Is It Okay To Worship Graven Images?
I have been in churches numerous times where they have very pretty graven images. I have watched the members of those churches go up and touch them and light candles in front of them. I have watched them sit in a pew for awhile and just look at the image before them.
The members in those churches look at their images with love and devotion. I really believe that it gives them peace and comfort when they look at them and stand before them. They can’t see Jesus face to face and talk with Him; but, they can see their images, kneel down before them, and talk to them. I think having the graven images brings the members of those churches much joy.
It is difficult to have faith in someone that you can’t see. It is hard to believe that our Lord is right beside us every minute of the day and very eager to hear our prayers. Jesus hears our prayers immediately and always answers them. But, we can’t see Him, and we just cannot seem to have the faith in Him that we should have. When people see those images and pray to them, they go away with a nice feeling because they have seen the image and have faith that the dead human being that image represents did hear their prayer and will answer it.
Possibly individuals feel that because the dead person that image represents lived on this earth at one time and knows how strenuous life can be, will have such compassion and sympathy for those that kneel before their statue and pray. Obviously, they feel that dead person is looking down from heaven on them as they pray and can see them kneeling before the image that represents him or her. Maybe they wish that dead person or saint would pray to Jesus for them.
Our lord has always been the same in His thinking. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8 He was furious with the children of Israel when they made graven images to bow down to, sacrifice to and pray to. He is our Lord, creator and redeemer. Why would we want to put a piece of wood, metal, ceramic or stone image before our eyes? What good does it do? Can it hear us, speak to us, help us, supply our needs, save us and give us comfort? Why would we even take the time to look at a statue of Mary, Jesus, Joseph, St Peter and other man-made images? Jesus should be the one that grabs our attention and the one that we turn to in the good times and in the bad times. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I have heard people say that graven images in the church or in our homes of dead people are okay because they remind us of the wonderful things that they did during their life time when they look at them. When they look at the images or idols, they admire those dead people those images stand for and hope they can lead good, upright lives like they did. They say we all have pictures of dead people in our homes that we go up to and talk to and even place a kiss on the their picture; so, it is okay if we do the same to those dead saints, as we call them, in the church. Is it?
Example: Friend, suppose you had the ability to create a world that was flawless with no sin, and on the sixth day of creation you made a man and a woman. Everything in your picture-perfect world you created to please the man and woman because you had a desire to make them happy. Every day they had the privilege of enjoying such magnificent beauty. The oceans, rivers and streams were clear and clean. The majestic mountains, gorgeous hills and valleys were pleasing to look at. You loved to walk with them every day in the cool of the evening taking pleasure in all the flowers and trees that you made for them. The animals, birds and sea creatures were incredible. There was no death or sorrow in the world that you made for the man and woman.
Then one evening you come to spend time with them and you find them bowing down and worshiping a graven image. They are talking to it, kissing it, burning candles before it, bringing gifts of flowers and fruits and laying them at the feet of the graven image that they made. You look at the graven image and say, “Why did you make this image?” “Oh, they say, we made it because every time we look at it it reminds us of how fantastic, caring and loving you are. And, we enjoy your flowers and fruits so much that we wanted to lay them before this image. When we look at this image we think of how we would like to be just like you.”
You look down a path and see another image that they made, and it looks like an angel. And, you say, “Why did you make that image?” And they say, “Oh, your angels are so fine-looking, and they serve as your messengers. They give us words of encouragement, protect us, and enlighten us in ways that make our lives more enjoyable. So, we made an image to remind us of them.”
You look at the man and woman with astonishment because you know that their thinking is not right. You sit down on the lush, green grass and weep, bitterly. How could they not recall that you are with them every day and that everything that they see and admire is because you made it for them? How could they not value your being the one that created them and put them in this incredible world? You are so displeased because the images can offer them nothing. It makes you feel so sad. You are with them every day and so are the angels; so, why do they need images to remind them of you and the angels? You supply all their needs; so, why don’t they turn to you? You are more than willing to answer their prayers and give them the help they need. You love them and want the best for them. Instead of focusing on you throughout the day, they focus on their images. It seems they are putting more faith in their images to help them in time of need; more faith in their images to answer their prayers; more faith in their images to supply the necessary things that they need to sustain them each day; more faith in their images to heal whatever illness they have; more faith in their images to bless them and their families; more faith in their images to protect them from their enemies instead of putting their complete trust and faith in you.
Well, let’s get back to the real world. Everything we do during this lifetime, we must do with the thought that Jesus is coming soon, and we want to be ready for that fantastic event.
Friend, you have pictures of your loved ones or friends that have passed away in your picture albums or in picture frames because you loved them, and you do think of them as being great people when they were alive. But, are you bowing down to them, praying to them, burning candles before them? Do you believe they can in some way hear you and answer your prayers and be of help to you? Do you think they can bring your prayers to Jesus, and He will hear them? Do you believe they are looking down on you from heaven and that thought gives you comfort and joy? Do you believe they are saints? When you look at those pictures, you will have fond memories; but, you do not worship those dead people. Those are just pictures, and that is it. Nothing more! Those pictures do not take the place of Jesus in anyway. How can they? They are just pictures of dead human beings. Those dead people were sinners just like you and I are sinners. They are not holy now, and they were not holy when they were alive.
