Matters of Life and Death
On the surface, the second commandment seems old and antiquated. But it addresses far more than carved statues of wood and stone. The second commandment stands guard over the first commandment and flows naturally from it. Like a carefully constructed bridge, each one of the Ten Commandments strengthens and supports the entire structure.
John the Apostle enjoyed a close relationship with the Lord Jesus. At the Last Supper, he was reclining at the table next to Jesus. Later, of all of the disciples, he was the only one specifically mentioned as being present at the Crucifixion. After Christ’s resurrection, it was John who identified Him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The Apostle begs us in the strongest terms to lay aside all competing interests and give the Lord Jesus Christ first place in our hearts. Christ tolerates no rivals. He will not accept second place. John concludes his epistle with this plea: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (I John 5:21).
Few people knew that William Borden was a millionaire. As the manager of much wealth, he still chose to dress nicely but simply. Meanwhile, he quietly wrote checks to Bible societies and mission works that amounted to thousands of dollars, but his gifts were always given in secret.
From His encounter with Satan, Christ reveals how the first commandment can be applied in our own lives, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13: “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
A bold prophet from the village of Tishbi had not bowed the knee to the modern ideologies of the age. Elijah’s name means “My God is Jehovah.” One day, as the prophet of Jehovah, Elijah had emerged from his homeland of Gilead. He walked into the palace of Ahab and Jezebel with the startling declaration: “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (I Kings 17:1). With that ominous weather forecast, Elijah walked out of the palace and vanished into the wilderness. For three and a half long years, King Ahab scoured the country to find him but failed in every attempt.
700 years after this commandment was given, the children of Israel had drifted into apostasy and idolatry. To a wayward nation stumbling toward darkness and destruction, the prophet Isaiah gave an invitation of light and hope: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).
That time had come. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was on the throne. Throughout the Empire, Christianity was spreading at an astonishing rate. In spite of fire, sword, and beastly fury, Roman officers and even high government officials were being converted from paganism to serve the true and living God of Heaven.
The people were assembled to hear directly from the mouth of Jehovah. For three days they had prepared themselves for this moment.