Sins of Confusion II – Response to David

Sins of Confusion II – Response to David

David

In response to comments –

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/sins-of-confusion-response-to-david/#comment-18754

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/sins-of-confusion-response-to-david/#comment-18755

 

First of all let me thank you for taking the time to write these lengthy and thought out comments. Discussions such as these that are centered on the word of God will only bring us all closer to the truth.

Second of all let me say up front that I agree with you that the most important distinction in the realm of sin is the distinction that exists between intentional and unintentional. Let me further state that I believe that the sin of the golden calf at Sinai, the idol of Micah, and the golden calves of Jeroboam were all intentional sins. The only point that I was trying to make is that this intentional sin is no worse than the idolatry of modern Christians. Both modern Christians and the worshipers of those idols mentioned in the Bible know what they are doing. It is only confusion that assuages their conscience but the sin in all of these cases is intentional and I believe that you put down very solid criteria for defining intentional sin. I do stand corrected on my usage of words. In a comment I mistakenly used the word “unintentional” (in describing Christian idolatry) when I should have used the words “confused.”

In your classification of intentional sin you wrote that the subject needs to know that the commandment originates with God. And Christians do know this. They know that the Jewish Bible originates with God. They know that the Jewish Bible is the standard by which the claims of Christianity ought to be measured and this according to the admission of the founders of Christianity. In other words, Jesus clearly accepted the authenticity of the Jewish Bible. Therefore Christians should realize that all of his claims need to be analyzed in light of the Jewish Bible.

Christians also knowingly violate God’s commandment when they worship Jesus. They understand full well that worshiping a man is prohibited by God. It’s just that they were tricked by the smoke and mirrors of the Christian Scriptures into thinking that this man is somehow different from other men. But this does not make the sin “unintentional” only “confused.”

I also find your illustration of the two altars at Sinai to be illuminating. This illustration of yours is one of the most powerful condemnations of Christianity that I have ever read. God made a covenant with Israel and He put the terms of that covenant down in the Jewish Bible. In this book He also speaks of the new covenant but He never speaks of a new law. Along come the teachers of Christianity and introduce a dichotomy between the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament.” This clearly demonstrates that the Christians realize that they are not worshiping the God that created heaven and earth as described in the Hebrew Bible. If they would be worshiping that God they wouldn’t turn to a Greek Testament. They would recognize as did the prophets that the Law of God is perfect. The fact that they turn to a new book tells us that although they may be confused but this is still a rebellion against God.

I will comment on some of the points you made, I do agree with most of what you wrote. I never classified the worship of the golden calf as “unintentional” so the majority of your comments are addressing a straw man.

You argued and you continue to argue that the failure of most Israelites to gather to Moses as did the Levites indicates a continuation of the rebellion (Exodus 32:26). I pointed out that this is not likely being that the calf was already destroyed in verse 20. I believe that the more likely explanation is that the people understood the purpose of Moses’ call, which was to kill the violators, and that was something that was too difficult for them to join. I don’t see how any of your words mitigate my point.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that the primary function of the sacrificial system was to deal with unintentional sin and not to deal with intentional sin. It seems though that most Christians disagree with us. Just read the force of the comments on this subject.

You claim that I made the “classic error” of attributing a modern mindset to the ancients in the time of Moses. I would ask you how are you confident that you understand this ancient mindset? I read the Bible and other ancient books and I see that people were capable of thinking back then just as they are today. I believe that the question that I asked (how could the calf have taken them out of Egypt) is a question that is valid then as it is today.

Your assessment of the distinction between the Baal and the golden calves of Jeroboam is the weakest part of your argument. You claim that worship of the Baal came along with the assassination of God’s prophets while worship of the golden calves did not. Exactly! Did you stop to think why this was so?

You also claim that worship of the golden calves was “confined” to the two locations in which the calves were situated. This is unbiblical. Indeed the calves were limited to these two locations but their worship was something that all of the Northern tribes participated in – 1Kings 1:12:30.

Finally, your most serious error relates to Deuteronomy 4:15. You claim that the verse does not prohibit representative worship but only prohibits making statues of created beings. But if you read the verse you will see that this prohibition to make statues of created beings is a prohibition against representative worship. God is saying that Israel saw no image at Sinai therefore they are to make no image. This is not talking to someone who has no interest in worshiping the God of Sinai. Why would such a person care if God did or did not show his ancestors an image at Sinai? This is talking to someone who wants to worship the God of Sinai but is being persuaded that this statue will somehow represent the God of Sinai and it is to such a person that God is addressing when he says – you saw no image.

