In my first two articles of this series, “To Keep the Ten Commandments or Not?” and “To Keep the Ten Commandments or Not? Pt. 2” I discussed whether or not we should keep the Ten Commandments. Then I began addressing the commandments themselves. The first commandment dealt with having no other gods before Yahweh. Today we will continue with the second commandment. Now let’s begin with the second commandment, which says…
You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot. Exodus 20:4-6 CJB
You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents, also the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot. Deuteronomy 5:8-10 CJB
What’s wrong with an Image
In a time where images abound everywhere we could truly overlook this commandment as something that is too old and outdated to consider obeying. We are bombarded everywhere we look with images. They are on the television, the internet, billboards, pictures, photos, magazines, books, and DVDs. We have multiple devices in which to view them, from the tiniest electronic device to a wall size screen. With all of this we have become immune to how we view images.
In ancient times people would literally carve out images of animals, nature, and people and call them their gods, just like Israel did when Moses went up the mountain to commune with Elohim. They asked the high priest, Aaron, to make them a god they could worship, after they had already agreed to allow Yahweh to be their Elohim. Aaron took their gold, melted it down and crafted a golden calf out of it. The people in turn bowed down and worshipped it.
It’s interesting that God equates hating him with creating a carved image or any other representation of his forbidden list. He didn’t just say carved images so there had to be a way to show the likeness or form of a thing. It could very well include the drawings on stones and what they used for paper.
Why would he feel this way? How would you feel if you gave your all to someone, who in turn gave their all to something else? You would definitely think that person doesn’t like you on some level.
Why Not Make an Image
The scriptures do give us many reasons why the children of Israel and their descendants shouldn’t make an image.
- Elohim allowed the children of Israel to hear his voice at Mount Sinai.
- They saw the mountain blazed with fire to the heart of heaven, with darkness, clouds and thick mist.
- They heard Elohim speak out of the fire, but they did not see any shape or form.
- Elohim is a consuming fire, a jealous Elohim.
- Their days will not be prolonged, but completely destroyed.
- They will be scattered among the nations where they will serve gods made by human hands.
Elohim wanted his children to serve only him. They had been in Egypt so long that they most likely served statues like the Egyptians. That is why Moses had to ask Elohim who should he say sent him. They were used to many gods in one form or another. Therefore, he let them know why they shouldn’t continue in what they have learned in Egypt.
Elohim says if we break this commandment we hate him. Why would he say such a thing? Maybe because when a person worships something created it is a slap in the creator’s face. How dare we act like the thing created is more important than the creator? Then we teach our children to do the same, who in turn teach their children and so on.
It’s like watching your child build a new toy from the Lego set you bought him. Instead of thanking you, he begins to thank the toy. Then he tell all of his friends how the toy did all of these wonderful things for him. The toy cooked his meal today. The toy gave him another toy to play with. The toy gave him a bath. Now all of his friends want that toy. He carries this toy everywhere and soon you realize it is more important than you. Maybe this is a silly example, but it is also silly to worship the creation instead of the creator, who is invisible and thus has no form.
What is the punishment for breaking this commandment? For some – death. For others – slavery. For all – our descendants to the fourth generation will reap what we have sown and taught them to do. They will reap the wrath of Elohim. But we don’t have carved images or any other representation in which we worship today. Well let’s see.
Carved Images Today
We read the Bible and think how stupid the Israelites were in the things they did against God. Truly if we had been there we wouldn’t have done half the stuff they did. But I submit to you that that is not the truth. We are no different today.
Modern Christianity was birthed out the Roman Catholic Church. They have statues (carved images) throughout their churches in which their people bow down and pray to so they can be heard in heaven. There are millions of followers who would not pray without their crucifixion or their rosary.
Maybe you don’t do that, but you do own a necklace with the crucifixion on it and you wear it day in and day out. Do you realize Yeshua is no longer dead? He is no longer hanging from a wooden stake. He is now sitting at the right hand of the Father. Yet, we would be devastated if we lost that necklace.
Let’s talk about the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue in Beunos Aires. People from all over the world go see that statue and talk of the wondrous feeling they receive when they see it. It definitely falls into the carved image category.
What about the Jesus statue in Ohio? It was finally struck by lightning and destroyed. When it happened the church had gotten calls as far away as China. This statue was loved by way too many people. It devastated the congregation who wanted to rebuild as soon as possible.
Do you know what the funny thing about all of this is? No one knows what Jesus looked like and when he resurrected, his own people didn’t recognize him because he looked different. The scriptures never described him. We don’t know if he was tall or short, fat or skinny, light or dark. We don’t know anything that would allow us to piece together a profile. So how did we get this image?
We took an image from a man’s perspective and deemed this the Christ. Since then we have hung him on our walls, wore him around our necks, and prayed to his statue. The earliest know portrait of Christ appeared 200-300 years after he died. Are you seriously telling me someone knew what he looked like? I doubt it.
However Jesus looked doesn’t matter. Yet, people argue daily about his physical features. He looked more like this or more like that. Yet, no one alive has ever seen him in the flesh. Some have had visions of Jesus and yet there vision looks just like the portrait we have all grown up on. Therefore, it makes me wonder what they really saw. Many people have reported seeing the same image in various parts of the world. Are they correct? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the disciples who walked with Jesus, learned from him, and followed his every step didn’t know what he was when he resurrected. His own family didn’t know him. When Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he saw Jesus a blinding light. A man who wrote 2/3 of the Bible saw no face. Go figure.
In my humble opinion worshipping graven images is a no-no. What do you think about the second commandment? Should we keep this one or throw it out?
More to Come
I hope you are enjoying this series. There is so much to write about and sometimes it’s hard to know what to keep in an article and what to take out. I will continue this topic on representation of images next time.
Our Heavenly Father, who is in heaven,
Open our eyes to any way we are not obeying this commandment. Show us areas in our lives where we have made graven images and have worshipped them. Then give us the courage to follow you and you alone.
In Yeshua the Messiah’s name, Amen.