Chapter 5:

Forbidden Images

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When Yahweh created man, He created him in His own image; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:26-27
26 Then Elohim said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So Elohim created man in His own image; in the image of Elohim He created him; male and female He created them.
26 וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ | וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל הָרֶמֶשׂ הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל הָאָרֶץ:
27 וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ | זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בָּרָא אֹתָם

In Hebrew, the phrase “in our image” is b’tsalmenu (בְּצַלְמֵנוּ). The root of this word is tsalem (צלמ), which means (essentially) ‘shadow.’

OT:6754 tselem (tseh’-lem); from an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, i.e. (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence, a representative figure, especially an idol

While husband and wife essentially also make children in Yahweh’s image and shadow, children are not the kinds of ‘images’ that Scripture forbids us to make. So what are? In Revelation and the End Times, we explain how Jeremiah tells us that just prior to the ingathering, Yahweh will suddenly destroy the land where His people Ephraim and Judah have been living.

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 50:1-5
1 The word that Yahweh spoke against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.
2 “Declare mong the nations, proclaim, and set up a standard; proclaim — do not conceal it — Say, ‘Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are humiliated, her images are broken in pieces.’
3 For out of the north a nation comes up against her, which shall make her land desolate, and no one shall dwell therein. They shall move, they shall depart, both man and beast.
4 “In those days and in that time,” says Yahweh, “The children of Israel (Ephraim) shall come, they and the children of Judah together: with continual weeping they shall come, and seek Yahweh their Elohim.
5 They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces toward it, saying, ‘Come and let us join ourselves to Yahweh in a perpetual covenant that will not be forgotten.’”

In verse 38, Yahweh tells us the reason the land (where His people Ephraim and Judah have been living) will be destroyed is that “it is the land of carved images, and they are insane with their idols.” Yet Yahweh will free His people from this great spiritual oppression.

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 50:33-38
33 Thus says Yahweh of hosts:
“The children of Israel (Ephraim) were oppressed, along with the children of Judah: all who took them captive have held them fast; they have refused to let them go.
34 Their Redeemer is strong; Yahweh of hosts is His name. He will thoroughly plead their case, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.
35 “A sword is against the Chaldeans,” says Yahweh, “Against the inhabitants of Babylon, and against her princes and her wise men.
36 A sword is against the soothsayers, and they will be fools. A sword is against her mighty men, and they will be dismayed.
37 A sword is against their horses, against their chariots, and against all the mixed peoples who are in her midst; and they will become like women. A sword is against her treasures, and they will be robbed.
38 A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up, for it is the land of carved images, and they are insane with their idols.”

In verse 42, Yahweh tells us this land (where His people Ephraim and Judah have been living) is a land of mixed peoples. He calls it “the daughter of Babylon.”

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 50:41-42
41 “Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation and many kings shall be raised up from the ends of the earth.
42 They shall hold the bow and the lance; they are cruel and shall not show mercy. Their voice shall roar like the sea; they shall ride on horses, set in array, like a man for the battle, against you, O daughter of Babylon.”

In Revelation and the End Times, we explain how the only land that fits all the prophecies over the daughter of Babylon is America, a land of mixed peoples and many images which is insane with their idols. However, most American Ephraimites and Jews do not bow down to statues of Buddha, or have totem poles in their yard. What kind of idols and images are these? Is it possible that most of us living in America do not recognize these idols and images for what they are?

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 10:1-5
1 Hear the word which Yahweh speaks to you, O House of Israel.
2 Thus says Yahweh: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
They fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.
5 They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.”

