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April 18, 2000

[Return] to: "Q/A"

Q/A Topics: for the Ten Commandments Related topic: - Is it Necessary to Keep the 10-Commandments today?
Related topic: - Ten Commandments & the U.S. Constitution

#0 -Preaching the Law?

QUESTION:
I meant to also ask you this in my previous e-mail: The..man whom I mentioned... also says, "Do you have scipture (not men's opinions) to back up preaching the Law?"

Do you have any thoughts on this? I can think of how the Lord Jesus opened up the Law to the Rich Young Ruler. I also think of what Paul says in Galatains about the Law's role as schoolmaster (which, don't you think, is reason enough to preach the Law in evangelistic preaching?) If you have any further input, I'd be grateful.

ANSWER:
As it is here...just this simple single sentence...is a bit disconnected from whatever 'context' it might have originated from.

However:

  1. There is "Law" of the "Law and the Prophets", referring to the O.T. Scriptures. (Mt5:17, 7:12,11:13, 22:40, Ac13:15, 28:23, Rom3:21) And Law, Prophets & Psalms. (Lk24:44)

  2. There is the Law, of the Ten Commandments, which actually existed in the conscience prior to Sinai (Rom2:14-16), but was enumerated in verbal form at Sinai...and most of it's points are verified and upheld in N.T. doctrine. (Eph4:25-32, Heb13:4, Acts15:20, Jas4:1-4, Rev21:8, etc)

  3. And then, there is the Jewish/Mosaic Law of sacrifices and rituals..."blood of bulls and goats". (Heb9:13,24, 10:4,9-10)
The first two of these we do preach, because they represent "godliness". But the last is what Christ fulfilled on the cross, and we no longer observe. (Jn19:30, Rom10:4) (I'm being a bit superficial with my answer, not knowing the context of the question.)

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#2 -What about Israel's objects of worship?

ORIGINAL COMMENT being referenced: (from an e-mail, not posted at the website)
"COMMENTS:
I read with interest your articles on idols (pictures-figurines-etc.) but what of the Ark of Covenant which has two angels on top and the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place which had images of angels sewn in? And what of all the gold, silver and jewels which were used?"

NEW COMMENT:
This sounds like something I have heard all too often, a person mentions situations in Scripture to support a belief that they have, but the situation mentioned is taken out of context.

As I'm sure you know, the images on and around the Ark and the Temple/Tabernacle were symbols of what is in Heaven. Just as in the same way the rituals, bread and sacrifices were symbols which pointed to the One who was to come, Jesus, our High Priest, presenting Himself as the once and for all time bread and sacrifice.

ANSWER:
The Q/A was already getting pretty long... I really didn't want to address those retorts, other than to remind people of God's Word, that there are to be "no other gods" nor are we to have "graven images" or "any likeness". Those words are -really- quite plain, in and of themselves. And in my own business today (the day I am writing this), I was also put to the test in this matter, as someone called, seeking lettering for a "statue" in front of their RC church. I declined any discussion of an order; which they, of course, could simply not understand. ...be that as it may!

However, this response to the original comment needs a little expanding, since the subject came up; and there were quite a few e-mails on this whole subject. It is a matter that we have all grown up being accustomed to. We are sooo used to seeing pictures, symbols and images, that we are 'conditioned' to the notion that it is a "normal" situation. We have been so used to seeing crosses and fish symbols, and pictures...that when we read the 2nd Commandment, we have somehow blocked out of our consciousness the fact that all these symbols proliferate around us. We have been desensitized to their existence...or to the remote possibility that that Commandment might 'actually' refer to -them-. After all, they appear in our "Christian" churches!!

All the objects of Jewish worship, and the rituals, were heavenly patterns. They were "..the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was warned of God..See that you make all things according to the pattern shown to you in the mountain." (Heb8:5, Ex25:40)

But notice that the Ark of the Covenant was not something put on display. We won't give all the references now, but it went behind the veil. Whenever they traveled, the Ark was covered; so the people never saw it. (Ex40:3,21, Nu4:5) Only the high priest ever saw it, once a year, with special dedicatory anointing and blood. Remember that the Ark represented God's "presence" amongst Israel, and "..no man can see Me and live.." (Ex33:20) They did not make little "miniature Arks" to sell to people to wear as necklaces or earrings. When an unauthorized person touched the Ark, they were zapped dead. (1Ch13:9-10) When others looked inside it, same thing. (1Sam6:19) I didn't find anything specific about "duplicating" the Ark, but people were not to duplicate the formulae for the anointing oil for personal use (Ex30:32) nor for the special incense. (Ex30:37) These things were -only- for worship of Jehovah, -in- the tabernacle/temple.

