New Defender's Study Bible Notes
20:4 make unto thee. This is not a prohibition against pictures or statuary, in general, but only against an attempt to replace worship of the Creator with worship of His creation or some created thing in the creation (note Romans 1:21-25). When people attempt to represent God by a graven image of some demonic spirit (or “god”) or by a pantheistic mental construct of the infinite, any such worship or representation (the key phrase is “unto thee”) is blasphemous and is forever prohibited by this key commandment. “We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29). It also renders the use of statues and paintings of Christ, as well as angels, in churches, schools, and homes as objects of “veneration” to be at least questionable.
20:4 any likeness. This commandment surely renders the common use of statues and paintings of angels, and even more so of the Lord Jesus, in churches, schools, and homes to be very questionable, if not clearly forbidden.
20:5 third and fourth generation. This apparently severe judgment on innocent children cannot contradict the teaching throughout Scripture (e.g., Ezekiel 18:19-20) that each person is individually responsible before God (e.g., Romans 14:12). Nevertheless, it is true that ungodly parents tend to produce ungodly children and grandchildren. In this way, God’s judgment is exercised upon the descendants “that hate me.”