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    Temple School of Taphim 3:
    The Second Commandment


    1. Beloved children and friends, I welcome you back to the House of the Lord, in the Name of Jesus Christ, whose House this is. Yesterday evening you were introduced to the Ten Commandments and were then given instruction on the First Commandment which says: "I am the Lord your God...you shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:2-3, NIV, variant translation; Taphim 2:36)

    2. You were taught about the nature of God -- His omnipotence (or all-powerfulness), His omniscience (or all-knowingness), His faithfulness and His unchangeableness. God, you were taught, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn't change His mind. He is perfectly holy, perfectly good, and perfectly righteous. You can trust Him and He can become your best friend.

    3. To obey the first commandment means that there must be nothing more important than God in your life. You can have lots of other interests and hobbies but the Lord must always have first place in your life.

    4. You were also taught that God is the Creator -- He made all things in the universe and He made them perfectly. You were warned about the false doctrine of evolution which teaches that everything made itself without need of a God.

    5. You were also taught that God is your sure protection -- He takes care of those who love Him. This does not mean that you will not go through difficult times in your life, neither does it mean that you will not necessarily experience bad things, but it does mean that if you trust Him, He will take care of you and make sure that everything turns out for the good in the end.

    6. You were also taught that going to Church, or praying, or studying the scriptures does not make you right with God. To worship God and to have no other gods but Him involves your whole life from second to second. It means that you are not serving your fallen, lower nature, with all its lusts and worldly tendencies.

    7. You were warned of the kind of pressure you would face in school and amongst your friends, who are not Christians, to conform with their worldly way of doing things. You were particularly told to be careful about not imitating their attitudes to money, sex, popularity, music, smoking, drinking, rudeness and disobedience.

    8. You were taught, in the words of Jesus, to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" and to "love your neighbour as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV).

    9. You were taught that God is a God of love and that despite all the ugliness and badness that you will see, you should seek out that which is good in people; to pray to Him and thank Him for all the good things you see and experience, and to pray over the sick.

    10. Finally, you were taught God's Name and its meaning. Would one of the children tell me what His Name is? Put up your hand if you know. {If no child volunteers, or doesn't know the answer, then: "Would one of the adults present tell me?"}

    Answer: YAHWEH.

    11. (That's right). The Name of God is Yahweh. Can anybody tell me what this Name means?


    12. (That's right). This Name is very important because it describes His personality. You, in your turn, will get a new name in the temple in about a year's time if you remain faithful. This new name is your spiritual name and describes your personality.

    13. God's Name, which was revealed to Moses, means many things. It means that He is always near you -- His Spirit is everywhere. He is very close, far closer than you think. You have only to open your heart to Him and He will reveal Himself to you.

    14. The Name Yahweh also means "I am exactly what I say I am" and "I am exactly what I do". God doesn't play games with you. He doesn't mess around. When He says something you can be absolutely sure that He means it. He is incapable to tricking you, of lying, or any kind of deceit. He is totally open and honest, just as His Only Begotten Son Jesus was when He was on the earth.

    15. Coming to know God through His Name is a very important part of your spiritual development in God's House. Because the Name of God is sacred you should not repeat it often. Instead, out of reverence for Him, we call Him "Lord" or simply "Father". You will learn more about this when we come to discuss the Third Commandment.

    16. Today we are going to look carefully at the Second Commandment which is closely related to the First.

    The Second Commandment

    17. The Second Commandment is quite a long one is as follows: "You shall not make for yourself an idol 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 the children for the sin of the fathers 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" (Exodus 20:4-6, NIV)

    18. The first picture you will probably form in your mind is of some pagan bowing down and worshipping a statue of gold, wood or stone. In olden days, this form of paganism was very common. It still occurs today though only rarely in primitive societies.

    19. Times have changed but idolatry has not. You will remember from the last temple session that an idol is anything which is more important to you than God. An idol is anything you occupy yourself with that takes precedence over your worship of God.

    20. The Second Commandment tells us how to worship the true God, the things to avoid in worship, and of the rewards or blessings we will receive if we are obedient.

