Please pray before you read this article, in sincere seeking for The Truth.
Exodus 20:4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth".
To fully understand the 2nd Commandment against idols, we must also understand the spirit of the law concerning the other commandments as well. Let's first look at some of the other commandments & then we will get back to this 2nd commandment, the main subject of this article.
Did you read the above scriptures in your personal paperback/hardback bible today or just only on this website?
If only online, I encourage you to please open your bible and read these verses both on our website and in your bible. There is power in reading the real bible. Also, did you pray before beginning to read about this specific subject today? If not, I encourage you to take the time now to pray for understanding of truth.
The "spirit of the law" of this Commandment is that Jesus gave us a specific appointed, sanctified (holy & set apart), day of the week (Hebrews 4:7), Saturday, to provide for our physical need of rest as well as an appointed & ordained, sanctified, set apart day of worship in the setting of a formal gathering/assembly with our spiritual brothers & sisters. To put a burden upon mankind is not the spirit of this law. The 7th day "Sabbath" was made for mankind. Not mankind for the 7th day. In the old covenant letter of the law, people could not even kindle/build fire on the 7th Day. But we must understand that the scriptures proclaim that more law, ordinances & extra regulations were added on because of the people's rebellion & sinfulness. (Galatians 3:19) The 10 Commandments & Holy Days were intact even during the time of Adam & Eve. (Genesis 2:1-3, Gen.4:1-7, Gen.26:5, Exodus 12 & 16, Mark 2:27-28 See also the article about the 7th day). But mankind was sinful & therefore needed extra rules & regulations to monitor & keep the people in order. Think of an employee who is taught to follow some simple rules. But the employee transgresses & doesn't follow all of the rules completely & tries to cheat. The kind & gracious employer, instead of firing the employee for the first & second offense, keeps the employee but enforces extra rules & regulations in ensure the keeping & principal of the first rule. That is what happened with the 7th Day. People were not keeping the 7th Day, so The Heavenly Father had to enforce extra regulations concerning the 7th day. But Jesus knew how to observe & keep the 7th day in the original spirit & principal of the law. He knew it was acceptable to feed Himself & his followers on the 7th day, as well as to help people & heal people on the 7th day. The legalistic Pharisees falsely accused Him of breaking the law of the 7th day, but He was not breaking the law, as the scriptures proclaim that He never sinned which means He never broke the law. He just kept the law in its original spiritual principal.
For example, we should try ahead of time to prepare for the coming 7th day. We know it's coming, it's not a surprise when the 7th day comes. We can prepare for it. So we should try to prepare as much as possible so that we will not have to do as much work/labor on the 7th day. However, if for some reason, that we were not able to prepare, (even as Jesus & His disciples were not able to prepare, in the case of where they were traveling & reached out to take & eat grain to eat on the 7th day) we too can do what's necessary to eat, Matt.12:4. We can go buy something in the store or restaurant in order to eat. We can go out in the garden & pick food in order to get something to eat. He does not expect us to starve because of our legalism. The 7th day is not meant for starvation. It's meant for rest & worship. How can I rest if I am starving?
I can even go to a vending machine to get food or drink on the 7th day. Usually we are not to buy or sell on the 7th day because if anyone buys on the 7th day, that person is employing someone to work & causing that person to be a paid servant on the day that is forbidden from doing any paid work. However there is no one working at the vending machine. We are not making anyone work on that day. Buying something from a vending machine does not in any way break any of the spiritual principals of the 7th day.
Also, it's acceptable to pull the ox out of the ditch on the 7th day. Therefore if we see someone in need of a car battery jump, flat tire, etc. it's acceptable to help. We should not turn away people in need. How is turning away someone in need obeying God? It's acceptable for doctors, nurses, firemen, police to help people on the 7th day. How is turning away a bleeding or dying person obeying God? However, people in all types of employment, even these, need to be scheduled the 7th day off from work. But if you are a member of emergency personnel, it is acceptable to go into work on a true emergency call to help people and to heal people on the 7th day.
