Friday, February 18, 2022

Worship by the Book

Q. 49: Which is the second commandment?
Answer: The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or 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: thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Q. 50: What is required in the second commandment?
Answer: The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word. (WSC)

The first commandment deals primarily with who we worship. The second commandment deals primarily with how we worship. The two things are certainly connected. Notice in the commandment how the worship of images provokes God to jealousy. God would have us worship him as he truly is, not according to human imaginations.

The second commandment explicitly prohibits us from giving veneration to images. Worship ought not to be done in that manner. What then should we do? The positive duty implied is that we should worship God in the way he has taught us in his word. Both at Mount Sinai and in the apostasy of the northern tribes, the contrast was between God’s appointed ordinances and worship of man’s own devising. At Sinai, the people did not wait for God’s instructions on how to worship but devised golden calves for the worship of the Lord (Exodus 32). Jeroboam did not want the people worshipping according to the Lord’s instructions at Jerusalem and so he came up with his own places, objects, priests, and days of worship (1 Kings 12:25-33). We honor or despise God when we honor or despise his appointed worship and ordinances (Mal. 1:6-7).

As in the old covenant, so in the new covenant God has appointed his worship and ordinances for us to keep and observe. Christ has appointed the ministry of the word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer and singing, the communion of saints, and the Lord’s Day (Acts 2:41-42, 20:7). The early church set a good example by diligently observing these things (Acts 2:42, 6:4, 1 Tim. 4:13), and the writers of the New Testament exhorted the church to keep them pure and entire (1 Tim. 3:15, 1 Cor. 11:17-34, Col. 2:6-23). 

No comments: