Friday, January 11, 2008

Two more Scriptural thoughts on worship


1) We've already seen that David Bryan believes it's wrong to murder someone, even if you have good intentions in doing so. Quite so.
He explains why:
No, because there's no way to kill an innocent man honorably. There's no way to worship a false god righteously. There is, however, a way to bow down to mere humans and honor them in righteousness, as attested to by Scripture, without it being a sin.
Deuteronomy 4:15-18

15"So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire,
16so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky,
18the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth.

What's the definition of a graven image here? "The form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth."
Presumably, something like this, which David Bryan linked to.

2) Numbers 21:6-9

6The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
7So the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people.
8Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live."
9And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
2 Kings 18:1-6

Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king.
2He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.
3He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.
4He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan (ie, a piece of bronze).
5He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.
6For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.


God commanded that bronze serpent be constructed, for a good reason, to save and to serve as a figure of Jesus Christ, to which Jesus Himself alluded.
Yet it became the object of religious piety for the Israelites, and God commended its destruction by Hezekiah, mentioning it in the same breath as the destruction of the high places and the Asherim.

-But Rhology, the Israelites' intentions were not pure, while ours are!

Just like in the example of the golden calf, something that God meant for good is twisted to evil by man. It's a common tale.

19 comments:

David Bryan said...

Deuteronomy 4:15: "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire..."

Col. 1:15: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation."

Why were graven images of the true God forbidden? Because He hadn't "imaged" Himself, as it were. Now that He has, images of Him (icons of Christ and those who bear Him in themselves) are no longer forbidden.

2 Kings 18:4: "He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan (ie, a piece of bronze)."

1 Chronicles 29:20-21: "So all the assembly blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the LORD and the king. And they made sacrifices to the LORD..."

What was the context in which the bronze serpent was being used? Pagan worship. What was the context in which David was honored? Service to the true God.

orthodox said...

R: What's the definition of a graven image here? "The form of any figure, the likeness of male or female

O: And yet you seem to have taken quite a liking to adorning your blog with icons.

And you seem to have no objection to images of Christ.

And you probably own a camera.

And ironically, than icon you linked to has an image of the angels, which Exodus explicitly COMMANDS the Jews to make an image of.

Maybe there is more to this than your raw quoted definition?

R: He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan

O: And was the serpant a real being? Not as far as I know.

Rev. 5:8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

Incense, when burnt in front of an icon represents our prayers. And guess what? In heaven, it is people who take these prayers. Exactly like the bible says.

Lucian said...

And yet you seem to have taken quite a liking to adorning your blog with icons

C'mon, now, Orthodox, don't be so hard on the poor guy: he took quite some pain in removing that blasphemious image of him and his wife that was enthroned as a pagan fertility-idol over his whole blog ... it was actually situated EVEN ABOVE the Scripture-quote !!! !!! !!! ! (If You can >imagine< that...) -- I think we all here should congratulate him in his iconoclastic efforts ! :-) Maybe he finally realised the blatant contradiction between the family-picture and the quote he cited, which explicitely contradicts the use of any image !

David Bryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucian said...

something that God meant for good is twisted to evil by man

And how exactly is this being done? Huh? Tell me ...

it became the object of religious piety for the Israelites

It WAS an "object of religious piety for the Israelites" from the get-go, ... remember ? Or does Your memory conveniently serve You short (again) ? [The purpose of its destruction resided in something completely different from, errr, "religious piety" ... namely its perception as a snake-god ... or can't You even read right now ?].

Phinehas said...

@ lucian:

It became an object of religious piety from the get-go...

The main difference being that the first time, all who believed in God enough to look upon the serpent (note they don't pray to it, sacrifice to it, burn incense to it, etc.) were saved from their situation. It was an act of trusting God in that moment (which is, of course, true religious piety (though that word itself just sounds stuffy).

In the second passage, it's very clear that the Israelites have directed their worship toward the image of the snake - i.e. it became a form of "religious piety" among the people (not God). That's the difference.

orthodox said...