That which they were to have -WITH- them continually, posting it around their homes, carrying with them wherever they went was "His statutes and His commandments". (Deu6:2) Notice this word "statute" is not "statue". "Statue" is an idol. "Statute" is "ordinance, something prescribed". Don't remove a "t", in your hearts, where it belongs. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against You." (Ps119:11)

Anyone who saw God's presence or the glory of His habitation (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, John-Revelation) always came away in awe and wonder. In Isaiah's vision the seraphim (heavenly creatures) cried out "Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah" (Is6:3) Holiness is not a state of having a "halo" hovering above one's head. The word means, literally, "set apart, cut apart, separated". Thus, the Ark was "set apart". It was made after the pattern of what is in heaven. "..And the temple of God in Heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.."(Rev11:19)

Trouble is, people rely upon their little trinkets. They just "gotta have" them! Like occult amulets. When they react the way they do, scoffing at any suggestion of a wholesale "getting rid of" those things one may have, as the converted Ephesian occultists did with -all- their books when they burned them in the bonfire (Acts19:19); they are showing their true heart to be just like Israel's was. They may say, like the woman calling the store today did, that they "don't worship" them. But notice when Israel was being defeated before the Philistines, they decided to get the Ark out "..so that when -it- comes among us -it- may save us.." (1Sam4:3) Israel was defeated again. Eli's sons were killed. And when Eli heard the news, he fell over, broke his neck and died.

They were trusting in the "object". The "thing". Just like when Aaron made the golden calf, he anounces about the -object-, "these are your gods, O Israel..." (Ex32:4)

It is not the Ark which is holy, but the One occupying the Mercy Seat of the Ark. As Jesus said, "And the one swearing by the Holy Place swears by it, and by the One dwelling in it. And the one swearing by Heaven swears by the throne of God, and by the One sitting on it." (Mt23:21-22) It was not the Ark which gave Israel victories, but God. "So says Jehovah the God of Israel, -I- have brought you up out of Egypt." (Jud6:8)

The reason there were to be no "graven images" (Ex20:4) and they should "not bring an abomination into your house" (Deu7:26) is because we are to have "no other gods before" Jehovah. (Ex20:3) Israel had certain physical representations of the things in Heaven. These were objects patterned after -THE- One and Only True Most High. But just as God is "-one- Jehovah" (Deu6:4), there was only -one- set of these representative objects. Just as God is not "many gods", there are also not many objects. Only -one- set, at God's designated location. God was specific about people -not- doing their own thing with regards to worshipping anywhere and in any way they chose. It was to be done in Jerusalem, at the temple...the representation of God's presence. (Deu12:8,11) Specifically... "Take heed to yourself that you not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which Jehovah shall choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command." (vs13-14)

There is -NO- Scriptural precedent for the Christian Church, the Bride of Christ, to have -physical- objects. The Believer's "body is a temple of the Holy Spirit". (1Cor6:19) When the O.T. objects were crafted, God warned Moses that they match the heavenly 'originals'. Any worship of any 'other' objects would indicate a worship of 'other' gods which those objects represent. We are not to have "other gods". The modern day objects did not appear in the O.T. from Sinai; the cross, fish, crucifix, pictures of some human "likeness", etc. The "New Covenant" did not include objects. Only a "remembrance". (1Cor11:24-25) The "Christian" Faith is not a faith of "seeing" objects; but of "not seeing" and yet believing. (Jn20:29, 1Pt1:8)

If certain people insist upon their love and cherishing of their objects, objects which are not designed by God, nor commanded in the Scriptures, they are obviously objects of "other gods"; if a person comes face-to-face with the Truth of this matter, and in their heart they understand what God's Word is saying about this, no longer being deceived (Acts17:29-30, Rev18:23b) and yet insist upon their icons; they are obviously not Believers.

In the O.T. a person who "loved God" was known by their "keeping His commandments". (Deu11:1) And they were not to go off doing their own thing, whatever was "right in their own eyes". (Deu12:8) Not having idols.

In the N.T. a Christian is known as one who "loves Christ" and demonstrates that love by "keeping [His] commandments". (Jn14:15, 1Jn5:2-3) So, why would we go off hording our "images" and "likenesses"? People retort, "well, I'm not WORSHIPING them!!" Notice... that came in vs5. But vs4 began with you shall not even -have- them. Don't even "bring" them "into your house". (Deu7:26)

Again... why?

"I AM Jehovah your God...you shall have no other gods before Me...you shall not make to yourselves any graven image, or any likeness...you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I Jehovah your God am a jealous God..." (Ex20:2-5)

Amen!

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#2 -Children's graphics, cartoons, videos, artwork

QUESTION:
I have a concern of the verse of Exodus 20:4 which is the second commandment of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:5 tells us that we are not to worship with those objects which looks alike that are againt God. Does this apply to children's graphic bibles and comics, cartoon videos, artwork and paintings, and plain wood cross in churches and even in my bedroom. Are those against Exodus 20:4-5? Are there any specificatons on this commandment that applies to those things which are used for memorial or learning beside worshipping or serving with an object such as a rosary?

ANSWER:
On one hand we see #2 saying "..or any likeness of anything..." And on the other hand we see how Solomon decorated the temple with pomegranates, lillies, oxen, lions, chrubs, wreaths. (1Kg ch7)

I don't remember art history all that well, to give you details, locations and dates. But, until somewhere around the Renaissance period, art was the domain of "the church" (of Rome, etc). Once the True Church leaves the realm of the first century, and the original apostles die, symbols begin to appear as part of the church's rituals; e.g. fish and cross. As Rome takes over and becomes "christian" and the "church" becomes paganized, one of its characteristics is the making of statues, painted ceilings, stained glass windows with depictions, crucifixes, etc. People genuflect the altar and crucifix, they bow and kiss the statues, they stare and gaze at the artwork. It is all part of their "worship" -experience-. And this is what God commands in vs5, "You shall -NOT- bow yourself down to them, nor serve them.."

Unfortunately, those that are protestant, evangelical, fundamental, independent, etc., in many ways still being part of that paganism, also have their crosses and pictures of 'Jesus', and in more recent years again, the fish symbol. As Moses is reviewing with Israel, just as they are preparing to enter the land of promise, after 40 years of wilderness wandering, he says, "You..saw no likeness, only a voice...take heed to yourselves, for you saw no kind of likeness on the day the LORD spoke to you...lest you act corruptly and make yourselves a graven image, the likeness of any figure, the likeness of male or female..." (Deut4:12,15-19)

I really think it is despicable to try to assume what Jesus might have looked like, and have 'His' picture hanging around. Whatever culture has them, they are depicted to the nationality of that culture...not the Jewish rabbi that He was.

Some think of the cross as a -mere- symbol of remembrance. And yet, Israel had been 'remembering' the old bronze cross/serpent Moses had made in the wilderness (burning incense before it), and when Hezekiah came along, in his zeal for the Lord, that was one of the things he broke up and tore down. (2Kg18:4) And when I read that account, I wonder to myself -why- David had never torn it down years earlier? But it says of Hezekiah in the context of this act that "he trusted in the LORD God of Israel, and after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he clung to the LORD. He did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses." (vs5-6) I don't think the matter of pictures, crosses, fish symbols could be any clearer than that.

Now, as for children's illustrated Bibles, comics, videos. It would seem to me that each situation would either stand or fall on its own merits, based on its implementation. Illustrated Bibles are not the same as hanging a "picture of Jesus" on one's wall. Pretty much -all- children's books have "pictures" in them. That's how children learn. Such a Bible could, I suppose, help them visualize the fishermen on the Sea of Galillee, or what offering a sacrifice in the O.T. might have looked like, etc. Help them to understand/visualize the 'culture' in which these things happened. But even so, I'm not sure I (personally) like the idea, myself. But I expect it would be no worse than the old flannelgraph stories for children. (Do they still do those?)

On the other hand, I know of special "Bibles" (for adults) that contain early Medieval/Renaissance art from some of the "great cathedrals" in the pages. Some of the 'classic' depictions of the Queen of Heaven (Horus and Isis), with their pagan halos, and all such stuff. That is like bringing Rome's idolatry -into- God's Word. Historically, one of the things the church of Rome is noted for is its artwork. That's part of its worship. (Just like we learned about Bali in a 'Portion' a year or so ago. They don't have "artists". Their artwork is in service to their deities.)

Comics and videos? Not seeing any specific ones, it would be hard to give an opinion. But what I tend to see of everything else...it would not surprise me if when I did see them, that I would not be impressed. I mean... what did all the poor children of Israel's households do before the days of comics and videos, when God commanded, "You shall carefully teach them [God's Laws] to your sons..." (Deu6:7-9) I expect He meant it to be accomplished by word and deed in daily life..!

Jesus was the "express image of [God's] essence" (Heb1:3) of the "invisible God" (Col1:15) Our Faith is one of "not seeing and [yet] believing". (Jn20:29)

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#2 -Charismania's 'dove'

In the recent considerations about "images and likenesses" I have lumped together the cross, fish symbol, crucifix and pictures of Jesus. Since I don't have a charismatic background, myself, I forgot to include another one. But someone sent me a URL to a site of all sorts of related topics, and there it was. [The site has so much horrendous information, I'm not going to include its URL here. (Deut12:30) It seemed like the site was meant to illustrate the errors, and then give Scripture; but it gave me the eebie jeebies just skimming through it quickly. I don't want to send anybody there, and then have them unwittingly get bogged down in the extensive rubbish.]

Yes, we know that the Holy Spirit coming to indwell Jesus had the physical appearance of a dove descending. (Mt3:16) And when He came to indwell the first Church, like "tongues of fire". (Acts2)

I didn't know this before, but the symbol they use of the upside down dove has occult/satanist origins. Ditto for the dove that is caricatured in the 'flames'. Considering the fact that current charismania, after Paul wrote to Corinth, officially, is historically a more 'recent' phenomenon compared to these other satanist things, it seems pretty obvious 'who' was using the symbol first.

And yet we see it all over the place in "Christian" churches and bookstores. This I discovered -after- writing the 'above' Q/A in this mailing. But even in this, we see how "pretty much all the churches" have become charismatic to one degree or another. You can hardly go -anywhere- anymore without seeing it! It's about as proliferous as the cross. It even appears in churches that consider themselves to be "non-charismatic". It represents the continual charismatic notion of being "spirit-filled"...which we have written enough about on other occasions, that they are 'demon' spirits. Perhaps some who insist on being blind will finally start making the 'connection'... Don't ignore how Paul begins the whole discusson of charismania in 1Cor12-14 with 12:2, their origins and backgrounds in "idolatry". The 'dove' icon certainly does.

