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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: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I YHWH1 thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)2
The Second Commandment (in various forms) is cited eight times in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:4-5, 20:23, 34:17; Leviticus 19:4, 26:1; Deuteronomy 4:23, 5:8, and 27:15) and three times in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 10:7, 10:14, and 1 John 5:21).
Because the First and Second Commandments both relate to worshiping false gods, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. A simple rule of thumb can determine whether a passage is addressing First or Second Commandment disobedience. First Commandment transgression is worshiping anything created by God (for example, the sun, moon, or stars). Second Commandment transgression is worshiping anything formed by man (for example, images of the sun, moon, or stars).
Moses addressed both sins in Deuteronomy 4. Verses 15-18 concern Second Commandment disobedience, and Verse 19 concerns First Commandment disobedience:
Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves ... lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth. (Deuteronomy 4:15-18)
And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them.... (Deuteronomy 4:19)
Breaking covenant with Yahweh3 is at the heart of Second Commandment violations, usually identified as idolatry:
Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of YHWH your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which YHWH thy God hath forbidden thee. (Deuteronomy 4:23)
The Second Commandment is all about how Almighty God intends us to perceive Him. As an infinite Spirit (John 4:24), He cannot be reduced to anything man can imagine or form with hands.
The Prophet Isaiah depicted an idol as something men form with their hands:
Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:8)
The Prophet Ezekiel described an idol as something men erect in their hearts:
And the word of YHWH came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face.... (Ezekiel 14:2-3)
These two forms of idolatry can be combined, or they can stand independent of each other.
Seventeenth-century Puritan minister Thomas Watson pointed out both the paradox of idolatry and the futility of representing Yahweh by anything made with our own hands:
God made man of the dust of the earth, and man makes a god of the dust of the earth.4
God is to be adored in the heart, not painted to the eye.... To set up an image to represent God, is debasing him. If any one should make images of snakes or spiders, saying he did it to represent his prince, would not the prince take it in disdain? What greater disparagement to the infinite God than to represent him by that which is finite; the living God, by that which is without life; and the Maker of all by a thing which is made?
To make a true image of God is impossible. God is a spiritual essence and, being a Spirit, he is invisible. John iv 24....
It is absurd and irrational; for, ‘the workman is better than the work;’ “He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.’ Heb iii 3. If the workman be better than the work, and none bow to the workman, how absurd, then, is it to bow to the work of his hands! Is it not an absurd thing to bow down to the king’s picture, when the king himself is present? It is more so to bow down to an image of God, when God himself is everywhere present.
For Papists [or anyone] to say they make use of an image to put them in mind of God, is as if a woman should say she keeps company with another man to put her in mind of her husband.5
Robert South, a seventeenth-century Anglican minister, summed up idolatry:
...idolatry certainly is the first-born of folly, the great and leading paradox, nay, the very abridgment and sum total of all absurdities.6
Pastor South was likely influenced by the Apostle Paul’s assessment of idolaters:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23)
King David was no more charitable:
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. (Psalm 115:4-8)
William Barclay expounded upon the paradox of idolatry:
An idol is a paradoxical thing. In one sense there is nothing more unnatural and even more ridiculous than an idol. Isaiah pours scorn on the man who makes an idol. He takes a piece of wood and with one bit of it he makes a fire to warm himself; with another bit of it he makes a fire to cook his dinner; and with the third bit of it he makes a god (Isaiah 44:14-20). He takes his tools and designs and measures and cuts and carves and the resulting product of his own hands is his god (Isaiah 44:12, 13). The idol is there, incapable of movement, fixed to the one place as fast as a scarecrow in a cucumber field (Jeremiah 10:3-5). When in the day of war a town is invaded, the citizens flee from it staggering under the weight of the idols, the gods, that they are carrying on their shoulders....
From one point of view it is quite incredible that a man should regard as a god that which he himself cut and carved and manufactured, that which he has to carry about, like a piece of unwieldy baggage on a porter’s back. It seems the most unnatural thing in the world to regard a thing like that as in any sense divine.
On the other hand it is also true that there is nothing easier to understand than the process by which an idol does come to be regarded as divine. God is unseen, a spirit and a power invisible to the eyes of men. It is very hard for simple people to remember and to think about, and to worship, an unseen god. Well, then, let us try to make it a little easier for people. So we make a little image which is meant in the first place to remind us of God when we look at it.... We make a little image and the first intention is that by looking at the image we can better focus our thoughts on the god for whom it stands. But bit by bit the image ceases to represent God and begins to take the place of God.7
How insane for man, who was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), to try to create a god in his own image or the image of anything else created by God. Although idolatry is the epitome of stupidity, the Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel equate idolatry to something much worse:
...thou [house of Judah] hast played the harlot with many lovers ... saith YHWH. Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and see where thou hast not been lien with. ...thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness. ...thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. ...backsliding [house of] Israel [also] hath ... gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. ...I [Yahweh] saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah ... played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. (Jeremiah 3:1-9)
...thou [house of Judah] ... deckedst thy high places ... and playedst the harlot thereupon.... Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them ...saith the Lord YHWH. ...Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way ... and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms. Thou ... increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger. ...the work of an imperious whorish woman; in that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way, and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an harlot, in that thou scornest hire; but as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! (Ezekiel 16:16-32)
The apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon declares, “[T]he devising of idols was the beginning of spiritual fornication, and the invention of them the corruption of life” (14:12). In Yahweh’s sight, an idolater is the same as a whore or an adulterer. It was for this sin He divorced the house of Israel (Jeremiah 3:8) and later the house of Judah (Matthew 21:43).8
The danger in idolatry does not so much come from the idol as it does the idolater:
Whenever man begins by establishing his own approach to God, he ends up by establishing his own will, his own lusts, and finally himself as God.9
Yahweh does not want us to create Him in our image or in the image of anything else. Instead, He intends us to be recreated from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18), “day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16), into Christ’s image.
What Idolatry is Not
The Second Commandment forbids our making a likeness of anything, whether it is something in heaven, on earth, or in water. Does this mean we are prohibited from taking photographs, hanging paintings on our walls, carrying coins, or using postal stamps? Must we dispose of all calendars and books containing pictures? Must we remove from our wardrobes clothing with floral prints? Must our children desist from playing with stuffed animals? Must we destroy all maps and globes? Must the medical profession destroy all anatomical models? Is this the intent of the Second Commandment?
If it is, then Yahweh Himself is guilty of fostering idolatry. The Hebrew word asah in Exodus 20:4 is also used in Exodus 25, 28, and Numbers 21 where God commanded the Israelites to make the following items:
And thou shalt make [asah] two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (Exodus 25:18)
...thou shalt make [asah] pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about. (Exodus 28:33)
And YHWH said unto Moses, Make [asah] thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. (Numbers 21:8)
In Exodus 20:4, Yahweh commanded His people not to make any graven images. The word “graven” is translated from the Hebrew noun pecel and comes from the verb form pecal. Immediately following Yahweh’s rebuke and punishment of Aaron and the other Israelites for their idolatrous act of forging the golden calf, God gave Moses the following instructions:
...YHWH said unto Moses, Hew [pecal] thee two tables of stone like unto the first.... (Exodus 34:1)
God was not commanding Moses and the Israelites to break the Second Commandment, and neither are we in transgression of the Second Commandment if we own the previously mentioned items. Idolatry is not determined by what we have in our possession; it is determined by what we do with our possessions:
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: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.... (Exodus 20:4-5)
Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am YHWH your God. (Leviticus 26:1)
It was not the making of those things that was evil in Yahweh’s sight; it was the purpose for which they were fashioned. This is perhaps best seen as it pertains to the fiery serpent Yahweh commanded Moses to erect. It’s construction alone was not idolatrous. But because the Israelites later worshiped it, King Hezekiah eventually destroyed it:
And he [Hezekiah] did that which was right in the sight of YHWH.... He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. (2 Kings 18:3-4)
Although the First and Second Commandments differ slightly, all of the First Commandment statutes can also be placed under the Second Commandment. Consequently, rather than reiterating those statutes, this treatise will examine modern-day manifestations of Second Commandment violations.
Idolatry is often viewed as practiced only by ancient civilizations or extant primitive tribes. However, “it is as virulent today as it was when Elijah overthrew and slew the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel thousands of years ago. It is not carried on in secret groves by strange people in far away lands.”10 Man’s basic immorality has not changed (1 Corinthians 10:13) any more than has Yahweh’s morality (Malachi 3:6).
Men are inclined to think that because they do not actually bow down before an image they are free from idolatry. This is not the case. To worship before an image is to recognize its power and authority and to accept its overlordship. This is true especially when service to this object of worship becomes the ambition and end of a man’s activities. As in the service of other gods, so here men set up idolatry whenever they place something above all else, even God, and it becomes an object of reverence in the place of God.11
Idolatry filled Israel’s land before Christ, and it continues to fill our land two thousand years later. Modern man may not carve idols of wood or stone as their predecessors did, but he is still up to his eyebrows in idolatry—he has simply refined the practice and sophisticated the sin. Anything man creates with his own hands or heart and ranks above God is idolatry:
...the land hath committed great whoredom [idolatry], departing from YHWH.
