Some verses teach that making graven images is wrong: Exodus 20:4, Deuteronomy 5:8, Deuteronomy 4:16-18, Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 27:15, and II Kings 18:3-4.
However, we find that God commanded men to create cherubims of gold (Exodus 25:18), and God commanded Moses to make a fiery serpent of brass (Numbers 21:8).
So is making graven images wrong?
Making idols is wrong. There is nothing necessarily wrong with making an image if it has nothing to do with being worshipped.
For instance, the verses condemning making graven images are linked with idolatry. Exodus 20:5 commands the Israelites not to “bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (see also Deuteronomy 5:9). Deuteronomy 4:16-18 is followed by the warning that they not worship the host of heaven (Deuteronomy 4:19), and before God mentioned that they had not seen any likeness when speaking with God (the implication being they would try to create an idol of God that looked like an animal or something else on earth to represent God)—see Deuteronomy 4:15. Deuteronomy 27:15 mentions placing the graven image “in a secret place,” evidently a grove for idol worship. In II Kings 18:3-4, Hezekiah destroyed the brass fiery serpent that Moses had made, but this is because “unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it”. They were worshipping the brass serpent, something God never intended for them to do.
The golden cherubims in the temple were not meant to be worshiped, and so they were not idols (Exodus 25:18-20). Neither was the brass serpent that Moses made in Numbers 21:8.
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