In conclusion I will thank you again for bringing clarity to this subject. The idolatry of Christianity is not an “unintentional” sin. It is perhaps a sin of confusion but it is not unintentional. After all, Christians know that God prohibited the worship of a man and they knowingly worship a man. Not only that but they worship by the book attributed to the followers of this man rather than by the book of God. This is rebellion. Perhaps confused rebellion, but still rebellion.

If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=FEAQ55Y7MR3E6

Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.

Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Sins of Confusion II – Response to David

  1. Dina says:

    This is very clear!

  2. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,

    Thanks for your timely response.

    There is quite a bit of error in your current post I want to address but for now I’ll just concentrate on one point, that of “intentional” vs. “unintentional”:

    You wrote in the previous post (My emphasis with “QUOTATIONS AND CAPS”):

    “I encourage you to look at the example of Christianity. These men and women are not conscious idol-worshipers. They “MISTAKENLY BELIEVE” that their worship is worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

    AND

    “Yes, I know that there are many sincere people who follow Jesus innocently “THINKING THAT THEY ARE FOLLOWING GOD” but, as a rule, their lives are Jesus centered and not God centered.”

    And you wrote, in two posts back, on the subject in referring to the sin of Christianity:

    “… perhaps God judges their idolatry leniently because “THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO” – but it is still idolatry.”

    My response:
    You are describing “UNINTENTIONAL” sin which is why (as you pointed out) God would judge the idolatry of Christianity more “leniently” than that of the “INTENTIONAL” sin of the Israelites noted in Hebrew Scriptures; and you were right to define it as such.

    You wrote, in contradiction to your previous statements:
    “Both modern Christians and the worshipers of those idols mentioned in the Bible “KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.””

    My response:
    In light of your contradictory speech, please forgive me for not knowing where you stand. Which is your current position, that:
    a. They “know what they are doing” or:
    b. They “know not what they do”?

    • David That is a fair question. – Let me explain. I don’t like judging people especially if I don’t fully understand where they are coming from – so as a rule I assume that Christians are not knowingly rebelling against God – I hadn’t put so much thought into the question of labeling their error – is it confusion or is it unintentional – so in the past I didn’t hesitate to describe their sin as “unintentional” – however after reading your post – I realize that in many cases it is correct to label the sin as one of “confusion” rather than “unintentional.” In the cases of the golden calves (Sinai and Jeroboam) the sin was clearly intentional although I believe they were partly mitigated by confusion.

      • David says:

        Hi Yisroel,

        Thanks once again for your timely response.

        I concur in part with the conclusion to your comment.

        You wrote: “In the cases of the golden calves (Sinai and Jeroboam) the sin was clearly intentional although I believe they were partly mitigated by confusion.”

        My response:
        I agree that the sin of the golden calves (Sinai and Jeroboam) was “clearly intentional.” I don’t concur with the second part of the statement, the phrase: “partly mitigated by confusion.” Either a sin is intentional or it’s not. If it is not, it may be atoned for through the sacrificial system.

        Labeling sins as “confusion” unnecessarily adds, well … confusion. The circumstances of each sin should be evaluated, and if possible, then characterized as either “intentional” (high-handed sin, or great sin) or “unintentional.”

        That may seem too black and white, but keep in mind we are talking about characterizing each isolated individual sin, not the whole person or a people. When it comes to characterizing people, God in Scripture tends to describe people in varying degrees based on their motivations and actions, of having done Evil or having done Good, which for many people would normally include multiple acts of sin and multiple acts of righteousness. That’s not to say that God doesn’t also judge and characterize a person (or people) based on one egregious act of intentional sin or one supremely righteous act. And in characterizing the behavior of a person (especially kings) God often compares the actions of one person (or people) against the actions of another.

        A case in point of God’s comparison of two peoples is when He characterizes the Canaanites as extremely evil and the Israelites as more or less neutral, neither evil like the Canaanites nor righteous.

        Deuteronomy 9:5
        5 It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the YHWH your God is dispossessing them before you… 6b … you are a stubborn people. 7b … you have been rebellious against the LORD from the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place.