The Second Commandment is violated anytime something man-made interferes with our seeking first Yahweh’s kingdom and His righteousness.
Idolatry substitutes the thing for the person. The very essence of idolatry is that it is the worship of a thing instead of the worship of a person; the dead idol has taken the place of the living God.
A man’s god is that which he thinks to be the most important thing in life. His god is that to which he is prepared to give his whole time, his whole thought, his whole strength....
Idolatry is by no means dead. Idolatry is not the ridiculous mistake of primitive people. Whenever means become ends, and whenever things become more important than people, and whenever anything usurps the place that God should have, idolatry is still there.12
The Love of Money
The love of money is one of the more obvious manifestations of modern-day idolatry:
If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold [or any substitute for gold such as today’s Federal Reserve Notes], Thou art my confidence; if I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much.... This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above. (Job 31:24-28)
The word “money” is not used here in the true economic sense (for items of substance, such as gold or silver), but rather as employed in today’s vernacular. A person who worships or serves gold and silver in its natural state, as created by Yahweh, violates the First Commandment. A person who worships or serves coinage fashioned from silver or gold or currency made from paper violates the Second Commandment. The end result, however, is the same.
The Prophet Habakkuk depicted this sin as worshiping one’s means of securing wealth:
[T]hey sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. (Habakkuk 1:16)
The New Testament twice equates idolatry with covetousness or greediness:
For this ye know, that no ... covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
Covetousness is the insatiable desire for more money or possessions. Joseph Henry Thayer defines the Greek word pleonexia, which is translated “covetousness”:
...greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice.13
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines the English word “avarice”:
...excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain.14
Covetousness and greed constitute idolatry because they replace love for Yahweh with love for money. Yahweh requires our undivided devotion:
...The first [foremost, NASB] of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:29-30)
There is no room for covetousness or greed in anyone who loves and desires to serve Almighty God with all their being. This helps explain why the rich young ruler was told to “go and sell that thou has, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21). Not everyone is required to sell all his possessions to feed the poor. This was required of this particular young ruler because his riches controlled his heart:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)
When Jesus15 enumerated the second table of commandments to the young ruler, He did not cite the Tenth Commandment Thou shalt not covet. Knowing this was what controlled this man’s life, He dealt with His covetousness more directly by telling him to dispose of his riches—what amounted to his god.
At this point, someone may be thinking, “Thank God I’m not rich!” However, your riches can be anything. Yahweh requires you surrender to Him whatever commands your heart. He demands your all, and because He is just, righteous, and perfect, He is worthy of such devotion.
Jesus explained the reason for undivided worship:
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [money or anything that supplants Yahweh]. (Luke 16:13)
A covetous man is unable to put Christ first in His life because his greed is all-consuming:
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:19, NASB)
Solomon depicted laboring to be rich as a vain pursuit:
Labour not to be rich.... Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
Solomon did not condemn wealth, but rather the pursuit of wealth for the mere sake of wealth. On the other hand, Yahweh delights in blessing those who delight in Him:
...thou shalt remember YHWH thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.... (Deuteronomy 8:18)
Blessed is the man that feareth YHWH, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. (Psalm 112:1-3)
Whatever wealth we might be blessed with needs to come from pursuing Yahweh and not from pursuing riches.
Following His dialogue with the rich young ruler, Jesus admonished His disciples:
...a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:23-24)
With so much money, the super-rich can buy whatever they desire. They find themselves living not by the slogan “In God We Trust,” but rather “In Gold We Trust.”
By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches. (Ezekiel 28:5)
Although this sin may be especially prevalent among the rich, it is also found among the middle class and the poor. Poor men lust for money just as rich men do, sometimes more so. For example, compulsive gamblers are found at all economic levels. The definition for avarice fits chronic gamblers perfectly. They, too, have fallen prey to idolatry.
In addition to violating the Eighth Commandment (Malachi 3:8), Christians16 who rob God of His tithes and offerings are, likewise, committing idolatry. Paul equated this sin with covetousness:
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you [Corinthian Christians], and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. (2 Corinthians 9:5)
Idolatry replaces God Almighty. It should come as no surprise that our money is sometimes called “the almighty dollar,” or that one of the first credit cards issued was “MasterCard.” A master necessitates servants or slaves. Many Americans are enslaved to their credit cards or to the debt incurred through them:
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant [slave, NASB] to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
Paul wrote that Christians are “bought with a price” and are not to “become slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23). Borrowers are slaves to their lenders. Slavery to moneylenders is often the result of covetousness, which is idolatry. Emergency situations can necessitate debt. However, other than in these unexpected and unavoidable situations, monetary slavery should be shunned.
The love of money is a form of modern-day idolatry. Christians would do well to heed Paul’s warning:
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things.... Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God.... That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute.... Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:9-19)
It is the love of money, not money itself, that constitutes idolatry. Riches can be a stumbling block. Therefore, a person’s riches should be considered with the kingdom of God in mind. Any pursuit of wealth or property should be only a means to the godly end of better serving Yahweh and establishing His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
In the same way that some people worship money, others worship what money can purchase. Only a subtle difference separates the two. Those who worship money revere the purchasing power of money—or its alleged omnipotence. Others worship what money can purchase—or its alleged omnipresence. The latter group is interested in what money can buy: houses, automobiles, boats, clothes, jewelry, businesses, people, etc. This form of idolatry is often described as materialism, sometimes evidenced in the “keeping up with the Jones” syndrome.
This sin knows no financial boundaries; it afflicts rich and poor alike. It has been said that the silliest thing people do is to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t even like. This Second Commandment violation, however, is more than silly. It is the sin of people who are seeking first their own kingdom and wellbeing rather than “the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
In the first chapter of Haggai, Yahweh chastised the house of Judah because they were neglecting the temple of God while building their own paneled houses. The consequences of their idolatry are depicted in tragic terms:
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. (Haggai 1:6)
The Prophet Haggai could have just as easily written these words to twenty-first-century Americans. Our wallets also have holes in them—federal taxes, state taxes, county taxes, city taxes, sales taxes, workman’s compensation, compulsory insurances, usurious debt, etc. Although our sometimes dictatorial government is at the root of these abuses, it would be prudent to look closer to home for the real cause of these afflictions. Are not the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service likely judgments of God for America’s idolatrous lifestyle? If the present state of affairs in America is ever to be changed on a national scale, we must individually and collectively heed Yahweh’s admonition:
Thus saith YHWH of hosts; Consider your ways ... and build the house [or kingdom of God]; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified.... (Haggai 1:7-8)
It is the same for New Covenant Christians. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and 2 Corinthians 6:16, Christians are the temple or house of God and are, therefore, the principals in the kingdom of God.
And he [Jesus] said unto them [His disciples], Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, ... I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:15-21)
Selfish pursuits are always at the heart of man neglecting the kingdom of God. Haggai depicted the consequences of such idolatry:
Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it [blow it away, NASB]. Why? saith YHWH of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. (Haggai 1:9)
The result of seeking first our own kingdoms is the antithesis of seeking first the kingdom of God:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
It’s the difference between the blessings and curses for obedience and disobedience to Yahweh’s immutable moral law, enumerated in Deuteronomy 28.
It is inherent in man’s fallen nature to seek his own kingdom over God’s. The first recorded instance of this type of idolatry is recorded early in the book of Genesis:
And they [the descendants of Noah] said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name [for ourselves, NASB], lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:4)
The essence of idolatry is man’s rejection of Yahweh’s law. In Genesis 1, God commanded Adam and his descendants to “multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Instead, the builders of the tower of Babel attempted to subdue heaven. There is nothing new under the sun; this is essentially what is done whenever man collectively rejects Yahweh’s sovereignty and law and replaces it with his own law. Any government that is not God’s is a reenactment of the tower of Babel.
