Why does the Bible warn against idolatry?

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The Lord Himself warned us against idolatry saying:

“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).

The making of images or sculptures for the purpose of religious veneration is breaking to God’s commandment.

The scriptures teach that the veneration or worship of images as going against God’s will, “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth. And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage” (Deuteronomy 4:15-19).

Concerning the uniqueness of God, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?… ‘To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One” (40:18,25). We can’t compare a man-made object to the Creator. Jeremiah declared: “Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them” (51:17). Idols are false gods because they have no life in them. And Jeremiah added: “They [the idols] are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their punishment they shall perish” (51:18).

In the New Testament, Paul declared of those who tried to make representations of God: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23). Concerning these men, Paul continued: “Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts” (Romans 1:24).

John wrote that idol worshipers will be judged by fire at the Day of Judgment, “but the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). For this reason, John admonished all saying: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

The Bible clearly condemns religious iconography. For there is not one single text, in both the Old and New Testament, that supports the worship of images in order to get closer to God. Those that follow this erroneous doctrine have clearly broken the commandment of God and followed the traditions of men.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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