    21. It is utterly forbidden by the Second Commandment to try and represent God as a picture, statue, or any kind of image if we then use that image as an aid to worshipping God. Long ago when the children of Israel were journeying to the Promised Land from Egypt, God commanded Moses to make a brass serpent and fasten it on a pole. The people were at that time suffering from poisonous snake bites. If they looked up on the brass serpent, which was to remind them that sin would one day be nailed to the Cross through Jesus Christ, they would be healed.

    22. Later on in their history the Israelites started worshipping this brass snake and not the God of whom it was supposed to remind them. As a result, prophets of God ordered that the image be destroyed. When people become unspiritual they start worshipping physical things.

    23. It happens today. One of the most common idols amongst young people is pop star worship. Boys and girls pin up pictures of their favourite pop groups in their bedrooms and literally worship them. Now they don't bow down before the posters but they do worship what they stand for. And they don't usually stand for anything good.

    24. Perhaps in your past you have been to a pop concert, or seen one on TV, and noticed how young people -- usually the girls -- become utterly hysterical, screaming and going wild. What they are doing is actually worshipping their idols. They adore these stars, they worship them, love them, want to copy them, and many of them would do anything just to get near them.

    25. All of this is idolatry. Only God is worthy of our worship and adoration. Only he is worthy of our service. Anything else is rebellion against Him. It is refusal to surrender the human will to His will.

    26. So why do people worship idols? It is because they do not know God. Once you know Him -- His love, His kindness, His warmth, His justice -- then the soul has no need to worship anything or anyone else, because God satisfies every need. When you were born you were created with the need to worship -- to look up to, respect, honour, love and serve.

    27. That need is first fulfilled in our parents if they are walking in the holiness of the Lord. We seek it in our marriage companions also, in our leaders, teachers, in all kinds of people. We have an inbuilt need to be submissive, obedient and serving.

    28. Those who do not know God submit to, are obedient to, and serve human beings. When they find that they are less that perfect, they often become disillusioned, rebellious, and empty. Their need is not met. Thus they find it difficult to trust in an invisible God. Good parents, good church leaders, teachers, brothers and sisters can be good pictures of God -- stepping stones in a child's search for the true God. That is why God has given them to us.

    29. Unfortunately, it is all too common to be betrayed by those whom we ought to look up to. They let us down, abuse us, and break our trust, and as a result we loose that child-like innocence that is so precious to God.

    30. To come to God you must come as a child -- innocent, trusting, and submissive. That is the only way you can know Him. Such a person will come to know God very intimately because God will reveal His heart to such a person.

    31. If you want to come to know God, you must also have His Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we can neither know nor come to God (Romans 8:9). How do you receive the Holy Spirit? First, by repentance -- confessing your wrong doings, making right what you have done wrong, and then forsaking your wrongdoings altogether; second, by baptism, because that is what God has commanded, and third, by walking in all God's commandments (Acts 2:38; 5:32).

    32. Not very many people today have truly surrendered themselves to obey God. Not very many people actually walk with Him. Not very many people are willing to allow God to rule in their lives -- to control their every thought, word, feeling, and deed. Therefore there are very, very few people who actually KNOW God.

    33. For these people God is very far away, hard to understand. And so, because they aren't willing to obey the commandments in full, they create substitutes or images, pictures or reminders of what they think He looks like. They often end up praying to these images as though they were God Himself. This is the heart of paganism which does not know the true God.

    34. And those who are not religious at all, they worship all kinds of other things -- money, power, sex, cars, their husbands or wives, boyfriends or girlfriends, political figures, fantasy heroes like Superman or Indiana Jones, TV and movie stars, pop stars, and so on. And in every single case you will find that if these idolaters can't have the real thing -- their pop idol, the car of their dreams, the loveliest women in the world, or whatever -- then they will worship an image -- posters, photographs, and so on. They look at these things with longing. They dream of what they desire even though such may be a totally unrealisable fantasy.

