Bible reading: Exodus 20:4
02/08 – To stay at your side.
God has promised to stay at your side (Second commandment).
Yesterday we saw the hardest part of the series, all the theory. Go sis Love, and in Exodus 20 we are going to discover the essence of God summarized in 10 wonderful promises that might change your life.
We know now that what we have in Exodus 20 is a record of a certificate of marriage. There we can read the vows pronounced by God when He engaged Himself with his people, having the entire Universe as witness. He declared before all Creation His commitment to receive you as His bride.
In the Bible we are shown a Church as the bride, ready to celebrate the wedding. In ancient Israel, normally, they celebrated the Engagement as a wedding. The “real” wedding was celebrated one year later. During this time, if anyone in the couple died, the other one was considered as a widow or widower. The engagement was as valid as the wedding, but the marriage was not accomplished completely. One year later, the vows were repeated to confirm the engagement and the marriage was completed. We are waiting the weddings of the Lamb. When and where did the engagement take place? There in the Sinai. And the fulfillment will be in the Second Coming of Jesus.
We have seen the first promise or “Vow”. The first thing God promised is to be faithful to you. Fidelity in a way that there will not be anyone else in your life except God, your Husband. You will not need to stumble from disillusion into another. You have already found the Unique one who is engaged in staying at your side at all times. “You will not have any other Gods before (neither after) Him”.
This is the second promise made by God to you: Exodus 20:4-6 “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, punishing [visiting (KJV)] the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (NIV).
There’s a lot to analyze here. This is a very dense promise. It was very common to cut or shape little statues representing pagan gods. Even today there are reminiscences of this culture, like the Easter processions in Seville and many other countries.
The question is, why did these pagan religions tended to make little idols? The problem started in the state of these idols. They were “dead”, they did not actually exist. And that was the cause of the mistake leading them to the shaping of little idols. They considered these gods as very far away, always upset and whose wrath we needed to appease with sacrifices.
So, in order to avoid forgetting them, and to have them always present in our lives, they cut small statues of idols to remember them constantly.
This is a natural human reaction. When someone is far away, living in another country or continent, or simply has passed away, we use to have a photography of that person somewhere in the home or the office to remember that person. We miss that beloved one, and we want to have a “souvenir” of him/her.
Sometimes is not an image of the person, but an object that belonged to him/her. Other times is a lock of hair, any “relic” that reminds us of that beloved person.
The need of having images is due to the absence of that person, or the long distance between that person and us. Nevertheless, God knows our need of having the beloved one close to us. So He made this promise to you. Let’s start with verse 4 and 5a.
Exodus 20:4-5a “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”. Remember that what it appears to be an order or “commandment” it is actually a promise. This is what God is actually saying to you (future imperative):
“I promise that from now on, you will not make any image, nor anything similar to remember me”. God is promising to us that we will not need anymore any image of Him hanging on the wall, neither any object to remind us of His presence or existence.
Do you imagine a husband that arrives home after a long day of work, and, right after closing the door, starts to stare at a great portrait of his wife? Do you imagine that man starting to talk to that portrait, and to tell to the image of his wife how beautiful she is, how much he loves her, and to speak about his long day, without leaving his eyes from the picture? Now, imagine his wife standing at his side who came out to welcome him, and waiting to her husband to turn his head towards her to start a “real” conversation. But she cannot do it because he is just paying attention to her portrait…
Putting this in a positive way, God is telling us that He will always be with us. He will always stay at our side, constantly, at any moment. God is promising you that you will never, ever, need His photo in the wallet nor hanging on the wall in order to remember Him. He promises that we will constantly, always feel His presence with us, if we pay attention and look for Him, of course! You only need to turn your eyes towards Him (in prayer) to speak to Him directly.
This is the moment where you will realize of what has been already promised to you a long time ago. He promised to speak with you at any time, He promised to be at any moment ready to listen to you, to stay at your side, and this week you have the chance to accept this promise. The only way to accept this promise is acting in consequence. Talk to Him. Pray. This is the moment to say: “Yes oh Lord, I accept your promise”.
In Genesis 28:15 God promised this to Jacob: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you”.
In Isaiah 43:1-2 God repeats again this promise to His people: “But now, this is what the Lord says, he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”.
In Mathew 18:20 Jesus repeats the same promise: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” He does not say “if you put a picture of mine”, or “if you have a fragment of my clothes”… He says wherever there are believers thinking about Him, there He will be personally.
In Mathew 28:20 we find again the same promise repeated, echoing the first promise made in Exodus, but expressed in a different way: “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age”.
But this promise does not finish here. There are more things in Exodus 20:5b-6 “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing [visiting (KJV)] the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.
This is a double promise. I rather prefer here the KJV where we can clearly see that God commits himself in “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”. Some versions, like the one above (NIV) read “punishing”. The Hebrew verb for “visiting” (translated wrongly as “punishing”) is paqad. Literally means “to visit with interest”. The best example is a doctor visiting the ill at home. When the person is seriously ill, the doctor will come regularly to follow up the evolution of the patient, and to avoid the spreading of the disease within that family. God knows that the sin is a very serious disease, and some cases are to be watched closely because are very contagious, hereditary.
In Ezekiel 18:20 we read: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (NKJV). According to this text, and the rest of the Bible, it is impossible that God may punish the sin of a father upon his son, grandchildren and great grandchildren, up to the fourth generation. Each one is responsible of his own actions, and none else.
God knows your problems, your worries, your concerns. God promised to visit you as a spiritual doctor, to treat your disease, that sin that bothers you, so He can heal you. He has promised to visit you, but not only you, also your family to avoid the contagious spreading of that disease, so they will not fall in the same problem, and if they do, He is visiting us to stop the problem in early stages.
In the context of the “alliance” or “marriage”, God promises to take care of your offspring, the descendants of all those who want to enter in that commitment of “marriage”, that relationship of love, paying special attention on those who are sick and their children. Sometimes some parents cannot take care of their children because of a problem, a disease or even a divorce. God has committed himself in becoming the stepfather of these children.
That promise is shown in other books of the Bible, like Deuteronomy 10:18 “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (NIV).
Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?”
Psalm 16:8 “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken”.
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.
Psalm 119:151 “Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true”.
Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth”.
(Psa. 139; Isa. 50:8; 55:6; Act. 17:27; Eph. 2:13). God is always near, He is always besides of those who are in need, and they (we) will not need any image to invoke Him or to remind us of Him because of the distance.
Never forget that God is a living God, who makes you wonderful promises.
God has promised you that you will never, ever, need an image of Him neither anything He created, because He personally IS at your side every single day, at every moment, all your life.
God has promised, not only to be at your side all your life, but He also has committed Himself to stay every single minute interested in you, in your problems, in your health, in your worries.
He has also promised to intervene in your life in a powerful way. He has promised to visit you every single day, as the doctor visits those who are weak or ill, so He can follow up your evolution, He can treat you closely to heal you.
God has also promised to take care of your family, of those who you love the most, the most beloved ones, those who depend on you, to help them too.
We have a wonderful God, who is delighted in making promises, even more, he delights in fulfilling His promises.
Will you accept this promise made by God to you today? I invite you to pray, asking God to fulfill His promise in your life. Pray telling Him that you accept this wonderful promise. Tell Him that you are earnestly willing to talk to Him face to face, in prayer, sharing with Him all what happens to you, what makes you happy and what worries you.