4 Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, not the likeness of any thing that is in
heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under
the earth. Douay-Rheims
Scofield Reference Bible: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image...
5 Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them, I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me:
6 An shewing mercy unto thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments.
This is a commandment that has special meaning for me for a number of reasons,
particularly because of my background in the media. Particularly, radio annonuncing, and
writing and producing commercials.
When you sell commercials to a company, what you're selling is called
"impressions". If you buy 100 advertisements, you'll make 100 impressions,
multiplied by the number of people watching or listening to the ad.
In 30-60 seconds, you have the opportunity to make an impression, and create an image of
the product with that audience, hopefully one that causes them to have confidence in the
product and be willing to purchase it because it's a good product, it's reliable or the
pictures in the ad make you mentally associate good thoughts with the product.
The thing about writing radio advertising, especially in the "old days" and in
smaller stations, where commercials aren't always written by agencies, you didn't really
know what the company or product was like, but you made sure that you made tht kind of
product of theirs sound as good as that kind of product or company could.
The same kind of image creation goes on every day in our lives, particularly through
television with biased news reporting, health information called news that might lead you
to use a certain drug or pharmaceutical, politicians making capaign promises they have no
intention of doing, although they'll make it seem like they did something called progress,
ads that get us to buy products, ministers of a particular political persuasion being used
to present the image of Christians or Muslims or practically anyone in a way that suits
What I want to make clear is that the art of causing you to perceive and develop
"images" of things is now a science, and people and speakers with ulterior
motives can use that science to deceive you, easily.
The problem is, once an image of something is created in your mind about something, that
is treated as if it is "a truth" in the data in your mind, and everything else
you discover and experience about that thing is then compared to the original image as
your mind compares notes and connects dots, and decides what is or isn't true, what is
right or wrong, based on its consistency with the original image.
In law, we would call this setting a precedent.
This is the same thing I was talking about in the chapter From the Beginning of Time. How
your mind stores information and relates them with an index of pictures, feeling and
senses that allow you to recall them when other things happen that remind you of them.
How this all relates to this commandments is to cause you to further realize how many of
our opinions and beliefs are because of the images created in our minds by "ouside
forces", the media, the internet, religious leaders, etc, who wanted us to adopt a
particular way of thinking of thinking for their own reasons.
There are some corporations who use a method of propaganda called "creating
doubt". No matter what, for example, scientists may say about climate change as we
currently understand it, certain corporations are more than willing and able to pay
someone thousands of dollars to produce a report to create doubt about climate change, and
then, cause a stalemate in public and legislative debate so that the issue is never fully
resolved, and the corporate interests are not harmed or impeded by progress or regulation.
I've included the quotation of this commandment, the first verse of it because it provides
translations that include different language, and I believe that both ways of interpreting
that verse are very worthwhile.
Long ago, before there were cameras, when people wanted to honor or commemorate someone,
they created a sculpture or a graven image, an engraved image in metal or stone, and then
when people worshipped pagan gods and heroes, they would use the engraving or sculpture to
focus their "worship" toward.
In many ways, it's no different that having a crucifix to remind you of Jesus and his
sacrifice, and when praying or thinking about things, it can put you in mental state
conducing to such inquiry.
The United Nations recently passed a resolution stating that it was illegal to criticize
Islam. Part of their reason has to be the scandal of people disrepecting their religion by
publishing a picture depicting the prophet Muhammad, which is not allowed in their
Why would that be so important to them? The same reason it's important to God, and the
same reason it should be important to Christians.
Whenever an image of something or someone is created, that becomes the picture of that
person or scene in our minds.
When we see real pictures of war, it's very gruesome and no moral person could objectively
say that war is gloriful if you acknowledge what it really does and what it produces in
the world. Yet, we create statues commemorating people and scenes from history that may
rightfully depict them as brave and honorable heroes, but we're never reminded of the horrors the war created.
We claim to be a nation of peace and justice, free press and freedom of speech, and yet,
people demonstrating for peace in record numbers around the world were
depicted as activists
and extremists, unpatriotic. Their image was created as that of "old hippies who
never grew up" or anarchists.