"You shall not make to yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above..." (Ex20:4) "..that you not deal corruptly, and make for yourselves...a likeness of any figure...the form of any winged bird that flies in the heavens..." (Deu4:16-17)

Amen!

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#2 -Family Pictures, too?

Re:
What did God say? You shall not make a graven image...or any likeness. That expression "any likeness" pretty much takes care of even photographic technology that didn't exist back then............

READER QUESTION:
Wait.....so does that mean we shouldn't even have photos...like of family members or anything?

VW ANSWER:
Notice the context says...

    vs4 You shall not make a graven image, or likeness
    vs5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them
In-amongst the past Q/As one discussion was about how Solomon -decorated- with palm trees, pomegranetes, etc

However, you bring up an aspect I don't think we covered before: pictures of family members. There, too, vs4 is contextualized by vs5. (it's all one sentence) What is the -purpose- of those family pictures.

Japan (and I suspect other oriental countries, as well) used to write (paint/caligraphy) the names of dead relatives on strips of paper, and these paper strips were in the family shrines...and they would 'pray' to them, lighting candles and placing rice cakes. I don't know if they still do? Perhaps today they also put pictures?

In this country I don't recall that this used to be the case years ago, but now, all the time, on a regular basis, there is an accident where somebody dies, and shortly a little 'shrine' is erected at the accident site with candles, flowers, pictures. A relative dies, and those remaining in the land of the living are either exhorted that the dead person is "still with" them; or the live person will say things like, "I still feel their presence" and "they are guiding me" or "they are looking out for me".

In Japan the dead relatives were actually elevated, in the minds of the living, to godhood. In this country I don't hear the term "god", but the way the living speak of the dead, it is AS IF they were elevated to deity.

Thus.... pictures placed at such 'shrines', as the living refer to the dead 'as gods', would certainly fit this category, would they not. In Japan they might bow and clap; in this country I haven't seen bowing, but there will be kissing of one's fingers, and then touching the fingers to the photo, with a little elevated look of the eyes upwards and the reverential words 'about' the dead, as though now deity. Is it the physical 'bow', or what is in the heart?

Otherwise, photo albums? Photos in a frame? If it is not being worshipped (vs5), I don't think it is then vs4. But in the end, would this not fit, "Let each be fully assure in his own mind.... Blessed is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because it is not out of faith; for whatever is not out of faith is sin." (Ro14:5,22-23)

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#3 -God would prefer to be called "Lord" ??

QUESTION:
I really enjoy studying your lessons from Bible. I understand you clearly, but I notice that you always call God Jehovah, not Lord while you give them. I know that His real name is Jehovah but I believe that He would prefer to be called Lord. Will you give me an explanation why you haven't called God Lord? With Holy Spirit 's help, I understand the KJV pretty well and love it dearly. Thanks!

ANSWER:
Before I go into a brief explanation of God's names, let me ask a rhetorical question. If God has, as you say, a "real name"; why would He -PREFER- to be called something else? He commanded, "You shall have no other gods before Me...you shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain." (Ex20:3,7) If your name is "Judi", would you prefer to be called "Ma'am"?

OK, now that I've possibly riled up your dander, let's look at this issue:

Many English translations (including KJV) don't use "Jehovah". Instead, they use two forms of "Lord". In one instance they spell it upper-lower as "Lord". And in another as all-caps, "LORD".

An instance of "Lord" is found in Gen15:2 where Abraham says, "Lord GOD". In the Hebrew the words are "Adonay" .. "Yehovih". (Notice that "GOD" is all-caps) "Adonay" is not a -name-, but rather a -position- of elevation and respect. Like addressing a man respectfully with "Sir", "Your eminence", etc. A king might be called "King David"; or if the name is not used, perhaps, "Your lordship". That is "Lord"... upper-lower.

In this same verse "GOD" is derived from the same root as in Gen5:29 "..which the LORD has cursed.." "GOD" (Gen15:2) and "LORD" (Gen5:29) coming from the same basic root. This time it is "Yehovah". This is where the Jews and most other non-Roman languages derive "Yahweh".

It is quite possible that English useage of "LORD" came into being for some of the same reasons the Jews often used "Adonai" instead of "Yahweh". In fact, because God's name is so holy, they were afraid to invoke their equivalent of vowels even when they wrote it, so it would come out looking like "Yhwh". And rather than being rash with their lips, and thus take His name "in vain", they would substitute "Adonai" in their speech.