Yahweh tells Ephraim not to learn “the way of the Gentiles” by cutting a tree from the forest, decorating it with silver and gold, and then bowing down to it; yet many commentators agree that this is basically what the average Christian does with his Christmas tree. Neither Christmas nor Christmas trees are commanded anywhere in Scripture, yet most Christians decorate their trees with silver or gold tinsel; yet if one watches closely, they essentially bow down before the tree (which is a symbol of Nimrod) when they go to get their presents. Most Christians will vehemently deny that they worship a tree, yet Yahweh tells us that He sees things with different eyes than we humans do.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:8-9
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says Yahweh.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

So if Jeremiah tells us that Christmas trees are idols, and if Yahweh’s people are ‘bowing down’ to Christmas trees without realizing it, then are there yet more idols that His people serve, without realizing it?

Yahweh tells us one of the reasons He created us was to give Him glory, so we would glorify Him.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 43:7
7 “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

Further, as we show in the study ‘Heart of Wisdom,’ it is considered great wisdom to ‘number our days.’

Tehillim (Psalms) 90:10-12
10 The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

By numbering our days, we see how little time we really have to glorify Yahweh before the judgment comes. We have so little time to spend with Him. Therefore, is Yahweh really pleased when we spend our time paying attention to things which are not really of Him, and which bring Him and His Son no glory?

There are many different words for idols and images in Hebrew, yet the one thing they all have in common is that they describe something which is not of the Father; yet it nonetheless appeals to the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, or the pride of life.

Yochanan Aleph (1st John) 2:16
16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.

If we are set apart from the world, we must no longer chase after the things of the world. If salvation does not change our behavior, then how are we set apart?

As we show in other places, rather than walking in the ways of the world, Yahweh expects us to turn and begin seeking His face, hearing and obeying His voice, and keeping our eyes on His Son. Indeed, Matthew tells us that so long as Kepha (Peter) kept his eyes on Yeshua, he was even able to walk on water.

MattithYahu (Matthew) 14:28-31
28 And Kepha (Peter) answered Him and said, “Adon, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Kepha had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Yeshua.
30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Adon, save me!”
31 And immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

This story is not only literal, but it also has spiritual parallels. We also must keep our eyes on Elohim.

If we look at the Ten Commandments, we can see that the first of the Ten Commandments is to recognize who Yahweh is; and then to love Him with all of our hearts, and to have no other elohim (g-ds) before Him.

Exodus 20:1-3
1 And Elohim spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am Yahweh your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other elohim before My face.”
2 אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ | אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים: | 
3 לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל פָּנָיַ:

The second of the commandments (which is really just a continuation of the very same thought) contains some very important language that is often overlooked, or perhaps misunderstood. In the Second Commandment Yahweh tells us not to make any graven image, or any likeness of anything that exists for ourselves.

Exodus 20:4-6
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
 4 לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל וְכָל תְּמוּנָה אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת | וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ:

What does Yahweh mean here, that we are not to make a carved image, or any likeness of anything that exists ‘for ourselves’ (לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ)? In the Torah, Yahweh told Israel to make bells, pomegranates, a menorah, cherubim, and so forth, to be placed in the tabernacle (and later the temple).

Shemote (Exodus) 25:18
18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.

However, let us remember that these cherubim were normally to be concealed from view.

Moshe (Moses) did put a bronze serpent on a pole, so that anyone bit by a serpent might look on it and live.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 21:8-9
8 Then Yahweh said to Moshe, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”
9 So Moshe made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

However, the reason Moshe made this bronze serpent was simply that Yahweh told him to.

Yahweh commanded Israel to make still more images and objects to be used in His house; however, these things were never to be used anywhere else, and they were to be used for no other purposes, at all, ever.

Shemote (Exodus) 30:31-33
31 “And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This oil of anointing shall be set-apart to Me throughout your generations.
32 It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is set apart, and it shall be set apart to you.
33 Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.'”

Many believers feel that since Yahweh had us make certain images and objects for His house (such as cherubim, a menorah, etcetera), that we should also be able to make these things for ourselves. This is exactly what the Torah prohibits: the making of any image or likeness of anything in heaven, on earth, or in the water underneath for ourselves.

Shemote (Exodus) 20:4
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth….”

