Man’s love for God is demonstrated by reverence of and obedience to God and His commandments. These four commandments, found in Exodus 20, are listed first, as they require first priority in the heart of mankind.
The second of these is in verses 4 through 6: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Unfortunately, this commandment was broken when the Israelites made and worshipped the golden calf under the supervision of Aaron, as recorded in Exodus 32. Desperately needing a visible spiritual point of reference, the nation of Israel cried out to Aaron, asking him to make them a god. Moses had been atop Mt. Sinai for quite some time and his absence disturbed the people. So, without hesitation, Aaron fashioned a molded calf from the gold earrings that the people brought to him. Their disobedience enraged God. Three thousand men lost their lives that day at the hands of the Levites, and the entire nation of Israel fell under a plague. (Exodus 32:26-28, 35)
God took His commandments seriously, especially the first two: “You shall have no other gods before Me,” and “You shall not make for yourself a carved image… you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” God is larger than anything He created, and such immensity is incomprehensible to the finite mind. Still, mankind has consistently attempted to define God by associating His Spirit with a hand-crafted image. But to make an image is insulting God by putting limits on the One who is limitless. No imperfect man-made image could take the place of the perfect and invisible God.