Exodus 20:4–6 (NKJV)
4 “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; 5 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, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Since our rebellion against God in the beginning of human history, it has ever been a strong temptation to fashion God in the image of some creature and fail to maintain the Creator/creature divide. Tragically, in the history of God’s people, the gravitational pull toward some form of idolatry has been strong and persistent. Rachel hid the idols in her tent; Aaron fashioned the golden calf; Jeroboam erected an idol in Bethel; Ezekiel saw the priests bowing before idols in the temple storehouses; and to this day both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy sanction the veneration of images.
Sacred Scripture indicates for us how seriously God takes this matter; how seriously he takes the worship of His Name. He declares to Moses, For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God… God is a Jealous God – he is jealous for His own glory, jealous for the truth, and jealous for the joy and satisfaction of human beings. All this necessitates that God take worship seriously – for in worship we express that which has highest worth, that which brings highest joy, delight, and purpose to us as human beings. Such praise belongs only to God. He will not permit the glory which is his alone to be given to other gods. “I am Yahweh, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor my praise to carved images” (Is 42:8). God’s glory and our good are serious business – hence, worship is serious business.
God likens Himself elsewhere to a jealous husband. He takes the purity of His bride, His Church, seriously. When his bride starts scattering her favors to other gods, he takes this seriously – he begins sending judgments, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. The Lord is the perfect husband and does not simply turn a blind eye when his bride starts taking up with other lovers. He vindicates His honor and glory.
So as we come here to worship, God wishes to awaken you from your slumber, awaken you from your complacency, awaken you from your idolatry. God takes His worship seriously – how seriously are you taking this morning? God takes His Word seriously – how attentive are you this morning? God takes His glory seriously – so whom are you here to worship? If you are not here to hear from the Lord of glory, the Lord of all the earth, the Lord whose glory fills this place, fills heaven and earth, then beware – the Lord is a jealous God. He knows your heart; he knows whom you are really here to serve. So let us seek his face and confess that we find ourselves prone to worship other gods; prone to find our meaning and delight somewhere other than in Him. Let us kneel as we confess together.