There is a difference between having a picture of Jesus as an illustration and to the act of worshiping that image. The second commandment in the Decalogue clearly states: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6).
As the first commandment emphasizes the fact that there is but one God, in protest against the worship of many gods, the second focuses upon His spiritual nature (John 4:24), in rejection of idolatry and materialism. But the second commandment does not forbid the use of sculpture and painting in religion. The artistry used in the construction of the sanctuary (Ex. 25:17–22), in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:23–26), and in the “brasen serpent” (Num. 21:8, 9; 2 Kings 18:4) is a clear proof that the second commandment does not prohibit religious illustrative material.
What is condemned is the adoration and the worship, that many religions give to their images and idols. The excuse that the idols themselves are not worshiped does not minimize this prohibition. Idols are not only not to be adored, they are not even to be manufactured for that purpose. The wickedness of idolatry lies in the fact that images and idols are merely the production of finite humans (Hosea 8:6). The only right way for man to worship is to direct his thoughts to the Almighty Creator of all. Idol worship led the Israelites to do many evils of the pagan nations which brought destruction on their nation.
No one has seen God, but we can contemplate His work in nature to help us understand His character. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (Psalm 19:1–2). Through nature God may be understood even by the heathen, “so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19, 20). A glimpse at the open sky is sufficient to give the beholder a sense of the glory of God.
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In His service,
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