Devotional Thoughts on the First and Second Commandments

The First Commandment clearly designated Yahweh, the Lord God, the personal being who brought up the people of Israel from the Land of Egypt, as the only truly divine being in the universe. While there are false gods of the pagan peoples, and while there are other supernatural beings, there is only one Supreme, Divine Being. You shall have no other gods.


Now we turn to the Second Commandment: You shall not make for yourself a carved image. When I was young and still living in Lenoir, I remember hearing about a church and certain preacher who took this command and browbeat his congregation about all sorts of things in their homes. He said that they could not have statues or sculptures in their homes and particular kinds of paintings. What made this stick with me, growing up in the South and in a country family, was that he said that they could not have taxidermy mounts in their homes such as deer heads. Now, I think this is silly and really is a poor job of biblical interpretation. Yet, I am uncomfortable with many of the things that people do today with certain drawings depicting Jesus. We basically have no idea what he looked like. I am uncomfortable with the icons and shrines of the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches as well.


I have even seen investigative reporting in North Korea, which is highly dangerous. In that Evil, Communist State, the people have paintings and shrines for the Supreme Leader. They even have these things in their homes. What blew me away was how the people sang toward the paintings and even prostrated themselves before it. That totalitarian state has fostered cultic practices around the personalities of the Supreme Leaders including the veneration of images of them.


Biblical Faith calls for worship of the one true and living God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth and all that is in them. We shall have no other gods besides him, and we shall not make for ourselves any carved images. Veneration, that is, regard with utmost significance and reverence, is outlawed for any created thing. Because Yahweh, the Lord our God, is spirit, transcendent, and above all, we are not to attempt to make any sort of image which we think might encapsulate who he is. He is the glorious one. The whole world cannot contain him, much less a sculpture or painting or any other thing.