        King Amaziah is case in point where God characterizes one king as generally righteous (though still with sin) and compares him others equally or more righteous.
        2 Kings 14:3, 4a
        3 He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like his ancestor David; in all things he did as his father Joash had done. 4a But the high places were not removed;

        You wrote: “…I assume that Christians are not knowingly rebelling against God.”

        My response:
        Think of it this way. At Mount Sinai, the Israelites were introduced to, and personally heard from a God, the God of their ancestors, the YHWH God. He gave them commandments. Moses officiated the covenant (agreement). God agreed to be their God, and they agreed to obey His commandments.

        Deuteronomy 5:27
        27 Go near, you yourself, and hear all that the YHWH our God will say. Then tell us everything that the YHWH our God tells you, and we will listen and do it.

        (ok, they didn’t do “it” but that’s not the point I’m making here)

        The point is, mainstream Christians for about the last 1700 years were introduced to, a Trinity. All new Christians are told (erroneously of course) that the Trinity is the God of the Israelites of the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament. They are also told (erroneously of course) that Jesus and all the first disciples of the first century believed in and espoused this same Trinity. They are further told that belief in the Trinity is the essential bedrock foundation of Christianity and it is impossible to be a Christian without belief in the Trinity. A covenant is then made between the new Christian inductee and the “Trinity” in the form of a baptismal ceremony. Until recently, along with the baptism, the new Christian recited a memorized “creed” or “statement of faith” testifying to his/her belief and allegiance to the Trinity. Now days you don’t have to memorize anything, although I think in Catholicism you still must (they have infant baptism but they do something else when the child is of age for induction purposes). Currently there is a counter current and an easing in some mainstream congregations regarding over promotion of the Trinity as the average church going “Trinitarian” Christian is finding out there is actually much less biblical justification for such than they previously thought.

        Furthermore, divergence of thought and discussions of various points of view of Scripture such as my non-Trinitarian point of view is more tolerated and even accepted by some members in some mainstream congregations.

        The point in all the above is that from “Day 1” the Israelite (and the Jew) meets the one true God of the universe, the YHWH God, while the mainstream Trinitarian Christian from DAY 1 (for the last 1700 years) meets the Trinity, believing it is the one true God of the universe, the YHWH God. Both the Christian and the Jew do their best to remain true to the God they first met which to them defines their faith.

        And, so finally, when an Israelite (or Jew) remains true to the God he met, he of course is NOT sinning by doing so.

        But when a Christian remains true to the “Trinity” he first met by not going after other gods, he is sinning “unintentionally” by doing so.

        Ironic isn’t it?

        • David You raise a valid point. For many centuries Christians had nothing to guide them but the clergymen of the Church – they could not read the Bible because they were illiterate and because the Bible was never translated into their language and if it was the Church had prohibited it. This being the case – it is difficult to understand how their idolatry could be labeled “intentional.” This point is weighty. You will recognize I hope that this argument would also work to mitigate the guilt of the third and fourth generations of worshipers of the golden calves of Jeroboam. However – I will point out that the Bible seems to expect people to identify idolatry for the foolishness that it is simply on the basis of the illogical nature of the theology – Isaiah 44 is a prime example but others abound. Furthermore, although most Christians throughout the centuries could not read the Bible but they knew the story of the Jews being granted revelation and then “losing their election” because of their “evil rejection” of Jesus – why did these Christians not realize that if the Jews could be rejected for bad choices then they could be rejected as well? Why did these Christians not realize that if the Jews could be misled by bad leaders then the same could happen to them? When the Bible was opened up for the masses – all of these excuses go away. Especially from the Christian point of view – the entire story of Christianity is based on the idea that you cannot trust the witnesses that God appointed (the Jews) – this being the case why did the Christians believe and trust the self-appointed witnesses of their clergymen? A theology that is based on the dogma of distrust of the testimony of the Jew cannot be excused because they were so trusting when it came to the testimony of the Church.

          • David says:

            Hi Yisroel,

            So your point is what?

          • David Your response deserves an answer – I am planning to write but I have been unusually busy these past few days – I hope to have it written up by the end of this week.

