The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC) as “Rome’s greatest scholar.” He wrote more than 600 books on many subjects. Among his writings is this statement: “They who first introduced images of the gods removed fear and added error.”
This profound statement helps us understand why Moses reminded Israel at Sinai, “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:” (Dt. 4:15). It also underscores the reason behind God’s command prohibiting any physical representations of Him.
We see how the Lord describes the manner of true worship to Him. A voice was heard declaring the words of the covenant; no form of God was seen but only the devouring fire of God’s glory. The fire was just one of many manifestations of how God revealed Himself. This reinforced the prohibition of the second commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4).
We cannot love and serve the Lord in an acceptable manner unless we have an accurate understanding of His character. Any physical portrayal, however, whether with pictures, icons, or statues, distorts our perception of His true character and lessens a healthy respect for His awesome holiness and power.
If Rome’s greatest secular scholar, guided only by the light of nature and reason, could see the dangers of misrepresenting deity, how much more should we who have special revelation carefully attend to every word God has spoken.
Let’s ask the Lord to instill in us a healthy respect of Him and help us grow in our knowledge of His character. God made us in His image; don’t try to make Him in yours.
Russ Vickers is the minister of the Middle Fayette Church of Christ, Fayetteville, Ga. The church building is located in the Glynn-Hood Plaza at 372 North Glynn St. across the road from La Hacienda Restaurant. They invite you come and visit them on Sunday for Bible study at 9:00 a.m. and worship at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and Wednesday evening Bible Study at 7:00 p.m. They also offer a free of charge DVD based Bible Study at their church building. Just call to make an appointment. Visit them on the web at www.mfcoc.org for the plan of salvation and other information.