Exodus 20, 4-7
Something to read
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 worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
It has been said that humanity was created in the image of God, and now humanity has returned the favour. How easily we choose to determine, define and depict who and what God is or what we want Him to be - to make an idol.
The evangelist J John writes: ‘The second commandment deals with a vital issue: not so much who God is, but who God is not.’
Nothing can be created to fully represent God. God may be seen in part in His creation, but He cannot be replaced by or reduced to something within creation. He is the Creator, above and beyond the limits of that which He created. We must resist the temptation to replace or reduce God, and have the courage to reach for God.
As Thomas Merton warned: ‘If you find God with great ease perhaps it is not God that you have found.’
Equally we should guard against the misuse of God’s name, not just in terms of blasphemy, but in misappropriating His name to deify our own actions and thoughts. Misuse of His divine name also results in misrepresentation of the Lord.
Something to do
Reflect carefully on what in your life might make God jealous or how you might inadvertently misuse the name of God.
Maybe visit an art gallery or look at some great works of Christian art; and then consider whether this art limits your perspective on God or whether it helps you engage more deeply with the Lord’s divine nature.
Something to pray
All you big things bless the Lord
Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria
The Rift Valley and Serengeti Plain
Fat baobabs and shady mango trees
Bless the Lord
Praise and extol him for ever and ever.
All you tiny things bless the Lord
Busy black ants and hopping fleas
Wriggling tadpoles and mosquito larvae
Flying locusts and water drops
Pollen dust and tsetse flies
Millet seeds and dried dagga
Bless the Lord
Praise and extol Him for ever and ever.
Today’s contributor is the Rev Jeremy Allcock, Vicar of St Stephen’s, Westbourne Park, west London, and Area Dean of Paddington.