Second Commandment

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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 nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me”

 Ex 20:4-5

The second commandment reminds us that worshiping the true God through images or representations is forbidden. Even though some nations believed their images were symbols of worship, God has clearly stated that such practices are sinful. Attempting to depict the Eternal One through material objects would diminish our understanding of God. Our minds, instead of being focused on the infinite perfection of Jehovah, would be drawn towards created things. As our impression of God is lowered, humanity as a whole would be degraded.

God declares, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” The intimate and sacred relationship between God and His people is compared to a marriage. Since idolatry is considered spiritual adultery, God’s disapproval is rightfully described as jealousy.

The phrase “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me” means that the repercussions of parental wrongdoing naturally affect their children. However, children are not punished for their parents’ guilt unless they participate in the same sins. Unfortunately, it often happens that children follow in their parents’ footsteps. They inherit and imitate their father’s sins, leading to wrong tendencies, perverted desires, corrupted morals, physical ailments, and degeneracy. These negative effects are passed down from one generation to the next, reaching up to the third and fourth generation. This solemn truth should serve as a powerful deterrent from following a path of sin.

On the other hand, God promises mercy to thousands of generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments. By forbidding the worship of false gods, the second commandment essentially encourages the worship of the true God. Those who faithfully serve Him receive His mercy, not only for a few generations like the wrath that befalls those who hate Him but for thousands of generations.

Let us remember the importance of worshiping the true God without the use of idols and images. May we show our love for Him by keeping His commandments and enjoy His abundant and enduring mercy throughout countless generations.


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