Q. What is the second of the Ten Commandments?
A. The second of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image.”
Making a graven image refers to making some type of idol. The command given by God was longer than the abbreviated form we memorize. God continued:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or 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.
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
The command is that we are not to make or worship anything other than God. The first commandment focused on serving other gods, and the second goes a step further: we are not to worship any thing other than God.
In a sad case of irony, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with these commands, his brother Aaron had instructed the nation to make a golden calf to worship in place of God. After all God has just done for the Hebrews, why would they so quickly revert back to the Egyptian practice of worshipping an idol?
Very few of us today are guilty of fashioning a carved image, but sometimes we do in practice. Instead of a golden calf we may be guilty of making gold our god. We give our lives in pursuit of the almighty dollar, neglecting our families in the process.
Or maybe we give first place in our lives to people, our possessions, or our pursuits. If Jesus doesn’t occupy first place then may as well be worshipping a golden calf; Christians need to destroy any carved images and worship God alone.