Man’s architecture traditionally reflects what he honors most and to what he aspires. A city’s tallest buildings are often indicative of what the leading men look up to, both literally and figuratively. In Babylon, it was the tower of Babel. In Egypt, it was the pyramids built for the Pharaoh gods. In Greece, the tallest structures situated on the acropolis, the highest point in the city, were adorned with temple statues dedicated to pagan gods. In Rome, the highest hill among the fabled Seven Hills served as the foundation for the temple of Jupiter, chief of the Roman gods. Ancient Israel was no different:
And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against YHWH their God, and they built them high places in all their cities.... And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen ... and wrought wicked things to provoke YHWH to anger. (2 Kings 17:9-11)
When Israel spurned Yahweh’s high place, the people substituted high places of their own making:
...the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of YHWH, until those days. (1 Kings 3:2)
In modern America, where church steeples previously populated the skylines, now banks, office buildings, luxury hotels, high-rise apartments, and condominiums dominate the horizon. These monuments to mammon dwarf the church steeples that formerly towered above everything else.17
The rich and famous, who own today’s skyscrapers, are not the only people disposed toward this form of idolatry. Idols can also be set up in our hearts (Ezekiel 14:3). Any man-made “high place” that replaces Yahweh is idolatry. In contrast, King David declared, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6). Following David’s example, we should enthrone God on the highest place of our hearts. When we do, He promises to set us in high places in His kingdom:
Therefore I ... [c]ease not to ... [make] mention of you in my prayers; That ... the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly [high] places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world [age], but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly [high] places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6)
Like Him, Christians rule even in the midst of our enemies:
YHWH said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. YHWH shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. (Psalm 110:1-2)
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30)
The greatest of Yahweh’s commandments compels us to be obsessed with Him:
And thou shalt love YHWH thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Obsessions often manifest as addictions:
Addict ... To apply one’s self habitually: to devote time and attention by customary or constant practice....18
Addiction ... the state of being devoted.19
Yahweh expects those who love Him to manifest habitual devotion on a daily basis (Luke 9:23). The King James Bible translators used the word “addicted” to describe devotion to ministry:
...[the household of Stephanas] have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. (1 Corinthians 16:15)
Addictions of all kinds have supplanted Christ in the hearts of many people. God condemns these obsessions. The Apostle Peter warned us that by what “a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage [enslaved, NASB]” (2 Peter 2:19). Paul likewise cautioned us against being mastered by anything other than Jesus:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food; but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, NASB)
If something other than Yahweh controls your life, then that thing is an idol. Alcoholics and habitual gluttons are examples:
“Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty.... (Proverbs 23:19-21)
Gluttony is usually a prepared-food problem and therefore a Second Commandment infraction:
...they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19)
Adam Clarke expounded on verse 19:
This is the issue of their doctrine and of their conduct. They are here described by three characters: 1. Their god is their belly—they live not in any reference to eternity; their religion is for time; they make a gain of godliness; and live only to eat, drink, and be merry. 2. Their glory is in their shame—they lay it down as a proof of their address, that they can fare sumptuously every day, in consequence of preaching a doctrine which flatters the passions of their hearers. 3. They mind earthly things—their whole study and attention are taken up with earthly matters; they are given to the flesh and its lusts....20
What is true of gluttony is true of all addictions. Any obsession that would come between us and our devotion to God and His will for our lives, is a Second Commandment transgression.
An individual who deliberately distorts his own perceptions is implicitly attacking God and his God-created environment…. He then makes decisions under the influence of alcohol or drugs that can physically damage others because of his self-induced distorted perceptions. Drunk drivers are therefore to be prosecuted as criminally negligent, should their acts cause damage. They have “torn off the pit cover” [Exodus 21:33-34, or “removed the railing,” Deuteronomy 22:8] with impunity. Their injury-inflicting acts are not to be considered as accidents…. Their injury-inflicting actions are rather the product of an act of moral rebellion: the implicit denial of their own personal responsibility for their actions….21
In addition to impairing mental discernment and physical control, alcoholism and drug addiction inhibit devotion to Yahweh:
And I have led you forty years in the wilderness.... Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am YHWH your God. (Deuteronomy 29:5-6)
Harlotry, wine, and new wine take away the understanding. My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God. (Hosea 4:11-12, NASB)
Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (1 Corinthians 10:7)
Along with gluttony, drunkenness is cited in Deuteronomy 21 as one of the sins for which the incorrigible son was to be put to death. It is so serious a crime that it will keep a person out of the kingdom of God:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
The Scriptures prohibit drug addiction for the same reason it condemns drunkenness or alcoholism. All three are instances of idolatry.
Idolatry is not only manifested in the improper use of alcohol and illegal drugs, but it also applies to drugs prescribed by physicians and sold through pharmacies. The following definitions might come as a surprise:
Pharmaceutical ... to practice witchcraft or use medicine.... (American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828)22
pharmacy ... pharmacia administration of drugs, from Gk pharamakeia, fr. pharmakeuein to administer drugs, fr. pharmakon magic charm, poison, drug; akin to Lith buri to practice magic.... (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1975)23
Our English word “pharmacy” is derived from the Greek word pharmakeia. Pharmakeia appears twice in the New Testament and is translated “witchcraft” and “sorceries”:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these ... witchcraft ... and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
...thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. (Revelation 18:23)
A significant segment of modern medicine is all about pharmakeia, that is, legalized drug dealers, which has seduced and addicted a large segment of America’s population. Drugs, both legal and illegal, often replace seeking Yahweh as the great physician. This is not far removed from what the house of Judah’s King Asa was chastised for:
And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.
(2 Chronicles 16:12)
The outcome of such Second Commandment transgression is often the same as the four-part consequence endured by the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospel of Mark:
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had  suffered many things of many physicians, and had  spent all that she had, and  was nothing bettered, but  rather grew worse. (Mark 5:25-26)
Too many people believe their physicians can do no wrong and view their word as gospel, even when it comes to prognosticating the timing of their death.
This is not to say some good has not come from the AMA (American Medical Association) and its doctors. However, one should seek their services cautiously—and not before looking to Yahweh and praying for discernment before proceeding with any prescribed treatments, procedures, or medicines.
Some doctors are their own worse critics. For example, consider the testimony of Doctor Alonzo J. Shadman:
I have practiced medicine for forty-three years. I built and conducted my own hospital of a hundred and twenty-five beds, and had a courtesy staff of 400 Allopathic doctors. I did the surgery for nearly all of these men, and during all these years I have seen nearly every doctor in Boston in action. I have observed their limitations, their inefficiencies, and their awful blunders; and I do not believe I exaggerate when I say that orthodox medicine is killing more people yearly than the war and diseases combined.24
Dr. Shadman made this admission over sixty years ago. Tragically, America’s medicine has only gotten worse since he made this statement. The April 14, 1998, issue of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article admitting that adverse drug reactions are among the top causes of death in the United States:
Chicago – Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in U.S. hospitals may be responsible for more than 100,000 deaths nationwide each year, making it one of the leading causes of death, according to an article in the April 14 issue of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)…. The authors estimated that 2,216,000 hospital patients experienced a serious ADR and 106,000 deaths were caused by ADRs in the United States. This could account for 4.6 percent of all causes of recorded death in 1994, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death.25
The shocking truth of those figures is probably best grasped when the number of drug-related deaths from legalized drugs in 1994 (above) is compared with deaths resulting from illegal drugs in 1997:
As illicit drug prices have fallen, drug-related deaths are increasing to a new record high, the Boston Globe reported March 22. According to a White House report, 15,973 people died from [illegal] drug-related causes in 1997, an increase of 1,130 people from 1996.… The report was released to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.26
In other words, approximately 90,000 more deaths per year occurred at the hands of the medical profession than at the hands of illegal drug dealers.
In an article in the Idaho Observer, entitled “JAMA stats tell the tale, Doctors kill more people than guns and traffic accidents,” Don Harkins reported on additional medical casualties:
The top five causes of death in the United States, in order, are: Tobacco, alcohol, medical malpractice, traffic and firearms…. Another JAMA statistic stated that 1/5 (20 percent) of all people who see an allopath will suffer an “iatrogenic” (doctor induced) injury. Again, according to JAMA, 16 percent of all people who die in the hospital are determined by autopsy to have died of something other than their admission diagnosis…. Another trade publication, American Medical News, stated that 28 percent of people admitted to hospitals are there because they have suffered an adverse reaction to prescribed drugs.27
Robert Bazell, a correspondent for NBC Nightly News, reported similar statistics:
Nov. 29 —In a blistering report released Monday, a prestigious medical group said America’s entire health care system needs “dramatic changes” to cut the enormous number of deaths and injuries from medical errors. The group said hospitals should report mistakes to the federal government—not keep them secret as they often do now…. Experts say between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die from mistakes every year in hospitals alone. That makes hospital errors the eighth leading cause of death—actually ahead of traffic accidents, breast cancer and AIDS….
Leading causes of death
According to the Institute of Medicine’s figures, medical mistakes could rank eighth among the nation’s leading causes of death. Other studies double that estimate, placing it above accidents as a killer of Americans.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease
Pneumonia & the flu
National Vital Statistics Reports and the Institute of Medicine28
All medical practices cannot be condemned. In Colossians 4:14, Luke is identified as “the beloved physician.” God should be praised for modern medicine’s reconstructive surgery skills. Certain drugs occasionally prove more beneficial than detrimental, especially in emergency situations.
The use of an anaesthetic [sic] in a surgical operation has a Scriptural basis, for it is said that “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.”29
The apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus provides a good balance:
Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him. For the most High cometh healing.... The Lord hath created medicines [remedies] out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them.... And he hath given men skill, that he might be honoured in his marvellous works. With such doth he heal, and taketh away their pains.... My son, in thy sickness be not negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole. (Ecclesiasticus 38:1-9)
Nevertheless, modern medicine should be a Christian’s carefully measured option only after he has first sought healing from Yahweh:
Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save [restore, NASB] the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:14-16)
[O]ne should resort to the services of a physician only when he is sick, and after he has first performed his prescribed duties to “pray” and “leave off from sin.”30
The person who seeks first the physicians is very likely committing idolatry.