But "Yahweh" (Jehovah) means, literally, "the existing One". This is how He introduces Himself to Moses/Israel, "I AM THAT I AM". (Ex3:14) This is what distinguishes the Most High from other gods. He exists. They don't. (Is43:10,44:8,46:9, 1Cor8:4)

Perhaps this is where Israel's fall began? Because they would not fully recognize His Deity? Instead, calling Him "Lord"..? He pleaded, "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other." (Is45:22)

Due to our salvation in Christ, the veil of separation has been torn (Mk15:38, Heb10:19-23) thus, we can "come boldly to the throne of grace..." (Heb4:16)

People who have recently received their new (c)1999 MKJVs will find this as a major change in the O.T. from previous editions. One of the focuses of its update, globally, was the changing of all instances of "LORD" to "Jehovah". The LITV pretty much already does that. Having been reading/using MKJV and now the LITV for a couple of years, I find it refreshing to be thinking more in terms of Jehovah's -name-, rather than merely His -title-. Jehovah has many names found in the Scriptures by which His attributes are defined; but the most reverent one illustrates His essence as "The Existing One". After all, this is the beginning essence of Faith, which fallen man denies... "..for he who comes to God must believe that HE IS.. [exists]..." (Heb11:6)

RESPONSE:
Thank you for an explanation on the name of God. True, I prefer to be called "Cindy" (not her real name) than "Ma'am" . Not even "Cyndi"!

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#4 -Jesus healing on the Sabbath

QUESTION:
I have a question regarding when Jesus told the lame man " Rise...take up thy bed and walk......( on the Sabbath). Why did he tell the man to take up his bed? Was he trying to give the man something to do that would demonstrate his faith, or was it to prove a point to the Pharisees ( regarding work on the Sabbath?)

ANSWER:
Probably -both-. "All of the above". He demonstrated His authority to "forgive sins" by healing the one let down through the roof. (Mt9:6) He would say that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. (Mt12:8) One of the primary complaints against Him was that He didn't keep the Sabbath. (Jn9:16) And yet He would point out their hypocrisy to them...that if one of them had a donkey/ox fall into a ditch, they would pull it out on the Sabbath. (Lk14:5)

And, in actuality, had they -truly- been keeping the sabbath, they wouldn't have even been 'out and about' to even see Him healing. In the original sabbath keeping, the people stayed in their dwellings. (Ex16:29)

But their hypocrisy had established a system of "sabbath day's journey". (Acts1:12) (Among other things) They had arbitrarily set up a certain "distance" that was permitted to travel on a sabbath. Of course, I don't recall seeing anything like that being issued from Sinai. As Jesus said, "For forsaking the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men: dippings of utensils and cups, and many other such like things you do. And He said to them, Do you do well to set aside the commandment of God so that you may keep your tradition? (Mk7:8-9)

They had quite a complex system set up, with boundaries, within which they could come and go freely on the sabbath. If they wanted to go visit somebody some distance away, the boundary of the one area could not exceed the "sabbath distance" to the -boundary- of the next area. And if several areas were all within sabbath distances of each other, they could pig-tail these areas, traveling from one area to the next, and to the next...each, being within that sabbath distance of each other...and they could actually end up travelling great distances on the sabbath, also travelling -across/through- these boundary areas, never exceeding that "sabbath distance" from one -area- to the next. The thing I find rather bizarre about this scheme is that they were -SO- bent on circumventing God's Law, that they made contrivances to get -around- the law. But this "sabbath distance" was not even -God's- Law. It was their own. Thus, they were busy contriving how to "get around" laws that God hadn't even decreed!

Remember, God had said "don't -EAT-". Eve said, "we can't eat -OR- -TOUCH-"... adding to God's Law. (Gen2:17, 3:3)

So, yes...I expect that a lot of what Jesus did was an "in your face" approach against their hypocrisy. But, I expect your other thought about the ill person's "faith" is also valid. It doesn't say so specifically about the "bed-carrying" incidents, that I recall...but in some cases Jesus would ask, "Do you believe that I am able to do this? according to your faith be it unto you." (Mt9:28-29) And, indeed...what better way to 'demonstrate' faith (Jas2:18) than for a -lame- person to get up and carry his bed roll.

But even that was to God's glory. They complained about Jesus' lack of sabbath observance. But... 'Who' gave the Law in the first place, anyway? If God gave it from Sinai, surrounded by miraculous power; couldn't Jesus the Son make some "adjustments" to it, authenticating His authority to do so, with miraculous signs? What better way than for a formerly lame person, now standing upright and 'tall', carrying something! Just like He authenticated His authority to forgive sins, He could have said, 'You don't like Me -WORKING- on the Sabbath? How many lame people have you had authority to heal lately??' "My Father works until now, and I work." (Jn5:17) These things authenticated Jesus' "Deity". (Jn5:17-32)

Related topic: -I AM - The Son: -Lord of the Sabbath

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#7 -Wedding rings pagan?

QUESTION:
Do you know the history of exchanging rings as a vow of togetherness during marriage of a man and a woman. Has it a paganistic or biblical backing else how did it come about. Please enlighten me if you can.

ANSWER:
Well, I just did some looking through some encyclopedias here. Jewelry, generically, seems to vary from culture to culture. In some cultures it was merely decorative. In others, only those of higher social status could wear jewelry, and jewelry was an outward manifestation of that status; the more extensive the jeweltry, the higher the status. In some cases, jewelry is made specifically as spiritual amulets. But I don't get the idea from the various skimmed reading that jewelry is -intrinsically- "pagan".

