1. Opening Activity: Print out copies of the second commandment and hand out to the students. Begin by reciting it together.
2. State the following clarifications:
3. Read and discuss the following Scriptures:
Genesis 4 / Hebrews 11:4
Discuss: Why was the Lord upset with Cain? What did He command Cain to do? Why was Able’s sacrifice acceptable? What is faith?
God found Able’s offering acceptable because it was offered in faith. Faith is simply trusting in God’s word and doing what it says. So Able’s offering must have been in accord with what God had revealed. Cain must have bucked the system.
But what had God revealed? Adam must have talked with his children about blood sacrifices and what God had done in sparing his life. Able brought an offering (Hebrews calls it a “sacrifice”) that had blood. That God told Cain to “Do what is right” likely implies that Cain knew what was the right thing to offer, but didn't do it.
Discuss: What happened to Nadab & Ab. Why? What does it mean to offer “strange” fire?
A recipe will often taste “strange” when you introduce an alternate (unauthorized) ingredient. Strange fire is unauthorized fire in that God had not authorized it in His Word. As a result of not following God's commands, Nadab & Abihu died. It might have been a little tweak (and they probably thought it would be fun or a nice little addition), but it was a deadly one.
Discuss: How do people "tweak" church services today? Why do they do it? --It is usually for pragmatic reasons: It will draw more people; people will find it more enjoyable and titillating than the normal "boring" things.
Discuss: Who were the Israelites worshiping? Was it a foreign god? How do you know? Why do you think they worshiped a calf?
The Israelites didn’t jettison God altogether. You will notice that they had a feast to “the LORD” (YHWH). They simply wanted to worship Him by means of these golden calfs. It is likely that they appealed to what they knew, i.e. the forms of worship they had in Egypt. Because they wanted to worship in their own way, they were cursed.
What does God want us to do in worship?
What are some things that are popular to do in worship today that are not permitted?
5. Pictures of Jesus
I stand with those who say that pictures of Jesus are forbidden by the second commandment, even for teaching purposes. The truth is, God does not want to be known through images. He wants to be known through His word (Rom. 10:9-10).
People will often say that we should use picture books for children because they are helps for the ignorant and simple. But this is not biblical; it is merely humanistic thinking. Children are perfectly capable of learning without images. They've done it for thousands of years.
We also have to keep in mind that pictures evoke a response. The Israelites created a golden calf because that reminded them of God's power (or some other distinct aspect of His being). Thus, they worshiped God through (or as a result of) the image.
Any teaching about Jesus should evoke awe and a sense of worship. If we imagine Jesus in some form, we should be inspired to worship and awe. In sum, we do exactly what Israel did in the wilderness. We worship the Lord by means of or as a result of the image.
When it comes to images of Jesus or the format of our worship services, the thing we remember what Jesus said in John 4. We must worship the Lord "in spirit and truth."
Spirit driven worship is truth driven worship. It is worship that accords with the truth that God has revealed in Scripture. So the most spiritual worship will be worship that best coincides with what God has revealed.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.