Listen:  128.5

The Lord, as most of us know, gave the Ten Commandments to His people after they left the land of Egypt.  The first commandment is very clear and vital.  Exodus 20:2-3says, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  The second commandment in Exodus 20:4-6 continues along the line of the first commandment, “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.” 

Indeed, the Lord is a jealous God for He is the only God as we see clearly in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”  We read in Isaiah 45:5, “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.”  In spite of the Lord’s demands against making a graven image, the Israelites made a golden calf while Moses was receiving the commandments from the Lord.  Exodus 32:1tells us, “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”  We then read in Exodus 32:4, “And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”  This behavior infuriated the Lord and He acted in swift and strict judgment upon His people.

What about having pictures of Jesus, or angels, or the Last Supper?  What about having a cross hanging on the wall?  Do these constitute graven images that were forbidden by God?  The context of Exodus 20:4-6indicates the Lord did not want these images made for the purpose of worshipping them.  While most people would not think of worshipping a picture of Jesus, there is a danger in having a picture of Him.  First of all, we just don’t know what the Lord looked like, so any drawing or painting of Him would just come from the imagination of the artist.  Most pictures have the Lord as a nice looking man.  In fact we are told in Isaiah 53:2that the Lord was not an attractive man at all.  That says, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”  The danger in having these pictures is that some develop the habit of looking at the picture while they pray.  Some might change their behavior or language in the presence of a picture of Jesus.  This is a subtle form of reverence and worship to the very image of the Lord.  What is the purpose of having a picture of the Lord?  While some would say the picture reminds them of Christ, I would suggest that the reminder of Christ should be His Holy Word. 

I enjoy visiting homes where I see plaques on the walls with Bible verses on them.  This truly draws my attention and causes me to think of the Lord as I read these verses.  One nice way to be reminded of the Lord is to spend time in meditation upon His wonderful creation.  King David wrote in Psalms 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”  In considering God’s creation, David was led to declare in Psalms 8:9, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”  I don’t know of a picture that could cause that kind of praise in the heart of a believer.  (128.5)