          • Eliyah Lion says:

            Yisroel I will agree with you there The clegymen (Nicolaites) indeed can mislead the people look at the different popes with their anti-Torah decisions:

            1) Sunday worship abolition of Shabat
            2) Statues and carved images
            3) Change of the birthday of the Messiah to suit emperors desire and pagan festivities
            4) Control of knowledge by spiritual pride and arrogance
            5) Deification of man here the popes in place of the Messiah as Heylel (Isaiah 14)
            6) Infiltration of the Jezebel spirit in the holy Assembly
            7) Dissociation and persecution of the Yehudim

            etc

            Here are the warning of Yohan in the book of the Apocalypse about this corruption:

            ”3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:

            MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
            THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
            AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
            OF THE EARTH.

            6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Yeshua. And when I saw her, I marvelled with great amazement.”

          • David says:

            Hi Eliyah Lion

            To be a Catholic you must agree with the Catholic Catechism.

            Among other things you must believe that Scripture is secondary to the Pope:
            a. The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.
            b. The Pope is infallible.

            You must also agree with and in some cases recite the various Catholic creeds such as the Nicene Creed which reads in part:

            “…We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
            the only Son of God,
            eternally begotten of the Father,
            God from God, Light from Light,
            true God from true God,
            begotten, not made,
            one in Being with the Father.
            Through him all things were made.
            For us men and for our salvation,
            he came down from heaven

            We believe in one holy
            catholic and apostolic Church.
            …”

  3. David says:

    Hi Yisroel,

    I’ll address some of the points from the beginning of the post that you made that I haven’t gotten to yet and then later come back to address your most recent reply.

    You wrote:
    I never classified the worship of the golden calf as “unintentional” so the majority of your comments are addressing a straw man.

    My response:
    Not so fast. It was as much about correcting your misconception about my own argument with respect to stating things in the biblical concepts which I was using, namely “intentional” and “unintentional” sin, rather than your terms of “representative” or “confusion” idolatry. So that’s not a straw man. But now I see why you are continually off the mark on defining sin. On the one hand you state that the worship of the calf at Sinai and the calves of Jeroboam is not as serious as other idolatry such as that of Baal worship because in the case of the calves it is based on “representative” idolatry and the worship of the Baals is not “representative” according to you. The problem with that thinking is that there is no biblical basis for the concept of “representative” idolatry, nor are there examples in Hebrew Scriptures of representative idolatry which you can point to in support of your theory. You claim the calves are, but I’ve shown biblical evidence that is impossible. Psalm 106 and a host of other Scriptural passages which I’ve cited confirm that the Israelites despised, rejected and forgot the YHWH. Are you claiming they worshiped that which they despised, rejected, and forgot?

    In addition to that, even if there were examples of representative idolatry, there is no biblical basis for your claim that representative idolatry is any less serious simply because it is “representative.” Biblically speaking, the deciding factor on the severity of a sin, such as the violation of the 2nd commandment, is whether it was intentional or unintentional.

    Also, I do get the feeling in all of this, based on some of your comments, that your concept of idolatry is seriously flawed. Perhaps you believe that any image is an idol. If so, that’s too general and not biblical. If that were the case then all images would be idols including the 12 oxen under the sea of the temple or the cherubim or the ark itself or the bronze serpent that Moses made for example. The fact of the matter is that an idol is that which is worshiped and/or served as you would worship or serve a god, gods or God. It is a matter of the heart which is then often reflected in the act worship. That is why none of the graven images mentioned above are idols except and until they are worshiped as you would worship God. So for example in the case of the bronze serpent, it would have become an idol only at the point in time when the Israelites began to offer sacrifices to it calling it Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:4).

    You wrote:
    “You argued and you continue to argue that the failure of most Israelites to gather to Moses as did the Levites indicates a continuation of the rebellion (Exodus 32:26). I pointed out that this is not likely being that the calf was already destroyed in verse 20. I believe that the more likely explanation is that the people understood the purpose of Moses’ call, which was to kill the violators, and that was something that was too difficult for them to join. I don’t see how any of your words mitigate my point.”

    My response:
    I’ve already pointed out the holes in your argument and exposed the fact that the premise upon which you base your claim is not very likely. You still hold to the mistaken belief that the calf was destroyed prior to the killing of the 3000. As I mentioned in previous posts, your conclusion that “the calf was already destroyed” is not biblically conclusive in that Exodus 32 doesn’t actually say when the calf was destroyed. That is just your assumption only, and the much more likely scenario based on a more careful analysis of Scripture including not only your citation but also the parallel passage in Deuteronomy is that it came some time later or concurrently; see Deuteronomy 9: 15 – 21.

