The Second Commandment—Is It Really About Worshipping Idols?

jesus statue

by Michael Maciel

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
– Exodus 20

In the days before video when no one carried smartphones in their pockets, young athletes would worship photos of their heroes, which they would cut out of sports magazines and tape to their bedroom walls. The photos were freeze-frames of fluid movements, and each captured moment would become an icon, an ideal to strive for. Unfortunately, a still photo is hard to mimic without sacrificing the gracefulness of live action. Today, athletes can see replays of their moves before they even catch their breath. This, more than improvements in equipment, is perhaps the biggest reason for the exponential rise in athletic performance.

pole vault

Too often, our hopes and dreams, our ideals and goals, both for ourselves and our loved ones, are little more than still shots. They are images engraved in our mind, ideas stuck in time that simply do not relate to our current life circumstances. We have ideas about what marriage looks like, what success looks like, what health looks like, ideas that are usually more theoretical than practical. And when we base our knowledge of the present solely on what worked in the past, we violate nature’s prime directive: adapt to changes or die.

Whenever we base our spirituality on the concepts of others, ideas we read in books, or the traditions of our faith, which might be hundreds if not thousands of years old, we run the risk of idolizing images that no longer serve us. Our philosophies become like statues, unable to move, unable to breathe, and unable to have any real effect in our lives. For life more resembles a video with light and color and sound than it does a photograph. Life is a living thing. It moves and breathes, it ebbs and flows, it is born, grows, explores, and then retires, and finally sleeps, only to reawaken and begin again. Is it any wonder that the Ten Commandments, which are truly iconic, would be a living, breathing presence in our spiritual life rather than a set of prohibitions written in stone?


One of religion’s greatest contributions to the spiritual evolution of humanity has been the moral code. This is undeniable. But to say that religion is only about morality is to deny its primary purpose, which is to awaken us to our innate divinity, our creative potential, to empower us to rise above the robotic laws of nature and find our place at the right hand of God as co-creators, in love, in joy, and in harmony. This is our true estate, which the moral code was designed to prepare us for but was in no way intended to be the summit of our aspirations. Such a belief would be the equivalent of going to college for the sole purpose of acquiring knowledge with no intention of ever pursuing a career and putting that knowledge to work. What would be the point?

As the second step in the Law of Mind, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” cautions us not to get too attached to what we think we want, because as we focus on it, it will, as night follows day, reveal to us aspects of itself we could not have imagined. The closer we come to realizing our ideal, the more it reveals its true nature. What success looks like from the starting blocks looks vastly different from how it looks as we sprint towards the finish. The journey towards our goals is always a growing experience, an unfolding wisdom, and a fine-tuning of our judgment as to what is truly valuable and what is truly vain. The effort itself provides the fires of transformation, and the first thing to get transformed is our understanding of what all the effort was for.


In reality, there is no finish line. Life is continuous and ever-evolving at the point of being. There is no statue carved out of stone waiting for us like some kind of cosmic trophy. What we achieve through prayer becomes the next level as we spiral upwards in our endless journey of spiritual evolution. Every end is a new beginning—forever.

Perhaps it’s because we learned the Ten Commandments in Sunday School as children that we tend to regard them in childish ways, instead of one of the most sophisticated spiritual documents ever written. Just as the First Commandment is the profound principle of focusing on our highest conception of divinity, so the Second Commandment prepares us to blow right through it when we finally get there. When the scholars tried to foist their fossilized ideas of heaven onto Jesus, he said with the wisdom of one truly alive in God, “He is not the God of the dead but the God of the living.” It doesn’t get any more profound than that.

It helps to remember that Moses, the author of the Ten Commandments, was trained in the Egyptian Priesthood, the same mystery school that understood the cosmos and built the Pyramids as its reflection, using knowledge that the best and brightest of today’s scientists can’t figure out. So don’t be blinded by vain imaginings of cultural and scientific superiority. We may be superior in some ways, but when it comes to understanding and using the powers of the soul, we are mere children.

See also:

The First Commandment—it’s not what you think!


The Third Commandment—get over yourself!

The Fourth Commandment—do I really have to go to church?

The Fifth Commandment—my mother, drunk or sober

The Sixth Commandment—Thou Shalt Not Kill Bill

Scrambled Eggs—Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

Books by Michael Maciel

World Priest—Bringing Heaven to Earth

The Five Vows—Raising Your Spiritual Commitment to the Next Level

Michael Maciel – Author 

About Michael Maciel

Michael Maciel has studied the Ancient Wisdom Teachings and symbolism since the early 1970’s. He was ordained a priest in the Holy Order of MANS in 1972. Check out Michael’s YouTube channel The Mystical Christ with Michael Maciel, along with The Mystical Christ Academy on Patreon.
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13 Responses to The Second Commandment—Is It Really About Worshipping Idols?

  1. Kathleen Dircks says:

    Some say the Ten Commandments weren’t meant to be “commandments ” at all, but a mantra. We are “programable” and repetition of an ideal “hard wires” it so that if a situation arises, the ideal would present itself as an inner guide, “I don’t kill”.

    • So, what would be a spiritual interpretation of “Thou shalt not kill”? If the Ten Commandments are a spiritual document, how does “Thou shalt not kill” apply to matters of the spirit?

