Listen: 50 Question 3

I don’t know of anywhere in the scriptures that we are forbidden to display the cross.  However, there is a danger of putting too much significance on Christian emblems.  The second commandment warns about making objects to be worshipped.  We read in Exodus 20:4-6, “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.”  This means that we should not have any object that we might bow down to.  I am concerned when I see people with a cross necklace kiss the tiny cross as if it will bring them blessings or good luck.  The same thing applies to pictures of the Lord that people have in their homes.  Some go so far as to pray towards a picture of Christ as if the picture has some power.  These things take away from the glorious person of the Lord.  As we just read, God is a jealous God.  He does not want honor, respect, or reverence given to these objects.  I’m reminded of the time that the Apostle John tried to worship an angel in Revelation 22:8-9 which says, “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”  Only the Lord is worthy of our worship.

There was a time in Israel’s history when they were wandering in the wilderness.  They became rebellious against the Lord.  Let’s read Numbers 21:5-9, “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.”  This is a wonderful type of the salvation that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord even referred to this portion in John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”  Then we read in John 12:32-33, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  This he said, signifying what death he should die.”  The Lord made it clear that the fiery serpent was a symbol of Himself and that the lifting up of the serpent was a symbol of His being lifted up on the cross to die for the sins of the world.

Even though this fiery serpent of brass was created under the direction of the Lord Himself, it later was turned into an object of worship and had to be destroyed.  Let’s read 2 Kings 18:1-4, “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.  Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it.”

So, while there is nothing to forbid anyone from having or wearing a cross, let’s all be aware, that if we are not careful, these things can become objects of reverence.  1 Corinthians 10:14 exhorts us, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”