Throughout history, statues have served as symbols of worship, remembrance, and artistic expression. But what does the Bible say about statues? Are there verses that offer guidance or insights into their significance?
Join me on this exploration of Scripture, as we discover the diverse references to statues and explore the deeper meanings they hold, reminding us of the importance of worshiping the living God rather than idols of stone or metal.
Bible Verses about Statues
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
This verse is part of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. It emphasizes the prohibition against creating idols or statues for worship. God instructs His people to worship Him alone and avoid any form of idolatry.
“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure.”
In these verses, Moses reminds the Israelites of their encounter with God at Mount Horeb, where He spoke to them from the midst of the fire. Since they did not see any physical form of God, Moses warns them against creating idols or images in an attempt to represent Him. It serves as a reminder to focus on the spiritual and unseen nature of God rather than physical representations.
“You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.”
In this verse, God reiterates the command against making idols or statues for worship. He emphasizes His position as the one true God and asserts that His people should not bow down to or worship any carved image or sacred pillar. This command serves to reinforce the exclusive worship of God without the need for physical representations.
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.”
This psalm highlights the futility of worshiping idols and statues. The psalmist describes how these objects, made of silver and gold, are lifeless and incapable of any action or response. They lack the senses and abilities that characterize living beings. The verses serve as a contrast between the lifeless idols and the living God, underscoring the superiority and uniqueness of the Almighty.
“Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; they are their own witnesses; they neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?”
In these verses, the prophet Isaiah points out the futility of idol worship. He questions the logic of creating a god or statue that ultimately brings no benefit to its maker. The idols lack the ability to see or know anything, making them insignificant and incapable of providing help or guidance. Isaiah’s words challenge the practice of idolatry and highlight the emptiness of relying on lifeless images.
“Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their punishment, they shall perish.”
In these verses, the prophet Jeremiah criticizes the craftsmanship of those who create carved and molded images. He exposes the falsehood of these idols, highlighting their lack of life and truth. The prophet emphasizes their futility, portraying them as mere products of human error. Ultimately, he declares that these idols will perish, highlighting their transient nature and inability to provide lasting significance or salvation.
“What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it? The molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it, there is no breath at all.”
These verses from Habakkuk condemn the worship of idols and statues. The prophet questions the logic behind placing trust in lifeless images, highlighting the absurdity of ascribing teaching or life-giving qualities to them. He warns of the consequences for those who worship these mute idols, emphasizing their worthlessness despite being adorned with precious materials. The passage serves as a rebuke against idolatry and a reminder of the true source of life and instruction.
“Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.”
In his speech at the Areopagus, the apostle Paul addresses the Athenians and challenges their practice of worshiping idols. He asserts that as children of God, they should not think of the divine nature in terms of physical materials like gold, silver, or stone, which are shaped by human hands. Paul’s message emphasizes the transcendence and spiritual nature of God, urging people to turn away from idolatry and seek a deeper understanding of the true nature of the Divine.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
In this passage, the apostle Paul describes the consequences of idolatry. He highlights how people, in their supposed wisdom, exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for images resembling corruptible beings. By creating idols in the likeness of humans and various creatures, they distort the true nature of God and worship false representations. Paul’s words remind believers to stay focused on the worship of the one true God and not be swayed by the deceptive allure of idols.
1 Corinthians 8:4
“Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.”
In this verse, the apostle Paul addresses the issue of eating food that has been offered to idols. He reassures the Corinthians that idols hold no inherent significance or power. He reminds them that in reality, there is only one true God. Paul’s statement emphasizes the supremacy of the one God and serves as a reminder that idols are devoid of divine essence or authority.
1 John 5:21
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
In his concluding words, the apostle John urges believers to guard themselves against the allure of idols. This short but powerful statement underscores the importance of staying away from any form of idolatry. It serves as a reminder that true worship and devotion belong solely to God and that believers should remain steadfast in their commitment to Him.
“But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.”
In the book of Revelation, John describes the apocalyptic events unfolding on earth. He laments that despite witnessing devastating plagues, some people refuse to repent of their idolatry. They persist in worshiping demons and lifeless idols made of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood. John highlights the irony and folly of worshiping objects that lack the ability to perceive or move. This verse serves as a warning against the spiritual blindness that comes from persisting in idolatry.
1 Samuel 5:2-4
“When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord.”
In this narrative, the Philistines captured the ark of God and placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon. However, the next day, they found the statue of Dagon lying face down before the ark. This miraculous event demonstrated God’s power and revealed the futility of worshiping statues and false gods. The incident serves as a reminder that the true God surpasses all other powers and cannot be contained or subdued by human-made idols.
Also Read: 25 Bible Verses about Hats (With Commentary)
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits… So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image.”
