To make no graven image

It’s Monday Grace!

Many years ago I was talking with a church member when she told me about her “kitchen witch.” She was nonchalant as she said that she had it hanging above her sink and asked it to help her when she had problems. There was no problem in her mind to be a Christian and to pray to her “kitchen witch.” I was a young pastor, and I was shocked.

Since that time, I have become less shocked when I see compromises like these. Whether it is a kitchen witch or a pendant of an ancient god or a lucky charm carried in a pocket, many believers seem to want something to touch and hold. Carrying our gods on our journeys is an ancient tradition.

Gods that can’t see what we are doing when we put them into our pockets. Gods that can’t hear us when we whisper. Gods we can ignore or mold to our liking. Gods who demand rules we make up. Those are gods that are much easier for us to work with.

Isaiah 44 talks about the people who make idols for themselves. One man gets a piece of wood and cuts it into two pieces. One piece he uses for the fire. The other he makes into an idol to worship. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny! And Isaiah and David agree that “those who make them are like them.”

So, in the Ten Commandments, the Lord says not to do this. After all, there is only one true God. All the rest are phony. All the rest are lies. Those who craft their own gods dishonor the Lord and teach their children a compromised faith.

We should understand that the people of Israel who received these commandments did not reject the Lord in favor of their idols. They were quite willing to worship both. The Lord was the One who delivered them from Egypt, so they worshiped Him. Their idols did other things for them, they thought. Good hunting, good marriages, healthy children, success in battle—these were the things they could take to their special gods.

This commandment is so obviously related to the message of grace! The legalists would have us believe that their rules and systems are the way for us to receive the things we need in life. Do you need more money? Just give more to the church, at least a tithe. Are you sick, be sure you follow the dietary rules of the Law. Is your marriage struggling? Spend a certain amount of time in prayer and reading your Bible and telling others about Jesus. If you do these things, the things the teachers tell you, then the blessings will come. The idols may not be made of wood or stone, but are still made by the reason and power of human flesh.

And the flesh will never be the source of the blessings of the Lord. No matter how Biblical we make our creations sound, they are not of the Lord but of the flesh. They are, in fact, graven images.

Now, is there more to this commandment? Of course. Will you be saved by keeping this commandment? No. Will you be rejected by the Lord if you break this commandment? No. The legalist will not be saved by keeping the rules, but he will not be rejected by the Lord if he thinks that the rules will add blessings to his life. He will just be disappointed.

We learn from the “rich young ruler” that keeping the commandments, even all Ten, is not enough. Salvation does not come through the law or even through the current rule list of of the current popular teacher. Salvation comes only and completely and permanently from Jesus. So, Jesus told the rich young ruler what He tells us, “Follow Me.”

But what a shame to miss the joy of walking in every aspect of life with Jesus! If the rules or the kitchen witches cause you to take your eyes off Him, to depend on your own efforts again, you will miss both the power and the love that Jesus wants you to see. By focusing on that which is not real, you will miss the One who is real.

Jesus is real. Jesus is active. Jesus cares about you. Look to Him for every concern. Give Him thanks for every joy.


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7 responses to “To make no graven image

  1. CC

    Always a great reminder, especially for people like me who grew up with so much legalism in the church and superstition in the home! Even as a born-again believer for over 50 years, it still helps to be reminded that it is truly all about Jesus! Thank You! ❤️

    • That would be worth some investigation! The connection between legalism and superstition. I suspect that connection is much stronger and more prevalent than most of us realize. Thanks!

      • 2birdman2

        Oh boy… you touched on an interesting subject there! legalism and superstition… I can attest to the fact growing up that several of my friends in a particular denomination we’re very superstitious about certain things that the church held near and dear:(
        Thanks again Dave!!!

  2. 2birdman2

    Pastor Dave… I so appreciate you touching on this subject! Great words of wisdom! I have been contemplating this idea for quite a while… I find many times in the realm of ‘the church’ we make so many things idols instead of focusing on a true relationship with Jesus Christ… I think we even make certain translations of the Bible and Idol… what do you think?

  3. SingingEagle

    YYYYAASSS!!! Amen!!’

  4. Oh my! Your messages open my eyes every time!

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