We must guard ourselves against false worship of the true God. We must guard ourselves the same way bank tellers guard themselves against counterfeit bills. Tellers expose themselves continually to genuine currency and thus are able easily to spot the “feel” and “look” of a counterfeit bill. Similarly, we must expose ourselves to God—as revealed in nature and Scripture—repeatedly until we are quick to spot counterfeit images of God. We study our Bible and listen to good Bible-teaching until we are full to the brim with truth about God.
Imagine if a woman’s husband found out that his wife routinely told her friends, “I like to see my husband as a 6’2” Antonio Banderas who lifts weights, whose perfect idea of date night is perusing the aisles at TJ Maxx, who drinks froufrou smoothies made out of strawberry, and who delights in talking about fashion trends and home furnishing ideas.”
If she kept saying that, her real husband, 5’6” Frank, who likes to work on his truck, wears Wrangler jeans, whose idea of the perfect date is to shoot deer together, and who drinks his coffee black, might get a little upset at being misrepresented so badly. He would have the right to ask her why she has to re-imagine him in order to love him.
In the same way, it’s an insult to God when we have to reshape him into something else in order for us to love him. That is God’s point when he issues the second commandment:
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.
With this commandment, God is saying that we shouldn’t imagine him differently than he is, differently than he has revealed himself in nature and in Scripture.
To summarize the points of the first two commandments, therefore, the first commandment exhorts us to worship the true God, while the second commandment instructs us about how to worship the true God. In reverse, the first commandment commands us not to worship the wrong gods, while the second commandment tells us not worship the right God in the wrong way. As we are turning out backs to false gods, we must turn our face to the true God as he actually is.
That is the point being made about not making images of God.