Pretty pictures? Or lies. . .

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Deuteronomy 4:9-12

NASB

“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. 10 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice.


[Updated post]

Are images that attempt to portray Jesus idolatrous? I have been thinking about this for a long time. Today, in Evangelical and Fundamental churches, much of the teaching on idolatry centers on Paul’s statement that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), or condemns the exaltation of anything in our lives that takes the place of God. But what about the literal making and using of images of Jesus?

Jesus Christ

isn’t an illustration in a Children’s Bible,

a doll in a manger,

a flannelgraph, stained glass,

statue in a cemetery,

actor,

or appealing sketch of a laughing man.

He isn’t even the central figure

in an amazing mural

in our nation’s Capitol.

All of these things are lies that diminish

our understanding of the Lord and of walking by faith.

Bible-believing Christians are using so-called pictures of Jesus on blogs, in videos, movies, emails, and even on T-shirts. Please study this issue prayerfully. It isn’t a trivial thing. The question is: If we use them, can we call ourselves Bible-believers? May the Lord never say this about us: 

Hosea 4:17

17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
Let him alone.


Being Biblical

What does God’s Word teach about this? Here are some important passages:

We are not to make images and likenesses. Exodus 20:4-6

Whoever keeps the whole law, yet offends in one point, is guilty of breaking the entire law. James 2:9-11

Obedience to God is love for Him. John 14:21

True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and in truth. John 4:22-24

We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8


A side note – An accusation, and a little about old arguments

Awhile back, in preparing this I came across a blog that leveled a very old charge against Christians who object to images of Jesus. This is the charge: That because of the Incarnation, if we say that He should not be depicted, we are denying His humanity. But I confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh – that He is God in the flesh – but also affirm that because images of God are forbidden, and since Jesus Christ is God, that therefore images of Him should not be made.

Another old argument strikes a blow at making these images. It argues that because God the Son is both God and Man it is impossible to portray Him, for His Deity can never be portrayed.  


Romans 8:24

24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?


Being reasonable

1)     We can’t know how Jesus looked during His earthly ministry – no artist is capable of doing this. The prophet Isaiah, and John in Revelation, described some of Jesus’ characteristics. Here is Isaiah’s description, which reveals a negative, that the Lord wasn’t handsome as so many images picture Him:

Isaiah 53:1-3

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

In Revelation, John described what He saw, the Lord Jesus Christ as He is now, having risen from the dead and ascended to the Father; not as He looked when He fed the 5,000, or walked on the waves of the sea. (Seeing the Lord as He is now would make us fall at His feet as if dead, just as John did.)

Revelation 1:13-15

13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

2)     Particular depictions of Jesus may appeal to us but repel others. 


Having concern for the lost

You probably don’t worship images, kiss them, or bow before them in prayer – but some people do and think that this is right worship. Do you want to stand with them in darkness, or be a light to them? Do you want to preach Christ crucified to them, or offer them a lie?  

1 Peter 1:8-9

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.


Being honest

I’ve tried not to be discouraged by the seeming blindness of Christians to the obligations of the second commandment, but it is difficult when even mature Christians dismiss them. After studying and praying, I can see that there is no ultimate argument that will convince others, who in many ways are better Christians than I – only the Lord can convince and convict. May He pity us! May He help us to get ready for His return! And may we find comfort in the knowledge that someday He Himself will destroy these things.

Isaiah 2:17-21

17 The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
18 But the idols will completely vanish.
19 Men will go into caves of the rocks
And into holes of the ground
Before the terror of the Lord
And the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.
20 In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats
Their idols of silver and their idols of gold,
Which they made for themselves to worship,
21 In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs
Before the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty,
When He arises to make the earth tremble.

Isaiah 33:22

22 For the Lord is our judge,
The Lord is our lawgiver,
The Lord is our king;
He will save us—


For further study

Idolatry Condemned“J. Vernon McGee on Pictures of Jesus and Idolatry”

IdolatryCondemned YouTube channel  – “On God’s Covenant to Save His People From Idolatry”


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Poem


My sister in the Lord, Beth, who blogs at I Once Was Lost, recently shared this poem in a comment. It’s both true and beautiful. Thank you, Beth!


Yellow Pink Rose Flower by Emilian Robert Vicol from Com. Balanesti, Romania

 

The Rose

It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God’s design,
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I,
The flower God opens so sweetly,
In my hands would fade and die.

I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God’s design,
Then how can I have wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I’ll trust Him for His leading
Each moment of every day
And I’ll look to Him for His guidance
Each step of the pilgrim way.

