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January 8, 2003

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Q/A Topics:
Cross (re: "How to Get Rid of Idols")

READER COMMENTS:
I hear what you are saying. However (love that word!), there is one consideration that is important to me. The cross reminds me of what Jesus did for me. I don't see it as a graven image leading to worshipping a false idol. I see a cross and immediately can feel the enormous sacrifice which was made for me. I also see the cross as a reminder of the Ten Commandments, the first three being vertical between my and my Lord and the other seven being horizontal between me and His other precious created beings.

When I see alternative rock stars wearing crosses and singing of devil worship, suicide, etc., I curdle. When I see a cross in a religious building, it reminds me of why I am there. I am sure this disappoints you because I so often agree with what you have to say. Help me with this, and please don't lose patience with me! I understand what's wrong with Halloween, Easter bunnies, Santas, etc. I know the birth of Jesus was not in December. I understand all that, but I don't understand why a cross can keep me on track and yet be wrong!

VW ANSWER:
First of all, before I address specific points in this person's e-mail, let me remind you-all, for the sake of newer subscribers, that whatever I preach, I practice. Whatever I proclaim from Scripture to "come out from among them" or to "put away ???", I've done it. I used to be there, and came out. I used to observe, and have quit. I used to do, and have stopped. I used to try to put "Christ -back- into X-mass". I used to use the symbol of the cross: back years ago when I was doing church concerts, the literature I would send out had a cross as part of its artwork and letterhead. At X-mass time, I would decorate the front of the house with lights in the shape of a cross. In fact, when I was tired of regular bulbs burning out, I came up with a clever (cool-looking) scheme using LEDs, with a red cross in the middle of a star-of-David. And this was my way, in my mind, of "witnessing" to the neighborhood. So please believe me when I say that I -understand- the emotional/mental anguish a person goes through when they come to realize something is wrong, and steps must be taken to correct the error; even though that error had -seemed- sooo 'right' for so many years. I also know what it is to not realize that something is even wrong. Back when I was using the cross, and returned people's greetings with "-Blessed- Christmas", if somebody like who I am now, had come along and proclaimed what I do, I likely would have look askance at them, with crossed-eyes, and shaken my head in 'pity' at them for being such a 'weirdo'. Well...now -I'm- the weirdo, yes indeedies! ...and I make no apologies for it... because it's Scriptural. Since my life became Ezra-10'ed (coming up on) 12 years ago, and the filth got cleaned out of my life, I've been seeing things in Scripture a lot more clearly.

This commentary resulted in only 2 responses (the other was an "Amen" note)...which is usually the case with the 'stronger' writings/mailings like this one was. But I suspect this person's comments echo the thoughts of many of you. I suspect I might have even written one like it in years past. Since I hear from this person on a regular basis, I think I have come to understand that they do love the Lord.

But this, now, addresses 'application'. It's one thing to read the Ten Commandments. It is quite another to -fully- obey them. It is one thing to "call upon the name of the Lord" (Ac2:21), but it's quite another to have a "perfect heart" (2Ki20:3) before God.

If I may...let's take a few phrases from the comments, and address them:

COMMENT:
"there is one consideration that is important to me"

VW:
But, what is important to God? What did -God- say? That's what is important.

COMMENT:
"The cross reminds me of what Jesus did for me"

VW:
But, this is not what Jesus commanded. Jesus instituted the bread and the cup, and says, "do this in -remembrance- of Me" (Lk22:19) And Paul says, "For as often as you may eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lordís death until He comes." (1Cor11:26) Yes, Jesus died on the cross; but His command regarding its "remembrance" is the Lord's Supper, not the pagan cross.

Remember, the cross was not a Jewish symbol, nor from any of God's commands of the "patterns" to be observed carefully as they had "been shown" (Ex25:40) because it WAS NOT -SHOWN-, but is from Rome. It was a "Roman" cross upon which Jesus died, and Rome to-this-day continues to crucify Him, saying that His wounds "continually bleed"! But Jesus died "once for all". Rome, satan's emissary, wishes to keep Christ crucified. They reject His resurrection to Eternal Life, just like the early Jews did. (Ac4:2)

Saul excused his disobedience by saying it was for "sacrifice to God" (1Sa15:21), but Samuel retorts back to him, "Has Jehovah as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in to obey the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (vs22)

COMMENT:
"I also see the cross as a reminder of the Ten Commandments, the first three being vertical between my and my Lord and the other seven being horizontal between me and His other precious created beings."

