ODJ: God in a box

January 31, 2014 

READ: Exodus 20:1-7 

You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea (v.4).

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could fit God into a box? When we want to do or say something that’s not Christ-like, we could simply place Him in it and shut the lid. Perhaps we’d like to do so just before cursing during a bad traffic jam or when we’re checking something out on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter that isn’t appropriate. After our dalliance with sin, we could simply bring God back out.

There are times when we might wish that we could create and control God. But the second commandment warns against this (Exodus 20:4-6). It’s wrong to reduce our holy, infinite God to our own liking or image. As it’s written, “You must not make for yourself an idol . . . bow down to them or worship them” (vv.4-5). 

It’s interesting that of the 10 Commandments, this one is most often repeated in the Bible. And it’s the only commandment with both a threat and a promise. Perhaps this is because we have the propensity to make God in our image instead of submitting to His remaking us into His image! We say, “God’s love—I like that. But I don’t think I want any of His holiness”.

All attempts to put God in a box of our making degrades Him. It also can negatively affect others’ view of God. For if we have a low view of Him, they might adopt one too. But if we have a high view of God, they can see it and hopefully embrace it.

We can keep the second commandment by acknowledging that God is the God of the Bible, the Holy One revealed to us in Jesus Christ. J. I. Packer states, “Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God Himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes but with the living God whose attributes they are”. —Poh Fang Chia

Read in Judges 17:1-13 and 18:14-26 the story of Micah, a man who disregarded God’s law against making graven images. 
How does your perception of God compare to the way God has presented Himself in the Bible? How can you live out J. I. Packer’s advice?