In the Topical guide, I see two messages regarding “graven images”.
- Image worship was the religion of the people who were not God’s chosen, the Israelites, in the time of the Old Testament. So we must be wary to not practice the religion of the “others” in the sense that it is not the religion of Jesus Christ. Everyone that does not worship Jesus and Heavenly Father provide opposition, an alternative choice, to test and prove. We must decide not to worship idols.
- The New Testament marks a transition in the Topical Guide where “image” goes from referring to idol worship to referring to the mold or ideal that we were modeled after and should be striving to achieve. Romans 8:29 starts it off… “conform to the image of his Son”. D&C 1:16 reminds us that everybody walks after the image of their god. That means that they seek to emulate, they strive to become like, look like, talk like, think like, act like the person, place or thing that they hold up to be ideal. Everyone does it. We pick an ideal and seek to emulate it. We do this consciously and subconsciously.
The second commandment, then is a warning for us to take a look at our ideals, to take a good look at what we think is best, because that is what we are trying to be like.
The ideal “ideal”, the best “image” to worship is, of course, our Savior Jesus Christ (who is an example of Heavenly Father). Mosiah 7:27 and Genesis 1:26 show us this. We were made in the image of God. Therefore, our makers should be our image for emulation.
Alma gives us a test to determine our progress of becoming like Christ. All of chapter 5 in Alma is a way to mark our progress, with verse 14 the sign of achievement; “have ye received his image in your countenances?”
This, again, is a commandment to bring humanity into union with each other and with our God. John 17:11, 21 is the ideal, and D&C 38:21 the consequence. When we all choose Jesus and God as our image, Satan has no power to tempt, and we choose peace.