VW:
Whoooaaa Nelly!!! Sorry! NYETT!! IIYE!!! NOT!!! The 2nd Commandment says, "You shall not make for yourselves...any likeness..." (Ex20:4) for the purposes of worship. When you "remember" Christ's work on the cross, that is a form of worship. If the trinket in the shape of a cross is "reminding" you, you are allowing a "likeness" to help you worship. Israel's primay fault before God was idolatry...they bowed to idols. That's Commandment #3. Before one can bow to an idol, there has to be an idol to which to bow. That's why #2 comes before #3. If you don't have likenesses, you won't be worshiping them. And...the very fact that a person (any person) would become defensive about an 'object' like that, suggests that they are looking -at- the 'object'...the "likeness".

In contrast...and we already said this...but will repeat it: What did -GOD- give for "remembering" the Law? "And these -Words- which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart....and...You shall write them (the -Words-) on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (De6:6-9) The -WORDS-. The Word of God.

The very fact that rock stars wear the symbol, in and of itself, should be reason enough for a Christian -NOT- to! Satanists use the cross in their rituals. Catholicism continually makes the "sign of the cross". And as I understand it (although don't have the data at my fingertips at the moment) the cross actually originated in Egypt's paganism. If you want to have the cross, others might just as well consider you to be in affinity with the rock stars or catholicism..!! Seriously!!

The cross is -WORTHLESS- as a "witnessing" tool. All the years I would put out the 'cross' lights at X-mass time, I don't remember a single notice or comment about it, or its significance. However (in the January article I mentioned buying some 'calendars'...this year I got one for next to the customer counter area at the store with Scripture verses under the pictures) Friday (barely the 2nd day back for the new year) already, one of my customers noticed the Scripture, and commented on it. In light of these recent mailings, I took special note of the incident!

COMMENT:
"I don't understand why a cross can keep me on track and yet be wrong!"

VW:
Aaah, but! If you look to a trinket of a cross, are you -truly- "on track"?? If you are resting on "feelings"...well, charismania is based on 'feelings', too...and they are demonic. Since satan doesn't have the -genuine- Holy Spirit, all he has to work with is feelings...so he conns people with their feelings. If it -feels- "right", it must be.

Again...that's why we have the Scriptures. Yes, we are creatures of feelings. When the Holy Spirit works in our lives, a by-product of His work, as our hearts are cleansed, getting them closer to "perfection", there certainly will be feelings of remorse for our sins, and feelings of gratitude for God's mercy. But if all we have is "feelings" (like that song..."feelings...nothing more that feelings..."), that is a slip-sliding-slope.

Again...that's why we have the Scriptures. Remember: the Holy Spirit wrote the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit indwells the Believer. And so... if our 'feelings' do not match up with Scripture's authentication, our feelings are 'wrong'. In other words, contrary to what the world teaches: If it feels right, it might not necessarily -be- right!

That's why we have the Scriptures! 2Tim3:14-17 Everything we need, to have a perfect heart before God is found there.

And regarding "what to do" regarding the cross? What did Hezekiah do with Moses' cross? He "broke it in pieces". (2Ki18:4) And what was the verdict upon his actions? Let's repeat the Word which we already have considered:

"He did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah...He trusted in Jehovah the God of Israel, so that after him was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he clung to Jehovah; he did not turn aside from following after Him, but kept His commandments, which Jehovah had commanded Moses. Jehovah was with him; he prospered wherever he went." (2Ki18:3,5-7)

Forget "feelings"... What does God's -WORD- say?

Amen!

Related file: Q/A -the Cross is Pagan?

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Fish? Dove?

READER QUESTION:
I see many cars today with the christian fish symbol on them, what are your views on this?

VW ANSWER:
Dagon, the god of the Philistines, whose head God knocked off to the ground when they had stolen the ark from Israel (1Sam5:4), was a -fish-...atop a human torso.

"You shall not make for yourself...any likeness of anything in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth.." (Ex20:4) I'd say "in the waters" pretty much covers "fish", don't you think.

And while we're at it, if "in the waters" covers -fish-, would you also not say that "in the heavens above" also covers the -dove-.

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You 'are' gods?

READER QUESTION:
what does Psalm 82:6 mean when it says : I have said, Ye are gods; all of you are chiildren of the most High.? The way it reads I thought it is God speaking about men. The closest I can come is that some men are kings. But that is not true for most of us.