Yahweh tells us that Ephraim is a rebellious house, and Ephraimites in general have a hard time understanding why they do not get to do whatever they want. Quite often, what they miss is the fact that Yahweh commands His people to do certain things precisely to test them, so He can know whether they will follow their fleshly desires, or whether they will obey Him instead.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:2
2 “And you shall remember that Yahweh your Elohim led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

Scripture never speaks well of any non-commanded image of worship: non-commanded images of worship are always bad. In fact, non-commanded images upset Yahweh so much that He tells us that those who make non-commanded images for themselves hate Him.

Exodus 20:5-6
5 “you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, Yahweh your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
5 לֹא תִשְׁתַּחְוֶה לָהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם | כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל בָּנִים עַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים לְשֹׂנְאָי: | 
6 וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָי

In verse 5, Yahweh tells us we are not to serve images. What does He mean by this? He gives us a similar warning in Deuteronomy 4:15-18, where He also reminds us that He is not visible, but invisible.

Deuteronomy 4:15-18
15 “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when Yahweh spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire,
16 lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female,
17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,
18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth.
15 וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם | כִּי לֹא רְאִיתֶם כָּל תְּמוּנָה בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֲלֵיכֶם בְּחֹרֵב מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ: 
16 פֶּן תַּשְׁחִתוּן וַעֲשִׂיתֶם לָכֶם פֶּסֶל תְּמוּנַת כָּל סָמֶל | תַּבְנִית זָכָר אוֹ נְקֵבָה:
17 תַּבְנִית כָּל בְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ | תַּבְנִית כָּל צִפּוֹר כָּנָף אֲשֶׁר תָּעוּף בַּשָּׁמָיִם: 
18 תַּבְנִית כָּל רֹמֵשׂ בָּאֲדָמָה | תַּבְנִית כָּל דָּגָה אֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ

Most people see this as a simple prohibition against bowing down to statues such as that of Buddha, or perhaps totem poles; yet as we will see later, this commandment is really much more than that.

In the very next verse, Yahweh tells us that even though we will surely feel driven to do so, we must take heed not serve (worship) the sun, the moon, the stars, or anything in the heavens.

Deuteronomy 4:19
19 And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your Elohim has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.”
19 וּפֶן תִּשָּׂא עֵינֶיךָ הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וְרָאִיתָ אֶת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְאֶת הַיָּרֵחַ וְאֶת הַכּוֹכָבִים כֹּל צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם וְנִדַּחְתָּ וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתָ לָהֶם וַעֲבַדְתָּם | אֲשֶׁר חָלַק יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֹתָם לְכֹל הָעַמִּים תַּחַת כָּל הַשָּׁמָיִם

The Hebrew for ‘and serve’ is וַעֲבַדְתָּם (ve-ah-vad-a-tam), which has the root of עבד (oved), which means to work for, or to serve (in any sense).

OT:5647 `abad (aw-bad’); a primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc.:

The word עבד refers to any kind of attention paid. While Yahweh is most upset when His people bow down to carved idols and figurines, it also upsets Him when they give adoration to other kinds of images. This is true even if these images are intended to remind us of Him, or His Son, or even of the saints, for that is to give attention to something other than the invisible Elohim, who is continually trying to communicate with His people. Why, then, should His people give their attentions to symbols that are supposed to represent Him, but yet which are not Him, even though He has specifically prohibited them from doing this?

Can we imagine a husband patiently trying to gain his bride’s attention over the course of years, calling out to her; yet she does not hear Him, because she keeps staring with adoration at a representation of Him?

Yahweh tells us that He is jealous of our attentions.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:23-24
23 “Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which Yahweh your Elohim has forbidden you.
24 For Yahweh your Elohim is a consuming fire, a jealous Elohim.”

It is a very simple principle; Yahweh wants us to give Him our attention at all times. He tells us again and again in Scripture that what He wants is for us to listen for the sound of His voice, and obey it.

Shemote (Exodus) 19:5
5 “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.”

