Monday, October 31, 2022

2022.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:4–6

Read Exodus 20:4–6

Questions from the Scripture text: What must a man not make (Exodus 20:4)? What else from what three places? For which two purposes is the making or use of such things prohibited (Exodus 20:5)? Why—what does God say about Himself? What will He visit upon whom? To how many generations? What does He call such people? But to whom will He do what (Exodus 20:6)? What two things does He call those who keep this commandment?

By what method is God to be worshiped? Exodus 20:4–6 looks forward to the devotional in the midweek prayer meeting. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God is to be worshiped only by the method of His devising, not man’s.

The one devising the worship is the one being worshiped. God won’t share His worship with the image of any creation of ours (Exodus 20:4a) or any creation of His (verse 4b). He has chosen for us a “how” of worship that preserves for us the “Whom” of worship. If we worship in our own way, then in reality we worship ourselves. If we worship in a way that imitates anything in all creation, then we worship the creature rather than the Creator.

Of course, our remaining sinfulness willfully resists the truth that adding anything of our own to God’s worship fundamentally changes not just the nature of our worship but the actual object of Whom it is that we are worshiping. Our remaining fleshliness wants to think that it’s no big deal and that worship should be in a way that pleases us.

Choosing another way of worship, and therefore to worship another, is to hate God. So God puts the infinite evil of creaturely worship in no uncertain terms. He calls those who worship their way instead of His way “those who hate Me.” If we say that’s overstating it, we just show how different our judgment is from His and that we need this commandment even more than we think we did. 

For the ultimate way of knowing and worshiping God is in the Lord Jesus Himself. The way that God gave them to worship before the coming of Christ was all by ways that showed forth Christ. The way that God has given us to worship after His coming, is by ways that are led by Christ Himself from heaven. To come to worship God in any other way, is to come in a way other than Christ.

O the glory that belongs to us, whom God has called to Himself, and whom God has given His true worship. We have God Himself! And we have Him in Christ! And if we set that aside for something else—something inevitably and infinitely less—we hate Him Whom we have and choose instead a version of Him that we would prefer.

The devastating consequences of man-designed worship. To this strong description, God adds a strong consequence: visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth. A father is without God to the very extent that he worships falsely. And a father without God will have the grief of watching his children grow up to be without God too. 

The children’s self-desired and self-designed worship will blossom into worse and worse worship and even the full apostasy of turning from the Lord altogether. They come to know less and less of the true God and get caught up in superstition (atheism by attaching meaning to religiosity instead of God Himself by His truth), sentimentalism (atheism by attaching feelings to religiosity instead of God Himself by His truth), or just plain atheism. 

Remember—this warning against idolatry was to believers! And it was a personal warning. The very God Whom they claim to worship will personally inflict this penalty upon them and their children.

The inestimable benefit of Lord-designed worship. And yet, the opposite is true to an even greater extent. If the negative consequences of sin in purity of worship are by a factor of three or four, then the positive consequences of faithfulness in purity of worship are by a factor of a thousand! 

Right worship—which the Lord here describes as loving Him and keeping His commandments—is a means by which (and in response to which) the Lord shows covenanted, redeeming love even unto a thousand generations. 

How awful for so much of the “Christian” world to be fighting over one sort of manmade worship versus another sort of manmade worship, when all worship complications—old or new—put us on the wrong side of this commandment. The Lord grant His church to return to the purity and simplicity of worship that seeks God alone in His way alone!

What are some ways that man has added to God’s worship over the centuries? What are some ways that man is adding to God’s worship now? Why is it such a big deal? What does this commandment tell us that we can expect to keep happening, if they keep doing this? What can we expect, if we stop? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are truly merciful to have created us to know You and worship You! Forgive us for when we are so foolish as to invent our own ways of knowing or worshiping—for then it is not You that we know or worship. So grant us the help of Your Spirit that we would know You truly in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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