Daniel P. Barron

You shall not make for yourself a carved image.

Monday, August 24, 2020 

I'm sure that most people who wear "Christian" jewelry, such as cross necklaces, are on the broad way. But despite what this guy thinks, it's not wrong for a true believer to wear such things.

Where do you stand on images of a cross?

Depends on the conscience. Is the image being worshiped? If the picture or trinket is nothing more than that, it's not wrong.

Can you explain Exodus 20?

4 You shall not make for yourself a heaven i image, nor a likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on earth below, nor of those things which are in the waters under the earth. 5 You shall not adore them, nor shall you worship them. I am the Lord your God: strong, zealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the sons to the the third and forth generation of those who hate me.

It says "you shall not bow down to them nor serve them."

It also says you shouldn’t make them.

This is not so. From our translation's footnote on that passage: ii

Some might take this so far as to think photographs, or statues of any kind are herein prohibited. Not so, see, e.g. Exodus 37:7-9; iii Numbers 21:8-9; iv 1 Kings 6:18, v 23-29, vi 32, vii 35; viii 7:25, ix 27-29, x 36. xi The next verse (Exodus 20:5) clarifies what specifically is forbidden. See also Deuteronomy 4:15-18 xii (and verses 23-24) xiii and Israel’s breach of this command in Exodus 32:1-10. xiv The calf in Exodus 32 was declared to be the true God, Yahweh (Exodus 32:4-5).

He didn’t tell us to make crosses.

He tells us to "take up [our] cross daily," xv but you are right, there is no instruction to make little cross trinkets to wear. Such a thing, however, is not wrong to do.

That phrase doesn’t mean a literal cross.

If it did, it would mean the kind that you die on; not the kind you wear as jewelry.

Exodus 20:4 is separate from Exodus 20:5 because of the semicolon, which separates two independent clauses that are closely related. Don't make an image of anything that is in heaven, and don't worship it. xvi

Hebrew doesn't have semicolons. But in English, the punctuation is used to replace joining words such as "and," "but," "because," etc. And how are they to worship an image that they haven't first made?

That is not what a semicolon is. A semicolon is functionally a period, but indicates that the two sentences are connected in some way. I would be interested in what the Hebrew is, because many of the English translations have a period there. That indicates in the Hebrew it is probably a period.

A semicolon represents both a period (or comma) and a joining word. I don't think punctuation in general is something to get hung up on with English translations from Hebrew and Greek.

It's important to the meaning of the verse though, right?

I know the meaning. It's clear to me that God commanded the Israelites to not worship false gods. This doesn't mean that I can't have a picture of a cat.

You're interpreting it in a way that is convenient to you. Typical cafeteria christian.

The way you seem to be interpreting it is in such a way that would make nearly all man-made creations a bad thing. Can't make anything that looks like something you might see on earth or in the sky? That covers almost everything we could make. What's more, as I already pointed out, God commanded some people to go ahead and make these things. It's specifically the worship of man-made things that is not good.

  1. "heaven" is his word. I don't know what translation this is from. Most say "carved" or "graven." ^
  2. Exodus 20:

    4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, and any likeness which is in the heavens from above and that is in the earth from below and that is in the waters from under to the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them nor serve them, because I am Yehvah your Gods, a jealous God, visiting iniquity of fathers upon sons upon third and upon fourth generations to those who hate me.


  3. Exodus 37:

    7 He made two cherubim of beaten gold; he made them of one piece at the two ends of the mercy seat: 8 one cherub at one end on this side, and the other cherub at the other end on that side. He made the cherubim at the two ends of one piece with the mercy seat. 9 The cherubim spread out their wings above, and covered the mercy seat with their wings. They faced one another; the faces of the cherubim were toward the mercy seat.


  4. Numbers 21:

    8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.


  5. 1 Kings 6:

    18 The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with ornamental buds and open flowers. All was cedar; there was no stone to be seen.


  6. 1 Kings 6:

    23 Inside the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24 One wing of the cherub was five cubits, and the other wing of the cherub five cubits: ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits; both cherubim were of the same size and shape. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other cherub. 27 Then he set the cherubim inside the inner room; and they stretched out the wings of the cherubim so that the wing of the one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 Also he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

    29 Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers.


  7. 1 Kings 6:

    32 The two doors were of olive wood; and he carved on them figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.


  8. 1 Kings 6:

    35 Then he carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers on them, and overlaid them with gold applied evenly on the carved work.


  9. 1 Kings 7:

    25 It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward.


  10. 1 Kings 7:

    27 He also made ten carts of bronze; four cubits was the length of each cart, four cubits its width, and three cubits its height. 28 And this was the design of the carts: They had panels, and the panels were between frames; 29 on the panels that were between the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. And on the frames was a pedestal on top. Below the lions and oxen were wreaths of plaited work.


  11. 1 Kings 7:

    36 On the plates of its flanges and on its panels he engraved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, wherever there was a clear space on each, with wreaths all around.


  12. Deuteronomy 4:

    15 “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth.


  13. Deuteronomy 4:

    23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.


  14. Exodus 32:

    1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

    2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

    Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

    5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

    7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ ” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! 10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”


  15. Luke 9:

    23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.


  16. Not unlike the argument about where the comma should go in Luke 23:43. "I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Meaning, "you will be with Me today." Some argue it should read, "I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise." Meaning, "you will be with Me at some time later on." This is required by the false teaching against immediate entry into heaven^

2 Responses

  1. Ishtar's Acolyte (Aaron)

    The reason why there was a prohibition against the idols specifically when there was already a command about not having other gods before the head God might have been to distinguish worshipping of the handcrafted gods vs the more etheral "elohim."

    Perhaps the first commandment was against other gods and second was against worshipping lesser nature spurits or something. Otherwise, it seems redundant to basically say the same commandment twice.

  2. Elohim simply means "gods" plural. The word could be used to describe some carved statues. God commands us to worship Him in certain ways, and He hates it when we disobey the things He commands. You could make an image of the real God of the Bible, like Aaron did, and it would be evil.

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