Like a protective Middle Eastern husband, Yahweh is jealous of His bride’s attention. He gets upset if she pays too much attention to anything other than Him, even if these things are supposed to remind her of Him. Instead, He wants us to focus on Him and Him alone. He wants us to actively listen for His voice.

What kinds of things do we pay attention to in America, rather than listening for His voice? Nike shoes, faster cars, bigger houses, more money, hotter sex, the NFL Super bowl, vacations in Maui, skiing in Vail, slimmer waistlines, MTV — do any of these things honestly do anything to further the Good News of Yeshua? Or do any of these things glorify His Son to the unsaved?

In general, Yahweh wants His people to be materially successful; yet at no time does He want the pursuit of success to eclipse Him as our primary focus, as it has in America.

As we explain in the Nazarene Israel study, the word Hebrew (עברי) means ‘He who crosses over’; and the term alludes to one who has ‘crossed over’ from a focus on the things of the world to a focus on the things of Yahweh’s kingdom, and that which is good in His eyes (charity, love, forgiveness, kindness, etcetera).

The challenge set before any Hebrew is to learn to follow not after beauty, personal glory, or the promise of physical pleasure; but to seek first the kingdom of Elohim, and His righteousness, so that all of His many blessings can then be added to us in a clean way.

Mattithyahu (Matthew) 6:31-33
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

It can be difficult to focus on an Elohim that cannot be seen. However, visible objects of worship short circuit our focus on the invisible Spirit. Even if our purpose in looking at visible icons is to remind ourselves of Him, suddenly we are focusing on the material, rather than the Spirit.

When our ancestor King Jeroboam wanted to break away from the Jewish King Rehoboam, he established golden calves in Dan and Beit El (Bethel), and then told our forefathers to worship these visible objects. Yahweh considered this to be a grievous sin.

Melachim Aleph (1st Kings) 12:28-30
28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your elohim (your g-ds), O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”
29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.

Even though we might say we intend to worship Yahweh by setting up an idol, Yahweh does not consider it worshipful. Similarly, even if we believe that looking on a religious symbol reminds us of Yahweh, really it does not, because Yahweh is invisible, and visible objects are not Him. In this light, notice that, even though Aharon (Aaron) proclaimed a festival to Yahweh when he fashioned the golden calves, it made Yahweh so upset that He was ready to destroy our entire nation.

Shemote (Exodus) 32:4-8
4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your elohim, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh!”
6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
7 And Yahweh said to Moshe, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your elohim, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'”

Yahweh was in the camp with our forefathers the whole time, yet our forefathers still felt the need to mold something visible to worship (and also worshipped on a non-commanded day). However, even though verse 5 tells us that Aharon proclaimed this new feast in honor of Yahweh, verse 8 tells us that Yahweh did not feel that they were worshipping Him, but the golden calf.

It is a simple concept, but we humans seem to have a terrible time accepting it; the invisible Elohim wants us to worship Him and Him alone. Yet because our flesh craves something visible to focus on (or something physical to remind us of Yahweh) we look for all sorts of excuses to manufacture something our eyes can see to worship. In Ezekiel, Yahweh tells us that this literally drives Him out of His sanctuary.

Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 8:6-10
6 Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the House of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.”
7 So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall.
8 Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall”; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door.
9 And He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.”
10 So I went in and saw, and there — every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the House of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls.

In verse 10, Ezekiel saw all sorts of creeping things, abominable beasts, and idols portrayed all around on the walls where the Ephraimites were worshipping. What is this a reference to?

Most Christian churches have visible images on their walls. For example, Greek Orthodox churches typically have various icons and paintings posted on their walls, which serve to distract the people from focusing on the invisible Elohim. And in addition to the images, icons and paintings, most Catholic churches have statues of various saints (as well as of animals, gargoyles, and even demons). Yahweh does not say these things are good; rather, He tells us the reason the elders of the house of Israel display these kinds of unclean images on the walls of their houses of worship is because they say in their hearts, “Yahweh does not see us.”

Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 8:11-14
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the House of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the House of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘Yahweh does not see us, Yahweh has forsaken the land.'”

Next Ezekiel sees ‘women’ of the house of Ephraim in the north gate of Yahweh’s house, weeping for Tammuz.

13 And He said to me, “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.”
14 So He brought me to the door of the north gate of Yahweh’s house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.

In prophecy, a woman normally symbolizes a religious assembly. In this case, the women that are weeping for Tammuz are symbolic of the Christian churches. The reason Yahweh says they are weeping for Tammuz is that Tammuz was a Babylonian sun god, whose sign (or religious icon) was the cross.

Had it been important for us to worship the cross, we would surely have been told to do so; yet we are told just the exact opposite. We are not to make religious images or icons for ourselves. One reason for this is that demons cannot enter in when our focus remains on Yahweh; yet when we take our focus off Yahweh (or off His Son) then demons can easily enter in.

The apostles never told us to use a cross as a symbol; and the cross was not used in the catacombs of Rome until the fourth century. It appears about the time when Constantine became emperor, and merged the Roman sun worship of the day with the Christian variation of the faith. Yet even then, the Catholics did not depict Yeshua hanging on the Cross until some time in the 6th Century CE.

But why would anyone want to worship a cross? If the Messiah was put to death on the symbol of the sun god Tammuz, then why would we want to worship the instrument of His torture? If someone is hit by a car, do we worship the car? If one man used a baseball bat to bludgeon another man to death, should we set up the baseball bat as an object of adoration?

The cross, as we think of it today, is patterned after the Babylonian tau, which is the symbol for Tammuz. In contrast, the word in Scripture is the Greek stauros, which means an upright pole or a stake.

NT:4716 stauros (stow-ros’); from the base of NT:2476; a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of [Messiah]:
KJV – cross.

Looking up the reference to NT:2476, we see that it means not ‘a crosspiece,’ but ‘to stand’ (as vertical).

NT:2476 histemi (his’-tay-mee); a prolonged form of a primary stao (stah’-o) (of the same meaning, and used for it in certain tenses); to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively):

The exact shape of the cross (stake, tree) our Messiah died on is hotly contested. While some insist it was a vertical stake, others say it was a cross, and still others say it was a tree. However, even if it was a cross there were many different shapes for crosses in the first century; and not all of them look like the Babylonian tau. Yet the question remains, even if Yeshua was put to death on a tau shape, why would we want to worship the torture instrument that was used to put our Messiah to death? If someone is shot with a gun, do we sing songs about the gun? And why should we display the Babylonian tau symbol, when the tau has always been the symbol for the sun-god Tammuz, whom the women in the house of Israel weep over?

As we explain in Nazarene Israel, by the first century the Babylonian worship had already spread far and wide, and the cross was a widely used symbol. It was easier for pagans to accept the belief in Yeshua if they were allowed to keep their pagan symbols, so when Constantine created the Universal (Catholic) Church of Rome, he allowed the converting pagans to keep all of their old symbols. This tradition has been handed down to us today, some seventeen hundred years later, even though Yahweh expressly forbids the use of such images in worship.

In verse 15, Yahweh tells us that in the inner court, the house of Israel was facing towards the east, and was worshipping the sun.

Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 8:15-16
15 Then He said to me, “Have you seen this, O
son of man? Turn again: You will see greater abominations than these.”
16 So He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house; and there, at the door of the Temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the Temple of Yahweh and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.

Clement of Alexandria (150-210 CE) records the early Christian practice of praying facing east at sunrise, as does Origen (185-254 CE). It was in 258 CE when Cyprian (Bishop of Carthage) exhorted Christians to pray to the East at sunrise, regardless of the direction in which Jerusalem (where the temple stood) lay.

But why would any of this be a big deal? As we explain in The Torah Calendar, Yahweh considers that we obey the person whose calendar we keep. If we keep Yahweh’s calendar, Yahweh considers that we obey Him. If we keep the rabbinical calendar, Yahweh considers that we obey the rabbis. If we keep a sun centered calendar, Yahweh considers that we are worshipping the sun (not Him).

