The Second Commandment
It Starts with a Man named Moses
Imagine yourself in Egypt ruled under a Pharaoh as a slave. There is a man named Moses who was destined to be an instrument of God.
One day, Moses was tending his flock when he noticed a burning bush. Moses removed his sandals and approached.
*This contains some trimmed down portions of excerpts of Exodus*
It’s there at the burning bush where God spoke to Moses.
3:7-8 “I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sorrows and have come to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.”
3:10 “Come now and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people out of Egypt.”
5:1-2 Moses went to the Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go so they may hold a feast to the lord in the wilderness.”
Pharaoh replied, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.” (here the Pharaoh is referring to the slaves with the term Israel.)
Moses returns to the Lord explaining how the Pharaoh refused. God brought upon the plagues until Israelites are free.
Now, you are walking among them, your brethren and are free and leaving Egypt until you arrive in the Wilderness of Sinai after three months of travel.
A new set of commandments for Christianity
On the third day at Sinai, a thick cloud forms over the mountain with thunder and lightning. You tremble when a loud trumpet blares in your ears. Here you learn of the Lords ten commandments.
The second commandment of these is in Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
By definition, Merriam-Webster states that an idol is an image worshipped as a God, is a false God, or an object of passionate devotion. It states that idolatry is the worship of a physical object as a God. (Idolatry is mentioned in several places in the bible: Deuteronomy 6:14–15 32:21; Jeremiah 2:5; Leviticus 26:1)
Fast forward to today, and we see crosses on walls, necklaces and bracelets. Is it wrong? This is a burning question among Christians. Is this a violation of the second commandment?
Many christians may not agree on the answer. Some flat-out refuse, while others see it as a reminder. I personally tossed out my family heirloom cross, rosary and two necklaces years ago.
Check out this forum for some passionate viewpoints on this question here.
Taking a closer look
The cross was adopted after the bible was published, three centuries after Christ in the time of Constantine. Read full origin story here.
Wearing a cross, a symbol of torture for Jesus, as a symbol may be considered dangerously close to idolatry. Read full article on this argument.
According to Jack Crabtree, tutor at Gutenberg College, “The second commandment did not forbid Israel to symbolize Yahweh; rather, it forbid them to worship other gods. They were commanded not to worship graven images representing other gods, not graven images of Yahweh.” In Deuteronomy, however, Moses makes clear that God’s commandment was intended to forbid Israel from making graven images of Yahweh Himself.”
God wants us to worship him in spirit through faith, truth, and love. Emanuel Swedenborg shared his thoughts on the second commandment in his book : 10 Commandments: The Secrets of Spiritual Growth Found in God’s Principles for Living. I recommend reading it in its entirety.
Emanuel writes, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image is symbolic of not relying on our own intelligence. This makes sense, because a carved image is a symbol of something that does not come from the Lord but from our ego. A carved image symbolizes the product of our own intellect, and a cast image symbolizes our own desires. When we regard either the one or the other as our god and worship it, we love whatever comes from ourselves more than anything else.
People who do this actually do not believe that intelligence or wisdom flows into them from God. They attribute it all to themselves. Whatever happens to them they ascribe to luck or chance, and they flatly deny that divine providence has anything to do with it. They assume that if there is any external agency involved, it is in the order of nature, to which they attribute all things. To be sure, they publicly say some creator god has put his stamp on nature, yet in their heart they deny there is any god presiding over nature.”
What are your thoughts on this? Share in the comments below.