II-We will take for ourselves no false idols, gods-nor graven images of idols, made by human hands, to bow down to and worship in His place.
For millenia I have watched as the very guardians of the covenant have betrayed this-sat horrified and afraid in the great congregation as the priests feasted themselves while around them and before their eyes the people the Lord had set them to keep starved physically and spiritually. Appalled, as they seemed to do so with an utter contempt, and apparent impunity! How many they have led astray...or murdered in their attempts to maintain the status quo.
Yet I have watched, too, in every lifetime, the glory of those shepherds who took up staff and led the Way-who taught their congregations that the Second Commandment spoke not to a childish immaturity that Man is incapable of discernment, but to the trust the Lord had in us when he expected we would need not argue in any wise the letter. However imperfectly, these leaders held the responsibility of the gift of leadership as a sacred trust, and when ever they faltered, opened to His guidance. (A rather lot of them died, badly, for their attempts to lead their flocks to grace. That old, old status quo thing...what, you thought the Pharisees died with Caesar?)
Our souls crave. A constant craving for grace and beauty, a need that when it goes unfulfilled, we try to satisfy ourselves. We create-not in an effort to outdo the works of the Lord, but because when an article is somehow right, it becomes a thing of beauty-inarticulable save with the display-that fills our souls with a sense of rightness, a rightness that leads a logical and reasonable soul to ask important questions of him or herself, such as "If I made this, who made all that?!" 'That' being all of creation-a power work of beauty and grace. The contemplation hopefully leads us to a completely satisfying relationship with the Father.
This article of the Law, this Second Commandment is no 'order' from on high to never carve, paint, or sculpt anything. Except that which defiles-DUH!
That which defiles...a wise judge once said "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it." Or hear it. We are all born with a conscience. Some of us spend lifetimes beating that inner voice that says-"Uh oh, not good..." to a pulp so that we can indulge in personal defilement. Others, when they try to resist the inclination toward debasement, are led astray by false shepherds.
The Lord, when He chose to trust our growing maturity, believed we had the capacity to understand that giving ourselves to any other 'master' was to choose to be enslaved.
When He carved those words on the tablet, He was NOT saying that we were not to be artisians, He was trying to say to us-"Look kids, I love you. I'm hoping you are smart enough now to see that some of your actions when you turned away from my guidance-you know, not really been there done that so much as I do kind of have some years on you and might know what I'm talking about-what, are you lab rats that you have to learn over and over from your own mistakes-you can't learn from your mistakes, or hey, here's a thought, learn from someone else's??-resulted in the consequence of your being vulnerable to abuse by the less than decent, and so to protect you from yourselves, while not taking away your freedom, I am putting this all in writing so that you will have a reminder, something to pass along to your coming generations-if you choose to take for yourselves a false ideal, you will once again put yourselves (and worse, your children) in danger of being consumed by it. So don't become over-invested in demonstrations of dross-not good, kids, promise."
Bad enough to have been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Worse still to effectually spit into the Hand that set you free by going right out and carving out a new slavery!
"A man cannot serve two masters." Jesus was sent to remind us of that, amoung other important points God had been trying to get across.
False (gods) ideals? Hmm, let's see...
The Bottom Line.