Do not make an idol for yourself

The Literal Commandment

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

 

The literal commandment is that we should not make an idol for ourselves.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

Messiah declares "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)

When we are commanded not to make an idol it is because such a pursuit is fruitless and only turns us away from the G-d who is the Truth.

Idols are nothing. Scripture describes idols in this way:

Thus says the LORD, "Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good." (Jeremiah 10:2-5)

 

These commandments prohibiting idolatry picture Messiah by pointing to idols and telling us He is not like them.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah fulfilled this commandment by not making an idol for Himself.

 

Traditional Observance

This commandment is traditionally observed by not making any form ("whether in heaven above, or on earth beneath, or in the water that is under the earth") for the purpose of worship. Whether or not the person who is making the idol plans to worship it, if anyone would worship the idol then making it is forbidden. This only applies if the object is an actual idol since technically a person could make a bowl or a cup (or a piece of toast with a burn mark shaped like a person) and another person might worship it. Humanity has a bad habit of falling into idolatry.

 

Other Notes

We are able to fulfill this commandment today by not making idols for ourselves from any substance or in any form. Any object that is deemed to be a "god" is an idol and, as the apostle Paul exhorts us, we should flee from such things (1 Corinthians 10:14).

 

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Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 29
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 1
  • Mishneh Torah Book Knowledge
  • Mishneh Torah Category 4- Idolatry and Gentile Customs
  • Reference Exodus 20:4
  • Scripture Book Exodus
  • Chapter 20
  • Verse 4
  • English You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
  • Hebrew ג לֹא-תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל, וְכָל-תְּמוּנָה, אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל, וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת--וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם, מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ.
  • Greek 4 οὐ ποιήσεις σεαυτῷ εἴδωλον οὐδὲ παντὸς ὁμοίωμα, ὅσα ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἄνω καὶ ὅσα ἐν τῇ γῇ κάτω καὶ ὅσα ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς.
  • Parashah 17- Yitro
  • Positive/Negative Negative
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 27
  • Sef. Hach. Command Not to make a graven image
  • Category Idolatry
  • We can fullfill today Yes

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