Skip to comments.Judas, Alive and Well
Posted on 03/29/2010 10:06:18 AM PDT by NYer
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“An idol, by definition, is an image of a false god. If you think Jesus is a false god, then, yes, it’s an idol.”
That is true of later theological usage of the word “idol.” However, that is not what Exodus 20:4 says. I says, “do not make for yourself (thyself, it is singular) a carved image.” (And, really, it means a hand-made, human made image of any type of manufacture). From the context it is more than apparent that the type of image Israel is forbidden to make is that of God, the one, true living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. As a corollary, it could certainly be concluded that this prohibition included making an image of any other god, since this would be a violation of the no other gods prohibition spoken of immediately before. He does not prohibit making of any image of anything whatever, as He will shortly command Israel to fashion the images of the cherubim over the ark.
Three things are to be noted here. First, God prohibits man from doing any such thing. The use of the singular makes this very clear. However, God does not limit Himself. Later, in Numbers, He will command Israel to make the image of a (crucified) serpent. This is certainly a type of the Christ to come and not directly an image of God. But surely, if Moses had done this of his own volition as Aaron had with the golden calf, it would have been in violation of the commandment.
The second point is that God, through Moses’ later writings and actions and through those of the later authors of the Old Testament Scriptures, would offer to Israel many, many types of Christ, that is to say, verbal images of Him who was to come and crush the serpent’s head, i.e., redeem mankind. Images of these types would also be forbidden to Israel to manufacture (literally to make with their hands) under the same commandment. They would find their fulfillment in the image God Himself would form in the womb of Mary of Nazareth. He would be the Tabernacle not made with human hands. (Hebrews 9:11) To look at Him was to look at the Father. (John 14:9)
The third point is that this part of the first commandment, i.e., the prohibition of making images, is not repeated in the New Testament, and therefore is not binding on the Christian Church. If it were half of the world’s greatest art should be done away with. In the same way, the third commandment, regarding the Sabbath Day, is not repeated in the NT, and therefore is not binding on the Christian Church. For that reason the Christian Church was free to choose the day of Christ’s resurrection as the day in which they “gathered in Jesus’ name,” instead of retaining the Sabbath (Saturday).
To have a picture in a book, a painting on the wall, or a statue or carving of the crucified Christ (for example) is not a contravention of the first commandment’s prohibition against images. Quite the contrary, it is a public confession that God became man in Jesus of Nazareth, and lived, died, was crucified, and rose again to redeem mankind from sin, death, and the power of the devil, in other words, to fulfill the promise made in Genesis 3:15.
If Catholics go too far with such images then that is another matter to which other verses of Scripture should be applied. And if Protestants fail to see that this is entirely scriptural then that too is another matter which other passages of the Scripture address.
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