Recreation, Sports, and Entertainment
Recreation of all sorts has also usurped Yahweh’s place in the hearts of many people:
...men shall be lovers … of pleasures more than lovers of God.... (2 Timothy 3:2-4)
Sports have become a religion not only to participating athletes, but to many spectators as well. A great number of people forsake assembling to worship Yahweh (Hebrews 10:25) in order to assemble at the ball fields. This, too, is idolatry and the past time of fools:
…the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:4)
Paul warned us:
Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. (1 Corinthians 10:7)
Gluttony, drunkenness, and excessive entertainment were all involved in the Israelites’ idolatry before Aaron’s gold calf.
Much the same as the Prophet Balaam’s counsel to King Balak destroyed ancient Israel’s relationship with Yahweh, so has Hollywood (and its pornography) played a major role in destroying many modern people’s relationship with Almighty God. The Israelites were too numerous and too powerful for the Moabites to defeat outright, so Balak hired Balaam to implore Yahweh to destroy Israel. When this could not be accomplished, Balaam resorted to cunning counsel. According to the renowned first-century Judahite historian Flavius Josephus, Balaam’s counsel to Balak was as follows:
O Balak … no entire destruction can seize upon the nation of the Hebrews … for the providence of God concerned to preserve them from such a misfortune; nor will it permit any such calamity to come upon them whereby they may all perish; but some small misfortunes … whereby they may appear to be brought low, may still befall them…. So that if you have a mind to gain a victory over them for a short space of time, you will obtain it by following my directions: Do you therefore set out the handsomest of such of your daughters as are most eminent for beauty … to force and conquer the modesty of those that behold them…. Then ... send them to be near the Israelites’ camp ... that when the young men of the Hebrews desire their company, they allow it them; and when they see that they are enamoured of them, let them take their leaves; and if they entreat them to stay, let them not give their consent till they have persuaded them to leave off their obedience to their own laws and the worship of that God who established them, and to worship the gods of the Midianites and Moabites; for by this means God will be angry with them.31
Through Balaam’s wicked counsel, King Balak used immorality to promote idolatry in Israel in order to turn God against His people:
And Israel … began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab [in this instance, the women of Midian who were not forbidden for the Israelites to marry, as were the Moabites]. And they [the Moabites] called the people [of Israel] unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor [the god of the Moabites]: and the anger of YHWH was kindled against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)
In 1869, in his funeral oration for Grand Rabbi Simeon-Ben-Ihuda, Rabbi Reichhorn provided a nineteen-point plan for the destruction of Christianity. Point seventeen of this plan contained essentially the same instructions that Balaam gave to King Balak:
1. Every hundred years, We, the Sages of Israel [Jews misidentified as Israel32], have been accustomed to meet in Sanhedrin in order to examine our progress towards the domination of the world which Jehovah has promised us, and our conquests over the enemy—Christianity….
17. Let us take care not to hinder the marriage of our men with Christian girls, for through them we shall get our foot into the most closely locked circles. If our daughters marry Goyim [non-Jews] they will be no less useful, for the children of a Jewish mother are ours. Let us foster the idea of free love, that we may destroy among Christian women attachment to the principles and practices of their religion.33
As King Solomon declared, “…there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Today, Hollywood (predominately under the control and influence of today’s non-Israelite Jews34) uses movies and television to promote immorality to turn people from God. The Prophet Hosea aptly described the situation, regardless of the age in which it occurs:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. …Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. …Harlotry, wine, and new wine take away the understanding. My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; for a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have played the harlot, departing from their God. (Hosea 4:6-12, NASB)
Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know YHWH. (Hosea 5:4, NASB)
Pornography35 plays a significant role in destroying men’s devotion to Yahweh. Along with being a violation of the Seventh Commandment, it steals men’s hearts and passions and, thereby, also violates the Second Commandment.
Many Americans have an undying faith in the media and thus revere this man-made entity without realizing they are doing so. These people usually consider anything printed or spoken by the media as gospel, and this is precisely how these opinion-shapers would have it.
People who idolize the media are, at the best, naïve:
The simple [naïve] believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. (Proverbs 14:15)
We are to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of YHWH” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The word of everyone else should be judged by “the mouth of two or three witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1).
Howard Beal of Network described the media:
If you want truth, don’t come to us. We will tell you anything but the truth. Go to God.… Go to your gurus, go to yourselves. But, don’t come to us.… Your lives are real, we are an illusion.36
That is what an idol is: an illusion. Thomas Jefferson recognized the media for what it is:
The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.37
The impression of an independent press in America is part of the illusion. In 1898, at an annual dinner of the American Press Association, John Swinton, the one-time editor-in-chief of the New York Times, was called upon to toast journalism and America’s free press. He responded in a surprising way:
There is no such thing in America as an independent press, unless it is in the country towns.38 You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150.00 a week for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with—others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things—and any of you who would be so foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the street looking for another job. The business of the New York journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to revile, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his race and his country for his daily bread. You know this and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an “Independent Press.” We are tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.39
Mr. Swinton identified modern journalism as a crime:
Journalism, once a profession, and then a trade, is now a crime.40
Ironically, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32) was inscribed across the masthead of many early American newspapers.
Thanks to Amendment 1’s provision for the freedom of the press, the media can say or write just about anything with immunity (until they stand before the judgment seat of God). The media slanders and libels and is very seldom required to prove its allegations:
In developing a truly free press, newspapers found they had a powerful ally in the supreme court, which turned a single phrase, “or of the press,” (contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) into a potent shield for press freedom.41
The average citizen has virtually no recourse against the media’s calumny. This unbridled power is feared by nearly everyone, including many Christians, despite the fact that we are commanded to fear only Yahweh:
Thou shalt fear YHWH thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods…. (Deuteronomy 6:13-14)
When attacked, intimidated Christians often fawn at the media’s feet, making inappropriate concessions:
Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26, NASB)
Consider how foolish it is to fear the media—words are their only arsenal. Yahweh advised the Prophet Ezekiel not to be afraid of such impotent weapons:
And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words…. (Ezekiel 2:6)
Freedom of speech and of the press has also been the means used to provide protection for those who promote false religions, infanticide, sodomy, pornography, drug abuse, violence, obscenities, and other abominations condemned by Yahweh. What about freedom of speech and freedom of the press as it concerns Yahweh Himself? Does He allow us freedom to curse Him or profane or blaspheme His name?42
Social change is one of Yahweh’s objectives. It is also the aim and design of today’s media. In his book Mind Control in the United States, Steven Jacobson wrote about the media’s ability to program entire populations:
It is possible to program an entire population to respond to certain words, images, vocal qualities, body movements, gestures and expressions with certainty. The result of such programming is a population that is highly suggestible, a population that can be manipulated with precision.43
The only means to overcoming mind control is by control of the mind:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Edward Bernays, assistant to William Paley, founder of CBS, admitted that the media intentionally exploits the masses.
Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…. We are dominated by a relatively small number of persons…. Media corporations, practicing ‘press release’ journalism, have become dependent on established sources of information available through government and corporate channels. These channels sanitize and spin the news to reflect their special interests…. Therefore, stories that run counter to major corporate or governmental messages tend to be ignored or discounted.44
Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, also revealed the media’s real agenda:
To hell with the news. I’m no longer interested in news. I’m interested in causes. We don’t print the truth. We don’t pretend to print the truth.45
Although not specifically directed at the scribes of the First century or the media of the Twenty-first century, the following warning is nonetheless applicable:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers [and lying scribes] among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord…. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:1-3)
To unquestionably believe or fear the media are acts of idolatry.
In the Bible, music is an expression of worship:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto YHWH, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound [resounding music, NASB]. For thou, YHWH, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. (Psalm 92:1-4)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
R.J. Rushdoony pointed out the central place of music in Biblical worship:
One of the aspects of modern Christian life and worship which best reveals its distance and departure from Scripture is the place of music. The role of music is now peripheral and supplemental, whereas in the bible [sic] it is central and basic.... On the other hand, popular music, from jazz to rock and roll, explores emotionalism for the sake of pure experience. In either case, music represents, even at its best, a fragmented man and world view....
The Bible sees music as a mandatory fact in the life of faith. It is a necessary aspect of worship and to be supported by the tithe....46
In 2 Chronicles 29:25-30, Biblical music was integral in King Hezekiah’s restoration of the kingdom under God. Its importance to our relationship with Yahweh is apparent in the following passages:
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking YHWH; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised YHWH, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house [of God] was filled with a cloud [the Shekinah cloud, representing God’s presence], even the house of YHWH. (2 Chronicles 5:13)
[T]hou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3)
As with almost everything man-made, music can become an act of idolatry—an expression of worship of gods other than Yahweh. Rock and roll reflects this in that celebrated musicians are glorified as idols. The late Elvis Presley, rock and roll’s most celebrated musician, is idolized as “the King,” replacing Jesus in the hearts of his worshipers.