In terms of the "social status" element, one can perhaps better understand Peter's exhortation, "..through the behavior of the wives, without a word they will be won, observing your pure behavior in fear. Of whom let it not be the outward act of braiding of hairs, and of putting gold around, or of clothing of adorning garments.." (1Pt3:1-3)

When one observes all the hoopla surrounding something like the "Oscars", one prime element that receives almost more attention than the event itself, is the adornment of the women who appear at the function. -Whose- 'design' they will be wearing (or be unclothed with)? And the "millions of dollars" worth of jewelry they will be bedecked in. To be 'seen', and to make a world-wide sensation. While there might not be anything wrong with any of the jewelry (as 'jewelry'), it is the whole -spirit- behind the function, glamor and attentions. Many women would come to Christ from these kind of backgrounds, and Peter is saying that the whole 'scene' is not a Christian one. Christians are to be "pure" and "humble"; which, the Hollywood sensational provocative sensuality is neither. Peter is not teaching that women shouldn't wear jewelry; after all, God uses jewelry as part of the picture He 'paints' of how He redeems Israel (Eze16:12); ...but to discern "how" they wear it. What are they wanting others to see? Their "glamor", or their "quiet [Godly] spirit"?

However, as far as 'rings' are concerned, I seem to come to the conclusion that its background might be more contractual/legal/economic in its origins. Now, this is rings in general. A ruler, rather than signing his name, would use his signet ring. Business people would sign contracts with their signet rings. A practice similar to this was in existence in Japan as recently as the 50's and 60's. (I don't know if it still is today) People would have their personalized specially engraved "han" (stamp). The glass/plastic stamp would be pressed in a special red ink, and the stamp would be impressed on the document...rather than a signature, like we do. If you see Japanese art, that little red round/oval/square-shaped insignia is the artist's stamp/signature.

If we consider that up until more recent centuries, marriages were usually arranged. Marriage unions were often political and/or economic arrangements. Wives were "purchased" and became the man's "property". And all the subtle variations existed from culture to culture. But, considering that rings seem to originally have a legal function, and that marriages were an economic exchange. For instance, part of the vows in the Church of England include the words "..and with all my worldly goods I thee endow" ...could it be that the wedding rings came about from those traditions?

On the other hand, I get a distinct impression that the marriage ceremony, as conducted in "church" has pagan origins. In most cultures the couple go and say their "vows" to their 'gods'. I no longer have the document that was e-mailed to me several years ago...but I recall reading of some ancient middle eastern fertility rites/festivals where a couple was 'blessed' by the priest. This couple having been prepared previously with special ointments, oils and drugs, then had intercourse in a special place in the temple as part of this worship rite. And then were killed and offered as human sacrifices, as burnt offerings...to their gods. This priestly blessing would have been done as the couple came up to the priest, up the stairs to the altar/temple...much as couples do in typical 'church' weddings...up the steps to the platform/altar.

Please understand that these comments are not hard-and-fast. These are my 'impressions' gleaned from what I've read. The sources I have read also seem to be somewhat hazy in these things, speaking of archaeology, traditions, and such things; not with any kind of acknowledgment of The Most High as any kind of foundation to their presentations. All of these kinds of sources are very in-exact as to absolute certainty, I should think.

The matter of wearing wedding rings seems, today, to be mostly cultural. Some couples exchange rings, others don't. Wearing a wedding ring certainly lets any potentially 'interested' party know that the wearer is "taken"...often alleviating any unwanted advances.

Power of Mythology - New observation about wedding rings

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#7 -Church weddings?

Quote from April,00 article:
"..Churches are -places- to be married and buried.."

COMMENTS:
While reading your April 1st article, the above statement stood out to me. It has suddenly occurred to me that people really shouldn't be married or buried in the church. If I remember correctly, there is nowhere in the Bible where anyone had a wedding or a funeral in church. I never questioned this practice in the past, but now I see that the church is (ideally) a group of people coming together to worship the LORD. I think that people have weddings and funerals at church because it makes them somehow feel like they have had a more meaningful experience, which to me suggests that they are seeking out "experiences" or want to be made to feel good rather than actually following Biblical example.

Also, I am amazed at the number of people who are not aware of the fact that a marriage ceremony is found nowhere in the Bible. They just don't want to believe that nowhere in the Bible does it say, "Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today...". Therefore I believe that two people can be married simply by promising to be faithful to one another. Of course, then they need to legally do it, so that they are not violating any of the laws of man, but a judge or captain of a ship, etc. would do as good a job as a preacher. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that performing marriage ceremonies, funerals, etc. is the duty of a preacher. None of the Apostles did any of those things, did they? Wasn't their duty to preach the gospel?

ANSWER:
Well...you've just summarized the gist of part of the 7th Commandment (study) on "Adultery". You're exactly right.

One little 'adjustment' to your comments. You speak of them "..not violating any of the laws of man.." Actually, don't most cultures also have a "common law" provision? At least, many do. In most states in this country, if a couple have been together for seven years, their "marriage" is just as legal as if they went to the justice of the peace for that piece of paper.