    Even your citation of Exodus 32 lends more support to my explanation that the killing of the 3000 came soon after Moses reached the camp; verse 25 reads that “When Moses “saw” the people were running wild… .” Moses would have “seen” the people running wild when he came near the camp on his first trip down the Mountain at the point in time when he smashed the stone tablets at the foot of the mountain. And since it was “to their shame among their enemies” Moses would have been unlikely to let the shameful behavior continue for any length of time including until the golden calf was destroyed which required it to be “burned with fire” “ground thoroughly until it was reduced to dust” and then “thrown into the stream that runs down the mountain.” Now that’s obviously a time consuming task to say the least. More than likely Moses had many Levite assistants helping to do the job for him which he probably conscripted for the task after they got done killing of the 3000. In any case the entire destruction process would have taken some time and both events, the destruction, and that of Moses calling the people to him could also have taken place more or less as a concurrent operation.

    You noted in a previous post that Moses exerted control over the people by making them drink the water with the gold powder, but simply pouring the powder in the stream that runs down the mountain as we know he did, does not require the exertion of control over the people.
    And the last verse in Exodus 32 has God sending a plague on the people for making the golden calf, the one that Aaron made. So the killing of the 3000 was not the extent of the punishment because you don’t send a plague on dead people, only living people. The punishment for the golden calf then took place before, during and after the destruction of the golden calf. Not only that, but the calf was made with “earrings.” That’s a lot of earrings, meaning, that’s a lot of people; probably many many more than 3000.

    You wrote:
    “You claim that I made the “classic error” of attributing a modern mindset to the ancients in the time of Moses. I would ask you how are you confident that you understand this ancient mindset? I read the Bible and other ancient books and I see that people were capable of thinking back then just as they are today. I believe that the question that I asked (how could the calf have taken them out of Egypt) is a question that is valid then as it is today.”

    My response:
    More likely it is because you are unfamiliar with the concept of “embodiment” as the Egyptians believed or “real presence” as the Catholics believe today, and it is just too foreign and perhaps too crazy of a concept to accept the fact that rational thinking people in the past or present could actually believe such a thing. But I assure you, they did, and they do.
    Read some of the historical accounts of the pagan practices and beliefs of the ancient near east and Egypt.

    Here’s a quick 10 minute read from the Jewish Bible Quarterly, by Rabbi Allen Langner. http://jbq.jewishbible.org/assets/Uploads/311/311_CALF31-1.pdf

    But you needn’t even study the pagan practices of the ancient near east. Even modern day Catholics believe in a similar concept which I believe they refer to as “real presence.” The Eucharist, which is the bread and the wine, is consumed at each and every Catholic mass. Once it goes through a special blessing or prayer by the priest it “becomes” the body of Jesus and Jesus is “present” physically. Therefore, Catholics actually believe there is a physical transformation which changes the bread and wine. What once was just ordinary bread and vino is, in an instant, the actual physical body of Jesus.

    Of course that brings with it all kinds of unintended potential problems such as what to do with the left overs.

    There are many sources to read about it but here’s a place to start. http://www.uscatholic.org/glad-you-asked/2009/08/when-do-bread-and-wine-become-body-and-blood-christ

    Knowing this then, you should perhaps understand better how it is that a people living over 3000 years ago who we know were pagans, could believe that a bull which was just made with their own hands could become a god.

    You wrote:
    “Your assessment of the distinction between the Baal and the golden calves of Jeroboam is the weakest part of your argument. You claim that worship of the Baal came along with the assassination of God’s prophets while worship of the golden calves did not. Exactly! Did you stop to think why this was so?”

    My response:
    My commentary on the subject from my previous post, copied and pasted below addressed your question already; evidently you missed it.

    “The wife of Ahab, Jezebel, a foreigner from Sidon, herself a Baal worshiper, wheeled great influence throughout the entire kingdom imposing her idolatrous Baal worshiping practices on the entire kingdom including her husband, the king! As a result, there were vastly more priests and prophets loyal to Baal and Asherah by way of Jezebel than those loyal to the YHWH. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Jezebel was actively seeking out and killing off the prophets of the YHWH who opposed her idolatry! And if the above isn’t convincing enough, we have the scriptural evidence of a prophet speaking for the prophet Elisha (who was Elijah’s protégé, who took his place), who told Jehu that he shall strike down the house of his master, Ahab, for God

    to avenge on Jezebel the blood of His prophets, and the blood of His servants (2 Kings 9:7).