      • Kathleen Dircks says:

        If you were building a consciousness with intentions, would a consciousness built with the intent to commit murder vibrate the same as a consciousness built with “I do not kill”.
        Which consciousness could be easily woven into the spiritual fabric of Heaven and which one would find the experience “painful”?

    • What if you could see and communicate with the person after he was killed? What if you knew that physical death was just a blip that didn’t affect him at all? The real horror would be to watch as that person was slowly turned into an animal, say through torture or slavery, or worse yet to watch as someone murdered their own potential to lead a fulfilling life by stubbornly adhering to some misguided obligation? Just what kind of death and what kind of killing are we talking about here?

      • Kathleen Dircks says:

        We’re talking about spiritual death. Corruption damages the spirit’s ability to communicate/be aware of it’s connection with its source. Aiming ill-intent of any kind at somebody, damages the the one aiming the intent and the one receiving it -to the degree their spiritual connection(faith) will allow. Physical death is inevitable and up to the Creator. But spiritual death is up to us. You can be murdered physically but be bomb-proof spiritually. Forgive your assailant.
        But to aspire to commit murder can “kill” the perpetrator. Who can be healed or realigned by remorse.
        Forgiveness is for the sake of the victim, remorse is for the sake of the assailant. We answer to the God within and without. Not to each other.
        Better to strengthen alignment before it comes to damage.
        I do not kill.

    • And yet, you’re putting up a good fight here. What spiritual difference is there between killing someone in battle and proving they’re wrong in a debate? Is it appropriate to call one “ill-intent” and the other “defending the truth?”

      Wasn’t Gandhi’s intention to defeat the British, to “kill” colonialism in his country? Wasn’t Martin Luther King’s intention to “kill” racial discrimination? Both men were warriors; they just didn’t use guns. Were either of them willing to settle for half-measures? No. Both pursued their goals with extreme prejudice.

      Look at the world today. People are systematically being lulled to sleep. How is it conscionable to allow that to persist unchallenged? On the spiritual level, there is an all-out war taking shape. What are the “good people” of the world’s spiritual communities going to do about it? Will they shelter in place, in the comfort of their ideologies, enjoying their freedoms…while they last? Or will they be smart enough to go on the offensive, to take the fight to the enemy?

      Who is the enemy? It is they whose sole purpose is to use other people for their exclusive benefit, to enslave them either economically or mentally by keeping them in fear and in a perpetual state of avarice and self-preservation. It is they who fear and loathe the human spirit and seek to control it in every way possible. And it is they who say that there is no spirit, that if something can be done it should be done, that there is no higher principle than the intellect, and that only the smartest deserve to have a decent life.

      Defeating them will require a warrior’s mindset and the willingness to kill—not physical violence but violence towards lies and false beliefs. In this, there can be no half-measures.

      • Kathleen Dircks says:

        Was Moses the author of the 10 commandments or an interpreter like each of us?
        War is another word for confusion and competition is ultimately defeating. There’s only one Michael Maciel and I’m not him. If I try to be him I will fail and the “job” I’m supposed to be doing will be left undone.
        Try to change the world outside and we will fail. Change the world inside by aligning with truth and the world around you will notice. Then they can make their own choice. .There’s a line between inspiring and imposing. Things won in violence are always lost again. Things won simply because the opposition found them to be immovable are conquered.

    • Still, this begs the question—did Gandhi or MLK just change themselves, or did they change themselves and then rally the world? Change takes initiative, and it takes action. We act in any way and on any level that we are capable of acting. To pretend that action is unnecessary is a spiritual cop-out. We live in two worlds, the inner and the outer. The inner and the outer must be made as one, IF you want to change conditions. There are others who are actively working against your best interests. If you do nothing, you default to their aims. In this game, there are no bystanders.

      • Kathleen Dircks says:

        Action is about transformation and transcendence.
        People who are good because they are suppressed are not good. They are afraid and angry, waiting for an opportunity to break out and “undo” you.
        People are enslaved spiritually by self serving leaders who twist and omit the truth and outright lie. These people impose their “truths” with violence to meet their own ends. The people they enslave must play by their rules or else. So corruption breeds corruption.
        When these “slaves” are set free by the truth, there is no resistance. They walk away from corruption. Transformed from the inside out.

    • I think that’s good for individuals but does little for society as a whole. It’s a little like saying as long as I’m okay, that’s all that matters. What good is transformation if you don’t use it? Simply “walking away” from the problem will not solve it. Where are you going to walk away to? Those who have awakened to the truth of their spiritual nature have an obligation to help those who haven’t. One way to do that is to work towards a society that fosters the freedom of growth and self-expression, the freedom for people to make their own choices. Like it or not, we live in a world of competing interests, and right now those who seek to control and use people are winning. Anyone who believes in reincarnation has a vested interest in improving conditions here on Earth because we’re going to be living here for a long, long time. But as Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”

      • Kathleen Dircks says:

        Society is made up of individuals. Action is setting an example, speaking the truth, being what you want to see.
        Not attaining peace with violence. Society won’t be swayed to peace by violence, and peace will have lost you.
        Better the lion should eat the lamb and become like him, than the lamb eat the lion and….

  2. Moses never got to enter the Promised Land. Jesus holds the keys and he sends the Holy Spirit to teach us the Truth so we can enter the new heaven and new earth. All other teachers teach a mixture of truth and lies.

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