Friday, September 27, 2019

Is it wrong to have pictures of “Jesus”– or just pictures, in general? Are they idols?

READER QUESTION:

I have a huge problem with the following verses:

Deut 4:15 “Therefore, watch out for yourselves! Since you did not see a shape of any kind on the day YHVH spoke to you in Horev from the fire, 16 do not become corrupt and make yourselves a carved image having the shape of any figure — not a representation of a human being, male or female, 17 or a representation of any animal on earth, or a representation of any bird that flies in the air, 18 or a representation of anything that creeps along on the ground, or a representation of any fish in the water below the shoreline. 19 For the same reason, do not look up at the sky, at the sun, moon, stars and everything in the sky, and be drawn away to worship and serve them; YHVH your God has allotted these to all the peoples under the entire sky.

(CJB version except "Adonai" has been changed to "YHVH" being far more correct - as even Stern now acknowledges ).

I have a girlfriend who died of cancer who I have a picture of her which I look at occasionally. I also have photos of my mother, father and sister. In addition I have photos of other created things including animals and even trains. I do not “worship” them but I do appreciate them and when I look at them I am reminded of them.

I can totally understand, therefore, Christians (not including me, at this time) wanting a picture in their home of some representation of Yeshua (or “Jesus”) to help them remember someone they are meant to love. They love Jesus - not the picture. They wouldn’t worship that.

I have read your article  about this, but do still struggle. I realise I am not to worship created beings but what is really wrong with having pictures of them (which, I do realise, in today’s context, is really extremely similar to the old practice of carving an image. These days it is a lot easier to simply take a photo than carving a piece of wood.

Could you please clarify in due course?

OUR RESPONSE:

This is a great question, but perhaps you are overthinking it. A photo of one's loved one is just that - a photo - not an idol. I agree with that of course.

But the commandment in Deuteronomy is pretty clear:

Deuteronomy 4:15-16 "Since you *did not see a shape of any kind* ... do not ... *make yourselves a(n) ... image having the shape of ANY figure* - *not a representation of a human being, male or female*, ..." (emphasis added).

Unfortunately, exactly what YHWH said would happen, happened. Christians have, indeed, become "corrupt" for they have made images of their "god", "Jesus". They pray to this god, and they worship him. I suppose some can look upon a drawing or painting of Jesus and not "worship", yet for the majority, that is actually what they are doing.

They are looking upon an image of the entity they worship, and YHWH undeniably said not to do that! Catholicism is even worse. They make statues of Mary, and worship her and they pray to Mary!

But YHWH said we are not to do these things because we are to be His inheritance and not be drawn away to something else, something that did not bring us out of the smelting furnace, out of Egypt (verse 4:20).

You see, it is not the "thing" (piece of wood, photo, painting, etc.) that is being worshiped. It is the god or idol the image represents that is being worshiped.

We love the "Southwest" style of home decorating, and when we first got married, we had a cute, 3-D metal silhouette of a "Kokopelli". It looked nice on the wall with the other “southwest” decorations. But soon we found out that it represents an Native America Indian god - a fertility deity.

So, we immediately got rid of it! I suppose you can argue that we did not worship Kokopelli, so what did it matter that we had it in our home? Well, it mattered a lot to us! Our home is anointed for YHWH, and there will be no other "god" within it, period!

Hope this helps.

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