In His Second commandment, God speaks of idols which He greatly detests. Interestingly, idolatry is the one commandment that has severe warning and punishment that extends to children and grandchildren; He says in Exodus 1:5, “You shall not bow down to them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”
Jealousy is a strong human emotion and we observe that the first murder in Scripture was committed by Cain against Abel because of jealousy. Joseph was sold off into slavery because his brothers were jealous of his father’s preferential treatment of him. God Himself feels like a jilted lover and will punish us for what He considers our prostitution when we worship idols instead of Him. When we have something that takes our attention away from God it becomes an idol. Consequently God is not happy with us because He created us for relationship with Him.
An Idol is anything that replaces God in our lives. It could even be ideas, a spouse, a child, our religion, anointing oil or even something that we now place confidence in more than in God. Anything that replaces God in our hearts or anything that we look up to instead of Him is something that is an idol. It may be that we have been trusting God for a job, a husband or a wife and the minute we get this desire fulfilled, we shift our focus away from Him.
In Exodus 20:7 God talks of those who misuse His name and who He says He will not hold guiltless. Surely when we respect our God then we will not use His name carelessly. Even Jesus referred to God respectfully as LORD which means Yahweh or Jehovah. God is asking us not to misrepresent Him in all that we do. If we profess to be followers of Christ then there are those things that we cannot do because we are Christians. We do not hide behind our religion while doing other things in the dark. Also when we use the name of the Lord on vain, we dilute His name. And He will punish any such actions. But those who trust in Him, He will bless. 2Kings 18:5-7 talks of a trusting king Hezekiah who held on fast to the Lord and kept the commands of Moses. And the Lord was with him, making him successful in whatever he undertook.
On Sabbath, Exodus 20:8-11 talks of a special day of rest that God laid down for His children. This is a day set apart by God as holy or consecrated. It is a day of reflecting on the goodness of God and His great works of salvation. In the New Testament we observe that even the disciples gathered on the first day of the week and this gathering is important because the resurrection of Jesus was on the same first day. For us now, Sabbath is not a day to celebrate creation but rather redemption.
Then follows the command to honor one’s father and mother and is not only for little children but for all of us. The fulfiment of this law is seen in the way Jesus turned water into wine even despite His time not having been right for working miracles; in John 2:4 He tells His mother, ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come”. Yet He goes right ahead and turns the water into wine.
This commandment gives us direction on how to stay with our parents: to take care of them, support them and provide for them, that it may go well with us. We should never fight our parents. Furthermore, if we do not respect the earthly parents that we see, then how can we claim to respect the heavenly Father that we do not see? In the account of Noah getting drunk and lying uncovered in Genesis 9:18-28, one son laughed at him but two went to great pains to cover him up. As a result, the son that dishonored his father by not only looking at his nakedness but by also laughing at him instead of covering him, was cursed-he would be a slave to his brothers.
The issue of honor has been extensively dealt with in the commandments above. Honor is firstly for God by not worshipping idols or by not using His name in vain but also honor for our parents. Promises have been made for those who abide. Let those that have ears hear, those that have eyes see, those that have the ability to understand take these commandments seriously if blessings are to follow us all the days of our lives.