The Second Commandment: No Graven Images

What Is The Second Commandment In The 10 Commandments?

In Deuteronomy 5:8-10, the Second Commandment is stated as follows:

“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, and 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.”

This commandment is also known as the “no graven images” or “no idols” commandment. It teaches us that we should not create or worship any physical representations of God, as He is an invisible and spiritual being.

No image could ever capture the true beauty and glory of God. Every image we would create would fall so short of who God is as to be insulting and blasphemous.

The Meaning Behind The Second Commandment

The Second Commandment is closely related to the First Commandment, which states that we should have no other gods before Him. By prohibiting the making and worshipping of idols, it reinforces the idea that there is only one true God and that we should worship Him alone.

The word “idol” comes from the Greek word “eid?lon,” which means “image” or “likeness.” This commandment refers specifically to physical representations of God, but it also extends to any person, object, or idea that we may put above our relationship with God. Anything that takes precedence over our devotion to God can become an idol in our lives.

In Psalm 115:4-8, the psalmist describes the futility and foolishness of idol worship:

“Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

This passage highlights the fact that idols are powerless and unable to do anything for us. Instead of relying on idols, we should put our faith and trust in God, who is all-powerful and able to fulfill our every need.

The Dangers of Idolatry

Idolatry is a serious offense in the eyes of God. It not only breaks the First and Second Commandments, but it also leads us away from a true relationship with Him.

By creating or worshipping idols, we are essentially replacing God with something else that we believe has power or significance. In doing so, we are denying God’s ultimate authority and placing our trust in something that is not worthy of it.

In Isaiah 44:9-10, the Lord says:

“All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing?”

Breaking the second commandment not only dishonors God but also deceives us into thinking that something else can satisfy our deepest desires and needs. This deception ultimately leads to disappointment, emptiness, and spiritual harm.

Examples of Idolatry In The Bible

In the Bible, there are countless examples of the dangers and consequences of idolatry. The Israelites fell into idolatry time and time again, which ultimately led to their downfall as a nation. God’s wrath and judgement were poured out upon them because of their disobedience and idolatry.

In the New Testament, Paul warns us in Colossians 3:5-6, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” Here, we see that idolatry is linked to our sinful nature and it will ultimately lead to God’s judgement.

Idolatry not only affects our relationship with God, but it also has damaging effects on ourselves and others. When we place our trust in idols or material possessions, we become consumed by them and lose sight of the things that truly matter. Our priorities become skewed and we may even harm others in pursuit of our idol.

Applying the Second Commandment in Our Lives

As Christians, we must guard against the temptation of idolatry by keeping God at the center of our lives. We should always examine our hearts and actions to ensure that nothing has taken the place of God in our lives.

One practical way to apply the second commandment is by regularly taking time to evaluate our priorities and check if we have fallen into idolatry. We can also ask ourselves, “What consumes my thoughts and desires? Am I putting anything above God in my life?”

Additionally, we can pray for wisdom and discernment to recognize and resist any potential idols in our lives. And when we do find ourselves struggling with idolatry, we must repent and turn back to God, seeking His forgiveness and guidance.

Bible Verses Related To The Second Commandment

There are numerous Bible verses that are related to the second commandment, including:

  • Deuteronomy 5:8-9 – “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:14 – “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
  • 1 John 5:21 – “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
  • Isaiah 42:8 – “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.”
  • Exodus 20:4-5 – “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.”

These verses serve as reminders to us of the seriousness of idolatry and the importance of keeping God first in our lives.

Prayer For Obedience To The Second Commandment

Dear God,

We come to you today asking for your help in keeping the second commandment. We acknowledge that it is so easy for us to fall into idolatry and put other things before you in our lives.

Please forgive us for when we have done so, and help us to always keep you first in our hearts and minds. Give us wisdom and discernment to recognize any idols in our lives and the strength to remove them.

Help us to stay focused on you and your love, so that we do not turn to anything else for fulfillment or satisfaction.

We pray that through your grace and guidance, we may obediently follow the second commandment and honor you above all else.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hey, I'm Stephen Altrogge. I'm a dad and published author. I've written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, ERLC, Church Leaders, Crosswalk, and many more outlets. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook .

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