Graven images were created of those people, doing God's work for
example, for trying to spread the truth about the deceptions that led us into the Iraq
war, information in the public domain, in all the mainstream newspapers and media, even,
proving that the government's claims of a threat from Iraq were lies- every one of them.
Christians are depicted as fenatics, extremists, reactionaries,
ininformed, archaic, hypcrites, silly, superstitious, old fashioned and prudish. They're
either socialists or war mongering, tough love Republicans.
Graven images. But we honor them, because it fits our response to fear, to
decide to believe leaders, with a long record of deceiving people, instead of dealing with
the facts and actually resolving real issues. And we take pictures of these deceivers and
we put them on tv and praise them like heroes and gods like those described in what we
call mythology, saviors and defenders of the people, when all the time, the same people
are simply following orders to carry out corporate and military functions deemed sutiable
for the business affairs of the ogliarchical kingdoms and dynasties of those who believe
their ways are better than God's. That control is better than liberty.
Talk about your false gods and idols. And yet, we put them and their
judgment above the will and wyas and judgment of God all the time. That's what leads tog
going along to get along, the overlooking of integrity issues by ministers envisioning
themselves as those who would alter the course of government and Christianity by
compromising one core principle after another, also called apostasy. And then we hold
those apostates as those to follow, our great intercessors with God, who also deceive us
and lead us to go along, and empower their apostasy, whether they know it or not, whether
they're awake and seeking truth or not, whether their congregations know it or not...
because we want to believe we can trust our leaders. And we put them ahead of God every
time we simply take their word in speeches and pontifications and don't learn for
ourselves so that we know whether it's consistent with God's ways or not. And we don't
listen to new voices or information once our minds are made up, if only because we're glad
to have come to an opinion, and don't have to think about it anymore.
God is depicted as wrathful, tyrannically judgmental, afflicting us with
plagues of disease and famine and drought for our disobedience, vengeful and... frankly, I
can't remember a single time when I recall God's power and might being associated with
charitable and compassionate acts, but when I think of it, somehow I always think of God's
power as that of a warrior and disciplinarian.
Then I think about how beautiful the world is, how God gave us love and partners to marry
and everything we need really, and instructions, rules, commandments, that, if followed
would allow us to have an incedibly fun and wonderful life without fear and disease and
all the things that we pray to God to relieve us of, and say we have faith that He will
At times, when left with the image of the violent, Almighty God, I've wondered if that
would be the kind of God I would serve, worship and respect.
Then I think about the God who created such a beautiful world that I know that such a God
would not be the kind to do evil to something and spirits and beings He created out of
While I know that every leader, every father, has to make some tough decisions and do some
things that aren't pleasant, such as defend His the people and spirits who are of His
flock, His children, God would not do harm and present the example of violence to a
beingness, a cosmos, that He has patiently waited for, like a parent and their child,
while it learned to choose ways that are more sustainable and consistent with the simple
rules He said were important, and to shed the DNA, the part of us bred in that makes
violence a natural and dominant attribute of being human.
When people ar constantly barraging you with images to cause you to be concerned about
your safety, and examples of justice being served by violence, that part of humanity
persists and, in time, could prevail, if it's not stopped.
These graven images of God presenting Him as anything other than a loving God, like a
parent with a child maturing into adulthood when they can also be friends... it simply is
not so. And still, He finds ways to take actions, actions we will soon come to
understand fully so we can adopt His ways, actions that are hard choices and requires a
leader who can follow a plan in a way that ensures equality, liberty and justice for all
in the process.
It's actually not difficult if you actually want to do it. It becomes
difficult when the evil would prefer to trick you into believing things that impede the
ability to implement restoral of values and ways that are nurturing and compassionate for
all and everything, because they prefer to have total control.
And they know God actually wants to give you control. Not in a
"majority rules" way. In a "the majority is responsibility for the liberty,
welfare and rights of every person", and not just representative of their own
philosophies and ideologies.
Since 1991, the number of people in the United States who claim to believe
in God has fallen 15%. What graven images have been cast that would cause that. The
conduct of churches, ministers Christians and spiritual people, media, government, what
would cause that. There is no single right answer to that question. It all adds up, bit by
bit, to the same conclusions. And the promotion of anti-Christian values are promoted and,
as temptations often are, are very successful.
