Q. May we then not make any image at all?
A. God can not and may not be visibly portrayed in any way. Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one’s intention is to worship them or to serve God through them (1).
Read: (1) Ex. 34:13-14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4-5.
Most days we have a hard time trusting God. We see God with the lens of our circumstances rather than seeing our circumstances through the lens of God. We pray that our circumstances change. We promise that if He does change our circumstances we will do something for Him. Without realizing it we are trying to manipulate God. But God will have none of that because He loves us enough to say no. Let’s study question 96 of The Heidelberg Catechism and learn why.
In the ancient world there was a lot of superstition so magic, sorcery and religion went hand in hand. Incantations and divinations were made in order to control the powers of the worshipped god. The god of rain was manipulated so that you could have better crops by bringing the rain. The god of fertility was manipulated so that a woman may have a child. People went to different gods and made offerings and sought for the priests of these gods to make incantations and sacrifices so that they would be manipulated into doing the person’s will. And for that to happen people had to have a specific image to go to. A specific image to be manipulated or hold on to.
We find these superstitious beliefs in Rachel, who steals Laban’s “teraphim” or household idols (Gn. 31:32). Though the Bible doesn’t explain why she did this but maybe, there was a fear from moving away from home or some sort of holding on to it for good luck. We can see another instance in Judges 17-18 where Micah (not the prophet) made idols. Micah is hired as a personal priest and when the people of Dan inquire of Micah, he tells them to go in peace only to end up destroying a quiet town. Lastly, we see Michal (the wife of King David) who had a life size idol in her house (1 Samuel 19). Again, not much explanation is given to us but it may be that there were pagan practices and superstition to try to manipulate “the gods” to change their circumstances. And again, God would have none of this. But why?
Because God cannot be manipulated. He wants us to know Him in His Word and trust Him through His Word. So much so that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). God incarnates in Jesus and He allows us to know Him. If we want to have a visual of God we only need to “see” Him in The Bible. And sister, this is why knowing and seeing God as He has revealed Himself in The Bible is so important for us.
God is good. He wants us to know Him. But He will not be manipulated nor contained in an image. He is too big, to majestuous, too powerful. He is in control. He knows what He is doing and accomplishing even in the hard circumstances in your life. Nothing escapes Him. He sees every single detail, even every single hair in your head (Matthew 10:31). When we see and hear and experience God by His Word by abiding in Christ, we get the strength to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). And in that we learn to see God through the lens of our circumstances rather than seeing our circumstances through the lens of God. Only when we stop trying to manipulate Him and start trusting what He says in His Word because we know who He is, will we see what He is doing in us and how He is accomplishing His purpose in us, for our good, through those hardships.
So dear sister, as we finish this teaching today, I want to ask you something to ponder with God. Are you allowing your circumstances to tell you who God is and therefore are you trying to manipulate Him in your prayers? Or are you living your circumstances expectantly and prayerfully, seeing them through the lens of God and knowing that He is accomplishing something good in your life even if for a bit it may be painful?