The first and second commands are closely related.
1st – Whom we are to worship
2nd – How we are to worship (actually how we are NOT to worship)
There never has been a race of men who did not worship some form of a god. “Man worships almost as instinctively as he breathes,” Dr. Lehman Strauss. The problem with most people is not that they are not aware of God’s existence, but that they are incorrect of their worship of God. We often hear people say, “I worship God in my own way.”
1. The Second Command Deals With Our Concept Of God.
It is impossible to correctly worship and live for God until we have a correct concept of who and what God is. In John 4:20-24, the woman at the well understood the existence of God, but she did not understand the nature of God, thus she did not understand the correct worship of God.
Too often, people limit God to their finite concept of God.
Jesus taught this social outcast and immoral woman a very profound truth, and that is, the standard of approach to God is not man-made! Mankind’s approach to God is not mental or physical, but spiritual.
(John 4:23-24) God is a spirit and not material, thus He cannot be approached or represented materially. Romans 1:23 tells us that the “natural” man cannot connect with a spiritual God. Ephesians 2:1 – man is born spiritually dead, spiritually unresponsive and insensitive to God’s existence. Until a person is born spiritually, (re-generated), he has no way to connect with or approach God.
2. The Second Commandment Is Just That, A Clear Command.
This command does not forbid pictures of scenery, wildlife, or loved ones. If it did, God broke His own command. In Exodus 25:10,17-20 God gave instructions to have images of cherubim and in the temple images of palm trees. What God does forbid is, any attempted representation of God. Throughout scripture, God severely judges man when man attempts to represent God with material objects or images.
This second command forbids man to represent God by material means. Our God is so much greater and so far beyond our finite minds that any attempt to physically represent Him is an insult to His essence.
3. The Second Command And The Christian.
Jesus Christ is the only visible image of our invisible God. Jesus is the only physical manifestation of God who is a spirit. John 14:9, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.” Again, Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the “express image of his (God’s) person.”
When I recognize my inability to live up to God’s standards of acceptance (because of my sinful nature) and trust God’s solution (Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for me personally), I am born again, born spiritually and able to connect with God. At that moment, I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who immediate begins of process of changing me into the image of Christ. I, in a sense, become a “manifestation” of God; a manifestation of His love, goodness, holiness.
Our churches do not need statutes of God in our windows and on our platforms, we need Christ-like believers in our streets.