For the pathway that lies before me
My heavenly Father knows
I’ll trust Him to unfold the moments
Just as He unfolds the rose.

~By Author Unknown~


 

Supping with the Puritans – Mrs Anne Bradstreet, 2


Anne and Simon Bradstreet raised eight children. She was one of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies. 

Poets.org bio


The bitter and sweet of life!


Proverbs 31:10

GNV

10 ¶ Who shall find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above the pearls.


Before the Birth of One of Her Children

poets.org

Anne Bradstreet, 1612 – 1672

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All things within this fading world hath end,
Adversity doth still our joys attend;
No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
But with death’s parting blow are sure to meet.
The sentence past is most irrevocable,
A common thing, yet oh, inevitable.
How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend,
How soon’t may be thy lot to lose thy friend,
We both are ignorant, yet love bids me
These farewell lines to recommend to thee,
That when the knot’s untied that made us one,
I may seem thine, who in effect am none.
And if I see not half my days that’s due,
What nature would, God grant to yours and you;
The many faults that well you know I have
Let be interred in my oblivious grave;
If any worth or virtue were in me,
Let that live freshly in thy memory
And when thou feel’st no grief, as I no harmes,
Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms,
And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains
Look to my little babes, my dear remains.
And if thou love thyself, or loved’st me,
These O protect from stepdame’s injury.
And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse,
With some sad sighs honor my absent hearse;
And kiss this paper for thy dear love’s sake,
Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.


 

Supping with the Puritans – Mrs Anne Bradstreet, 1


“Anne Bradstreet was born Anne Dudley in 1612 in Northamptonshire, England. She married Simon Bradstreet, a graduate of Cambridge University, at the age of 16. Two years later, Bradstreet, along with her husband and parents, immigrated to America with the Winthrop Puritan group, and the family settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. There Bradstreet and her husband raised eight children, and she became one of the first poets to write English verse in the American colonies.”

Poets.org bio


The bread and meat of life!


Job 1:20-22

gnv

20 Then Job arose, and rent his garment, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken it: blessed be the Name of the Lord.

22 In all this did not Job sin, nor charge God foolishly.


Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 10th, 1666

By Anne Bradstreet

Poetry Foundation

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Here Follows Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our house, July 10th. 1666. Copied Out of a Loose Paper.

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In silent night when rest I took,

For sorrow near I did not look,

I wakened was with thund’ring noise

And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.

That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,”

Let no man know is my Desire.

I, starting up, the light did spy,

And to my God my heart did cry

To straighten me in my Distress

And not to leave me succourless.

Then, coming out, behold a space

The flame consume my dwelling place.

And when I could no longer look,

I blest His name that gave and took,

That laid my goods now in the dust.

Yea, so it was, and so ’twas just.

It was his own, it was not mine,

Far be it that I should repine;

He might of all justly bereft

But yet sufficient for us left.

When by the ruins oft I past

My sorrowing eyes aside did cast

And here and there the places spy

Where oft I sate and long did lie.

Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,

There lay that store I counted best.

My pleasant things in ashes lie

And them behold no more shall I.

Under thy roof no guest shall sit,

Nor at thy Table eat a bit.

No pleasant talk shall ’ere be told

Nor things recounted done of old.

No Candle e’er shall shine in Thee,

Nor bridegroom’s voice e’er heard shall be.

In silence ever shalt thou lie,

Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity.

Then straight I ’gin my heart to chide,

And did thy wealth on earth abide?

Didst fix thy hope on mould’ring dust?

The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?

Raise up thy thoughts above the sky

That dunghill mists away may fly.

Thou hast a house on high erect

Frameed by that mighty Architect,

With glory richly furnished,

Stands permanent though this be fled.

It’s purchased and paid for too

By Him who hath enough to do.

A price so vast as is unknown,

Yet by His gift is made thine own;

There’s wealth enough, I need no more,

Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store.

The world no longer let me love,

My hope and treasure lies above.

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pelf – property, goods; originally “booty”


 

WHEN IS THE TIME TO TRUST?

Read this and trust!

PEACEMAKERS

Let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece – Judg 6:39

There are degrees to faith. At one stage of Christian experience we cannot believe unless we have some sign or some great manifestation of feeling. We feel our fleece, like Gideon, and if it is wet we are willing to trust God. This may be true faith, but it is imperfect. It always looks for feeling or some token besides the Word of God. It marks quite an advance in faith when we trust God without feelings. It is blessed to believe without having any emotion.

There is a third stage of faith which even transcends that of Gideon and his fleece. The first phase of faith believes when there are favorable emotions, the second believes when there is the absence of feeling, but this third form of faith believes God and His Word when…

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