In our world today, image is everything. What seems to matter is what you represent and what image you portray. People spend lots of money on creating an image for themselves. A picture of a mountain doesnt compare to the beauty of beholding in reality. Images or representations cannot be compared to the real thing.
We often do this with God. We try to make Him into something we can see, touch, feel or experience, and it never compares to who He really is.
The 2nd commandment seems harmless at first, but God views them differently: “You shall have no other image of God.” (Exodus 20:3-6)
The Second Commandment seems like a repeat of the First. This commandment addresses something that hits the core of humans: our concept of God. We all have different concepts of God, and our concept of God shapes who we are. Anything we use to mirror the majesty of our Maker will fall miserably short of Him and will minimize Him. Man’s finiteness cannot create something infinite.
Now is it wrong to have a cross or a masterpiece of art that portrays God? Of course not, but when that image replaces God or becomes your sole representation of God that is when it bucks the 2nd commandment. In your mental picture album, what is your image of God?
How people often imagine God:
2. Santa Claus God: this God is like a Cosmic Easter Bunny or Mr. Rogers. He is deeply involved in our daily lives and world events. He is positive and reluctant to punish. He likes to give lots of gifts; blessings. All we have to do is ask, and He will give us whatever we desire, like a genie in a bottle. The old we get the more faint He becomes.
4. Texas Justice God: this God is like an evil mother-in-law, deeply involved in our daily lives and world events. He is angry at sin and punishes the unfaithful. He wears a long flowing robe and carries a gavel waiting to inflict punishment on sinners. Feeling guilty?
5. Emo God: this God loves to be emotional. We haven’t met God until we have tears on our faces, lumps in our throats, a chill down our spine, and butterflies in our stomachs. Probably, just ate too many Mexican beans. We think we have to be in touch with our emotions before we can be with God.
Is God some of these? Yes, in fact He is all and more, but if we characterize Him only these ways we are missing out on who He really is. God is loving, forgiving, giving, blessing, a friend when we need one, He is just and angry at sin, and God desires us to come before Him with truthful emotions. God is very different, different compared to you and different than our concept of Him.
Why shouldn’t we have any other image of God? He is jealous (Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 32:16; Psalm 78:58; 1 Corinthians 10:22). He doesn’t want to share the top spot with anyone or anything. For God to step down and acknowledge something greater than Him, would be to step down as God. The fact is, we do not need to create images of God because He has create us in His image (Genesis 1:26-28 ) and we are to represent Jesus Christ who is the exact representation and perfect image of God (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15ff).