In this account, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon erected a massive gold statue and commanded all people to worship it. The scene portrays the widespread worship of a statue, demonstrating the allure of visual representations and the pressure to conform. The subsequent events involving Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refusing to bow down reveal the steadfastness of their faith in the true God. This passage highlights the dangers of idolatry and the importance of remaining loyal to the worship of the living God.
“Moreover, you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.”
This verse refers to the impact of Paul’s preaching on idol worship in Ephesus and Asia. Paul’s teachings challenged the notion that the idols made with hands were gods worthy of worship. His message led many to reconsider their beliefs and turn away from the worship of lifeless statues. The verse underscores the transformative power of the gospel and the potential to break free from the bondage of idolatry.
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.”
This psalm echoes the sentiment expressed in previous verses, emphasizing the lifelessness of idols made of silver and gold. The psalmist highlights their inability to speak, see, or hear, as well as the absence of breath within them. The purpose of this passage is to contrast the futile worship of idols with the majesty and power of the living God, who actively engages with His people.
1 Corinthians 10:14
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
In this verse, Paul urges the Corinthians to actively distance themselves from idolatry. The strong language “flee” emphasizes the need to run away from any form of idol worship. Paul’s words remind believers that idolatry is contrary to the worship of the true God and should be completely avoided.
“Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.”
Jeremiah emphasizes the foolishness of worshiping idols and statues. He points out the lack of knowledge and understanding among those who engage in idolatry. The prophet highlights the shame of craftsmen who make carved and molded images, proclaiming them to be false representations devoid of life. This passage serves as a call to discernment and a reminder of the emptiness of idol worship.
“To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? The workman molds an image, the goldsmith overspreads it with gold, and the silversmith casts silver chains. Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution chooses a tree that will not rot; he seeks for himself a skillful workman to prepare a carved image that will not totter.”
In these verses, Isaiah challenges the Israelites to consider the insignificance of idols compared to the incomparable greatness of God. The prophet mocks the process of creating idols, highlighting the craftsmen’s efforts to overlay them with gold or silver. Isaiah portrays the absurdity of worshiping an image made from materials that decay, urging the people to recognize the true worth and majesty of the Creator.
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.'”
In this verse, Ezekiel receives a vision of the elders of Israel secretly engaging in idolatry. The people believed that their actions were hidden from God’s sight, thinking that He had abandoned them. This passage reveals the people’s spiritual blindness and their disregard for God’s presence and knowledge. It serves as a warning against engaging in idolatrous practices while underestimating God’s awareness.
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
In this verse, Paul exhorts the Colossian believers to put to death sinful behaviors, including covetousness. He equates covetousness with idolatry, emphasizing the danger of placing excessive desire and attachment on worldly things. Paul’s words encourage believers to direct their focus toward heavenly pursuits and to avoid any form of idolatry in their hearts and actions.
1 Thessalonians 1:9
“For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
In this verse, Paul commends the Thessalonian believers for their conversion from idolatry to serving the living and true God. He highlights the transformative power of the gospel in turning people away from lifeless idols toward a vibrant relationship with the living God. The verse serves as a reminder of the life-altering impact of encountering the truth of Christ and the subsequent rejection of idolatry.
What Does the Bible Say About Statues?
The Bible contains several passages that touch on the topic of statues, but it does not provide a comprehensive teaching specifically dedicated to the creation or use of statues. Instead, the Bible’s references to statues are usually in the context of historical events or religious practices in ancient times.
- Idolatry and Worship: One of the key concerns in the Bible regarding statues is their association with idolatry. The Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20:4-5, explicitly warn against making and worshiping graven images or idols. The biblical stance is clear that worship should be directed to God alone and not to any created objects, including statues.
- Golden Calf Incident: In Exodus 32, we read about the Israelites creating a golden calf to worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai. This act of idolatry resulted in God’s displeasure and punishment. This story serves as a cautionary example of the dangers of creating images or idols for worship.
- Cherubim in the Temple: The Bible describes the construction of the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple in Jerusalem, which included the depiction of cherubim (angelic figures) on the Ark’s cover and walls of the Temple. However, these figures were not intended for worship but served as symbolic representations in a specific religious context.
- Nehushtan: In 2 Kings 18:4, King Hezekiah destroys the bronze serpent (Nehushtan) that Moses had made during the wilderness journey. Originally created as a symbol of healing and God’s protection, it had become an object of worship, and therefore, it was destroyed to eliminate idolatrous practices.
Overall, the Bible’s stance on statues emphasizes the importance of worshiping God alone and warns against idolatry. While the Bible does not explicitly forbid the creation of statues or other visual representations, it emphasizes the need for discernment and ensuring that such objects are not used for worship or idolatrous practices. Different Christian denominations interpret these passages differently, and the understanding and use of statues can vary among them.