    35. If you want to know what people's idols are, go into their homes or private rooms. See what they have around. You may get some clues. Most children have posters of football teams, singers, hunky men, beautiful woman, religious heroes, soldiers, cars, etc.. These are their idols. Beware! They are extremely dangerous. Such people may not know God. They may be worshipping idols and breaking the Second Commandment.

    36. A boy or girl who knows God doesn't need these aids to fantasise. Indeed, with God as their personal friend and intimate companion, they don't need to fantasise at all. We use our fantasy to fill in the gaps or needs in our souls. That is wrong.

    37. If you want to know God personally, you must experience Him within yourself. He will reveal Himself to your mind and heart through the Holy Spirit. Pictures or images, on the other hand, are outside you. Everyone knows that a photograph of a person is very different from the real person. And we know that the camera can lie too. There must be hundreds of different paintings of Jesus from white to black skinned and with every kind of physical feature imaginable.

    38. If you look at the art work of each Church denomination, they usually have very different representations of Christ. These representations usually match their theological interpretation of the Gospel.

    38. Some picture Him as blonde, blue eyes, with pale, milky-white skin, with soft, feminine lips. Some picture him with short hair, others with long; some as bearded, some as clean-shaven. Some with red hair, some with black. Some pictures make Him look like a hippie, some as a rough farmer.There are Catholic Jesus's, Jehovah's Witness Jesus's, Mormon Jesus's, New Age Jesus's, Pentecostal Jesus's, and so on.

    39. Pictures are powerful -- they convey a message. Many children see pictures of a stern, frightening looking God as an old man in the clouds looking very angry, and this can form a false picture in their minds and actually prevent them from finding the true God. Some children see a soft, effeminate Jesus and never realise that He is also strict and just.

    40. So pictures can mislead, and they can mislead very badly. So be careful. Do not judge God or Christ on the basis of pictures which have been drawn or painted by fallible human beings. And for goodness sake, never worship that "image" or "picture".

    41. To get to know God you have first of all got to clear all these pictures or images out of your mind. If God had wanted to give us a photograph album of Himself and of Christ, He would have done so. The only physical medium He has consented to give us is the Scriptures or Written Word.

    42. But even these can be worshipped! They can also become an "image" or an "idol" if you are not very careful. There are many Christians who instead of worshipping the true God worship the Bible because they don't know Him personally.

    43. As you were taught in the First House of Taphim you can't get to know someone by looking at Him. A man might be terribly ugly but have the kindest soul you ever met. Or he might be really handsome but be a devil inside. Throughout the scriptures God warns us not to judge by appearance or sight but to judge righteously. And that which is righteous -- that which is good -- in a person is invisible.

    44. You cannot ask someone to show you his goodness. He can't put it on a plate for you to look at. He can reveal that goodness in things he may do but the things he does is not the goodness itself. A child who volunteers to help mother clean the house reveals his or her goodness in what he or she does, but the actual cleaning is not the goodness. The goodness is in the heart. It is the pure love of God.

    45. God reveals His love and goodness to us by blessing us in a million different ways, but the goodness itself is invisible. If you learn this lesson early on you will progress very quickly in the Holy Order, and it's this: The most important things in life are INVISIBLE.

    46. Those who serve you in the temple have all come to know God personally but hardly any of them have actually seen Him. They have come to know God through obeying His commandments and learning to serve others. This is the challenge that is given to you.

    47. It's like going for a swim in a river or a lake. You can hear someone else tell you how wonderful it is but until you have done it yourself you will never really know. You must believe God at His Word and then go and do it.

    48. Some people discover God accidentally, as it were, that is, without the help of other people. Most, however, only learn about Him because of the testimony or witness of others. Before you can trust God you must have faith in Him. You must believe in something or someone you cannot see.

    49. Every day you go to bed not knowing for sure if you will be alive in 24 hours' time. You could be killed the next day. You don't know. Yet most people don't even think about such a possibility. They live in faith that they will live tomorrow and get on with life.

    50. Yet few people are willing to trust God. Are you? Will you believe the testimony of His prophets and apostles -- and, most importantly, the testimony of His Son, Jesus Christ?