    Precious in the sight of the YHWH is the death of his faithful ones (Psalms 116:15).”

    You wrote:
    You also claim that worship of the golden calves was “confined” to the two locations in which the calves were situated. This is unbiblical. Indeed the calves were limited to these two locations but their worship was something that all of the Northern tribes participated in – 1Kings 1:12:30.

    My response:
    Actually my claim is completely biblical. The worship of the calves WAS confined to Bethel and Dan.

    1 Kings 12:29,30 29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one at Bethel and before the other as far as Dan.

    The Northern Tribes who weren’t already living at Bethel and Dan would have had to travel there to worship (at the “unauthorized” time appointed by Jeroboam by the way; and perhaps as well as the other 3 authorized festivals noted in the Law of Moses). Then they would have obviously returned home after worshiping the golden calves, to no doubt resume their Baal worship. The Baal worship on the other hand was ubiquitous throughout the Northern Kingdom on every high hill and in ALL their towns. By the way, not only was it ubiquitous throughout the northern kingdom but it was a problem in the southern kingdom as well. Although there were times when the southern kingdom made attempts to stop the practice and was somewhat successful depending on the king at the time. The southern kingdom though didn’t have Jezebel killing all God’s prophets. However, the southern kingdom desecrated the temple with idols, altars to idols, and male prostitutes; so the southern kingdom had their own problems with idolatry.

    Of course the reason the 12 tribes were spilt into northern and southern kingdoms in the first place is because in spite of being warned twice, Solomon went after the idols of his foreign wives building idols to their gods and worshiping them. By the way, what say you about Solomon’s idolatry as it relates to your “representative” theory? How do you make the determination whether something is representative or not, other than a role of the dice? Not that it matters, I’m just curious.

    But back to the Northern Kingdom; the potential for and frequency of idol worship of Baal coupled with the ease of access, and proximity (in every town) and the slaughter of God’s prophets made for a more pressing and immediate problem as noted in my previous post.

    It had NOTHING to do with your unfounded claim that Baal idolatry is inherently a worse form of idolatry than the golden calves idolatry.

    By the way, both kingdoms were eventually exiled for the sin of idolatry, and the golden calves is specifically mentioned as among the reasons why the northern kingdom was exiled. So how do you square that with your theory?

    2 Kings 17:16 “They rejected all the commandments of the YHWH their God and made “for themselves” cast images of two calves…”

    You wrote:
    “Finally, your most serious error relates to Deuteronomy 4:15. You claim that the verse does not prohibit representative worship but only prohibits making statues of created beings.”

    My response:

    That’s not what I said. I said that 4:15 is “a warning against making a representation of a created thing including not bowing down to created things in the sky etcetera. God makes it clear that He is not a created thing since they saw no form.”

    Furthermore, you can’t take the passage out of context. You have to read it within the entire passage of Deuteronomy 4:9 – 20. Indeed I’m almost certain I pointed this out to you at some point in the past. Additionally, if we read the passage your way we’d have to ignore the rest of the body of Scripture including the 2nd commandment which speaks about idolatry in terms of rejection of the YHWH. In fact there is nothing which states or alludes to “representative” with reference to idolatry.

    This concept of “representative” idolatry is a distinction you are making (and that of your cited commentators which by are post advent of Christ on the scene which in and of itself severely tarnishes the credibility of your theory). There is no biblical significance or biblical basis for the theory. And the reason you don’t find it in Hebrew Scriptures is most likely because it is based on a reaction to Christianity which of course took place after the Hebrew Scriptures.

    So your first error is buying into the “representative” theory and that leads you to the next and fatal error of erroneously concluding that “representative” idolatry is somehow less serious because it is “representative.” again, more than likely, a reaction to Christianity. Then you make a third error and apply your mistaken belief arbitrarily to biblical cases in an effort to support your theory concluding that Baal worship is inherently more serious than worship of the golden calves because you “believe” that worship of Baal is NOT “representative.”

    Again, as noted at the beginning of my post, your concept of representative idolatry is actually irrelevant because what counts is whether or not the idolatry was intentional or unintentional. Therefore even if “representative” theory were true, it’s not what matters in terms of idolatry, and is therefore irrelevant.