As much as self-confident protestants claim to know everything about this situation, the text says very little. It doesn't even say for sure that there was any problem with the snake, only the implication that Hezekiah perceived a problem, apparently related to the incense. But even then you could intepret the text that that had been going on since Moses too.

Lucian said...

The two Cherubs however were being bowed-down-to, prayed-at, and incensed.

Or, better said: not them, but the Shekinah that was enthroned between them.

But, in order for a belligerent Protestant to be in line with himself, [since he refuses to understand that we don't bow fown TO icons, incence ICONS, etc]., he must also admit that the ancient Jewish Priests (and God Himself) were idolaters. Or else, he must absolve us of that stupid insult that accuses us that we are as such. You can't have it both ways.

ALSO: why weren't the two Cherubs never destroyed --not to mention touched (2 Samuel 6:6-7)-- by anyone ?

Here's a little text that any die-hard iconaclast should meditate upon before laying his hands on any icon (not to mention thinking of destroying them, God forbid!)

2 Samuel 6:6
 ¶And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
7
 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God
.

David Bryan said...

(Lucian -- he's recently mentioned 2 Samuel 6:6-7 in his post on intentions. Careful what you accuse someone of, brother.)

Rhology said...

David Bryan said:

Now that He has, images of Him (icons of Christ and those who bear Him in themselves) are no longer forbidden.

OK, I'd agree with the imaging of God in Christ.
But it's another step altogether to say "those who bear Him in themselves".

What was the context in which the bronze serpent was being used? Pagan worship. What was the context in which David was honored? Service to the true God.

OK, I can see that.


Orthodox said:
And yet you seem to have taken quite a liking to adorning your blog with icons.

And what's the context of that? Worship? Or blogging?

And you seem to have no objection to images of Christ.

Eh, not really.

And you probably own a camera.

Equivocation - what's the context in which the images produced by the camera are being used?

th(e) icon you linked to has an image of the angels, which Exodus explicitly COMMANDS the Jews to make an image of.

They didn't pray TO THE ANGELS, for one thing. So I'm happy you brought it up.
Even with those images in their holy place, they were commanded by God to worship HIM ONLY. So this strengthens my point - thanks.
And they were never commanded to make images of dead people.

Incense, when burnt in front of an icon represents our prayers. And guess what? In heaven, it is people who take these prayers. Exactly like the bible says.

It requires a huge assumption to say that these elders take prayers offered TO THEM and offer it God.
The text doesn't say that. And it doesn't tell us who these elders are. Among other things it doesn't say.
It DOES say that the elders worshiped GOD. Why didn't they pray to dead saints?

It doesn't even say for sure that there was any problem with the snake

Yes, it's just a coincidence that it's mentioned in the same breath, the same verse, as Hezekiah's removal of the high places, the sacred pillars, and the Asherim.

apparently related to the incense.

Yes, b/c burning religious incense to someone other than God is a no-no.



Lucian imagined:
The two Cherubs however were being bowed-down-to, prayed-at, and incensed.

No they weren't.
Evidence?

not them, but the Shekinah that was enthroned between them.

So what you mean is that the two cherubs were **NOT** being bowed-down to, prayed-to, or incensed.
Yes, I agree 100%.

he must also admit that the ancient Jewish Priests (and God Himself) were idolaters.

This kind of comment is why I don't take you seriously at all.




David Bryan said:
he's recently mentioned 2 Samuel 6:6-7 in his post on intentions


True, it's right here. And actually nobody has yet commented on it.
Oh well, there's no statute of limitations. :-) But I do consider it a major plank in my argument.

Peace,
Rhology

Lucian said...

My "intentions" are written in the Five Books of Moses. And they aren't mine, they're God's.

I know how to read and write ever-since I was four-and-a-half, so I have no problem with understanding the meaning of the Samuel passage that we've both cited ... but what I clearly said was this: if God thundered down on the poor little guy who strecthed forth his arm to simply sustain/uphold the Ark from falling, what do You think that He will do to people who deliberately stretch forth their hand to purposefully hurt or destroy icons?