    51. Life is not easy. It is complicated and frequently dangerous, not only physically but also spiritually too. There is much evil everywhere. Even people who do not believe in God recognise that there is good and evil around. Most people want peace and prosperity, but don't want to acknowledge the giver of that peace and prosperity. That is why the world is cut off from God and why the world is getting more and more evil.

    52. The fact that you are in this temple today is a miracle. You are amongst the few people who trust in God, and you are a part of the tiny, tiny few whom God has led into this Church where He has restored the fullness of His Gospel. Yet most of you, because you are ignorant of God's love and blessings to you, will not realise how blessed you are until later after you have given yourselves to Him completely.

    53. The gods of most people today are the customs of the countries and societies in which they are born. Because no-one bothers to question these customs people assume they are right. And the longer the customs have been around, the righter people assume they are.

    54. Carnal people -- whose who are worldly -- have great respect for age. People are fascinated by the past -- by history, dinosaurs, things which aren't around any more. Churches or institutions like democracy which have been around the longest are usually respected the most. For the last 100 years or more people have been fascinated by ancient Egypt. Billions of dollars have been invested trying to preserve Egypt's cultural heritage -- the pyramids, temples, art, and so on.

    55. Yet all these things are temporal and will pass away. Worse than that, cultures like that of Egypt were thoroughly pagan. In our own countries, certain customs have been handed down to us and are taken for granted. Christmas is one of the best examples. Actually, Christmas has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ. He wasn't born on the 25 December at all. Christmas trees, yule logs, parties, and other celebrations have nothing whatsoever to do with His birth.

    56. Indeed Christmas, like many other customs which have become fastened onto our cultures, it thoroughly pagan in origin. And 25 December was, in fact, the birthday not of Jesus Christ but of the world's first real dictator and antichrist, namely Nimrod.

    57. Christmas is an idol. People worship it, even those who don't believe in God or Christ. They worship it so much that if you refuse to join in with them whey become angry and may even make life difficult for you. This is a symptom of idolatry.

    58. God has commanded us not to observe pagan customs but only God's. When you joined the New Covenant you were required to stop celebrating Christmas and other pagan festivals like Easter, Halloween, St.Valentine's day, and others. Participation in any of these breaks the Second Commandment because celebration of these things is to participate in the world's rebellion against God.

    59. Most people follow these customs and traditions because of fear. They are afraid to look "different" or "odd". They feel that they must conform to this world and its ways.

    60. But this is exactly what God has commanded us not to do. His apostle Paul said: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Romans 12:2, NIV).

    61. This commandment may seem very hard for some of you to obey especially when you have always believed that other people must be right in what they think, and do, and practice.

    62. Even religious people think in this way. "Because other Christians are doing it, it must be right," they think to themselves. But that's wrong. When Jesus was alive on the earth the people were very religious and copied each other and their traditions, but Jesus said: "they love the praise of men more than praise from God" (John 12:43, NIV).

    63. If you want to please God you must forget about trying to please the world. If you blindly obey the dictates of your family, your church or society instead of the direct commands of God, you are guilty of idolatry. The group or institution becomes an idol to you in place of the true God. You then break the Second Commandment.

    64. Beware of ritualism in church too. You will find in the New Covenant that there are many ordinances or rituals but none of these is worshipping God because they all, to some extent, involve the physical senses. True worship is spiritual -- God has commanded us to worship Him in "spirit and in truth." We worship what we cannot see but what we experience through the invisible Holy Spirit.

    65. What God wants of us in worship He explains through the prophet Isaiah: "This is the (person) I esteem: HE WHO IS HUMBLE AND CONTRITE IN SPIRIT, and trembles at My Word" (Isaiah 66:2, NIV). To worship God, you must worship Him directly -- and with a humble and willing heart. To do that you must study God's Word, the Scriptures, and listen to His Word to you through personal revelation. You should be willing to be corrected. If you are not, God will not be able to teach you, because you are not humble and submissive.

    66. A person becomes humble and submissive through repentance and obedience over a period of time. It is no use being willing to obey God for a few days, weeks or months, and then give up or rebel. To grow in the Lord and to really get to know you requires that you walk with Him over many years -- and that means to be consistent in your behaviour over a long, long time.