What I find more interesting in this perspective that, when the
commandment says "Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them"... , considering
the idols we create in society to further politics and marketing schemes, the "false
gods" in leadership, people claiming that a few good deeds actually proves the
totality of their Christianity or goodness despite the many more acts you don't know about
that prove their hypocrisy and sociopathy...
Don't you hate it when people judge you based on rumor, gossip, seeing you doing one thing
or taking your actions or words out of context?
So does God. So as an interesting Catch-22, trick answer or proof of what God is like,
this verse offers you a challenge, something to think about. If you were God, and what you
do is give love, create from love, understand from love and forgive from love, like a
parent, would you want people to respect you for being a person of love, or the wrongly
described person who instills fear and terror in them to get them to obey?
God would not want you to even adore Him if your image of Him is that of a violent,
tyrannical vengeful force.
These days, the way the media works, people say that any publicity is good publicity.
People believe it, and it gives the media a chance and excuse to train us to destroy
people's lives for fun and profit. And then, even good Christians, moral and ethical
people adopt those anti-Christian because they believe it's the only way to get ahead or
succeed. And that's when Satan traps us.
That's when we've been trained to pray to God, lamenting why God would
have us in a situation of hardship or trouble, forgetting that such kinds of work is the
work of the Devil, evil people causing a world of tricks and traps for those who would
obey the rules and laws, while they craft the laws that allow them to break the law.
God emphatically demands that people stop creating graven images of Him,
particularly ministers who perpetuate the idea that God would cause problems in their
lives to make them better people. Satan causes problems. The faithful are better people
not because they can resist or falter sometimes, but because they choose to consciously
resist the temptations that would have them choose ways that harm and diminish others and
God is more like a guy who says, you're free to do nearly anything you want on your own
time and in your own place, but in my house, these are the rules. Obey these, and we'll
get along fine. And I'll be patient, but if you persist in disrupting the peace of my
home, and if you insist on harming other people and putting evil ideas in their heads,
then I'll put a stop to it, and you won't be welcome in my home anymore.
That's a pretty fair deal.
There's another aspect to this all. The idea of making images, especially things we'd
consider sacred, things we really don't have proof of how they appear, yet, create images
to depict them. They may seem like simple symbols or depictions, but they create an
expectation. And, unless you can truly understand and be aware that these depictions are
depictions and not actual images of the real thing, then they do noreal harm, and can be
For example: did Jesus really look like the pictures we see of Jesus, long
hair and all? If Jesus appeared tomorrow and didn't look like that, would you believe he
What does God look like? Are you sure you've never seen God in the flesh? How would you
Back in 2003, CNN presented a special program called "The Mystery of Jesus" in
which they had a man construct what He believed the face of Jesus really looked like, and
left you with the impression that Jesus would look more like someone of Arab or even
Arab-African descent. If you read the Bible literally, you might think that the Second
Coming of Christ would be of a man from Italy, however, when understanding the paradigms
of the Bible, you would understand that He would rise from the ruling empire, which is, at
this time, the United States.
If you didn't have a pre-determined belief or mental picture of what God or Jesus looked
and acted like, how would you know?
That's the problem. You don't. But I'll bet you have an expectation of what you think
would convince you.
Of course, there are simpler interpretations of this commandment, including that we should
not make images for the purpose of giving praise or worship to other people or
"images" who would we would think of before considering God and God's wisdom.
Like, believing we should do what a president says over what God's commandments are. This
would include pagan gods or even just superstitious emblems.
Because, God is a jealous God, and it's understandable.
If you had a child, and built an entire backyard jungle gym and play area with everything
a child could want, and that child, no matter what you told them or did to prove to them
that you were the one who gave it to them... if that child still always thanked someone
else and acted like they loved them more than you, you'd be jealous.
And when things go wrong, or you need advice, a parent loves to know their child would
trust them and love them and know they are loved so much that the child would come to them
before anyone else.
God wants to be that kind of "parent" to you and all of us, and He wants us, His
children to know that's the kind of "parent" He wants to be. He really believes
in liberty and choice, and sometimes I think that He's a little too permissive, but that
just goes to show how patient and understanding God really is.
There isn't anything God wants more than our happiness. That's the kind of image God hopes
you have of Him.