Also, You have more or less avoided to address the idea after the first two quotes from me that You cite: so, here it is again:

But, in order for a belligerent Protestant to be in line with himself, [since he refuses to understand that we don't bow fown TO icons, incence ICONS, etc]., he must also admit that the ancient Jewish Priests (and God Himself) were idolaters. Or else, he must absolve us of that stupid insult that accuses us that we are as such. You can't have it both ways
.

Care to comment now ?

Rhology said...

Lucian,


if God thundered down on the poor little guy who strecthed forth his arm to simply sustain/uphold the Ark from falling, what do You think that He will do to people who deliberately stretch forth their hand to purposefully hurt or destroy icons?

You're quite a guy, Lucian.
Why did God destroy Uzzah? B/c he touched the ark? Was he going to destroy the ark? Please.
Ex 25:10-15

10"They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.

11"You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.

12"You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.

13"You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.

14"You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.

15"The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it.

Is that how the Israelites were carrying the ark when Uzzah touched it?
How could you possibly link destruction of icons to this incident? Eisegesis at its finest!

Uzzah's intentions were good, as the text says - to stop the ark from falling over. But God destroyed him b/c Uzzah did not treat God's worship and instructions on worship as foremost and holy. Just like you and your EO-dox brethren.


he must also admit that the ancient Jewish Priests (and God Himself) were idolaters.

This is so ridiculous that I barely see the need to comment.
Why is God an idolator?
Why were OT Israelites idolators?

Peace,
Rhology

Rhology said...

RE: Deut 4,
Let's leave aside the question of making an image of Christ here and focus on v. 16 - no image of form male or female. How is making an image of a dead person (ie, a saint) for worship not a violation of this command?

Lucian said...

Why, why, why ... ?

Why don't You just simply start with answering my questions in all earnesty? (Too difficult?).

If the one who touched the Ark touched it to prevent it from being destroyed, and was therefore smitten by God, what then do You think will happen to people who touch the images not to prevent them from being destroyed, but precisely in order to destroy them?

Still not clear enough ?

Lucian said...

no image of form male or female

Not only "man or woman", but also "no resemblance or likelihood of anything that is IN HEAVEN, or on earth, or in the seas bellow".

So ... how come that 5 chapters later, God forgets all tha He had (just) said, and commands not one, but two golden images of ANGELS to be made ?

It is this the way that You should consider looking at things, and this the question that should be asked.

Rhology said...

Hmm, they might be rewarded by God? Much like Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah were commended for stamping out idolatrous practices?



"Moreover, I have heard that certain persons have this grievance against me: When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the Collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loth that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ's church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give to them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best that I could find, and I beg that you will order the presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort--opposed as they are to our religion--shall not be hung up in any church of Christ. A man of your uprightness should be careful to remove an occasion of offence unworthy alike of the Church of Christ and of those Christians who are committed to your charge." (Jerome's Letter 51:9)


We are called to share the Gospel in love and truth with people who are in darkness. I don't know how conducive tearing down their idols or icons would be in furthering that goal, so in all seriousness I would only do so in a church that claimed to be a believing church and where I had some smidgeon of authority to do so, not in the place of worship of a false religion.
Though I might consider doing something like partaking in the bread and water at a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall service, for the purpose of demonstrating that I have Scriptural reason to know that I will be in heaven when I die...

Rhology said...

"IN HEAVEN"...

Look, you let God be God, OK? You don't get to tell people how to worship, but God does.

If He says don't do it, don't do it. If He then tells you sthg else to do, do it.
Where's the command to make an image of a dead person? I'm waiting.

Lucian said...

If He says don't do it, don't do it

That's all swell, but if Your lens would be applied to "in heaven", we would not have Exodus 25 in our Bibles. Therefore, since Your impeccable logic doesn't even show itself to work on things that we posses direct knowledge of from Scripture itself, why do You expect me (or anyone, for that matter) to apply the same faulty logic to the words "man or woman" ?

Captain Kangaroo said...

Oh nerts! Now you went and tempted me to worship that little picture in the article. Shame on you!