It boils down to a simple question of obedience. Are we obeying Yahweh, and doing what He asks? Surely we obey our earthly employers, and we are careful to do what they ask, because we need to be true to the pay if we want to receive our paychecks. So if we also care about our eternal salvation, then are we doing what Yahweh asks? And if not, then how can we honestly say that we fear and love our Creator?

Yet the house of Ephraim is not the only one who profanes Yahweh’s places of worship with unclean images and symbols. Proponents of the so-called Magen David (Shield’ of David) argue that the Magen David is composed of two ancient Paleo Hebrew dalets (which looks like triangles) superimposed over each other. Because it is ancient, the rabbis say that it is a perfectly valid image for use in today’s times, even though the second commandment expressly prohibits us from making religious images for ourselves.

The problem with this argument is that even though the Magen David is an ancient image, an image is not by definition ‘clean,’ simply because it is old. If the fact that an image was used in antiquity is all that is required to make it clean, then one would also have to accept the use of Jeroboam’s golden calves as a valid image, since they also were used in ancient times.

Melachim Aleph (1st Kings) 12:28
28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your elohim, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

By the principle of equal weights and measures (Deut. 25:15), we would have to concede that the golden calf was also a clean image, since it predated King David’s time by at least five hundred years.

Shemote (Exodus) 32:5
5 So when Aharon saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aharon made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh!”

The rabbis sometimes argue that if one cuts a pomegranate in half, the cross-section looks something like a hexagram. They also tell us that the average pomegranate allegedly has 613 seeds; and that since there are 613 commandments in the Torah this proves that the Magen David is not a pagan symbol. However, as we have seen in other places, rabbis and other religious leaders can sometimes try to use clever arguments to add or take away from Scripture; and yet Deuteronomy 12:32, Matthew 5:17-19 and the Book of Revelation all tell us to be careful not to add or take away from Scripture, lest we suffer punishment. Therefore, let us bear in mind that the mere antiquity of a pagan practice does not make it legitimate. The truth is that the Magen David is essentially a hexagram; and the hexagram is widely regarded as the most powerful of all of black magic witchcraft symbols.

Right before he was stoned to death for his belief in Yeshua, the Apostle Stephen accused the Pharisees of taking up the star of their elohim Remphan.

Ma’asim (Acts) 7:43
43 “‘You also took up the Tabernacle of Molech, and the star of your elohim Remphan (i.e., Kiyyun), images which you made to worship: Therefore I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’”

When we look up the word Remphan, we get:

NT:4481 Raiphan or Rhemphan; by incorrect transliteration for a word of Hebrew origin [OT:3594]; Remphan (i.e. Kijun), an Egyptian idol.

When we look up the reference to OT:3594, we get:

OT:3594 Kiyuwn (kee-yoon’); from OT:3559; properly, a statue, i.e. idol; but used (by euphemism) for some heathen deity (perhaps corresponding to Priapus or Baal-peor):

On page 475, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon identifies this Star of David as Saturn. Deuteronomy 4:19 forbids us to worship stars.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:19
19 And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your Elohim has given to all the (rest of the) peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.”

Many believers see no harm in displaying a hexagram, but let us remember that Yahweh made the command not to worship visible images the second of His Ten Commandments. Scripture never tells us to display the hexagram, and the hexagram was in widespread use at the time of Stephen’s stoning. Since there is no other star that has been historically used by the Jews as a religious symbol, the Magen David is the only likely candidate for the star of Remphan that the Set-apart Spirit condemned through Stephen.