Many forms of modern music detract from Yahweh and His morality as dictated in His law. Lyrics often insolently promote immorality. Our choice of music must reflect our veneration for Yahweh and what is righteous in His sight.
When the standard of MUSIC in a church is lowered ... then the standard of DRESS is also lowered. When the standard of dress is lowered ... then the standard of CONDUCT is also lowered. When the standard of conduct is lowered ... the sense of value in God’s TRUTH is lowered. When the standard of God’s truth is lowered ... then we have SPIRITUAL ANARCHY.47
The sound and style of secular contemporary music has been designed for the world, by the world, to appeal to the carnal mind. An attempt to make it spiritual doesn’t change the affect it has on people.47
George Bernard Shaw is reported as saying, “The art of government is the organization of idolatry.” Robert Ingram warned, “The other gods about whom we must be concerned are, as they ever have been, to be found in the seats of temporal, or human, government.”48
One assumes the mantle of deity when he sets himself up as the ultimate authority [as in WE THE PEOPLE’s claim in Article 6 that the Constitution is the “supreme law of the land”]. It’s the attributes of deity that makes someone god-like. In the eighteenth century, the French revolutionaries declared “reason” to be the goddess of their new state religion. Nineteenth century France was spoken of as “goddess France” by patriotic figures like Victor Hugo and Charles Maurras. Hegel, the philosophical patron saint of communism, wrote that “the State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth…. We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth…. The State is the march of God through the world.”49
Idolizing man-made government is a form of Second Commandment transgression seldom addressed from American pulpits.
Recent polls reveal there is more government distrust than ever before, but this proves nothing. Distrust, especially when combined with fear, is often the very thing that promotes worship. Deuteronomy 6:13 commands us to “fear only YHWH.” Yahweh wants us to fear Him because whom we fear is usually whom we obey, and obedience is the ultimate measure of worship.
In many instances, whom we distrust is whom we fear. Because many people fear and consequently obey today’s man-made government, it has become a god even for some Christians.
Others have made the state messianic in that they look to it as their Great Benefactor or Patron (aka: Uncle Sam or Big Brother). They believe it will “save” them (bail them out) from their “sins” (their own folly, incompetence, and indolence).
The State, in rebellion to Yahweh, is a collective form of humanism. As such, man “progressively demand[s] of the state a redemptive role. What he cannot do personally, i.e., to save himself, he demands that the state do for him, so that the state, as man enlarged, becomes the human savior of man.”50
[B]iblical civil law presents only negative injunctions. It prohibits publically evil acts. Biblical civil law does not authorize the State to make men good. It does not authorize the State to force men to do good things. It does not authorize the creation of a messianic, salvationist State. The State cannot search the hearts of men. God does this, as the Creator and Judge, so the State must not claim such an ability. The State is only authorized by God to impose negative sanctions against publicly evil acts [Romans 13:3-4]. It is not authorized to seek to force men to do good acts. In short, the Bible is opposed to the modern welfare state.51
Many pastors pay homage to today’s non-Christian government by their annual “pilgrimage” to the Internal Revenue Service to petition the government (something done to a god) for a renewal of their church or ministry’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt incorporation status:
A church that voluntarily initiates an ‘application’ to the state for ‘corporate’ status … and [501(c)(3)] ‘tax exemption’ has petitioned the state to dictate its right to exist and prosper. Thus, the church consents to a change of its STATUS from a ‘lawful’ assembly of PRIVATE CITIZENS, to that of a ‘legal’ gathering of PUBLIC SUBJECTS.52
By definition, a corporation is a creation and, therefore, a minion of the State. In other words, when a church incorporates under the government, the government, rather than Christ, becomes its head. Bishop Leonard H. Bolick of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America provided an inside witness to the fact that incorporated churches are agents of the state rather than ambassadors of Yahweh:
…the church, when it comes to marriage, is an agent of the state.53
Bishop Bolick was not limiting the states’ involvement in incorporated churches to simply marriage. Incorporated churches are agents of the state in all matters that the state, as its creator, dictates.
To petition (a form of prayer) the government for a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is an act of idolatry for the sake of filthy lucre. It is essentially a license to exist (and, therefore, among other things, to preach) granted by the false god known as WE THE PEOPLE and/or the U.S. Constitutional Republic. The same is true concerning marriage licenses. The State has no more business licensing (making legal and, thus, putting under its jurisdiction) that which was created and already sanctioned by Almighty God. To do so is to usurp Yahweh’s sovereignty and claim divinity.
Additionally, most taxes fund the implementation of man-made laws, which are often violations of Yahweh’s moral law. The laws we observe help to identify the god whom we serve and worship. Likewise, the laws we finance demonstrate who or what is our god. Yahweh is opposed to murder, sodomy, and other abominations. It is hypocritical to preach against infanticide (falsely termed abortion) and homosexuality and then finance these sins. In fact, funding these sins might very well make such preachers accomplices to these crimes. Christians who picket infanticide mills (falsely termed abortion clinics) should also consider this incongruity.
Not all taxes are ungodly. The Apostle Paul promoted taxes:
Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due…. (Romans 13:6, NASB)
However, to whom did Paul say taxes were due?
For it [the government described by Paul] is a minister of God to you for good. …an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil…. For because of this you also pay taxes, for [righteous] rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. (Romans 13:4-6, NASB)
Christians should indeed pay taxes to whom taxes are due.
Rendering to Caesar
In Mark 12:17, we find Jesus’ oft-misused statement “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Many people interpret this to mean Yahweh and Caesar have separate jurisdictions, powers, and possessions.
The term “Caesar” is wrongly used today to represent government in general. At the time Jesus made this statement, Caesar was a flesh and blood Roman dictator. What was Jesus saying should be rendered to the Roman Emperor? Did the bodies, souls, and spirits of man belong to Caesar? Did reverence and obedience belong to Caesar? Did the people’s land and other possessions belong to Caesar? What about taxes?
Romans 13:7 tells us to “render therefore to all their dues: tribute [tax, NASB] to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” In Verse 6, Paul indicated all these things are due God’s ministers or servants. Did Caesar qualify as one of the ministers of God described by Paul in Verses 3 and 4—one who promotes righteousness and punishes the unrighteous?
But by His enigmatic response, did Jesus really mean for His followers to provide financial support (willingly or unwillingly) to Tiberius Caesar—a man, who, in his personal life, was a pedophile, a sexual deviant, and a murderer and who, as emperor, claimed to be a god and oppressed and enslaved millions of people, including Jesus’ own?54
To have done so, Christians would have possibly financed their own destruction at the hands of Caesar’s henchman.
Because only Yahweh determines what is good and what is evil (Romans 13:4), the government described by Paul in Romans 13:1-7 is clearly a Christian government established upon the moral laws of Yahweh. The taxes Paul described as due to God’s ministers are Biblical taxes. Are we to believe Jesus was suggesting Christians pay Biblical taxes (tithes) to Caesar?
What belongs to Yahweh? And what belongs to Caesar? The answer to the first question answers the second question. Yahweh reigns over and owns everything:
The earth is YHWH’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)
What did this leave for Caesar? Even Caesar didn’t belong to Caesar.
To affirm one Lord means to proclaim the sovereignty of God for every sphere of life and thought. It means therefore that all things are theological concerns, and to exempt any area of life from the government of God is to deny God. It is thus important to assert a theology of taxation.
Taxation is an exercise of sovereignty and an attribute and power of God. The right to exact whatsoever he will from all that He creates, and to do as He wills, is an aspect of sovereignty.
...all things are God’s. If we render unto God the things which are God’s, we will soon have no Caesar over us.55
Jesus’ answer was merely another example of His trapping the Pharisees with their own words—in this instance, forcing them to choose their god, Yahweh or Caesar.
For the state to claim total jurisdiction, as the modern state does, is to claim to be as god, to be the total governor of man and the world. ...the modern antichristian state claims jurisdiction from cradle to grave, from womb to tomb, over welfare, education, worship, the family, business and farming, capital and labor, and all things else. The modern state is Moloch....56
Allocation of the first fruits is another indicator that the United States government has become a god, an idol, and a substitute for Yahweh. Moses wrote that our first fruits belong to Yahweh:
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of Yahweh thy God…. (Exodus 34:26)
When Hezekiah, king of the house Judah, was attempting to return his nation to a godly form of government, he understood that the idols first had to be eradicated from the land:
…all Israel who were present … broke the pillars in pieces, cut down the Asherim, and pulled down the high places and the altars … until they had destroyed them all…(2 Chronicles 31:1, NASB)
Hezekiah also understood that taxes had to be remedied by reinstating the proper distribution of the first fruits:
And Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites…. Also he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion due to the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the law of YHWH. And as soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all. (2 Chronicles 31:2-5, NASB)
1 Corinthians 9:7-14 provides similar instructions for those living under the New Covenant. Unless a minister today is living by and preaching the laws of Yahweh, he does not deserve a portion of the first fruits anymore than do today’s non-Christian and anti-Christ government officials.
