The Second Commandment: You Shall Not Make Idols

The Second Commandment teaches us that God is so great, no picture or statue can represent Him.

The Second Commandment: You Shall Not Make Idols


To help your child understand the meaning of the Second Commandment and how we are to apply it in our lives today.

Summary Statement

Read or summarize the following:

God tells us in His 10 Commandments that we are not to have any idols. An idol is any picture or statue that is supposed to represent God. It is also anything that is put before or in the place of God. There is nothing that can possibly show or take the place of the greatness of God! God loves us and wants us to be close to Him. Idols do not bring us closer to God or help us understand what He is like. Instead, idols put wrong ideas about God in our minds and lead us away from God.

There is nothing that can possibly show or take the place of the greatness of God!

Helpful scriptures

Exodus 20:4-6 – God gives the Second Commandment at Mount Sinai. God does not say that we cannot have any pictures or likenesses of things that God has created. But we are not to worship or bow down to them, which was a common practice of pagan nations at that time. Nothing is to take the place of God!

“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.”

“For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”

1 Chronicles 16:25-26 – God is greater than any idol or other god.

“For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.”

Isaiah 40:18 – These are questions to remind us that nothing compares to God.

“To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?”

Isaiah 46:9 – Isaiah reminds us that when we think about what has happened in the past, we can see that nothing—and no one—is like our amazing God.

“Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.”

Daniel 3:16-18 – The example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego teaches us that we should serve and worship only God. We must be determined to never worship anything else.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from you hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.’”

Matthew 6:24 – Jesus Christ reminds us that we can’t serve two masters. We can’t let anything become more important than God.    

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

1 Corinthians 10:14 – Paul reminds us to get far away from idols.

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”


Knock down those idols!

Part 1:

Print copies of the tablets on the activity page onto a piece of cardstock. (We’ve attached 2 blank tablets to the end of this lesson to save you some time.) Cut out and fold on the dashed lines so that each piece of paper will stand up.

Brainstorm with your child to come up with a list of “idols” (things, activities or people) that are sometimes put in place of God or considered more important than God. (See question 2 of the Discussion section.) Label each tablet with examples.

Then set up each tablet (or “idol”) on a table, on the floor or outside on the sidewalk. Take a small, soft ball and have your child throw or roll the ball to knock down all of the idols. You can even have your child recite the short version of the Second Commandment as he or she knocks down the “idols”!

If you have a set of plastic bowling pins or blocks, you can tape the paper cutouts onto the bowling pins or blocks for a fun variation on knocking down the idols that people put ahead of God. Remind your child that there is no room for any of these idols in our lives. There is only room for the one true God, who is so much bigger and more powerful and more loving than any idol.

Part 2:

Print out or make your own “No Idols Allowed!” sign. Help your child choose a place in your home to hang the sign.

Supplies needed:

Cardstock (for the tablets and the sign)

Pens, pencils, or markers


Small ball

Optional: Plastic bowling pins

Optional: Children’s blocks

Optional: Tape


Below are some examples of discussion starters to help your child understand more deeply the meaning of the Second Commandment and how to apply it in his or her life today.

Question: Why doesn’t God want us to have any idols? Why is it important that we put God first in our lives? 

Hint: Ask your child to think about how we would feel if we never got to spend time with our best friends, grandparents or parents because they were always spending time doing something else. We would be very sad and miss those people! That is how God would feel if we never spent any time with Him. God wants to spend time with us. He created us! He knows what is best for us and knows what will really make us happy. If we put other things before God, we won’t get to know how wonderful God is. We won’t have all the wonderful things He wants to give us, and we won’t learn how to live life in the best way.    

Question: Today not many people have statues that they bow down to and worship. However, that does not mean that there are not idols today. What are some things that people put in place of God (or think are more important than God)?

Hint: Ask your child to list some things he or she has noticed that people really love or want to spend their time and money on. Some examples could include YouTube or TikTok videos, sports, celebrities or influencers, smart phones, etc. For younger children, examples could include special toys, sports teams, playing video games, iPads, TV shows or the latest Disney movie. Talk about how they may not be bad things, but if any of these things becomes more important to us than God, it becomes an idol.

Question: What do you like to spend your time doing? Do you make time to spend with God?

Hint: Ask your child to think about a typical day in his or her life and about the things he or she has to do each day (for example, going to school, sleeping, eating, etc.). Then ask your child to think about what he or she likes to do when there’s free time. How much time is spent on each activity? Have your child think about how much time is spent with God (praying, reading Bible stories, listening to scriptures, memorizing favorite Bible memory verses, etc.). Together, think about ways you can spend more time with God so that other things do not become more important to you than God. You can even create a calendar and write down special “spending time with God” activities—such as reading a specific Bible story as a family, going for a walk outside and noticing all of the beauty God has created, visiting a planetarium to see the wonders of the universe that God has created, having a sing-along night to sing Bible songs together, and so on. Your child may have some fun ideas as well!

Question: What is your favorite toy? [Have your child bring it to you.] Would you be willing to give up this toy for a day? Or a week? The rest of your life?

Hint: Remind your child that God wants us to have things that we really like and enjoy. However, if that object becomes so important to us that we cannot give it up if we need to, then that object has become an idol.

Question: How do idols make people have wrong ideas about God?

Hint: Ask your child to picture familiar objects, such as a pillow, a flower or a book. Do we see a refrigerator when we imagine a book? Of course not! When we have a picture or an object showing what something looks like, that is the only way we see it. We know a book looks like a book, and we use a book for reading, not for keeping food cold like a refrigerator! When people use pictures or statues to represent God, they are not really showing who God is and all He can do.

Further study

The following two Bible stories from Life, Hope & Truth show how important it is to put God first and get rid of any idols in our lives:

Further Your Study

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