Tag Archives: Separation of Church and State

Graven Images

Ark of the CovenantLiving in the Spirit
July 6, 2015

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. –2 Samuel 6:1-5

I was raised in a faith tradition that took very seriously the second commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20)  We used the term “graven image” from the King James translation. For some reason it sounds more ominous than idol to me. A simple empty cross was about the only art in the sanctuary. We did have pictures of events in the Bible. This was, I believe, my church’s attempt to live the second commandment.

David’s exuberance over the return of the Ark of the Covenant was about stability returning to Israel, which had been at war for some time. It was actually a rare event to see the Ark for most of its existence it was tucked away in the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest saw it at special times.

A carved monument displaying the Ten Commandments was donated for use at the Oklahoma State Capitol a few years ago and has been the source of controversy ever since. In response a satanic group has applied to erect a statue of Satan near the Ten Commandment monument. The decision to allow the satanic statue was put on hold awaiting an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Ten Commandment monument. Recently they ruled the display of the Ten Commandment stone was unconstitutional. Now a group is talking about a vote of the people to change the constitution.

Because there are so many critical issues facing our state, I tend to agree with the prophet Joel when he said: rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. (Joel 2:13) Rather than displaying the Ten Commandments like an idol, we need to live them.

Prayer: O Lord, create in us clean hearts and right spirits for the facing of this hour. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.