    Contrary to your theory, one of the obvious purposes of not showing His form was that the worship relationship between God and His people “OF HIS VERY OWN POSSESSION” (4:20) would be set apart from the rest of the world which at that time was pagan. Even the Hebrews were once pagans in Egypt (Joshua 24:14) and could be argued still were engaging in paganism to a great extent when Moses was speaking to them in Deuteronomy. But, by being warned to NOT make idols in the form of anything since they had seen NO FORM, they would be a unique light unto the nations, and set apart from the pagan worship practices of the world. All other peoples displayed and manifested their god(s) in image form. If the Israelites did likewise, they would be no different.

    Unlike the other gods which the rest of the world worshiped at the time, the YHWH God is a devouring fire, a “JEALOUS” God (Deuteronomy 4:24 and the 2nd commandment). He and His people were therefore destined to be unique in many ways.

    Another purpose of God not showing them His form was individual and communal accountability. Knowing that God had not shown them His form, they would be completely without justification if they went after the gods of their ancestors from beyond the river or in Egypt or other nations whose gods were on full display in the form of their idols.

    But God did give the Israelites visual and audible manifestations so that they would acknowledge that the YHWH is God (Deuteronomy 4:20). God evidently accounted for the fact that they harbored deep pagan roots and beliefs and that it would be impossible for the Israelites to remain true to Him if He didn’t give them something physical to identify with. This is probably why He gave them the tabernacle to be in their midst, the pillar of cloud and fire, the ark with the stone tablets of the covenant, the priests, the Levites, Moses, etc. all which should have helped them break away from their pagan influences.

    You continued to write on the subject:

    “This is not talking to someone who has no interest in worshiping the God of Sinai. Why would such a person care if God did or did not show his ancestors an image at Sinai? This is talking to someone who wants to worship the God of Sinai but is being persuaded that this statue will somehow represent the God of Sinai and it is to such a person that God is addressing when he says – you saw no image.”

    My response:
    You are engaging in wishful thinking; perhaps even trying to rewrite history in an attempt to whitewash it.

    Let’s put Deuteronomy in context as I suggested before. It is the last book of the Torah. The words spoken in Deuteronomy including this passage are Moses’ words to the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan prior to entering the Promised Land, prior to Joshua taking over. The older people he would have been speaking to who were between the ages of 40 and 60 would have been alive at the time of the golden calf incident at Sinai and many of the older ones would have even been alive while in Egypt worshiping the gods of Egypt alongside their parents. And many of those would have still remembered well their parents worshiping the gods of Egypt both while in Egypt and while in the desert.

    Deuteronomy 1:1,3
    “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan—in the wilderness, on the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab. 3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites just as the YHWH had commanded him to speak to them.”

    Now fast forward to Joshua 24 and they’re still in possession of the same idols their ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt for crying out loud! And why would Joshua make the statement “if you are unwilling to serve the YHWH” if in fact what you say is true that they only wanted to serve the YHWH (by way of representative idolatry) as you claim was the case for their ancestors? And note that Joshua demands that they “put away the gods” their ancestors served. Keep in mind that this passage would have taken place historically some 40 years after Moses spoke to them in Deuteronomy and they were still in possession of their ancestral gods!

    Isn’t it time to accept the reality that the real reason God reminded them back in Deuteronomy that He hadn’t shown them His form at Mount Sinai was so that they would stop worshiping the “forms” of their ancestral gods who they knew from beyond the river and while in Egypt and the “forms” of the gods of the nations around them, who’s land they were about to enter? And in judges, they’re back at it again; they abandoned the YHWH and worshiped Baal and the Astartes. Then in the period of the kings, again, and again until they were exiled. The evidence is frequent and consistent.

    Evidently, one of the ways that it could be ensured that the Israelites and God would be seen as distinct and unique, set apart in a world of paganism would be that if they never saw His form. That way, even centuries later such as the case of Jeroboam’s sin in the “form” of calves, they would be without excuse, for not heeding the warning. As Joshua instructed, they must “put away the gods”, why? Because they saw no form at Mount Sinai. Pagans worship forms. God’s people do not.

    Joshua 24:14,15a
    14 “Now therefore revere the YHWH, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living

    And why would Joshua “link” inclining your hearts to the YHWH with the act of putting away the foreign gods if in fact as you claim their hearts were ALREADY inclined to the YHWH by way of representative idolatry?

    Joshua 24:23
    23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and INCLINE YOUR HEARTS TO THE YHWH, the God of Israel.”

  4. Pingback: Representative Idolatry – Response to David | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s