And yes...when Paul exhorts Timothy he doesn't say, "Until I come, attend to reading, to exhortation, to teaching...[and performing weddings.]" (1Tm4:13) And yet, how many 'pastors' consider that to be one of their primary ministries...and they will sometimes pride themselves as to "how many" couples they have married...almost as much as how many souls they've won for the Lord, or weak Believers they've helped to grow in God's Word...!

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#7 -Stay Put

EDITORIAL:
"But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all churches...Let each one remain in the calling in which he was called...Each in whatever way he was called, brothers, in this remain with God." (1Cor7:17,20,24)

A couple weeks ago in considering the 7th Commandment, "Do not commit adultery" (Ex20:14) we considered the matter that in God's eyes, the first act of sex is "marriage", and that anything with anybody else is adultery. (Mt5:32) And then that same week in another study we observed how Israel made a purposeful point to put away the heathen wives and the children begotten of those wives, as they went about to make things right before God. (Ezra ch10)

Recently a letter was snailed to VW's POBox, a person seeking guidance on a related matter; and that prompted me to realize that we need to address a matter related to this, because of today's society and how things are so messed up and squiggled around all over the place. Some people have slept around so much, they don't know 'who' is who to their relationship. Some families have children from as many different marriages as there are children. It's a real mess! And how do we sort through it all to come to a place where the lives are pleasing to the Lord, once a person becomes a Christian or comes back from backsliding?

Today there is a real epidemic of perversion regarding marriage. And how people write to me about their personal problems is usually quite predictable depending on whether they are male or female.

If a woman writes, her husband is usually some combination of driven by his career and no time for family, is abusive, is seeing somebody else, or just doesn't give her the attention she thinks she deserves. When women write, there's actually some variety as to their husbands' problems, from woman to woman. Of course, when the woman writes, -she- is "living for the Lord faithfully", and her husband is the one who is wandering from the Lord. ...!!??... Let's see, have -any- of the women who have written ever suggested that -they- have any weaknesses/flaws where their marriage is concerned? [Editor: as I sit here thinking about this, their e-mails aren't all that different from what one hears during 'share times' at prayer meetings, as they talk 'about' their husbands to everybody within hearing!]

But when men write, there seems to be one theme. Their wives, whom they love dearly, seem to be "driven" as though "forced" to seek 'something', as they (the wives) are not content. They feel like they are not getting what THEY "want". They are lusting after something 'else' (more). And yes, usually, they end up going to some other man. Unlike the women who write (who are always 'self-righteous') I would guess that half the men will admit/volunteer that they have not been stellar, themselves, in their relationships. [Editor: no, ladies, I'm not being 'chauvinist'. Just observing -facts- as they happen to come in to VW's INBOX.]

The common theme, however, seems to be this "drive" ...almost as though it were a (don't laugh) 'hormonal' thing. And yet, I suspect it is -spiritual- in nature. I see the same spirit whenever I see snips of the talk shows where a woman is proclaiming her newly-achieved "independence". Being "on-her-own". Doing her "own thing". But these women are "driven" to it; almost as though they can't help what they're doing. When I read the notes from distraught husbands, I see the same thing I observed first-hand when my unequal yoke ex left. There was a period of time where I observed this state of "being driven" ...even though I didn't understand it until it was past tense. And to "what" she was being driven I could not see. And then, in retrospect, I saw the running away from God IN ORDER TO go worship -other- 'gods'. And this is what I see in the world... many of these women leave their husbands, and subsequently are devoted to existences full of "spirituality" and "spiritual awareness". And if they go to other men, these new men are supportive of their new-found self-aware spirituality. They are not so much escaping to other 'men', as much as to 'spirituality', 'SELF-awareness' and 'SELF-empowerment'. -SELF-

They are not "Christians"...even though they might have attended church with the husband/s they left. It is part of preparations for "that day" (Is3:7) as "women rule over them". (Is3:12) It is the same time prophesied when children would rise out from under proper authority. (Is3:4,12) This is part of the age in which we live. Another sign of the times as to how close we are to the Lord's return.

OK... so, a long-winded side-excursion introduction to get to the point of this Q/A-editorial:

What happens when the light finally clicks "on" and you see what a mess your life has been? You look at yourself and at your spouse, and you realize that you -really- "married" somebody-or-other "else" way-back-when, and ever since then, you have had a life full of adultery (by Scriptural definition). What to do? Do you go back and seek out those "first" relationships, to attempt to get back together with them? Do you part company with whom you are presently living because the circumstances under which you joined them were not right? Do you frantically scurry about, trying to put the pieces back together? Well, by now, those "pieces" have been joined to others.

