Monday, July 16, 2007just imagine…
In my Bible studies, two portions of Scripture have caught my attention, especially when I compare what I read from the Holy Book with my Romanist upbringing. It never ceases to amaze me just how many Romanists come to this blog, asserting that the teachings of the “Roman Catholicism” are in-line with the Bible, yet whenever I turn to the Sacred Page, I find nothing but contradiction.
“Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure…” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16)
The above passage speaks of when God spoke his commandments to the Israelites in the wilderness. Note, God took special attention not to let any of them (save Moses, an elect of God), see any image of God. Why did God do this? Simple: God knows the depravity of Man. He knows that idolatry comes easily to sinful Man, so the Lord made sure and continues to make sure that no “true” physical images of God ever make it to the eyes of Man (you will note here that we know very little about the physical appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ or any of the New or Old Testament saints… this wasn’t an oversight on God’s part… I assure you of that!).
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
Spirits have no form, nor any physical substance or shape. Therefore, those who truly worship God according to the above verse do so without “images” and without “objects”. Period. So simple, my 6 year old son understands this perfectly.
To all this, the Romanist objects: “But we don’t ‘worship’ the graven images, so it’s all good. The objects are but tools, symbols to assist us in our devotion to God.”
"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: and he called it Nehushtan." (2 Kings 18:1-4)
What a fantastic account! Hezekiah, a godly king, comes to power in the kingdom of Judah and the first thing he does is sets himself to do right before God and one of those right things is to rid his kingdom of all manner of altar and graven image to false gods. Where things get real interesting is this final account of Hezekiah’s “breaking-idols-binge”: “…and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.”
Unlike the “groves” and the “high places” which were often the sites of worship to false gods such as Molech, Ashtoreth and Baal, the brazen serpent referred to in this text was an object that the Living God actually used:
“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.” (Numbers 21:9)
I hope you are all familiar with this account. The Israelites complained and spoke evil against God and His servant Moses and as a punishment against their unthankful, distrustful attitudes, God sent venomous serpents to bite the Israelites. Those who kept their eyes on the brass serpent Moses had made by God’s commandment, survived the snake bites, those who didn’t, perished. This whole account is a type, a picture of what the faith that is in Christ Jesus is like (see John 3).
So the brazen serpent wasn’t part of some heathen practice or religion. The brazen serpent was most likely in the Temple of God, and some Israelites took it upon themselves to burn incense to it; an act that clearly was an act of worship since the righteous king Hezekiah put an end to it. Did the Israelites call the serpent: God? No, I don’t think so. Did they pray before it, saying: “Oh great brazen serpent, save us”? Again, I don’t think so.
So what were they doing? Were they not simply setting up some sort of devotion to an object that reminded them of God and His dealings towards His people? This is the most reasonable and logical assumption; yet, you will notice, God still hated it. This is proven out by the fact that Hezekiah destroyed the idol (for that’s what the once useful tool became, an idol that idolatrous Israel payed tribute to). The people burned incense, paid tribute/devotion, to a religious relic; Hezekiah called it the worship of “a piece of brass”, which is what the word “Nehushtan” means in the Hebrew tongue.
Romanists love to play with words, but in the end, their veneration of objects/images amount to the exact same thing as what we read in 2 Kings 18. There are always excuses to justify sin. As a race of fallen sinners, Mankind has developed an expertise called "excusing and legitimizing all manner of evil". Idolatry is no exception.
“Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” (Psalm 93:10-13)
Beware of these verses, all you Romanists, Orthodox and other idolaters. You may have your excuses and rationalizations, but the Lord will judge all in righteousness and truth. Repent and believe on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.