First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ October 2, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“A God Like No Other!”
Today we continue our sermon series on the Ten Commandments. Last week, we had the chance to reflect on the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” As I pointed out last week, while we aren’t in much danger of worshipping literal gods or idols these days, yet we all have our false gods. Our false gods are whatever our hearts cling to for purpose, meaning, security, and peace. Those false gods could be our careers, money, sports, success, family, entertainment, materialism and many more. The truth is, no matter what it is, they never truly satisfy us. No matter how hard we work and give our lives to them, they always leaving us exhausted and empty. On the other hand, the Biblical God is always there for us. If we cling to this God, turn to this God for our purpose, meaning, security, peace, we will not be disappointed.
This morning, we turn to the Second Commandment. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them” says the Lord in Exodus 20:4-5. As you can see, the first two commandments are closely related. Both of them address the subject of worship. They are similar, but there is an important difference. The First Commandment deals with whom we worship, while the Second Commandment deals with how we worship. The First Commandment forbids worshiping a false god. The Second Commandment forbids worshiping the true God in a false manner.
So, what is at stake this morning? What’s at the heart of the Second Commandment? Why did God forbid His people from making images of their God? We have to know that all the nations among Israel had representations of their gods in the form of images, statues, and memorials. Yet, because the God of Israel, Yahweh, is a God like no other, He wanted to teach His people two profound things:
First: God is Bigger than any Image
At the heart of the Second Commandment is the truth that God is bigger than any image or representation we might make or have for Him. Nothing in heaven above, nothing that’s on the earth beneath, nothing is in the water underneath is like Him. This truth is fairly straightforward. God is basically telling His people and us He is bigger than any image. He is beyond any human perception. He is a God like no other. We read these words in Exodus 15:11, “Who is like you among the gods, LORD? Who is like you majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, and working wonders.”
There is a parallel passage in Deuteronomy 4:15 where the Lord says, “Since you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, watch yourselves carefully.” The point here is that since we didn’t see God at Mount Sinai, Mount Horeb, therefore we don’t make an image of Him. Any human image will fall short of describing the one true God.
In Exodus chapter 32, we find one of the most fascinating yet sad stories. It’s the story of making the golden calf. Moses was up on the mountain and the people of Israel pressured his brother Aaron to make them an image of the God of Israel. They must’ve liked the bull god, Apis, of ancient Egypt, so Aaron made them one. Aaron was attempting to visually represent God. They wanted a god like the nations around them had, they wanted a god they could see, and touch and smell. Yet, God wanted to teach His people that He is present even when we cannot see Him; He is almighty even when we don’t get to see Him in action. He is not contained to a place, and He is not limited to a human perception. God is bigger than any image.
Second: Christ is the Only Full and Complete Portrait of God
The second profound truth we get to encounter as we reflect on the Second Commandment is that the only full and complete portrait of God is found in Christ. Hebrews 1:3 states that the “Son is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” Christ is the exact representation of God’s being. In John 14:9, Jesus said to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Our God is a self-disclosure God. He is a self-revelation God. He has chosen to reveal and disclose Himself in His Word, the written word, the Bible, and the incarnate word, Jesus Christ. This truth should dominate our conception of Him, not our experiences, not our innovations, not our imaginations, not our opinions, not our representations.
Friends, we live in a culture where everyone feels they have the right to define and to picture God anyway they want. The Second Commandment reminds us this morning that our God is a self- disclosure, a self- revelation God. Often times, I hear people say, “Well I don’t really like to think about God that way. I like to think about God another way.” And to this, God says, “No you can’t picture me any way you want to picture me. You have to think about me the way I have told you I am in my word and my son.”
Our own images of God distort the true image of the God of Scriptures. The images of our imaginations distort the true image of God. Our pre-conceived notions distort the true image of God. It’s not our right to come with scissors and cut and paste and take out the things that we don’t like in the word of God about God. Friends, our understanding of the God of the Scriptures matters. In a world of false images, we have been given a true image of God; an image we are made to reflect in our own lives every day. May it be so. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.