Click here to learn about more the 7th day of Worship, Rest & Assembly, and biblical proof that we still must keep the 7th day Sabbath in new covenant times.
This verse above shows that there are times that it's acceptable to forsake parents, spouses or even our own children! As much as we love someone, we must always be willing to put our heavenly Creator first! Honoring our parents does not mean that we must allow them to destroy us spiritually, mentally, emotionally or physically. Therefore we see that we must follow the spirit of the reason/principal of why each of the 10 Commandments were given. They were meant for us, not against us.
:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: 16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, 18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: 19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. 20 But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
These verses clearly forbid all images of all living creatures such as humans, animals, bird, fish and even insects. Anything that moves of its own free will. Most people claim that it is not forbidding all images of all living creatures, but only forbidding the worship thereof. However, if that was true, then the 1st and 2nd Commandment is the exact same commandment and it repeats itself without cause. Exodus 20:4 says that we are not to have any image/likeness of anything in heaven or on Earth, with the context of living creatures. Then verse 5 tells us to not worship them. But verse 4 has already commanded us to not have them in the first place. Then Deut.4:15-20 tells us again that we are not to have images of living creatures and explains it more. None of these verses tell us that we can have images as long as we do not worship them. It is definitely a complete ban of all images of living creatures. That's the instruction/commandment/law as we read it in black and white letters. That is the letter of the law.
However, the context shows in both Exo.20:1-6 and Deut. 4:15-20 that the spirit of the law (the spiritual principal/reason behind the forbidding of images) is that God does not want us to have any other gods. We should not completely separate the 1st & 2nd Commandments. They are connected. The spirit of the law is that we should not have any images that we would end up worshipping/idolizing or that would corrupt us.
However, there are 2 main points that we need to cover here.
1. This commandment includes any type of image. So it is not limited to only images carved in stone. Thousands of years ago, people only had the ability to carve images into stone & wood. But now we also carve images into paper, plastic, metals, ink, digital video, 3D printing, etc. It doesn't matter what format the image takes. The same spiritual principal applies. The worship of a false god is just as bad in print or video as it is in stone.
2. You do not have to literally bow down to the ground in order to spiritually or subconsciously worship something. If we really & truly examine ourselves deep enough, we must admit that tons of images in our world today are breaking this Commandment. Almost every person is making idols & false gods of gold, silver, money, cars, houses, jobs, lands, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends & other friends, as well as toys, video games, movie stars/actors, singers, bands, etc. Our modern world, especially the western world, is filled with idolatry & false gods. Most people do not examine themselves deep enough & so most people do not admit that their car is their god, or their girlfriend is their god, or their favorite musician or actor is a god to them. The fact is that almost every person in the modern world is using images of musicians & actors/actresses as gods, whether they admit it or not. You might claim that you are not worshipping a figurine/statue or 3D image of an animal or person, but the fact that you want such a figurine/statute/3D image proves that you idolize that image enough to make or buy your own version of the "golden calf". It doesn't have to be a cow or made of gold to be a spiritual "golden calf" idol to you. The purpose of all 3D images of animals & people is to idolize that image. Period.
Exodus 26:1 "Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them."
17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
In the above verses, The Creator instructed/commanded his people to make graven images of living creatures such as snakes & cherubims. Many people use these verses to excuse their idolatry of making graven/craved images. But in these verses, the people did not make their own decision to make these images. But rather it was by command of God.
However, these verses, plus the fact that God commanded Hosea to marry an adulteress, and that it was God's will for Samson to marry Gentile women, and it was also acceptable for Moses to marry the Ethiopian woman, Numbers 12:1, all reveal to us that there are exceptions to the letter of the law. Another example is that one of the 10 Commandments tell us to not murder. Yet God commanded his people many times to kill the sinful nations. So holy war, if truly holy, is not murder. And marrying an adulteress if God commands you to, is not true adultery. And making a craved/graven image if God told you to do so, is not idolatry.
