Do gods exist? 23 Creating images

Picture adapted from Rembrant’s Moses Smashing the Tablets of the Law

The second commandment of the Christian god is that you should not create images or likenesses of anything, or he will punish the next four generations of your family.

According to the Bible, the second commandment is

“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. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex 20:4-6, Deut 5:8-10)

The first part of this rule is absurd: it forbids nearly all visual art. Oddly, after this god announced these laws, he instructed Moses to make two cherubim out of hammered gold for the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:18-20).

“25:18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.”

The second part of this rule is immoral. Because the god is jealous, he will punish not only people who disobey him, but also their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

This generational injustice is mirrored by Jesus in the Book of Revelation, when he says that he will kill the children of Jezebel for the sins of their mother (Rev 2:20-23).

“2:20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”

Of course, this is par for the course for a god who has already threatened to send wild beasts to kill the children of those who do not obey his rules, and to make their parents eat the flesh of their children (Lev 26:21-22, 27-29).

“21 Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.”

“27 And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, 28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.”

Today’s Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches omit this rule from their popular versions of the ten commandments. And Roman Catholics regularly pray before images and statues of not only Jesus, but also Mary and numerous Saints. To make up for omitting the ban on images and likenesses, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches divide the tenth commandment, which forbids coveting, into two different rules.

So that is commandment number two. I will examine the third commandment in my next post.

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Do gods exist? 23 Creating images

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