Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24- Second Commandment- Against Idolatry

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

3/24- Second Commandment

8 "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:18)

Calvin’s Genevan Catechism:
M. Does it entirely prohibit us from sculpturing or painting any resemblance?
S. No; it only forbids, us to make any resemblances for the sake of representing or worshipping God.
M. Why is it. unlawful to represent God by a visible shape?
S’. Because there is no resemblance between him who is an eternal Spirit and incomprehensible, and a corporeal, corruptible, and lifeless figure.
( Deuteronomy 4:15; Acts 17:29; Romans 1:23.)
M. You think then that an insult is offered to his majesty when he is represented in this way?
S. Such is my belief.
M. What kind of worship is here condemned?
S. When we turn to a statue or image intending to pray, we prostrate ourselves before it: when we pay honor to it by the bending of our knees, or other signs, as if God were there representing himself to us.
M. We are not to understand then that simply any kind of picture or sculpture is condemned by these words. We are only prohibited from making images for the purpose of seeking or worshipping God in them, or which is the same thing, for the purpose of worshipping them in honor of God, or abusing them in any way to superstition and idolatry.
S. True.

Calvin was not the iconoclast that Savonarola was in Florence (1452-1498), nor did he destroy the statues the way Zwingli did in Zurich. Calvin took a more moderate approach. Calvin did not forbid painting and sculpting. He did forbid painting and sculpting images of God as nothing could capture God’s image. Calvin saw art as God’s gift and a source of joy and pleasure. Calvin insisted, “Only those things are to be sculptured or painted which the eyes are capable of seeing.” Art was to be realistic depictions of life. Thus in Rembrandt’s paintings Jesus is not born in a castle, but in a barn. Jesus is depicted as fully human and not just divine in Calvinist paintings.
The great sin for Calvin is idolatry. It is turning the created things into the Creator. We all have a tendency to worship things. Things may include people as well as inanimate objects (such as money, clothes, cars, houses, etc.).
In our day, we have been consumed with things to the detriment of the spiritual, the Creator. The panic over the economic downturn is in part the fear of taking our god away from us. We sacrifice our children (with both parents working long hours), our time, our Sabbath and rest (where has the Sabbath gone?) for having more. Now the sacrifices do not seem to have worked, and the god of money has turned into a mean task master.
Secularism is another problem of our day. Secularism would make the worship of things okay- but the worship of religion not okay. Secularism is turning this commandment on its head- allowing no room for God, and only for the secular.

Prayer: Lord, help us to worship you and you only. Keep us form worshipping things instead of you.

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