Sunday, February 19, 2012

A look at the commandments, Part 2: the second commandment.


Exodus 20

 1And God spake all these words, saying,
 .......
 4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or 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.
 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself 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;
 6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Lets look a little at this passage. 

Verse 4 tells us the command. Verses 5 and 6 explain why. 

Some folks have actually read verse 4, stopped right there, and came to some dangerous conclusions. I do not mean deadly. They just start a string of events that the command was never intended to start. 

4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or 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.

If you read it and stop there, then there are a whole host of things that are a part of our everyday lives that we would have to Jettison out of our lives. We cannot have, if you take just this verse alone, any carved (graven) image of anything. No stars and planets. No decorative figurines of animals, fish, birds, people, waterfalls, etc. 

Some folks have taken this verse so far out of context that they are against pictures and drawings, as well. Yet, are there any clues here to help us to better understand what he means? 

The word for graven is the Hebrew word, "peh-sel". It means: "idol, image". So is this command referring to all images, only carved images, or what? Read the next verse for clarification. 

5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:

OK. So according to verse 5, together with verse 4, we can safely assume that this commandment is referring only to idols. 

There used to be a street vendor here in PA that could carve amazing things using ....... a chainsaw. I'm not joking. I  saw him in the process of carving (out of a huge log) 2 Bear cubs climbing a small tree. The detail was extraordinary! Whoever wound up with the piece, truly gained a work of art. 

Some folks say that this is a sin. Yet, no one was near it praying, bowing, etc. It was a wonderful piece of art, but it was NOT an idol. So relax. You can unpack those dolphin figures from your bathroom. If anyone were to buy a figurine, take it home, and begin to bow and pray and sing to it, then it becomes an idol.  

That having been settled, let us look at idols a bit. There are the obvious ones: The statues of Buddha, Vishnu, Mary (whom they call "the mother of God" and "the queen of heaven"), Rosary beads, statues of "the saints", the Totem poles, the idols used in Voodoo, and such. Anyone who bows down and worships these things, prays to these things, makes sacrifices to these things, etc, are definitely guilty of breaking the second commandment.


But, we civilized peoples say, we don't have idols! Really? Anything can become an idol, under the right circumstances. Look at Gideon's fleece in the book of Judges. Gideon and God used it as a tool to illustrate to Gideon that God really was calling him to go to battle and defeat Israels enemies. That's all it was- an object lesson. 


Yet, after the defeat of the enemy, Gideon and his sons set it up for all to see. Ostensibly, it was done to remind Israel of God's answer to prayer and their new freedom. However, scripture states that it became a stumbling block to the people, for it became an idol! 


How tricky the enemy of our souls is. We must guard our hearts carefully with prayer and the word of God. If we aren't careful, the very things that God used as tools to free us, can be used to become idols in our lives- pulling us away from God and ensnaring us worse than we were before. This is how we get a phenomenon that we call "preacher worship".


It's not new. Paul refers to it in 1 Corinthians 1. It manifests itself in statements like "I go to Brother or pastor/bishop/apostle so-and-so's church". "I was baptized by...". "Look how God used brother (x)! He's a mighty man of God." 


On the surface, these are true statements and can be alright to say. However, there's a PRIDE that enters in the attitude of the person saying these things. They'll have that sly smile and glint in their eye, as if to say: "I'm associated with THIS!" 


There's also a subtle hierarchy involved. They seem to deem themselves, and especially the "man of God" in question, as somehow better than others. 
Folks will even argue- heatedly- over who the greatest preacher is, how this man's anointing and preaching is so much stronger than all others. Watch out! This is idolatry! 


If God spoke through a donkey, we would do well to remember that just because he speaks through a man doesn't lift him higher than others. He just has a different calling on his life! 


One of the biggest idols in the land right now is "women's hair". It has it's roots in preacher worship, but has taken on a life of it's own recently. Br Lee Stoneking- a man whom God has used greatly over the years- is human. He preached a message about the power of women's hair recently that, to be perfectly blunt, was just dead wrong. 


DEADLY WRONG.


He, like many before him, took this scripture WAY out of context and ran WAY away from the word of God: 1 Corinthians 11:  10For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.


The theory here is that there is something magical about a godly woman's hair. He went on to speak of instances of a woman praying over her sick husband, etc, and pulling her long tresses over the man's diseased body and- get this- "God healed him because of the power in her hair". He even went so far as to quote witches about the power in a woman's long hair! 


This is blatant idolatry! 


Verse 3 clearly says that "her head" is her husband. The "power on her head" that a woman has is a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with her husband and her God. This is symbolized by her long hair, which shows her submission to her husband and God, but the long hair itself is not the source of her power. 


