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Tuesday: The Heavens Declare — 17 Comments

  1. I have a question, I was Catholic and God called me out of Babylon 12 years ago, since that moment on I read the Bible and get so much joy in the word of God. One thing that I learned is the ten commandments and I think of them every time something brings it to my attention. I'm started noticing that some churches I go, every time is the worship service put images of Jesus, like the one in this picture here. I think this picture over here, and similar ones are use by seven day Adventist churches every time they have any program are a violation of the second commandment that forbid us to have images. Are we seven day Adventist violating the second commandment with this practice of making, propagating and putting images of Jesus?

  2. The material provided on this page is really breathtaking & so helpful as long as preparing christians heavenward could be but really my concern has also been the use of artwork/graphic pictures that have tried to portray some heavenly or biblical senses ! Doesn't this contradict the fundamental beliefs of S.D.A

  3. Thats a good question lisa. I believe you are talking about Ex. 20:3-4. My understanding of this passage of scripture refers to the aspect of worship. Ex. 20:5 amplifies the previous verses. Pictures, graphics, art are there for us as Michael said, to help us have an uplifting experience though we cannot come near to how heaven or the splendor of God might be.

  4. Growing up in the Adventist church I became accustomed to the beautiful weekly images associated with the weekly Sabbath school lessons. I guess my focus was on the message the image was trying to evoke and how it helped to reinforce the lesson subject, not the image itself.

  5. In one sense, in the Second Commandment God tells mankind: “Don't try to tell Me what I am like. I will tell you what I am like! It is important that you correctly understand that I will accept no representations of Me.”

    In another sense, the Second Commandment is a constant reminder that we only, of all created things, are made in the image of God. Only we can be transformed into the spiritual image of Christ who came in the flesh as the perfect spiritual image of our heavenly Father. This Commandment protects our special relationship with our Creator who made us in His likeness and is still moulding us into His spiritual image. The Second Commandment reminds us that God is far greater than anything we can see or imagine. We must never let that knowledge be pushed aside by the use of some image or likeness in our worship of God.

    However, for purposes of learning, visual aids can only be used as helping tools (tailored for a particular audience, depending on their needs) but NOT to depend on them to teach a subject.

  6. Hello Lisa
    Your question,"Are we seven day Adventist violating the second commandment with this practice of making, propagating and putting images of Jesus?"

    Answer: Lisa, I'm not a bible scholar but the answer to your question I think is in the very same 2nd commandment which states;
    Exodus 20
    3. You shall have no other gods before Me.
    4. 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; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.

    If anyone takes a picture or a statue of God, Angels, children, Parents, or even your 1947 Classic Chevy Truck, and bow down and worship that image, then you're in violation of the 2nd commandment.

    You may say; "That's ridiculous, nobodies going to bow down and worship their truck!"
    Answer: What ever or who ever receives our greatest affection is our God or god.

    May God bless you

  7. It's not in violation of God's commandments to make images of heavenly beings nor of earthly beings, but the worshiping of these images is a violation of His commandments.

  8. I really comment these responses of above persons and I too believe that the pictures that are posted on a weekly basis gives us that imagery understanding of what each days lesson entails.It is too that these picture helps us to understand the splenders of heaven as describes in the bible.Let us hope that we are NOT worshiping them because they are in the temple of God.

    We are should be mindful of the person who are deaf,children, who some of them are not able to read as yet. These picture are also there to help them to understand the Glory of God.

    Let us Prey that all of us are on the same page with these images and what they are depicting to us.

    • Nymoya, I really appreciate your comment that
      "We are should be mindful of the person who are deaf, children, who some of them are not able to read as yet. These picture are also there to help them to understand the Glory of God."

      Even people who have all of their five senses functioning well have different learning styles, and, for some, visual representations are very helpful.

  9. If we feel that the mere construction of an image is enough to violate the second commandment then we would have a hard time explaining Moses' construction of a bronze serpent (Numbers 21). Later the snake did become an object of worship and had to be destroyed (2 Kings 18:4) but it had originally been constructed at God's command so it's construction and display could not have been in violation of the second commandment or God would have been breaking His own law.

    We also see another example of this with the imagery of cherubim and pomegranates in the tabernacle and the temple. It would be hard to argue that the mere construction and display of these items is a violation of the second commandment.

    Based on these examples, it would seem that the vital element of transgression regarding the second commandment would be who or what is worshiped.

  10. I'm glad with the biblical example of the bronze serpant but still remember what Hebrews 8:7-11 say especially verse 10 where the Lord says "....I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts ;....v11 non of them shall teach his neighbor...with this new covenant I surely find no reason why we should have pictures portraying heavenly beings including some pictures that have represented Jesus and God himself in some lessons. The conception in the target group might vary due to various reasons therefore I still find it not convincing to have such pictures aid to the teaching of God because the pictures only represents the imaginative composition of a particular artist as non has ever seen heavens & its glorious looks.

  11. The second commandment read like this: Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
    Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

    I see two actions in it. The Lord said, and says: Do no make any grave image of the things of heaven, and on the things on earth. this is the first thing he instruct us not to do. This is how the adoration of saints was introduced in the catholic church. First put the images there, after they end up in the adoration of them. The Lord knew it, That is why he said do not do images.

    The second action that he tell us not to do is do not worship the images. I'm not a theologian, but I think the commandment is simple, and we cannot twist the interpretation. The Lord said, very clear do not do any images. Why them we want to explained, and say that his intention was only not to worship it the images. So why then He instruct us on not to do the images. One thing is to do images, and another is the worshiping of it.

