GRAVEN IMAGES (I-DOLLS)
Isn’t it ironic that when a chid is born, one of the first things we give a child is a doll or a stuffed object made in the likeness of a creature? Practically all of us have been raised in homes where statues, ornaments and trinkets (all graven images) are featured prominently in every room, and have not given a second thought to following the tradition in our own homes…
Even many of us who have been raised with a Christian upbringing are very quick to point the finger at Catholics with their plethora of statues of “saints” yet see no harm in giving our children a “soft-toy” to comfort them.
Admittedly, none of us would dream of bowing down to our shaped ornaments or doll collection, and it is a fact that Catholics do bow and give reverence to their “saints”, so is there a difference, or is it just nit-picking to suggest that household statues and action toys are idols?
As always, we need to examine Scripture to find if our actions (and possessions) please Yahweh or are vain traditions of man, or even worse: an abomination!
“You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the shamayim above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth, 5 you do not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, YHWH your Elohim am a jealous Ěl, visiting the crookedness of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My commands.”
A common excuse we give ourselves is that we do not bow nor serve our garden gnomes so it’s o.k. to fill the lawn with them, but it seems that in reading this – the Second Commandment, that “making” and “bowing” are separate commands and are to do neither.
Let’s look further to see if this is the case…
“Therefore, diligently guard yourselves, for you saw no form when YHWH spoke to you at Horĕb out of the midst of the fire, 16 lest you should do corruptly and shall make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure – the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any beast that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the shamayim, 18 the likeness of any creature that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth; 19 and lest you lift up your eyes to the shamayim, and shall see the sun, and the moon, and the stars – all the host of the shamayim – and you be drawn away into bowing down to them and serving them, which YHWH your Elohim has allotted to all the peoples under all the shamayim.”
Oh dear… No mention of bowing or serving our images here. Just a straightforward warning NOT to make any carved likeness. The Scripture continues…
“Guard yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of YHWH your Elohim which He made with you, and shall make for yourselves a carved image in the form of whatever YHWH your Elohim has forbidden you. 24 For YHWH your Elohim is a consuming fire, a jealous Ěl. 25 When you bring forth children and grandchildren, and shall grow old in the land, and shall do corruptly and make a carved image in the form of whatever, and shall do what is evil in the eyes of YHWH your Elohim to provoke Him…”
Again, no mention of bowing; just a repeat to NOT make a carved image. This Scripture even reminds us that it this is His Covenant – His Commandment. Not just a gentle warning.
The Commandment given in Exodus is repeated nearly word for word in Deuteronomy:
‘You do not make for yourself a carved image, any likeness of which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth, 9 you do not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, YHWH your Elohim, am a jealous Ěl, visiting the wickedness of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My Commands.
Leviticus 19:3-4 ‘Each one of you should fear his mother and his father, and guard My Sabbaths. I am YHWH your Elohim. 4 Do not turn to idols, and do not make for yourselves moulded mighty ones. I am YHWH your Elohim.
Deuteronomy 19:15 “…at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, a matter is established.”
The whole illogical reasoning that you can possess an idol as long as you don’t bow down to it holds absolutely no water whatsoever…
Leviticus 19:28 reads: “Do not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor put tattoo marks on you. I am YHWH.”
So does this mean one can make tattoo marks on oneself as long as it’s not for the dead? Of course not!
What a stupid excuse to make! There are many examples from Scripture that can be used to make the same point.
In case we’re still in any doubt about how Yahweh feels about images, a curse is attached to the warning for those tempted to make one.
‘Cursed is the man who makes a carved or moulded image, an abomination to YHWH, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and puts it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amĕn!’
Curses and abomination! Abomination (Strongs 08441, tow’ebah) is the strongest word in Scripture for something detestable to Yahweh. The following verse sums up concisely what Yahweh thinks about adorning our homes and pacifying our children with abominations and nullifies any argument as to whether you“made” the image or someone else.
“And do not bring an abomination into your house, lest you be accursed like it. Utterly loathe it and utterly hate it, for it is accursed.”
Read this prophecy from Yeshayah:
Isaiah 31:7 “For in that day, let each man reject his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made for yourselves, as a sin.”
Some use the reasoning that someone else made the image thereby justifying their pleasure in graven images. This of course is a supremely foolish excuse, and one could argue that they are free of guilt if they paid someone else to murder someone! Read the account of Dawid who had Uriah the husband of Bathsheba put to death in battle (2 Shemuel 12)… Yahweh held Dawid fully accountable for the murder.
When you use the money that you are required to be a good steward for, to purchase a graven image; you become partakers in the sin.
The Hebrew word for “carved image” is pesel (Strong’s 06459), and literally means: graven or carved image. The Scriptures also use the word “moulded” (Strong’s 04541, maccekah) meaning a cast image.
The commands given use language and repetition to the effect that Yahweh made it abundantly clear that EVERY image in the likeness of creation is included in His abhorrence. The Command reads “or likeness” (Ex 20:4) which just about covers every dimensional image that we could imagine; large or small that is carved, moulded or constructed to replicate His creation amongst any object in our homes. This would include: children’s toys, action figures, dolls, lamp-stands, picture frames, china images, crystal images, garden onaments… etc.
“But this is what you do to them: Break down their altars, and smash their pillars, and cut down their Ashĕrim, and burn their carved images with fire. 6 “For you are a qodesh people to YHWH your Elohim. YHWH your Elohim has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a treasured possession above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”
The reason Yahweh gives for this command is not to spoil our fun; He tells us we are to be His set-apart people; His treasured possession. What an honour!
When Yahweh commanded His people to build an altar to Him it was to be untouched by any tools:
“And build an altar to YHWH your Elohim there, an altar of stones – do not use an iron tool on them.” (See also Josh 8:31)
And when Yahweh wanted His Hekal built with images of Kerubim and pomegranates He said so (See 1 Kings Chapter 6). So if Yahweh has told you it’s o.k. to have images in your home then no one will argue; but if you ask any unbeliever to read through the second Commandment then ask them whether or not they think your collection of china figurines is in violation… I think you know in your conscience what answer you will receive.
Some who honestly research this subject and admit that Yahweh finds ALL images of His creation made by human hands to be abominable, find themselves questioning paintings, photographs and many other forms of 2-dimensional artwork.
In all honesty, ANYTHING that comes before Yahweh can be a form of an idol including much of our hobbies and pastimes, yet Scripture makes a distinct point that 3-dimensional (moulded, carved, engraved, embossed, etc.) images are abominable yet doesn’t mention 2-dimensional art or pictographs at all despite the fact that this form of art was prolific throughout Egypt where the Yisra’elites had come from when Yahweh gave the Torah.
May Yahweh bless you as you strive to obey Him.
By the way; although this article may seem harsh due mainly to the stern words in the Scriptures, it is in no way meant to be haughty, and is written in the most humble sense in that nearly all of us are guilty of this transgression.
1 John 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amĕn.”
For further study on this topic, click on one of the links below: