Here are a couple of amusing thoughts from children about God. One little boy asked, "Mommy, is God up there?" When she said yes, he said, "Wouldn't it be great if He'd just poke His head out once in a while so we could see Him?" And this one (from the book Children's Letters to God): A little girl wrote, "Dear God, are you really invisible or is that just a trick?"
People have a problem with the invisible nature of God. That explains (though it doesn't excuse it) why the children of Israel left the true and living God over and over, and worshiped the idols of the pagans around them. People want something they can touch, see, and display. We have a problem having a personal relationship with a person we can't see. But this is just what the Bible calls us to do.
God's First Commandment is "You shall have no other Gods before Me" (that is, "besides Me"). God is saying, "I, the Lord your God, am unique. I stand alone." It's a simple and practical command, because all of the other gods or goddesses that people may worship are fake. God says, "You'll have no other gods before Me," because there are no other gods at all. Worshiping any other god but Him is like bowing down to a mannequin. If you do that, you're a nut, because it's not real.
The only God that exists is the Lord! So it only makes sense for God to say (as He does over and over, especially in Isaiah), "I am the Lord, and there is no other." Psalm 115 speaks about false gods and goddesses: "They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear" (vv. 5-6). Pretty useless!
So the First Commandment tells us Who to worship, and the second tells us how we are to worship. It tells us we are not to make an image of anything in heaven or on earth and bow down to it.
It is saying, "You will not worship the true God in any false manner."
Why does God prohibit images of Himself? It's simple. There is no image of God that you could create that would capture all of who He is. Any image, by necessity, limits Him, and therefore doesn't convey the truth. I have been asked, "When you pray, what do you picture?" Answer: Nothing! I don't need to picture God as anything. God has sufficiently revealed who He is, and I accept that by faith.
There are basically only two sources of information about God. Number one is revelation. God reveals Himself in His creation and in His Word. We can see His power, His majesty, His splendor, and His beauty just by looking around us. But that doesn't tell us about His love or His moral attributes, so we need the Word. And so He reveals Himself to us in the law, the prophets, the gospels...the Bible. That's revelation.
The second source of information is imagination. If people don't get their information about God from revelation, then they tend to make it up. They say, "I imagine God to be–" and they fill in the blank, and they write books or teach college courses based on whatever they've made up. And that's bogus.
So God says, "This is who I am. Have no other gods before Me, and worship Me the right way." Anything else is idolatry.
It may not be as easy as looking up and seeing Him peeking through the clouds, but it's His world, and we play–and worship–by His rules!
Skip Heitzig is the founder and senior pastor at Calvary Albuquerque. His teachings are heard across the country and around the world on The Connection. Skip and his wife, Lenya, and son and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Janaé, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Skip and Lenya are the proud grandparents of Seth Nathaniel and Kaydence Joy.