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So Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skilled person, in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, are to do the work according to all that the Lord has commanded. — Exodus 36:1

Art and the Command to Make No Graven Images

In this passage we see that God used skilled artists to create what He specified for them to do. The artistic creations they made were in no way a violation of the command to not make a graven image.

God is not to be worshipped by any visible form—picture or painting or idol of any sort, or through men or saints or angels of any kind. In the Book of Revelation we read where John, after kneeling before an angel to worship, was told by that angel, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book.

Worship God!” (Revelation 22:9). We are to worship God spiritually, not using any idol whatsoever to assist in our worship.

What then, exactly, does the second commandment mean? As virtually every intelligent exegete and scholar of Scriptures has indicated, what is forbidden in the commandment is the sin of idolatry. The commandment itself says, “You shall not make for yourself any graven idol.…You shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Exodus 20:4–5). It is the worshipping of images or the worshipping of God through images that is forbidden. It is idolatry that the commandment speaks against.

What Bezalel and Oholiab did, as artists unto the Lord, was commanded by Him. As Christians, too often we have abandoned the arts to the unbelievers. Tragically we reap the consequences of this void when unbelievers use art to move people away from the things of God.