STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
A. — The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing 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 thyself 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 shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exod.20:4-6)
Q. 50. — What is required in the second commandment?
A. — 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.
Scripture References: Deut. 12:32; Deut.32:46; Matt. 28:20.
1. Both the first and second commandments have to do with worship. In what way do they differ?
The first commandment has to do with the object of worship, the true and living God; the second commandment has to do with the means of worship, and the manner in which we worship Him.
2. What are these means of worship?
The means of worship are the ordinances which God has appointed in His word.
3. What are these ordinances?
The Larger Catechism lists these as “prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word, the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing to Him.” (Q. 108)
4. How are we as Christians to receive these ordinances?
We are to receive them by approving them and embracing them; observing them by doing what is required in them; keeping them pure and entire by keeping them from corruption.
5. What does it mean by not making any graven image?
It means that we are not to attempt to represent God through material objects nor to worship Him through the use of such imagery.
THE JEALOUS GOD
” … 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 shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5). The word Jealous has changed in meaning somewhat since it was written. For the original word meant “zealous” and signified “righteous zeal.” It is the teaching that He alone has a claim upon the love of His people.
There are really two senses in which this description of God can be taken. In a good sense He is zealous for His people. He will watch over them, He will protect them, He will defend them against all enemies. His people, who are His through faith in Jesus Christ, are very dear to His heart. As He looks down on His people, sees them in their attempts to walk with Him day by day, He has a tender feeling toward them. He does so want them to get into the stride of walking with Him, never running ahead nor behind, taking each step with a moment by moment knowledge that they are kept in His love. Whatever happens to His people happens to Him, He feels it, has a true feeling of empathy for His children.
There is another sense in which this can be taken. In this sense God is jealous for His people. He is jealous in that He does not want them to worship graven images, or worship false gods, or scurry after those things that would draw them from Himself. It is as if He cannot bear to have a rival in any way. He does not want His children to follow after anything-good or bad-that would hinder their worship of Him. Our love, our highest adoration must be given to Him only.
Daily we need to examine ourselves to see whether or not w. are following hard after Him. There are so many ways that our love can be drawn away. It is good for us to remind ourselves time and time again that He is a jealous God and keep ourselves free from entanglements. We should never give Him cause to be jealous. We should be praying, moment by moment, that He will keep us so close to Him that we will sense the very second our love for Him is being cooled by things contrary to His will for us. If we will but do this He will be jealous of us instead of jealous for us. And then blessings will flow from Him to us, all to His glory.
Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vo!. 4 NO.47 (November 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor