Images of God
To realize that we tend to build "an image" of God in our mind and it is often shaped by images we use in worship. God forbids the use of images that we might not "imagine" Him but seek Him.
Ex 20, Rom 1:21
Packers "Knowing God" chapter 4
In order to begin knowing about God we must "reset" our thoughts and look back to the 10 commandments. Here we can learn something about God and something about what he is not.
-> Pretend for a minute that you are a eagle. You are trying to explain to your young offspring what God is like. How would you describe Him. Now imagine you are a bear and do the same.
If we are honest, most of us would describe him as being similar to the type of being we are but greater, much better. Yes, it is common for man to try and describe God as a being having the best of the qualities of man in even greater proportions.
The Back Door:
Now read the 10 Commandments through and then re-read the 2nd commandment again. (Exo 20:4) Notice how God's command to avoid making images of gods carries a embedded promise of punishment. While most commandments stand simply on their own, this commandment comes with an extra promise.
Now let's look at what Paul tells us had happened in the world long before his time.
Yes, you are correct, men who knew who God ignored Him and began to think foolishly. They eventually gave up their knowledge of God for the worship of idols. Idolatry began as foolish thinking about God.
-> What are some foolish ideas of God you have come across today?
Key Message: If the focus of the 2nd commandment were only the worship of "other" albeit false Gods, it would add nothing to the first. Indeed it not only speaks out against worship of images of false Gods but also against worship of the true God with images.
Now this is can be a Hot topic as our Christian bookstores today offer a full range of "images" of Jesus. What are some other examples of "images" used in "Christian" Churches?
Students teach Students:
You might ask, What harm is their in using an image of Jesus if it helps us focus on God? Have you ever considered what Jesus looks like in artists impressions of Him. Yes, he almost always is handsome with long dark hair and a strong but quite face. Is this really what He looked like?
It says there was to be nothing about His appearance that was desirable. He was like one whom men hid their faces.
Consider the following points
Now let's go one step further and consider our mental images of God... have you ever heard someone say .. "I like to think about God as the great physician".
-> What are some similar sayings you have heard or maybe said yourself?
Key Message: The Bible offers a huge range of images to help us understand Gods attributes. The book of Psalms is full of them. But we must also realize that constant thinking about God in just one way can be a prelude to denial about something else the bible tells us about God.
We need to realize that the 2nd commandment serves as a warning and as a challenge. A warning against religious practices that dishonor God by obscuring some of his attributes. And a challenge to recognize God as beyond what we know. This humbles us to allow God to teach us what He wants us to know about Him. From here we can begin to get to know God.
How are we keeping the 2nd commandment? Sure there are no golden calves or statues of Mary in our worship center but are we sure the God we worship is the Creator. The real Jesus Christ, the God of the bible.