" 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. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:4-5).
Here's a riddle to start your Tuesday morning: What has eyes, but cannot see? What has lips, but cannot speak? What has ears, but cannot hear? There are two answers in the Bible: an idol and an idolator. In Psalm 115 the Israelite confesses: "Our God is in heaven, he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands... Those who make them will be like them and so will all who trust in them". The biblical principle is: "You become what you worship" - "You are what you love". The whole direction of your life is directed by what is your supreme love and highest affection.
This is why idolatry is considered spiritual adultery in the sight of God - it is exchanging the rightful love and worship we owe to our Creator and instead giving our hearts away to other Created things. It is in that context that the LORD describes Himself as "a jealous God". Jealousy is not like the sin of envy. Envy is a close cousin to lust which desires to have something to which it has no right. In contrast jealousy is the response of a spouse when an interloper attempts to steal their beloved and rightful covenant partner. If a husband was not provoked to jealousy witnessing his wife's heart being drawn away by another man, then that reveals that the husband doesn't really love her or value their relationship at all!
In the same way the jealous LORD God forbids idolatry - the making of good things into God things - taking God's gifts but rejecting Him the Giver - because He loves us and is concerned about the effects of idols upon us. When we invest our trust, hope, peace, security in something that is not God, that does not have life in it, then it will only lead us further away from the living God down the road into death and disintegration. Our dilemma, as John Calvin put it, is "the human heart is an idol making factory". More than a command, we need a Saviour who can change our hearts, rescue us from the addictive power of idols, and begin restoring us into the true image of God. And the good news this morning is that God has provided His own Son: Jesus Christ, to do just that! The work of sanctification through the Holy Spirit is God reclaiming our hearts and restoring us into the fullness of humanity, as reflected in the likeness of the God-Man, Jesus. I don't know about you, but I could use some more of that today?!