To whom do the first fruits belong? Whoever or whatever is your god should receive your first fruits. But what “deity” today usually receives the first fruits? Government has ingeniously made the “donation” of our first fruits automatic through withholding tax. With every paycheck, this god ensures it gets its tribute first. Even the tithe of Christians to their church is seldom their first fruits. This god adds insult to injury by not just demanding ten percent; when all taxes are tabulated, it confiscates thirty to fifty percent of most Americans’ salaries.
“No King but King Jesus!” was an early rallying cry of the eighteenth-century patriots of the American Revolution. One of the primary motivations for that cry was unjust and excessive taxation. In contrast, today’s churches and ministries solicit the government for their tax-exempt status. To do that, they must submit to all instituted mandates (commandments, statutes, and judgments) in order not to incur the wrath of this god. Case in point: in election years, Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, often reminded his readers that as a 501(c)(3) entity his ministry was not permitted to do certain things:
You may be thinking, But who are the “good guys” who have stood up for the family in Washington, and who are the legislators who have opposed and undermined it? I am not permitted by the tax code to answer that question as a representative of Focus on the Family.57
…[there are] lobbying limits imposed on Focus on the Family by the IRS…. Focus on the Family, as a tax-exempt organization, will never go too far in that direction [the endorsement of and/or opposition to political candidates], because it must remain true to the original character of the ministry.58
“The original character of the ministry” is equivalent to “the mandates of its creator, the United States Government.” Contrast those admissions with the admonitions of King Solomon, the Prophet Ezekiel, and the Apostle Paul:
He that saith unto the wicked, Thou are righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: But to them that rebuke him [the wicked] shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them. (Proverbs 24:24-25)
Again the word of YHWH came unto me, saying, …When I bring the sword upon a land … if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them … his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. (Ezekiel 33:1-6)
And have no fellowship [participate, NASB] with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [expose, NASB] them. (Ephesians 5:11)
Yahweh commands His servants to expose evil and those who participate in it. Today’s government commands its servants, specifically Christian pastors and ministry leaders, to keep their mouths shut. Yahweh will not tolerate such double-mindedness:
…ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun [ancient forms of We the People] your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity … saith YHWH…. (Amos 5:25-27)
Christians worship (sacrifice) at church, but obedience is the true measure for determining what is truly one’s god:
And Samuel said, Hath YHWH as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of YHWH? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…. (1 Samuel 15:22)
Churches or ministries that have formed this unholy symbiotic alliance with today’s man-made government are prohibited from exposing sinners in government. If they do, they could incur the wrath of this god and possibly lose its blessings (that is, their tax-exempt status and associated benefits):
The U.S. Supreme Court understands corporations are creatures of the state, as the court has stated: (1) “A corporation is a creature of the state. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It receives certain special PRIVILEGES and FRANCHISES…. Its powers are limited by law…. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it SO LONG AS IT OBEYS THE LAWS OF ITS CREATOR.” (Wilson v US, 221 US 382)59
You can almost hear some of the preachers thinking to themselves, “If we were not a 501(c)(3) church, our supporters would send their donations where they would be tax deductible, and I would soon be out of a job!” In other words, their parishioners’ love of money, exhibited by their demand that their tithes and offerings be tax deductible, dictate that these ministers be idolaters as well.”[L]ike people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9). Such pastors fulfill perfectly the description provided by the Prophet Isaiah:
His [Yahweh’s] watchmen are blind…. All of them are dumb dogs unable to bark … and the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain…. (Isaiah 56:10-11, NASB)
Not only do many pastors commit government idolatry, but so do their flocks. All preachers desire that their flocks worship the same god they worship. After all, according to 2 Corinthians 5:20, preachers are to be ambassadors for their god. But which god are most ministers ambassadors for? They would respond, “The God who resides in heavenly places, of course!” However, they are often the ambassadors of another god who inhabits another high place. Remember, the laws we keep determine which god we actually serve. In fact, when it is properly understood, the Second Commandment is more about statutes than statues.
[Y]our fathers have forsaken me, saith YHWH, and have walked after other gods, and have served them [by keeping their laws], and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law.” (Jeremiah 16:11)
“Obey the laws of the creator” is precisely what many ministers preach today. But which creator’s laws do they promote? Not Yahweh’s! Instead, they teach that His laws have been abolished.60 These same preachers also often teach their parishioners, by way of a skewed interpretation of Romans 13,61 to keep any and all government laws, even when they conflict with the laws of Yahweh.
The United States Constitution
Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.... For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:11-13)
As early as the mid-19th century, Libertarian attorney Lysander Spooner (1808-1887) recognized that the United States Constitution “has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”62
In addition to preachers who promote government idolatry, just as many, if not more, patriots commit the same sin. Unless government is of, by, and for Yahweh, established on His perfect law and altogether righteous judgments (Psalm 19:7-9), it is a man-made government of, by, and for the people, established on the fickle edicts of man (Matthew 15:6-9). No matter how brilliant it might be or how much better it is than any other man-made governments, America’s government is humanistic, although not outside Yahweh’s ultimate power and control (Daniel 4:17).
Patriots often declare that our present government is quasi-counterfeit because the Constitution is (allegedly) not being upheld. In other words, their standard of measurement is man’s law and government instead of Yahweh’s law and government.
By proclaiming the Constitution the supreme law of the land (per Article 6), patriots (including many Christians) have made the Constitution an idol. Only a supreme being or god can generate a supreme law:
Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution closed the door judicially to any transcendent god beyond the political order itself. The Constitution is therefore an apostate covenant; a wholly new god is ordained in it, a god acknowledged by the Framers in order to ordain it and ratify it: The American People....63
The Preamble discloses who created the United States Constitution:
WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Because WE THE PEOPLE created the Constitution (the Supreme Law), man, by way of elected officials, must be the Supreme Being. At its core, this is humanism. Under the heading “Religion,” in paragraph two, sentence five, the Humanist Manifesto II reads:
As nontheists [sic], we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.64
The Constitution’s Preamble begins, “WE THE PEOPLE....” The Bible begins, “In the beginning God....”
The law of the Lord definitely points out that public opinion, or the voice of the majority, should in no way have a bearing or influence against the law or its righteous administration. His commandments, “Thou shalt not,” took precedence over every opinion, either private or public. His statutes, governing administration in the nation as well as the economic life and well-being of His people, were never intended to be subject to popular referendum or amendment....
[When] Moses codified the law of the Lord, it became Israel’s constitution.... The first demonstration of the democratic tendency in Israel and the manifestation of a desire to depart from these laws was made by the people when Moses was absent from the camp. The people assembled before Aaron and demanded that their voice be heard. Aaron acquiesced in their appeal. The Golden Calf [which Aaron named Yahweh, Exodus 32:5] was built and democracy, the rule of the people, was in full operation when Moses returned....
In following the history of Israel it is noted that every time the people departed from the strict observance of the laws of the Lord they adopted in part, or in whole, the principles of a government by the people and for the people, in opposition to the observance of God’s laws.65
Humanism is not new. It has existed since Adam and Eve chose to disobey Yahweh and go their own way. The framers of the U.S. Constitution began their document with man rather than God. In fact, Yahweh is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, except perhaps as the paper’s timekeeper in Article 7.
Consider also the Preamble’s phrase: “WE THE PEOPLE … in order to form a more perfect union … do ordain and establish this constitution….” This referred specifically to English rule, but because the framers nowhere acknowledged Yahweh’s law, it also implies that Yahweh’s kingdom and His laws, as prescribed in His Holy Word, are less than perfect. Both Moses and King David assure us this is not true:
He [Yahweh] is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment [just NASB]: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
The law of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHWH is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of YHWH are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of YHWH is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of YHWH is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of YHWH are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-9)
What was given to us by God is perfect. Anything short of that perfection, including the U.S. Constitution is, at best, imperfect. Consequently, to promote the Constitution (in any sense) as the supreme law of the land is not only an act of idolatry, but a seditious act against Yahweh and His kingdom.
A more exact definition of humanism cannot be found than the following:
…Their justice and authority originate with themselves. (Habakkuk 1:7 NASB)
In the Preamble, the framers claimed to “establish justice.” What an audacious assertion. Only Yahweh is just, and only He can establish justice:
Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy [Yahweh’s] throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. (Psalm 89:14)
Instead of confirming the justice inherent in Yahweh’s morality and already established in His perfect law, the framers’ declaration implies justice had yet to be established. This (and numerous other negations of God’s law throughout the Constitution) reveals they preferred their own justice to Yahweh’s.
Anytime autonomous man attempts to establish justice outside Yahweh’s moral laws, the result is always injustice. In Isaiah 5:20, this transposition is depicted as calling good evil and evil good. The word “autonomous” comes from two Greek words: auto meaning self and nomos meaning law. The word, which literally means “self-law,” is just another way of describing humanism and, in this instance, constitutionalism....