When God answers a woman's prayer, it's NOT because of her long hair, it's because she is his daughter and is in submission to him and her husband. Because she is submitted to him, then her desires are lined up with God's desires, so she prays in accordance with God's will and God says YES! It's that simple.


Samson's strength wasn't in his long hair, it was in his obedience. When he became disobedient, he lost his strength and became a captive of the enemy. How many Apostolic men and women today are losing their strength with God because they are worshiping her long hair as an idol! 


REPENT APOSTOLICS!


Be careful. Anything or anyone can become an idol to you. An entertainer, a writer, a politician, a computer, a game, a TV set, food, a house, a car, a sports team, a church building, etc. This is why we are warned to "set your affections on things above...". We need to carefully guard our hearts, bathing ourselves in prayer and the word of God. 


Now, lets look at three other things here:


5Thou shalt not bow down thyself 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;


Ever hear the term "generational curse"? This is where it comes from and what it means. God says, if a person hates me, I will visit their sins on subsequent generations after them. 


The devil lies and tells us that our sin doesn't harm our loved ones. It does! Your secret sin may never be brought into the light of day for the world to see, but watch your kids. 


Abraham was called the friend of God and father of faith. Yet, he lied- twice. His son Isaac after him lied for the same reasons his Father lied- to protect his own hide. Jacob became a liar AND a thief. See the sin passing down and getting worse? 


Abraham also took a concubine and committed adultery with her- with Sarah's permission (that's truly mind blowing to me!) all in an attempt to bring God's promise of a son to pass. Jacob took 2 wives and was married to both of them at the same time (polygamy)! Follow the family tree and you'll find David taking several wives and Solomon taking hundreds of wives and concubines! See the sin passing down and getting worse? 


Did these men hate God? Yes- in the areas of their lives that they did not give over to God and allow him to cleanse them. Totally hate God? No. Yet, God allows their sins to be passed down and grow worse! The sins of their people grew worse and worse. Yet, along the way, there were curse breakers! 


Josiah became king at 8 years old. He brought mighty revival and cleaned up the nation beginning when he was 26. He threw down their idols and commanded the people to walk with God in HIS ways. He was a curse breaker!


Preachers! Teachers! Parents! We need to take personal stock! We need to pray "Lord, examine my heart. If there be any wicked thing in me, show me that I may repent!" Then, we need to boldly step up and begin to throw down the sins of our homes and churches! Cast down the idols! Get rid of the snares the enemy has your people trapped in. CAST OUT THE UNCLEAN THINGS! Then, we can break the curses! 


God is jealous over us. He loves us and will not share our affections with others. He will not permit idols. Would you allow your spouse to begin sharing themselves with others and only give you a small amount of their affections? Of course not. You'd get angry. Why? Because if you truly love your spouse, you will be jealous over them! We are the bride of Christ- God is jealous over us and will not share us. 


Finally, look at this amazing verse: 
  
6And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.


God is a merciful God and will forgive our sins, but we have to love him! He will cleanse us, but we must submit to him and his ways. How does he know we love him? We keep his commandments. In other words: He says jump and we say "how high". Our job is to trust and obey him. 


Oh, we can ask questions. He does say "come let us reason together". Yet, sometimes, he doesn't give us an answer to every question we ask that we can see. He says "wait". We may not see or understand the "why" of it until we see him on the other side. But, we still must obey him.


Now, this commandment was given to Moses for Israel. Israel was millions of people strong! Yet, the Lord says he shows mercy unto "thousands of them that love me". Thousands? As opposed to millions? WOW! That's a small percentage. Why?


Is it because God picks and chooses and plays favorites? No. He says whosoever will let him come. 


Is it because God doesn't love those that he doesn't show mercy to? No. The scriptures declare that he loves the whole world! 


Is it because those that he shows mercy to are so much better than the ones he doesn't? No. ALL have sinned and have fallen short. 


It's a question of trust and obedience. If we submit to him, he will show mercy to us and allow us into right relationship with him. If we do not submit to him, we are doomed. It's that simple. 


I urge you today. If you haven't been born again of the water and the spirit, obey Acts 2:38 "37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
 41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.


If you have been born again, let us let him search our hearts and show us the idols in our lives. Then, let us repent and cast them out of our lives, allowing God to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. 


God will have a people: will we be a part of that number?


God will have revival: will we be a part of it? 


Psalm 51

 1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
 2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
 6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
 9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
 10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
 12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
 13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
 14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
 15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
 18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
 19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.