God’s desire for man is that every man enters into a living, personal relationship with Himself. He doesn’t want us giving our devotion to a false god. He wants us to be intimate with Him. You see, we do not need some image to aid us in our worship of God. We have a person on the inside (the HOLY SPIRIT) who will guide us in our worship of God – John 14:16; 16:13. (Ill. God is also well aware of the fact that behind any idol there is a very real devil who is looking for souls to claim for Hell!)
C. Their Invading Nature – According to verse 5, God is a jealous God. The Israelites were God’s people and He would tolerate no interlopers in that relationship. (Ill. Imagine a man flirting with another woman in the presence of his wife!) God will have no idol, no image, no person or thing taking His rightful place on the throne of our hearts. (Ill. Isa. 45:5) We must search our hearts and lives to see if we have removed every thing that would insert itself ahead of God in our lives.
III. THE RESULTS OF DISOBEDIENCE
A. The Burden Of God’s Judgment – When we elevate any thing, or anyone to the place of Godhood, we will find out too late that neither it, nor they, will be able to protect us from the awesome wrath of God – Psa. 59:8. (Ill. The Philistine god Dagon in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant – 1 Sam. 5:1-5). Judgment will always stalk the idolater.
B. The Blight On Succeeding Generations – (Ill. The Contest.) God is not saying that he will punish the children for the parent’s sins, Deut. 24:16; Eze. 18:19-32. He is saying that sin leaves it’s mark on our children! Children tend to resemble the environment they are exposed to. (Ill. Patterns of abuse, walk, talk, etc.) Often, it takes generations to break the cycle established by the parent. (Ill. The contrast between judgment and mercy – verse 6! Ill. Rom. 5:20!)
In truth, we are all guilty to some degree of manufacturing little gods for ourselves. We may not have a statue or an image to which we bow down, but we do have habits, traditions, activities, people and possessions that we place ahead of God. This is idolatry and this is sin.
No one, or no thing deserves your worship more than God Himself. Is He receiving it as he should? Is God Almighty your One and True God tonight?