Justice is defined as “the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.” This is a perfect description of Yahweh and His law, particularly from the perspective found in Isaiah 33:22 and James 4:12 that there is only one lawgiver and judge. All law, righteousness, equity, morality, truthfulness, and justice originate with and emanate from Him. None of this exists outside Yahweh and His law, and it all existed long before 1787. Because the Constitution did not uphold Yahweh’s lawfulness, righteousness, and justice, it established lawlessness, unrighteousness, and injustice. Christian Constitutionalists recognize this in regard to any other false god. Their unwillingness to apply the same criterion to WE THE PEOPLE is evidence that WE THE PEOPLE is indeed a god to them.66
Establishing justice implies the ability to create laws in order to legislate moral behavior. Yahweh never delegated this duty to man or to any government created by man. Instead, Yahweh delegated to Biblically qualified men the authority to implement and enforce moral behavior, as already prescribed in His holy law.67 Man was never authorized to be a lawmaker. Instead, he is meant to be a administrator of Yahweh’s law:
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to refer to legislators as ‘law finders’ rather than ‘law makers.’ This would signify that their primary task is to search the Word of God for divine law on which to model the laws of the nation.68
Because the constitutional framers did not specify Yahweh’s law as their standard, it has been relatively easy for all three branches of the Constitutional Republic to depart from Yahweh’s absolutes and substitute man-made tradition in their place. Only Yahweh can legislate morality and decree justice:
There is [only, NASB] one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy…. (James 4:12)
YHWH is our judge, YHWH is our lawgiver, YHWH is our king…. (Isaiah 33:22)
According to Isaiah, all three divisions of government—judicial, legislative, and executive—reside in Yahweh, not in man or man-made government. The only way “WE THE PEOPLE” can legislate moral behavior is by changing what has already been legislated by God.
Isaiah 33:22 and James 4:12 declare that Yahweh is the exclusive legislator. There are no others. Anyone who claims the title of legislator (particularly when his “laws”—whether commandments, statutes, or judgments—are inconsonant with Yahweh’s) is a usurper and is perpetuating the sin begun by Adam and Eve. The same is true for any one of us who would modify Yahweh’s triune law.
Nowhere has man been given authority to make law! Perfection in government requires that men function in an administrative capacity only, for when men depart from this function, and assume the right to make law, the result is confusion and the inability of men to keep all the laws—many of which rulings are outmoded almost as soon as they are enacted into law.69
Theonomy [God’s law] contends that the Bible-revealed law of God ought to form the basis for all civil law, and that the civil magistrate is a servant of God who is responsible to uphold and enforce all aspects of the law of God that fall within his god-given jurisdiction. Autonomy [self law] in socio-political ethics is just as sinful and offensive to God as autonomy in personal, family, and church ethics.70
The duty of civil rulers is ministerial and not legislative. They are responsible to administer God’s law, but are forbidden to alter it, add to it, or revise it. Because the civil magistrate is a minister of God and His law, he cannot, he must not, function as an autonomous “lawmaker.”71
Any legislation antithetical to Yahweh’s turns evil to good and good to evil (Isaiah 5:20, 24). When man rejects Yahweh’s standard of morality, it is inevitable he will make legal what Yahweh has made unlawful (e.g., infanticide and sodomy) and make illegal what Yahweh has made lawful (e.g., monotheistic Christianity outside the four walls of their church buildings).
Yahweh is the only lawgiver because, as Creator, He’s the only one with the authority to determine what is good and evil. His morals determine what is right and left. Anything left of His right(eousness) is left, liberal, and ungodly.
Patriots often parrot Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and declare that our form of government was originally designed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” This is merely a modern form of every man doing what is right in his own eyes (whether individually, collectively, or by representation), per Judges 21:25. This is humanism, and anyone who promotes this kind of thinking is culpable for idolatry.
As Christians, our desire should be government “of God, by God, and for God.” Our objective should be the full establishment of the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven, established on the laws of Yahweh rather than the laws of man. We must choose between the document that begins “We the People” and the one that begins “In the beginning God.”
Obedience to man-made governments that abrogate Yahweh’s kingdom laws is a Second Commandment violation. On the other hand, Christians are obligated to obey any and all government laws that are in harmony with Yahweh’s laws, even when enacted by an otherwise despot government.
Man-made doctrines are the most insidious form of idolatry. Nearly all other forms of idolatry emanate from this Second Commandment transgression. The Old Covenant false prophets were commonly known as prophets of the idol Baal, and they were indicted for leading the Israelites astray:
And I [Yahweh] have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria [capitol of the house of Israel]; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. …they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness…. (Jeremiah 23:13-14)
When Elijah held his renowned contest on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18, he disputed with four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. It would have been much simpler for him to have dealt with Ahab and Jezebel. However, Elijah appears to have understood that there could be no King Ahab or Queen Jezebel without the false prophets. Unless the prophets of Baal had been dealt with first, it would have been just a matter of time before another King Ahab and Queen Jezebel would have ascended the throne.
The same holds true today. America’s problems do not originate from the White House or the halls of Congress. The pulpits of today’s churches and the hearts of an idolatrous people bear a much greater culpability. There is not a moral, political, civil, economic, medical, or agricultural problem that cannot be laid at the feet of false prophets. It is no wonder Yahweh was so adamant about what was to be done with them.
Anytime we reject anything in the Bible for our own traditions, we fashion God in our own image and commit idolatry.
Second Commandment Judgment
Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto YHWH, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. (Deuteronomy 27:15)
Judgment for idolatry begins with the destruction of the idols:
The second commandment prohibits graven images in worship; it requires the destruction of all such forms of worship: “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images” (Ex. 23:24).... The Commandment to destroy idolatrous places and images is restated in Deuteronomy 7:5, 16:21, 22, Numbers 33:52; and Exodus 34:13, 14.72
Contrary to Amendment 1’s enablement and proliferation of polytheism, the altars to all gods other than Yahweh are to be torn down:
These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which YHWH God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods … and ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. (Deuteronomy 12:1-3)
After following proper Biblical judicial protocol, those who insist on promoting the worship of false gods are also to be destroyed:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams…. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from YHWH your God … to thrust thee out of the way which YHWH thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
Verses 6-15 dictate that the same judgment applies to anyone who would lead others to violate the First or Second Commandments. Deuteronomy 17:1-7 requires the same judgment for anyone who willfully and openly serves false gods. The Prophet Ezekiel declared that “the punishment of the [false] prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him” (Ezekiel 14:10). Thus, flagrant Second Commandment transgression is a capital crime punishable by death. Nevertheless, in such cases of idolatry, Biblical judicial protocol must be followed before someone can be put to death (including the requirement for two or more witnesses, Deuteronomy 19:15). This leaves no room for vigilantism.
Yahweh does not take idolatry lightly. It amounts to treason, that is, the overthrow of Yahweh, His government, and His laws. Rushdoony’s comments (which I also quoted in Thou shalt have no other gods before me) merit repeating:
To the modern mind, this seems drastic. Why death for idolatry? If idolatry is unimportant to a man, then a penalty for it is outrageous. But modern man thinks nothing of the death penalties for crimes against the state, or against the “people,” or against “the revolution,” because these things are important to him. The death penalty [in Deuteronomy 13:1-18] is not required here for private belief; it is for attempts to subvert others and subvert the social order by enticing others to idolatry. Because for Biblical law the foundation is the one true God, the central offense is therefore treason to that God by idolatry. Every law-order has its concept of treason. No law-order can permit an attack on its foundation without committing suicide. Those states which claim to abolish the death penalty still retain it on the whole for crimes against the state. The foundations of a law-order must be protected....
Basic to the health of a society is the integrity of its foundation. To allow tampering with its foundation is to allow its total subversion. Biblical law can no more permit the propagation of idolatry than Marxism can permit counter-revolution, or monarchy a move to execute the king, or a republic an attempt to destroy the republic and create a dictatorship.73
All gods—whether Caesar or Yahweh—require absolute allegiance. Rushdoony also pointed out important exceptions:
It should be noted that Deuteronomy 13:5-18 does not call for the death penalty for unbelief or for heresy. It condemns false prophets (vv. 1-5) who seek to lead the people ... into idolatry. It does condemn individuals who secretly try to start a movement into idolatry (vv. 6-11). It does condemn cities which establish another religion and subvert the law-order of the nation (vv. 13-18)....
This condemnation does not apply to a missionary situation, where the land is anti-God to begin with: this is a situation for conversion. It does require a nation grounded in Gods’ law-system to preserve that order by punishing ... basic treason against it.74
In 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul praised the Christians in Thessalonica for having “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” He and the Apostle John distinguished between the true God and all false gods. They called for men everywhere to repent of this sin:
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he [Yahweh] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Jesus] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:29-31)
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him [Yahweh] that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:20-21)
1. Where the Tetragrammaton (YHWH)—the four Hebrew characters representing the personal name of God—has been unlawfully rendered the LORD or GOD in English translations, I have taken the liberty to insert YHWH where appropriate. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
2. All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Portions of Scripture have been omitted for brevity. If you have questions regarding a passage, please open your Bible and study the text to ensure it has been properly used.
3. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In obedience to the Third Commandment and in honor of His memorial name (Exodus 3:15), and the multitudes of Scriptures that charge us to proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, I have chosen to use His name throughout this book.
For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
4. Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965) p. 56.
5. Ibid., pp. 59-61.
6. Robert South, D.D., “Of the Creation of Man in the Image of God,” a sermon at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in London, England, on November 9, 1662, Sermons Preached Upon Several Occasions by Robert South, D.D. (Philadelphia: T. K. & P. G. Collins, 1844) vol. 1, p. 33.
7. William Barclay, The Ten Commandments for Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979) pp. 19, 20.
8. The kingdom relationship between Yahweh and the nation of Israel was established when He married the nation of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6. Therefore, Yahweh’s kingdom relationship with His people represents His marital relationship with them. His divorce of the house of Israel in Hosea 1:4 is depicted in terms of the removal of the kingdom. Therefore, the removal of the kingdom from the leaders in Judah in Matthew 21:43 is equivalent to the divorce of the house of Judah.
For a more thorough explanation of Yahweh’s marriage, divorce, and remarriage to Israel, The Mystery of the Gentiles: Who Are They and Where Are They Now? may be read online, or the book may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $10 donation.*
9. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973) p. 65.
10. T. Robert Ingram, The World Under God’s Law (Houston, TX: St. Thomas Press, 1981) p. 35.
11. Howard B. Rand, Digest of the Divine Law (Merrimac, MA: Destiny Publishers, 1943) p. 55.
12. Barclay, pp. 22-23.
13. Joseph Henry Thayer, The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1981) p. 516.
14. “Avarice,” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1975) p. 77.
15. Yeshua (Yah saves) is the English transliteration of our Savior’s given Hebrew name, with which He introduced Himself to Paul in Acts 26:14-15. (Jesus is a second-generation English transliteration of Iesous, the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua.) Because Yeshua is unfamiliar to most readers, I have chosen to use Jesus in this book in order to remove what might otherwise be a stumbling block. For a more thorough explanation regarding the sacred names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
16. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the Biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be requested from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
17. These thoughts are not original with me. However, I am unable to give credit to where credit is due, as I am unable to verify the source.
18. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “addict” (1828; reprint ed. San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
19. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “addiction” (1828; reprint ed. San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
20. Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.
21. Gary North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990/1997) p. 491.
22. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “pharmaceutical” (1828; reprint ed. San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
23. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “pharmacy” (Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1975) p. 859.
24. Alonzo Jay Shadman, M.D., quoted in Physical Culture, October – November, 1951. Courtesy of the Health Committee, Box 101, Lennox Hill Station, New York City.
25. “Adverse Drug Reactions May Cause Over 100,000 Deaths Among Hospitalized Patients Each Year,” Science News Update, News from JAMA and the Archives Journals, 15 April 1998, p. 2.
26. “Drug Deaths at Record High, Prices Drop,” www.jointogether.org.
27. Don Harkins, “JAMA stats tell the tale, Doctors kill more people than guns and traffic accidents,” Idaho Observer, (Rathdrum, ID) April 1999.
28. Robert Bazell, “Medical errors a major killer,” MSNBC Home Page, 29 November 1999.
29. H.B. Clark, Clark’s Biblical Law, 2nd ed. (Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort, 1944) p. 204.
30. Ibid., p. 205.
31. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1960) Book IV, Chapter VI, Verse 6, pp. 91-92.
32. God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever provides numerous quotations from Jewish sources in which they admit they are not Israelites. God’s Covenant People may be read online, or the book may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
33. Rabbi Reichhorn, “Funeral Oration for Grand Rabbi Simeon-ben-Ihuda” (1869). This funeral oration was published in La Vielle France, 10 March 1921, and Libre Parole, 27 November 1933, quoted in The Liberty Bell, 29 March 1983, p. 29.
34. Neil Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Created Hollywood, Doubleday Books, 1989.
35. For a more thorough discussion regarding pornography, The Seventh Commandment may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not commit adultery may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
36. Howard Beal, quoted by Lloyd Billingsley, Christianity Today, 4 October 1985.
37. Thomas Jefferson, quoted by Steven Jacobson, Mind Control in the United States (Santa Rosa, CA: Critique Publishing, 1985) p. 18.
38. Even most small-town newspapers and radio and television stations are now owned by large conglomerates.
39. John Swinton (1829-1901), Editor-In-Chief of the New York Times, speech at an annual dinner of the American Press Association, sponsored by the New York Press Club, quoted by Upton Sinclair, The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest (New York, NY: Lyle Stuart Inc., 1963) p. 482.
40. John Swinton, quoted by Sender Garlin, John Swinton: American Radical, (New York, NY: The American Institute for Marxist Studies, 1976) p. 29.
41. International Information Programs, USINFO.STATE.GOV, “Freedom of the Press,” Rights of the People: Individual Freedom and the Bill of Rights, http://usinfo.org/enus/government/overview/press.html.
42. For additional ways in which the First Amendment’s provision for freedom of speech and press violates Yahweh’s law, see Chapter 11 “Amendment 1: Government-Sanctioned Polytheism” of Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.
Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution may be read online, or the book may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $25 donation.*
43. Steven Jacobson, “Mental Programming and Mass Media,” Mind Control in the United States (Santa Rosa, CA: Critique Publishing, 1985) p. 25.
44. Edward Bernays quoted by Peter Phillips and Tom Tomorrow, Censored 1997: The News that Didn’t Make the News—The Year’s Top 25 Censored News Stories (New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 1997), quoted by Andrew Amirault, “The Invisible Hand of the Media.”
45. Ben Bradlee, quoted in “Boycotting the Media.” Quoted in The News Manipulators by Reed Irvine, Joseph C. Goulden, and Cliff Kincaid, Publishers: Book Distributors, Incorporated, p. 179. Quoted in Trashing the Planet by Dixy Lee Ray with Louis R. Guzzo, p. 76. The latter gives as its source an article by David Brooks in The Wall Street Journal, 5 October 1989.
46. Rousas John Rushdoony, Law and Society (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1982) p. 440.
47. Gordon Sears, quoted by Way of Life Literature, Inc., “Final Earthly Chapter of a Godly Music Man,” 19 June 2013, http://www.wayoflife.org/.
48. T. Robert Ingram, The World Under God’s Law (Houston, TX: St. Thomas Press, 1981) p. 33.
49. Gary DeMar, “Defining Terms: Theocracy,” 26 February 2007, http://americanvision.org/1629/defining-terms-theocracy/.
50. Rousas John Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pity (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1970, 1978) p. 9.
51. Gary North. Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990, 1997) p. 713.
52. Art Fisher, “Render Unto Caesar,” The Upright Ostrich (Milwaukee, WI) June/July 1988, p. 20.
53. Bishop Leonard H. Bolick, Personal Correspondence, 25 June 1999.
54. Jeffrey F. Barr, “Render Unto Caesar: A Most Misunderstood New Testament Passage,” LewRockwell.com, http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/barr-j1.1.1.html.
55. Rushdoony, Law and Society, pp. 382, 385.
56. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 34.
57. James Dobson, Ph.D., Personal Letter to Subscribers, October 1992, p. 2.
58. James Dobson, Ph.D., Personal Letter to Subscribers, November 1992, p. 6.
59. Fisher, p. 20.
60. For a more thorough explanation concerning Yahweh’s moral law as it pertains to the New Covenant, Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant may be read online, or the book may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $5 donation.*
61. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government: A Revolutionary Commentary on Romans 13:1-7 may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $7 donation.*
62. Lysander Spooner, No Treason, No. 7, The Constitution of No Authority, http://praxeology.net/LS-NT-6.htm#.
63. Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989) pp. 528-29.
64. “Religion,” Humanist Manifesto II, (Amherst, NY: American Humanist Association).
65. Rand, pp. 129-30.
66. Chapter 3 “The Preamble: WE THE PEOPLE vs. YAHWEH” of Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective. Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution may be read online, or the book may be ordered from Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $25 donation.*
67. For a list of Biblical qualifications for civil and ecclesiastical leaders, see Chapter 5 “Article 2: Executive Usurpation” of Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.
68. Dennis Woods, Discipling the Nations: The Government Upon His Shoulder (Franklin, TN: Legacy Communications, 1996) p. 8.
69. Rand, pp. 118, 120.
70. William O. Einwechter, Walking in the Law of the Lord: An Introduction to the Biblical Ethics of Theonomy (Stevens, PA: Darash Press, 2010) p. 143.
71. Ibid., p. 148.
72. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 92.
73. Ibid., pp. 38, 39.
74. Ibid., p. 39.
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