No matter what Scripture says, some will defend the use of the so-called Magen David. However, if the Magen David was not the star of Remphan (Kiyyun/ Saturn) to which our forerunner Stephen was referring, then what other symbol was there in the first century which was:

  1. Widely used by the rabbis;
  2. Represents Satan himself; and
  3. Is not commanded anywhere in Scripture?

After the hexagram of Saturn (Satan), the next most widely used forbidden image is the so-called ‘menorah fish.’ The argument for the menorah fish is the same as the ‘antiquity’ argument of the hexagram of Saturn; and it has the same basic fatal flaws.

The basic argument for the menorah fish is that at some point following Yeshua’s resurrection (whether in the second century, or the first), Christians began using a symbol with a menorah, a hexagram and a fish as a symbol of their faith in Yeshua. Some even claim that this ‘fish’ dates as early as 70 CE.

The problem with this argument is simply that no matter how ancient this symbol might or might not be, it violates the second commandment against making religious images for ourselves.

As previously stated, the menorah was never to be displayed outside of the tabernacle (Exodus 25), the so-called Star of David is really the star of Satan, and the fish has always been a religious icon for Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines.

OT:1712 Dagown (daw-gohn’); from OT:1709; the fish-Elohim; Dagon, a Philistine deity:

The claim that the menorah fish serves as a legitimate religious image has several fatal flaws:

  1. It asks us to revere something visible (which can never be or represent Yahweh).
  2. It asks us to revere two known pagan images (the symbol for Dagon and the star of Saturn/Satan).
  3. It is not commanded anywhere in Scripture; therefore no matter how ancient it might be, it is nonetheless an image that men have made ‘for themselves.’

Even if Kepha (Peter), Ya’akov (James), Yochanan (John) and Shaul (Paul) all got together and said, “You know what? Let’s make a graven image for ourselves, to identify our faith,” it would still be wrong for us to use it, because it is not an image commanded by Yahweh, but an image that men have made for themselves. This is precisely what the Torah prohibits.

How can we claim to worship an invisible Elohim when we feel the need to represent Him and His Son with visible symbols? And how can we claim to obey Him, when we break the second commandment?

Many people believe that religious images such as crosses, hexagrams and menorah fish are good witnessing tools, as people ask why they wear them. While this may be true, it leaves unanswered the big question as to how well we are truly witnessing by wearing Satan’s jewelry.

Jeremiah tells us that the heart is extremely deceitful, and desperately seeks to do its own will.

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 17:9
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”

In saying, “Who can know it?” Jeremiah tells us that very few of us know how deceitful our hearts really are. Seeing through a glass darkly as we do, we find it difficult to understand why an invisible Elohim would not want us to make visible representations of Him, or His Son. Therefore instead of submitting to His word, and realizing that Yahweh alone is true, and every man is a liar, we try to twist His words in order to make them say what we want them to say; and then we ignore anything we do not like.

Elohim puts us in this world to see who will discipline his flesh to follow His word, and do the things that are right in His eyes, even when it is painful. This is what He seeks for His Son’s bride.

But why do His people want to wear forbidden images, such as hexagrams, Dagon-fish and the cross of Tammuz, when Yahweh clearly tells us what to wear?

Bemidbar (Numbers) 15:37-41
37 Again Yahweh spoke to Moshe, saying,
38 “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.
39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yahweh and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,
40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be set-apart for your Elohim.
41 I am Yahweh your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your Elohim: I am Yahweh your Elohim.”

Believers say they wear these forbidden pagan images as conversation starters, but why do that? Do not the tassels (tzitzit) serve the same purpose (and without causing us to break Torah)?

Although our people presently choose to pollute the worship of Elohim with non-commanded images, Yahweh tells us that one day, after we are all gathered back to His land, we will no longer seek after forbidden pagan symbols, because we will be seeking to hear and obey His voice instead.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 30:19-22
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
20 And though Yahweh gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers.
21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.
22 You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, and the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as a menstrual cloth. You will say to them, “Get away!”

Please, Abba Yahweh, may it be soon, and in our day. May You redeem Your people, and bring them back to You, and help them to break free from the bondage they presently suffer at the hand of the daughter of Babylon.

In Yeshua’s name, amein.

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