Part 3 - The Fall and the Restoration
The Model of Restoration: Commandment Two
"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, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Deut. 5:8-10).
The Second Commandment has a connection to the creation account. It concerns creatures that God had made to fill the heavens, the earth, and the seas. Genesis 1:20 records, "Then God said, 'Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.' " Also in Genesis 1:24, "Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind'; and it was so." The simple command to Israel is to not make an image or likeness of these creatures, to not bow down to such images, nor to serve them.
The living God's presence
An example of this sin occurs during the Exodus when Moses went up on Mount Sinai and left the congregation below. The Scripture records how the people, led by Aaron, built a golden calf: "And he (Aaron) received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!' So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, 'Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord' " (Ex. 32:4-5). The First Commandment is different from the second in that the first says that there shall be no other gods besides Yahweh. The second is that God shall not be represented by an image and thus worshipped. Although Aaron made the golden calf, he still considered that they were worshipping Yahweh, for he said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord." The people had lost all sense of God's presence and wanted something visible to worship.
In redeeming Israel, Yahweh separated for Himself His own people. They were to be different from the surrounding nations because they were to serve the true and living God. The other nations all had gods, but they were false gods. They had to be represented by images. The true and living God was to be related to directly and not through dead images.
A spiritual application
The creation account is a type of the redemption of Israel, but it is also a type of the redemptive and sanctifying work of Christ (see Part Two). As a type of Christ's work, the living creatures in the creation account model life in the Spirit. This involves the realm of the world, the spiritual realm, and the realm of the church. In consecrating the lives of believers and giving them purpose, Christ gave the Holy Spirit to each one so that the life of God Himself would be manifested in all areas of a believer's life. The Second Commandment was given to Israel as a law of preservation and has a spiritual application to those redeemed and sanctified in Christ. Consider the implications of making an image of these creatures:
1) An image or likeness is a copy.
2) The creatures in these three realms are living whereas a copy is dead.
3) The living creatures are the work of God but the dead copies are the work of man.
4) Yahweh is "a jealous God" toward those who would bow down to and serve works of man that are dead copies of living works of God.
One manifestation of the absence of the living God in one's life is the attempt to imitate the evidence of His presence. A simple example is the use of religious statues and pictures. In order to be aware of God's presence, some must look to these because of the lack of an inward awareness of the living God.
God's presence is further imitated by dead works of man that are then attributed to God. God filled the physical creation with living creatures that He made. The new creation in Christ, the new man, is that which is to be filled with God's living presence. The believer's life is to be filled with the living works of God. God has anointed each believer with the Spirit and has given him spiritual gifts to be exercised in the Spirit. The resulting good works are those for which God gets the credit and glory, for it is of His presence whereby they come forth.
It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that enables one to fellowship with and worship God, to minister to the church, and witness to the world. The gifts and enabling of the Spirit of God make this possible. It is the active and living participation of God Himself in the believer's life that causes fruit to be born. God is jealous toward those who replace the work of the Holy Spirit with their own dead works, and who would then glory in and take credit for it while calling it God's work. God's fullness and presence is not to be imitated, and this forms the second point of a proper relationship with God.
Restoration to a living relationship
In the fall Adam and Eve tried to establish themselves by their own work and provision. They acted in a way contrary to God's will and thus in a way apart from God's help and doing. In eating of the forbidden tree, God was not involved, and so they walked not by His Spirit but according to their own works. It is the imitation of God's life and God's works that violates the intent of the Second Commandment. Yahweh desires that one abide in His life through the Spirit, for He designed man's soul to cleave to Him. If one rejects His fullness, the attempt to imitate life in the spiritual realm, the realm of the church (both individually as members of the body of Christ and corporately as one body), and the worldly realm will only result in a dead copy of life in the Spirit. God alone is life, and true fruitfulness comes only from His living presence.
As a model of restoration, the Second Commandment concerns the soul of man. In returning
to God, man must repent from living apart from God. Fallen man desires to
worship his own works, accomplishments, and possessions, and glory in
self-sufficiency. But the model of redemption points to life in
and by the Holy Spirit, where God is all in all and is due all glory.