Making an Image out of God


Making God into This or That:

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:

Exodus 20:4 represents a more ancient or original teaching, namely that physical images of God should not be manufactured – whereas verses 5 and 6:

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.

are a later understood meaning of verse 4 added as a commentary to the text.

Thus, the general prohibition on manufacturing images in verse 4 [when read with this understanding in mind] applies only to Jehovah.  And it was only later that this prohibition was extended to include images of any other gods.

This makes sense in light of verses 2-3, where Jehovah disposes of all other gods outright, from the start:

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Israel was simply not to have them – and so a later prohibition on making images of other gods would obviously have been unnecessary.  So it appears that God’s concern was with people making images of Him.

 Idolatry of the Ancients:

Often, it is thought that ancient people identified their god with the physical idol.  This is seen in the Old Testament, where the prophets use a bit of rhetorical hyperbole in their judgments against idolatry, as though the worshipers actually thought their god was the idol — getting a bit of a chuckle out of the reading audience.

Isaiah:

They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; … and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.  Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing? …

The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.  He heweth him down [trees] … : he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, … and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth [meat] … and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, ‘Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:’  And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, ‘Deliver me; for thou art my god.’

And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

Habakkuk:

What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?  Woe unto him that saith to the wood, ‘Awake’; to the dumb stone, ‘Arise, it shall teach!’ Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

Ezekiel:

And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, ‘We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.’

The ancients didn’t see the carving of wood or the molten stone as their very god – actually sitting there on a mantle or alter.  To them, the idol was similar to a voodoo doll – a tangible talisman that could be used as a means to control their god or affect his or her behavior.

For them to “worship” the piece of wood was not a manifestation of them thinking that the piece of wood itself could bless them with something – but that by serving an image of a god, the very god would be constrained to respond.

This was how the ancients used their images of gods.  To them, the idols were the ideals — the personification of an aspect of character that one could “serve” in an attempt to become it.

What Jehovah was Saying:

God is saying in Exodus 20:4 that He cannot be so controlled.  He is saying that Israel should not attempt to personify or encapsulate Him into an image of this-or-that thing – as though by so doing, they could attempt to control how He responds to them.

The implication of this being that to respond towards God from the left-brain-mind – as though God were this “out-there” elderly figure seated on a throne somewhere in the universe, to whom we speak out-loud to in prayer – is a form of “making unto thee a graven image” of Him.  It’s reducing God to this-thing that must respond to what I do in that-way.

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This and That are Contrary One to the Other


The following was written after reading Galatians chapter 5

From the Tree of This-and-That:

The left-brain-mind is the part of our brain that is designed to experience the world as this thing that is apart from or something other than the rest of creation [that stuff].  This part of the brain is a tool, designed to focus in on individual bits of definable, measurable matter [the Greek meter, to measure].

As such, when looking with the left-brain-mind only – we cannot see the fractal nature of reality.  We cannot see that what the left-brain-mind experiences as separate things are all actually arabesques in a single pattern or happening.  From its point-of-view, life is reduced to the sum of its parts – losing all sense of connectivity and spark.

Every interaction and every connection will be experienced as though it is foreign – we say things like, “You need to face facts,” or “…confront reality,” as though we are these skin-encapsulated Persons who have to lug around this sack of tissue and go about conquering and to conquer.

This is just a good actor:

Adam and Eve have partaken of a fruit of distinctions – a bitter fruit in a garden of uncontrasted sweetness.  It grows on the Tree of knowledge of this and that [good and evil, day and night, pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, sickness and health, life and death, God and humans, etc.].  Adam and Eve have left the primitive [or child-like] experience of nakedness – of just being without dressing up in this Persona or that Self – and they have now become this and that.

The left-brain, Self-consciousness reigns – having replaced the right-brain, God-consciousness that had previously been humanity’s state of mind.  Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed.  There never was a problem with the nakedness, but once the Self-consciousness gained dominion – shame entered in, Adam and Eve got busy trying to cover their shame with clothing and labor – until they eventually lose consciousness [or die].

The next step for God’s creation [according to the plan that was counseled on in the beginning] was to enter the Sabbath rest.  However Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of this and that at the direction of Satan, not God.  Instead of being still and knowing that He is God – they desired a distraction from this rest.  The diversion is how this can ignore its nakedness – so God provided physical coverings and manual labor for Adam and Eve according to their desire.  Now this doesn’t have to be conscious of its nakedness because it is busy doing that.

To cut through the coverings acquired by your left-brain-mind, you must rest.  But rest doesn’t mean to stop.  Stopping just shifts the idolatry from being busy to being idle.  When working from your left-brain-mind, you’ll always just make yourself a better and better actor [hypocrite].  The left-brain-mind will always try to work at doing things that would just happen spontaneously [be part of our nature] if we would just soften the right-brain-heart in repentance.

To yield, to submit, to rest, to sit down, to cease your frantic effort to be this or that.

Your flesh was crucified on the cross too:

But to be busy doing that – because you still identify your-Self as this – is being entangled with a yoke of bondage.  However, in Jesus Christ, neither business nor idleness avails you any thing.  Instead, you have been called to liberty – not to use that freedom for an occasion to serve the flesh – but to serve each other in love.

Those who have denied their Self so they could be identified with Christ have nailed their flesh to the cross with Him, and have had this crucified.  So we may just walk in the Spirit, identifying ourselves with Jesus Christ [doing His works, saying His words, having His same mind in us, etc.].  Because only by so doing can we cease to be subject to the flesh and to the power of the devil.  So long as we are playing the game of this vs. that – flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh – pitting things against each other, as being contrary one to the other – we cannot do the things that we desire.

The gospel is not a battle between the forces of this and that – darkness vs. light, good vs. evil, virtue vs. vice, men vs. women, flesh vs. Spirit, etc.  Evil is not really any thing at all – it’s no-thing [nothing].  Evil is the shell of what remains after meaning has departed from something.  It has no power or purpose on its own anymore, only the meaning we choose to give it.

The works of the flesh are manifest:

  • Adultery
  • Fornication
  • Impurity
  • Lasciviousness
  • Idolatry
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Hostility
  • Quarreling
  • Jealousies
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Selfish ambition
  • Divisions
  • Heresies
  • Envyings
  • Murders
  • Drunkenness
  • Revelling parties

But the fruit of the Spirit is:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Faith
  • Longsuffering
  • Gentleness
  • Goodness
  • Kindness
  • Meekness
  • Temperance

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I’m also reading Joana Smith’s blog regularly — if anyone else wants to check it out.