We observed in Ezra ch10 that Israel went about to "fix" things. If you married somebody you shouldn't have, in either blindness to God's will, or direct disobedience, do you put them away? Well, Ezra ch10 certainly seems to give a precedent for such a thing. But the context of Ezra should be understood. They had married "pagan" wives, and were also joining into their idolatry. Their act of putting away these wives was really an act of cleansing themselves of paganism. But that is only one such recorded incident. However, Paul does give release from unbelieving spouses, when the unbeliever wishes to leave. (1Cor7:15)

However, when David and Bathsheba sinned, they did not subsequently break up, in order to "fix" things after Uriah was murdered. Trying to put things back the way they were before they sinned. God judged and took the baby in death. But they remained married. And God's grace subsequently chose Solomon from their marriage, even though David had several other wives prior to Bathsheba to whom he was still married, to succeed David to the throne.

We've looked at this before briefly. Let's look at it again. What does Scripture 'teach' about all this? What if there is a divorce? Either REMAIN UNMARRIED, or be reconciled. (1Cor7:11) What if there was a divorce; and then you remarried; and then got divorced from -that- person? According to "Law" you can then no longer be reconciled to your 'first' spouse. (Jer3:1,Deu24:1-4) You've been "defiled" regarding that first marriage, by the second one. Paul uses the expression "first faith" (1Tm5:12) ...that first pledge to fidelity.

Now, suppose you were married, and divorced, and remarried. Now, suppose this marriage has also had incidents of infidelity? And, essentially, after a period of time, one can't keep track anymore of who has been with whom how many times? Then, finally, the consciences are smitten as to the sin of it all; it has been "confessed" before God and "forgiven" (1Jn1:9) and now, there you are...with this mess of various relationships. Who belongs to whom? Do you scurry about trying to find your "first" and thus, go back to your original "innocence"? Trouble is, your "first" might not have been -their- "first" at the time they were -your- "first". ...if you get what is being said. It's a royal 'mess'.

Notice that it is in the context of this chapter where Paul is discussing "marriage" that he says, essentially, "stay put". And if you notice from the opening Scripture quotes, he says this 'three times'; thus emphasizing this point. So, you've been widowed. You're married to an unbeliever. Don't go changing things. Just "stop" where you are. You've been busy playing "musical chairs" but now the music has stopped. You stay where you are. Yes, the past may have been a mess, but when Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery His grace said, "Neither do I give judgment. Go, and SIN -NO-MORE-." (Jn8:11) Sin cannot be un-committed. You cannot un-sleep with somebody. It is water under the bridge, never to be recalled. But when one receives forgiveness of sin, that sin is not remembered any further. "I, even I, am He who blots out your trespasses for My sake; and I will not remember your sins." (Is43:25) And "..all things have become new" (2Cor5:17) Yes, there may be the physical mess, and possible diseases. But before the Lord, the person has a 'fresh start' ...where they are at. "This" is where you are... go 'forward' from here-on-out. "..sin no more."

True... you may not be with your "first" one. But God's grace has a way of causing "all things [to] work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to purpose." (Rom8:28) And so, wherever you are now, receive God's chastizement and forgiveness, and then "Hold fast to that which you have, so that no one may take your crown.." (Rev3:11)

Amen!

Related Topic: Divorce, Not God's Design (Mt19:3-12)
Q/A -Righting the Wrongs

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#7 -Stay Put as Homosexual?

QUESTION:
Can a homosexual be saved and still living with his male partner? Is there a such thing as a homosexual christian? What about a celibate homosexual?

ANSWER:
Why is it that when I figure 'all the bases' have been covered on a given subject, that something else comes popping along..!!

No. No! NO! Again I say... "!!-NO-!!"

One of the definitions of "ungodliness" and "unrighteousness" for which God's "wrath" is revealed from heaven is women who have "changed the natural use into that which is against nature" and men who have left the "natural use of the woman" have gone into "males with males working out shamefulness". (Rom1:18,26-27) God made them in the beginning "male and female". (Gen1:27) The design was to be "fruitful". (vs28) And the command was that the "man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his -WIFE- and they shall be ONE FLESH." (Gen2:24) Like I've heard on several occasions, God made "Adam and Eve", not "Adam and Steve". Even cross-dressing is called "-ABOMINABLE- to Jehovah your God." (Deu22:5) I wonder what Scripture would have said about sex-change operations! I dare say it fits along with this last cited reference.

The woman who was brought to Jesus was accused of whoredom. Jesus said to her, "Go and SIN -NO-MORE-" (Jn8:11) Now, if one wants to pick at degrees, whoredom, at least, is "male and female". And Jesus says, "sin no more". Don't 'stay put' being a "working girl"; after all, doesn't she need to "earn a living" to "put herself through college"? !!! By comparison, God rained down fire and brimstone onto Sodom and Gomorrah, and utterly destroyed them.

Obviously, the message is clear. If you have a homosexual past, get OUT OF it! Reject it! Put away those acquaintances! "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not go in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn from it and pass on." (Pr4:14-15) And by the same token, if you are "in" that path... LEAVE IT! "Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom6:1-2)

How can something which God calls "abominable", "shameful", "perverted" (Lev18:22), "defilement" (vs23-24) and "detestable" (20:13) [various such words, depending on which translation you are reading] be called "Christian"? It isn't!

In 1Cor ch7 Paul is talking about the God-ordained "male and female" relationships. -That- is the relationship (or lack of one) in which to "stay put".

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