What 1 Timothy 1 teaches us is that the purpose of law is to keep law and order, to protect people, to control the wicked and to protect sound doctrine. And it also teaches us that the righteous are not under all of the same requirements as the wicked. Of course, all humans must not have any other god, than the one and only true God. No one should ever murder anyone. No one should ever commit adultery. No one should ever commit idolatry, etc. But the righteous, who have the presence of The Holy Ghost of Jesus inside of them will not sin, will not transgress the spirit of the law.
1 John 3
:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
What 1 John 3 teaches us is that if we are truly saved, truly born again, truly have The Holy Ghost of Jesus inside of us, then He gives us the ability and power to abstain from all sin. We can be Holy Saints! This does not mean that we have permission to break the commandments or law! It does not mean that we don't need to keep the Sabbath! But what it does mean, is that if we are truly saints, we will not break the spirit of the law in any of His commandments, and that we can do things that others would call sin! Moses could marry the Ethiopian Gentile woman. Samson could have sex with all of the Gentile women that he wanted to. Hosea could marry an adulteress. David could eat of the holy bread in the temple. Even though, the written scriptures did forbid all of this! Because even from creation itself, it has always been true that we are to go by the spiritual reason/purpose of the law.
For example, if you are in a car stopped at a traffic light that is red. And if you look in the rear view mirror and see a big truck headed straight toward you at very high speed and it is evident/clear that he is not going to stop. He is going to mash into you and you could die, unless you run the red light and get out of his way! There is no other traffic. So you clearly are to run the red light and save yourself from being hit from behind. But the law says "Do not run the red light"! Will you run the red light to do what is necessary to protect yourself? Or will you be foolish and stay at the light and get killed? The purpose (or spiritual principle or spirit of the law) of the red light law is to protect people from having car wrecks. The spirit of the law is to protect people and prevent wrecks. But by keeping the letter of the law, the result would be a car wreck and possible death, and the very things that the law was meant to prevent! If a police officer saw you run the red light to protect yourself and sees that the truck behind you had lost his breaks, that police officer probably will not charge you with a crime. So it is not breaking the law if you are abiding with the spirit of the law.
We have to ask ourselves, what is the harm of having images of living creatures, people, animals, god, etc? Very clearly, the harm of having an idol, such as a statute of Jesus or statues of angels would be true idolatry and it would bring corruption and spiritual harm to our soul. (Unless commanded by God.) But having a picture of our family at the beach or other family vacation does not bring any harm. Instructional/educational pictures does not bring harm. It does not harm our soul to watch the news or the weather. On an evangelistic tract, a picture of a person reading the bible does not bring harm to anyone. Although the letter of the law strictly and completely bans all images of people, animals, birds & insects, the reason that it does so is to prevent spiritual idolatry, and because lost people do not have the necessary discernment or wisdom to know what images are idolatry and which ones are not. All people are lost until we get saved. And after we get saved, we are still not completely mature for a long time until we gradually teach that level of spiritual maturity. Therefore God completely banned all images of living creatures. But that was to prevent lost people from committing idolatry. This specific commandment is more for the wicked, than what it is for the righteous. The righteous, saved, spiritually mature person can crave an image of an angel into the temple wall or onto the Ark of the Covenant Mercy Seat without transgressing the law. The righteous, saved person can draw images of bulls, ox, cows, dogs, cats, butterflies and humans as instructional images in books or online for the purpose of evangelism, enlightenment, encouragement, education or entertainment.
For Everyone! Generalized List of Wicked/Forbidden Images
-Horror movies Click here for a small PDF file explaining why Horror movies are unacceptable
-CSI Murder Mysteries (Soft horror)
-Anything doing with vampires or witches.
-Anything doing with Halloween. See our article on Halloween.
