“I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.”-Isaiah 42:8
What can we compare God to? What can we liken Him to? As we work our way through the Old Testament, the command, “Do not make for yourself a graven image,” is emphasized in a number of passages. The Ten Commandment begins with these two commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol…” The Lord makes it clear to His people that He is not like the gods of the nations. There is no image in the heavens or on the earth that we can liken Him to. There is nothing in creation that resembles any form of God’s being! God cannot be compared to any likeness of a man, or beast, or any winged creature, or anything that crawls on the earth. There is neither any creature in the sea, nor is there any of the heavenly hosts such as the sun, moon, or stars that can be compared to God. God is unlike anything we know or can know.
Throughout the Scriptures God distinguishes Himself in many ways from the pagan gods of the nations. For example, in Genesis 22 Moses records the event of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. This is an amazing, and very significant passage of Scripture as it points to the work of the Lord Jesus. Abraham is to give his one and only son, which is how God refers to Isaac. Abraham lays the wood for the sacrifice upon Isaac and they travel 3 days journey to the place God had instructed him. Abraham binds Isaac and just as he takes the knife to slay Isaac, the Lord calls out to him not to stretch out his hand against his son. We look at this passage and we see clearly the cross of Christ and also the faith of Abraham to do as God commanded him. We should also note that God is distinguishing Himself from the pagan gods of the people.
The pagan gods required human sacrifice oftentimes. Children would be sacrificed to Baal or Molech specifically. The Scriptures record those wicked ones who “made their children to pass through the fire” as a sacrifice to these false gods. This was required in order to appease these gods, and were given also so that the gods would bless the people. God demonstrates in this act with Abraham that He is not as the pagan false gods. Do you remember what God did? He provided a ram for the sacrifice in the place of Isaac. God never required the blood sacrifices of His people as the pagan gods. Not only this, but the pagans would depict their gods in the image of man, whether male or female, or of some creature, or of one of the celestial bodies. When God manifested His presence to the people of Israel in Exodus 19/Deuteronomy 4, He had no form, but descended upon Mount Sinai as fire. Moses made clear to the people when he reminded them of this event in Deuteronomy 4 that they saw no form; therefore, they were not to act corruptly and make an image unto themselves or worship the sun or moon.
We understand, not only from the above passages, but also from John 4:24, Colossians 1:15, and 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16 that God is spirit, He has no body, and He is invisible. There can be no image made of Him because no man has ever seen or can see His form as Paul states (1 Tim 6:16). Any likeness made of God is an idol. Any worship of an image or idol is idolatry. God does not accept the worship of an idol as genuine worship of Himself regardless of the sincerity of the worshiper! He will not share His glory with a pagan idol. Let us not then diminish the majesty of God by giving acceptance of those who relegate Him to an image of man or of creature. He is the holy One who is the Personal Creator of all things whom the heavens cannot contain.
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.