Biblical evidence of worshiping God via a picture


For example, the pillars of cloud and fire and the burning bush

Joshua crossing the Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant (1800), by Benjamin West (1738-1820) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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Sometimes we miss things in the Bible even though they are right in front of us. Some of our Protestant brethren (mostly Calvinists but also other faiths) have an almost obsessive fear of any image associated with worship, believing that all of these manifestations are examples of idolatry and undue exaltation of a “graven image. “. This has led some fanatic elements to oppose even the crucifixes and statues of Christ as idols. In other words, all images whatsoever are collapsed into this mistaken mentality in the category of “graven image” in the Ten Commandments. But the Bible does not take this point of view at all. Here is a striking example:

Exodus 33: 8-10 (KJV) Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people arose, and each one stood at the door of his tent, and look at after Moses, until he entered the tent. [9] When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the Lord spoke to Moses. [10] And when everyone seen the pillar of the cloud standing at the tent door, all the people would stand up and worship, each at his tent door.

Note that the pillar of the cloud is:

1) a creation (water, if it is a literal cloud);

2) visual, hence a picture;


3) thought directly represent God Himself.

It is also a supernatural manifestation, which is a major difference from any real human-made idol; but it wouldn’t make any difference to those who mistakenly think that any image associated with God is inadmissible. The problem comes when God himself expressly sanctions such images, and worship in conjunction with them, as here.

The same iconoclasts (opponents of the images) must explain things like the burning bush (Ex 3: 2-6), which is not only fire, but also called an “angel of the Lord” (Ex 3: 2), yet also “God” (3: 4, 6, 11, 13-16, 18; 4: 5, 7-8) and “the LORD” (3: 7, 16, 18; 4: 2, 4-6, 10 -11, 14) interchangeably. An angel is a creation (like fire and cloud); yet God chose to use a created being and inanimate objects to visibly represent Him. Several similar examples occur in the Old Testament. Additionally, the Jews “worshiped” fire as a representative of God in the following passage:

2 Chronicles 7: 1-4 When Solomon had finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. [2] And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. [3] When all the children of Israel seen the fire comes down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement, and bowed down and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his unwavering love endures forever.” ” [4] So the king and all the people sacrifice offered before the Lord.

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