-In general, Porn in all forms. (True naturist photos are not porn.)
-Old TV shows of "Bewitched, Adams Family, I Dream of Jeanie" because they glorify darkness & make lite of darkness as if darkness is something just fun & harmless.
-Most Disney shows/movies/characters, because Disney has a proven & well documented record of putting subliminal sex messages in their images. They have also promoted homosexuality. They now have gay characters & have a gay pride day at Disneyland.
-Most movies produced by Columbia Pictures or Tristar Pictures because these movies start with the image of the pagan god "Pegasus" (horse with wings) at the start of the movie/DVD or else they show the Queen of Heaven pagan goddess known as Hera/Ishtar/Easter & many other names. We cannot compromise with images of demons! We should try to boycott most movies that have this imagery & any other pagan god imagery. This is a large majority of movies today in western society. However, there are exceptions of when God uses a specific movie to reveal something to a specific person.
-Curious George cartoons and lots of other cartoons promote homosexuality, etc.
-Pokemon & all related characters & most Japanese Anime.
-All Superheroes, Superman, Batman, Spider-man, X-men, Wonder Woman, etc. Aliens & hybrid creatures are actually demons. These movies/cartoons are getting darker & darker with every release. Our only superheros should be Jesus, the men & women of the bible & good historical figures. That's a lot of superheros who were actually real who the children should be looking up to. Telling about historical people and bible people should be the foundation of bed time stories, not imaginary fairy tales that deceive the children into believing in lies.
-Posters & printed images of movie stars & famous musicians. We must use extra caution to make sure that we are not going to idolize/worship anyone just because they sing good or act good.
-"Adult" coloring books. Most of these contain "mandalas" which are Hindu pagan images. I discern intense evil in these books. More info on adult coloring books
-Another thing that should be admitted is that the Christmas tree is a pagan god idol. People do not like to admit this, but how can you deny it when you are offering gifts at its feet? How can you deny the pagan origins of the Christmas tree if you honestly research it? The decorations? The mistletoe? Etc. Absolutely everything about the Christmas tree is pagan idolatry and breaks the 1st and 2nd Commandment in every possible way! See the article The Assyrian Pagan Origin of Christmas.
-Anything doing with Easter. See our article on The Assyrian Pagan Origin of Easter.
-All statues, dolls, stuffed animals, figurines of dogs, cats, birds, turtles, rabbits, unicorns, frogs, horses, roosters & other animals or people. Anything that is a 3D/graven image of a living thing/person or animal. It's one thing to have a drawing or picture of someone/something, but when we go to the extent of having a 3D image, (that's a shaped image compared to a flat image) then we are going beyond a drawing or picture and definitely crossing the line of idolatry. Yes God did tell some people in the bible to make images & statues of angels & animals but that was by direct order of God for His own furniture in temple, etc. If God wants an image for decor, that's His right. It's not the same when we make our own decision to do whatever we want to do outside of His will, for purposes that are not acceptable whether we realize it or not. Yes, God does look at the heart. And He sees much deeper into the heart than what we do, and He sees our love of wickedness & idolatry. He sees when we are rebellious & do not want to obey His Commandments. He sees when we idolize people, animals & pagan religious symbols & trees of pagan worship.
-All statues/figurines of angels, saints or Jesus, are definitely pagan idolatry. All pictures of Jesus are idolatry. They are possibly pictures of one of the sons of an evil Roman Catholic Pope. Source. Most of the modern images of Jesus are modeled after the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci who lived in the 1490's and who never saw Jesus. Therefore the pictures of Jesus are either of a wicked son of a wicked Catholic Pope, or some other human model, or possibly totally from man's imagination. Either way, there is no such thing as a picture of Jesus. When people have pictures or statues of Jesus, they could be worshipping a human who lived in the 1400-1500's. Even if not, the bible is still very clear that we are not allowed images/pictures of God/Jesus, as that would cause people to worship the image itself instead of the true God.