  12. Dear Lisa,

    Even though the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, I think we must bear in mind that they were necessarily communicated in imperfect human language, and then translated into English to be read by imperfect people from another culture. By citing God's commands to build the bronze serpent, etc., I believe Stephen has demonstrated that the 2nd Commandment is not intended to forbid absolutely all making of images.

    That said, one still might reasonably ask why the commandment is worded the way it is. Why didn't God just tell us not to bow down to any images? I see a similar emphasis in Deuteronomy 4:15-19, where God warns the people against any possible tendency to make images for themselves. My understanding of this is that God forbids the making of images with the intentions that were the usual ones at the time -- admiration or adoration.

    Thus, I conclude that you have a good point, Lisa, if it is not carried to extremes. We really do need to be careful about making images in connection with our worship, and to carefully and prayerfully examine our intentions in doing so. I hope this helps.

    God bless.

  13. Brother R.G.White May we please take out the human thinking of saying the ten commandments given by God himself would be conveyed wrongly to God's people .The bible is very perfect and clearly states what God has wanted his people to do and let us all remember that God is not partial in his commandments and why people of God should we at all cost backup the idea of making images to aid us know the invisible almighty God.The issue of the bronze serpant is out question because we cannot judge God's ways of handling some situations as he has always done...God is God and shall always remain God.These ten commandments are absolute law,principles that are all encompassing and allow for no exception .Jesus confirms their timeless application in (Matt.5v17-20) God's character demands loyalty.Israel was surrounded by people who worshiped images also called gods.Since no human effort could represent God adquately,God forbade creating any image of him,either literally or conceptually.

    • Michael I do appreciate what you are saying but I do have a few comments to make concerning what you have said.

      When brother R.G. said, “Even though the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God, I think we must bear in mind that they were necessarily communicated in imperfect human language, and then translated into English to be read by imperfect people from another culture” he was only stating what the SDA church had understood for decades. That understanding of the church came from Ellen White’s own words on the subject of inspiration.

      “The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea. The Bible was given for practical purposes” (1 SM 20.2).

      “The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented” (1 SM 21.1).

      Even though God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone Moses had to rewrite them on a scroll. Then those words went through translation into English which always takes out some meaning because of the difference between the languages. So we always end up with something less than ideal.

      Concerning the bronze serpent, we could have understood the second command the way that you and others have understood it if it were the only thing in the Bible where God commanded an image to be made but that is not the case. While at Sinai God commanded a sanctuary to be built and He gave very specific instructions for its construction. In detailing how the curtains of the sanctuary were to be made He told Moses, “Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them” (Ex 26:1 NKJV). And of the veil that separates the two compartments of the tent He said, “You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim” (Ex 26:31 NKJV). Furthermore, He commanded Moses to make two figurines of Cherubim to be placed on the mercy seat above the ark in the most holy place (Ex 25:18-20).

      But God didn’t stop there for He also commanded concerning the lamp stand, “Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower-- and so for the six branches that come out of the lampstand” (Ex 25:33 NKJV). And as part of the high priest’s garments, “And upon its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, all around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around (Ex 28:33 NKJV).

      When it came to Solomon’s temple not only did Solomon have the two cherubim in the inner room but, “Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers” (1 Kings 6:29 NKJV) and “The two doors were of olive wood; and he carved on them figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees” (1 Kings 6:32 NKJV). Furthermore, “on the panels that were between the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. And on the frames was a pedestal on top. Below the lions and oxen were wreaths of plaited work” (1 Kings 7:29 NKJV). All of which there is not one word of condemnation by God for doing so.

      Now we need to ask ourselves if God is a hypocrite in commanding something that He contradicted in building the sanctuary and obviously permitted without one word to the contrary in the construction of Solomon’s temple.

      To me it seems blatantly clear that we have grossly misinterpreted the second commandment in our zeal to keep the commandments of God. I believe we are in danger of doing what the Pharisees did in attempting to protect the law by instituting rules and regulations that tend to put a damper on the joyous worship of God by restricting things that give expression to our worship (Mat 21:15-16). The one thing that I do not wish to see is that the SDA Church drifts into the kind of worship orthopraxy that the JWs have gone to. To me their worship is lifeless and without the expression of the human spirit in love to God. As I see it, in Heaven there will be shouts of joy and adoration to God not fear and worry about whether or not we did something wrong by using God’s gift of art.

    • Inge has raised an important point. The Hebrew for the second commandment uses the word "pesal" which means "carved" or "hewn." Perhaps this is why the Eastern Orthodox church accepts two-dimensional icons but rejects the statuary sometimes seen in Catholic churches.

  14. Dear Michael,

    If you are going to read the commandment literally, it forbids the making of carved images. And I have yet to see a carved image of God in any Adventist context.

    Statues of Jesus seem to abound, but not necessarily among Adventists. And such "carved images" are images of the "Son of Man" -- the man Jesus, rather than of the invisible God. There is a difference between the incarnate Son of God when He walked this earth as a man and the invisible God, even though Christ was fully God even while He was fully man. No artist can represent the "God view" of Christ, nor has anyone tried, to my knowledge.

    Reading the text literally does not forbid the creation of art work, such as representations of angels and/or representations of Jesus when He walked this earth. Nor do I think that the intent of the words forbids that. However, if we should start to "bow down" to paintings and "worship them," the commandment would begin to apply.

    No one on Sabbath School Net has done or advocated doing anything that the commandment forbids. If you disagree, and the visual images still bother you, I suggest you bookmark this link to the HTML lessons which use very few images: http://www.ssnet.org/qrtrly/eng/current.html


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