This topic…it really needs to be addressed.
Exodus 20:4 is the most difficult commandment of the 10. It seems pretty clean cut…until you realize that God literally commanded Moses to create a graven image so that people would look upon it and be healed:
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
We also have the Ark of the Covenant that has Cherubim adorned atop of it.
To recap what the exact wording of this commandment is:
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: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
The first part is is basically- you personally can’t have them. The second part seems to come down to “if you see them, you aren’t to give them any reverence”.
So then why does Moses get special permission to have Israel go against both of these points by having the Ark and the Brass Serpent? Honestly, I’ll probably never understand that point. What I do know, is that in 2 Kings 18:4, King Hezekiah is credited with destroying the Brass Serpent because it had become a thing of worship. And that’s all I really need to know in order to continue this conversation with you. Maybe in the future I’ll revisit this complicated commandment and work it out. But for this moment in time, the Spirit of the Commandment is more important than the Letter.
America is really getting deep into whether or not we should be eliminating historical monuments. There are Catholics upset with the idea of changing the name of St. Louis because St. Louis (to them) is a Saint in heaven. And Christians across the board are upset over the imagery of Jesus Christ being erased or transformed into someone they don’t recognize.
If I’m being completely honest- if you’re one of these people that are getting upset over what happens to these things, and you identify as a Christian…you sound like you’re revering someone/something other than God. You can try to write off what I’m saying, but if you were to really examine your attachment to these things- and be honest about it- I’m sure you’d find that you’re attaching way too much value to the image over the story.
Getting rid of images doesn’t erase the story. We still have a recount of the Golden Calf preserved in the Bible, but no Golden Calf to look upon and say “hey, that’s what got God angry at Israel, and then Moses begged him to spare Israel despite it’s creation!” because it was destroyed. It’s also true that keeping the images around doesn’t necessarily propogate the story either. No one knows what the Spinx was for. Dozens of theories, but that’s all they are. We add plaques to help keep up the story…but that can all be written in a book or passed down via oral tradition. You’ll probably get more out of a book or oral format too, a plaque only has so much space to record information.
And St. Louis? Should not a people inquire of their God (Isaiah 8:19)? The stories of Saints are preserved in Catholic tradition and books. And while we can absolutely learn something from their stories, they shouldn’t be so adamantly held onto that the renaming of a city should become a point of contention based solely upon their holy status.
Holding onto these things, rather than working on yourself and manifesting God’s Word in real time, is exactly what the 2nd Commandment was warning us against. If God wants to save the name of St. Louis, He will. Who knows, maybe He’s just not invested in saving it, and will let the people decide. If God wants to save the White Jesus images, or wants to change them to Black Jesus images, He will. Who knows, maybe He’s just not invested in saving it, and will let what happens happen. What I will say, though, is I’m about 97% sure that God doesn’t give a damn about the historical statutes- and neither should you.
We are all of God’s Creation, and Christ’s hope was that we would all love each other. The struggle to achieve that worldly love takes a great deal of time. If burying and destroying pieces of art which represent a horrible past and are believed to contribute to the overall stagnation of progress needs to happen, then let’s cast aside those things which have become society’s idols.
Hope you all enjoy your 4th of July. 🙂