Deut. 4:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: 16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female.
Objection: You say that lost people should not have any image of any living creature that moves. Yet you also say that children, who are not yet saved, can have pictures in school books, and that grown adult teachers and scientists who are not saved can have pictures for educational or medical reasons, etc. Isn't this contradictory?
My Reply: The strict and complete ban on all images in the Old Testament was given in a time when only kings and scribes could read and write and there was not yet any such thing as a printing press or computers. The average person in the Old Testament times would never have an ink pen or writing utensil. In that context, during the times of the Exodus, mostly only the rich elite had the ability to read, write and learn in school. During that time, the average citizen did not have the opportunity to go to school or receive books, scrolls, magazines, etc. The time in which we live today is much different, with different needs and opportunities. In today's world, if a man doesn't have an education, he won't be able to get a good job and will not be able to take care of his family. Also, with the increased population of today's society, we need more doctors, and real expert doctors to help mankind. Images, including craved images of the human body, are necessary for the educational studies of doctors and scientists. In the context of people's ability and resources in Old Testament times, if the average poor person had an image, it was most likely a pagan idol of a false god. But in the context of today's society and people's ability today, there are many images that are not idols and do not break the spiritual principal of the 10 Commandments. Yet there are also a lot of images that do break that law. All people, whether saved or lost, need to eventually learn the difference. Plus, whether we are saved or lost, the same rules applies about being able to have an image if it is an acceptable image, but not having it if it is not an acceptable image. In general, no, lost people should not be doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. And in general, lost people should not have any images unless necessary for the benefit of humanity. When we are talking about the difference between letter/flesh/carnal and spirit, it's difficult to explain all of this in a way that is easy to define and easy to understand to the carnal ear. Spiritual things are difficult to put into carnal words and letters of mankind. It is The Holy Ghost of Jesus that teaches and gives understanding. The words that I say might seem conflicting and contradicting, but only to the mind of someone who has not yet reached full spiritual maturity.
1 Cor. 2:14 "But the natural (fleshly) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Objection: Moses made a statue of snakes on a pole, and people made images in the Temple of God.
My Answer: Moses made those graven images of snakes because God told him to. That cannot be compared with people making images of our own desire. God also told Hosea to marry an adulterer. But we know that's usually forbidden. But if God commands us to do something, it's not forbidden to us, and thus not a sin to us. But that doesn't mean that everyone should go out & marry an adulterer. God told people to make images in His temple. That was for decoration of His temple building. That's what God wanted for His temple building. That's not permission for us to decorate our home with our false gods & our personal idols. If I put a picture of a famous person on my wall, I am idolizing that person. If you take the time to honestly & carefully examine yourself in sincere prayer & fasting, I believe that you would agree. We shouldn't judge things by the way that we already think & believe, but rather be willing to deeply examine ourselves & what & why we believe the way that we do. This is what causes spiritual growth. But if we read things like this article that we disagree with & refuse to challenge ourselves & refuse to deeply & carefully examine ourselves in prayer & fasting, then we hinder spiritual growth.
If you disagree with this article in any way, would you please pray and fast in sincere search for the truth? All of us are still learning & we should always be willing to truly examine ourselves deeply, to be sure that we are not deceived about anything. We should always continue to grow in the truth. If we have not changed anything that we believe in the last 12 months, then we are not growing & maturing enough in the truth. Many times, it's difficult to examine ourselves & what be believe. It's against carnal human nature to admit that we are wrong. But as Holy Spirit filled people & as Children of The Creator, we should be willing to go deeper in self-examination & deeper into the Holy Scriptures & farther into His Standard of Holiness & sanctified living. There will not be any sin in Heaven or in the fullness of the Kingdom. We must get all sin out of our lives. We must purge all idols of the heart and all false doctrine & misconceptions. Life or death is worth a few days of fasting!
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