VW ANSWER:
Well, actually, the entire Psalm 82 is against false gods. It opens by proclaiming that God judges amongst the "gods" (vs1) It speaks against idolatry...and the hypocrisy of idolatry, compared to "pure religion" (Jac1:27) of helping the poor and needy. (vs3-4)

And vs6 has actually been slightly mis-translated in other versions. The word "are" is not actually in the text. It should actually be more like, "I have said, You gods, all of you are sons of the Most High." It is actually addressing all these false 'gods' that are worshipped, telling them that they are no better than men. As men die and are judged, so are they. (vs7) Any of the beings that are worshipped in idolatry (demons...fallen angels) were created by God...thus, they are also called "sons of God". (Gen6:2, Job1:6) The 'gods' are not ultimate... God, the Most High, is.


READER COMMENTS:
In reading your response to the You 'are' gods question, the answer you gave about the misuse of the word 'are' sure clears that up. The question that comes to mind is when Jesus quotes this phrase in John 10:34. The context of the phrase without the use of the word 'are' does not seem to fit in the context of the question Jesus was posing at the time.

VW ANSWER:
Well...the two passages are obviously about two different subjects.

This is done often, however...taking an element of Truth from out of the context of a broader subject...the broad subject containing many smaller potential sub-topics...and using the valid truth of the subtopic in the context of another separate broader topic.

e.g. Joel2:32 "..whoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall escape.." The word for "escape" there is "malat" meaning to "slip away, escape, be delivered"...to escape physical catastrophe/danger. The context is the time of God's physical catastrophic judgments upon the world with the earthquakes, volcanos, asteroids, etc. However, when Peter quotes from the same passage in Ac2:21, while he quotes the same -physical- context of God's judgment, his intent is for his hearers to be "saved" spiritually (as if Joel had instead said, "yasha") After all, David was continually "calling upon" God for "deliverance" (from his enemies -Ps3:7) as well as for "salvation" (as he was following God's precepts -Ps119:94), and David was, as Joel says, 'calling upon God' for both of these things.

It would seem that Jesus did a similar thing, in taking a Psalm concept of some entities other than "Jehovah" being called with the labels of "gods", something His hearers understood, to drive home a point to their stubborn/rebellious hearts about His own Deity. The Jews could understand that there were other entities called "gods", but could not allow for Him, who truly is God, to call Himself "God". It would seem obvious that Jesus was using the sub-topic in that O.T. example to try to "reason together" (Is1:18) with them.

And in using the word "are", perhaps Jesus was quoting from the Septuagint? If Jesus were walking the earth today amongst English-speaking people, He would likely be quoting from one of the current English translations (errors and all?). Since, as English is the world language today, Greek was back then, it would have made sense that He 'might' have quoted from the Greek translation of the O.T., as many of the others in the N.T. did?

But the word "are" is not in that spot in the Hebrew at Ps82:6. Even if a person doesn't have the study tools to look it up, in your KJV you will notice the word "are" is in italics; italics indicating a word that was not in the texts, but the translators decided to add, for whatever their reasons.

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Worm does not Die? (re: "Who is God?")

READER QUESTION:
In your, Response to the Invitation (Is57), I have a question? It says, and so, while the righteous are in His Presence, once that time has been reached, God will satisfy "His anger",put the wicked into the Lake of Fire.(Rev.20:14-15)Where their worm does not die,nor is their fire quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh(Is66:24)

I don't understand what it means when it says, "where their worm does not die? can you explain this to me?

VW ANSWER:
I expect there's tons of theories on this. I've even heard one that has observed certain worm/serpent-like creatures that congregate around under-sea volcanic lava flows near the bottom of the oceans, suggesting that these creatures are actually dead 'humans', who are now in their 'hell' of these lava flows.

I really do believe the answer is simple. I believe it is a figurative word for "body". As Jesus was dying on the cross, David prophetically proclaims of Him, "I am a worm, and no man.." (Ps22:6) As Job was in misery, he proclaims about himself "my flesh is clothed with worms.." (Job7:5) In speaking of man's depravity, Job proclaims, "..man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!" (Job25:6) In death, "worms" are mentioned repeatedly: "They lie down together in the dust, and worms cover them." (Job21:26) And again: "..the worm shall feed sweetly on him.." (Job24:20) Of those dead in Sheol it says, "The maggot is spread under you, and the worms cover you." (Is14:11) If there's no worms there, there's no body that they are feeding on.

Thus, if 'their' worm (notice the possessive case) does not die, then it follows that the bodies the worms are feeding on, are also not going away. They do not go into 'oblivion' and "cease to exist". There is always an existence. And in the case of the unbeliever, that existence is in the fire that is not quenched. And just as a magot-infested body is repulsive to others who see the body, so will unbelievers be to those enjoying Eternal Life.

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