Friend, it is the same with all those graven images in the church. They were not holy, perfect people when they were alive, and they are not now, and that includes Mary who was the mother of Jesus. They were sinners during the time that they lived on this earth just like you and I are sinners. They needed to do the same thing that you and I have to do, daily. Every day we start our day out with prayer. We ask the Lord to come into our lives and be our Lord and Savior. We ask Him to forgive our sins; and help us to think the way that He wants us to think; speak the way that He wants us to speak; and conduct our lives in the way that he wants us to throughout the day. We read the Bible for 30 minutes or so, and ask the Lord to help us to understand it and to put it to practice in our lives. Every person that has ever lived since the beginning of time has had to surrender all to Jesus and remain connected to Him. We will never be in the kingdom of God if we do not. Jesus has always been and will always be our ticket into the World Made New.
Frankly, we should not have any graven images in our church whether they represent dead people or heavenly beings. Why? There is no reason for it, really.
Jesus rose from the grave and is in heaven. We do not need a cross to look at with Jesus hanging on it. He is no longer hanging on a cross. I thank Him that He died for my sins and rose from the grave. Because He rose from the grave, I know He has the power to raise me from the grave if I should die before He comes.
Truthfully, the angels dwell in heaven and minister to us every day in marvelous ways. Those dead people that we call saints in our churches and have made images of are all dead and in their graves waiting for the coming of Jesus. When we die, we all return to dust and remain in our graves until Jesus comes in the clouds of glory. That is the way it is for all of us and has always been that way since the fall of Adam and Eve. Maybe that is why our heavenly father does not like it when we make graven images because they cannot see or hear us and cannot help us in anyway. So, there is no point in making images of animals or people because when the animals die or when we die that is it until the Lord comes.
“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. 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; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6
“I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42:8
“Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 26:1
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” Psalms 115:4-8
“Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:4
For centuries people have bowed down and worshipped animals, birds and the sun, moon and stars. This is just a trick of the devil to keep us from worshipping the One who created us. Think back to the time when Moses went up in the Mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. In a very short period of time the people forgot about God and made an image of gold. When you read the following verses, you will find that our Lord was very disappointed.
“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord‘s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.” Exodus 32:1-35
We read in a verse a few paragraphs up in this article that Jesus is the “same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” So, with that in mind, our Lord has not changed. He was angry back when the children of Israel made that golden calf to worship, and He is angry today when we make a graven image to worship. In fact, he was so furious that He “plagued the people, because they made that calf.”
The seven last plagues will be falling on this earth, shortly. Will those who bow down and worship graven images receive of the plagues?
“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues (7 last plagues) yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.” Revelation 9:20
Even though we cannot see Jesus this side of heaven, our faith in Him will grow if we spend time in His word each day, and ask Him to help our faith in Him to grow. Reading the Bible with prayer will give us the strength and power to believe in Jesus and to trust Him completely.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Jesus is the only One that will answer our prayers, and He is the only One that will bless us and our loved ones. If we run to Him every day, He will reach out to us and bring us close to Him. He will forgive our sins and make us fit to be with Him forevermore, if we ask Him to. When we pray to Jesus, He will bring our prayers before our heavenly Father. “Who (Jesus) is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” I Peter 3:22 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” I Timothy 2:5 We do not need to pray to images with the hope they will bring our prayers before our heavenly Father. We can go directly to Jesus with our prayers, and He will take them before the Father. Isn’t that great?
We must diligently seek Him through His word and our love for Him and faith in Him will grow. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
The following is a good Bible study on Death.
What happens to Us After We Die?
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7
“All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” Job 27:3
“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:4
”Then shall the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
”But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Job 14:10-12
“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6
“The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17
“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:19-21
“So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David.” I Kings 2:10
“And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.” I Kings 11:43
“And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. And his mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.” I Kings 14:31
“And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father, and Johoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.” I Kings 15:24
“Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead.” II Chronicles 21:1
“And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.” II Chronicles 32:33
“These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” John 11:11-14
“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59, 60
(When Do The Dead Come Out Of Their Graves?)
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.: John 5:58, 29
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet will sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” I Corinthians 15:51-53
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thessalonians 4:13-18
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” I Corinthians 15:12-18, 20, 23
We have two good examples in the Bible which help us to understand what happens to us when we die. They are Jesus Christ and Lazarus. When Jesus died He remained in the tomb for three days until His Heavenly Father called Him forth from the tomb. Jesus did not go to heaven as soon as He died.
When Lazarus died he remained in the tomb for four days until he was resurrected by Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. After four days Jesus called Lazarus forth from the tomb. Lazarus did not go to heaven as soon as he died.
Both Jesus Christ and Lazarus remained in the tomb until they were called forth. “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29