    67. A person who sets out on a long journey and who gives up after the first few kilometers gets nowhere. Finishing the journey is what counts. Starting a journey and then turning back is meaningless.

    68. To grow in God you have to give Him more and more of your time in study, prayer, and service. In time you will come to know Him and love Him as your Father.

    69. Read about Enoch, Noah and Abraham in your Bibles. They all learned to walk with God. They learned to be constant. And in their constancy they learned to become more and more submissive and obedient to Him. This will take patience on your part, determination and resolve. When you make your mind up you have really got to make your mind up. It's not like choosing something you like to eat. It is a question of choosing life or death.

    70. As you are obedient and faithful to your Heavenly Father, so His Spirit will work more and more with you. You will begin to change. You may not notice it at first but others will. We in the Holy Order will certainly notice it in your behaviour and the way you live your life generally.

    71. As you learn to love and serve the Lord your interest in idols will disappear altogether. They will seem meaningless and dead to you. They will no longer satisfy you. You will recognise that there is only One True God in the universe and that loving and serving Him is the most wonderful thing any human being can do. You will find peace, happiness, security, and sheer joy. You will discover the enormous love behind the Second Commandment.


    72. Beloved children and friends, this is the meaning of the Second Commandment. To conclude, I wish to point out one or two other things in this Commandment. The Commandment concludes: "for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers 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."

    73. Because God is our Father, He is lovingly zealous for our eternal welfare. He cares for us. He is jealous over us in that He will not countenance the worshipping of false gods by His children. This is, of course, for our own good.

    74. If we persist in an idolatrous and vain form of worship, the Lord says He will visit our iniquity upon our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, because we are in reality hating Him.

    75. Now this does not mean that God punishes our children and our children's children for the wrong things we do. What it means is that if we worship wrongly, we will inevitably influence our children to do the same, and they in turn will influence their children. False ideas wreck the lives of those we have influence over.

    76. Even if we do not have a very high opinion of ourselves, we usually -- if we are decent people -- care enough about out children not to want them to make the mistakes we did. False traditions and customs are passed from one generation to the next. Our idolatry is likely to be passed on to our children unless we repent and straighten out our lives.

    77. As children you have the opportunity to get right with God while you are young so that by the time you have your own children you will be living Holy Spirit-filled lives which will then influence your own children. Now look at the contrast of God's blessing if we do this.

    78. Whereas false worship can be passed down to the third and fourth generations before finally God intervenes with merciful punishment to awaken idolaters to the truth, true worship will bless those for A THOUSAND GENERATIONS!

    79. One thousand generations. The power of good should never be underestimated. Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a small lump of yeast which leavens the whole loaf of bread. One particle of righteousness can influence hundreds of thousands of people if it is carefully preserved, because that power of goodness is the power of God.

    80. That is what the Holy Order exists for. Those who come to it are leavened with the righteousness of God, with a power that will affect hundreds of thousands of people in the future. By choosing goodness, by choosing to obey God's commandments, you can bring to pass a marvelous work and a wonder, influencing generation upon generation for the sake of righteousness.

    81. Is that not a wonderful promise? Can you see how little you can have such a huge impact on the world? Not by your own power, but by the power of God. The Lord is willing to take weak little you and make you an instrument of power and holiness. And all you have to do is submit yourself to Almighty God, give your life to Him, and let Him take control.

    82. If at any time you would like to talk more about what you have learned in this or previous temple sessions, or in the sessions to come, with a member of the Patriarchate, please ask. We wish to help you make the decision to follow the living God. Don't think you have to wait until you are a grown-up. You can make that decision today.

    83. I want you to go home and think deeply about what you have learned today, to think how you can make your life right with God the Father, whose loving arms are awaiting to embrace you and empower you to live a joyful and wonderful life through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. May He bless you with a revelation of His love to you so that you may come to know Him as you have never know Him before. Amen.

    First created on 10 July 1998
    Last updated on 10 July 1998

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