You shall not make for yourself an image or any form of that which is in heaven above, or of that which is in the earth beneath Deuteronomy 5:8
Any Form – God does not allow representations of His divinity in any form or image - no statues, no obelisks, no pictures, no venerated relics; nothing from heaven or the earth. That much is pretty clear. But have you ever asked yourself what God does allow? You see, images and forms from heaven and earth don’t quite cover everything, and what’s left over is very important.
Think hard. What does God leave as an appropriate avenue for representation of Himself? Well, you’re interacting with it right now. God leaves language. In fact, the only way in which God is to be represented appropriately is with language. The big question is: why?
Let’s see if we can come up with a few reasons. First, language resists fixed limitations. I can define God in language, but I can’t claim that my language exhausts who He is. There is always an open-ended character to language. Second, language is always relational. There is no such thing as a language for one. Language presupposes communication between people. Even the world’s most intricate codes are designed to be read by someone! In this sense, language is essentially personal. Finally, language is a uniquely human characteristic. Oh, don’t start arguing about the communication of birds and bees and chimpanzees. Communication is not the same as language, and as far as this world is concerned, language is a product of human beings. Moreover, if the ancient Hebrew scholars are right, Man was created as a being whose essence is to speak with his Creator. In fact, Man becomes human in conversation with God. Language is right at the heart of the relationship between Man and God.
There is, of course, one other fundamental fact here. God communicates with us through language. God speaks! This might not seem remarkable to you, but it is. Think of all of those idols that don’t say a word. Our God speaks to us in ways that we understand – through language. If God did not communicate with us, we would certainly have no idea about Him. It is impossible for the finite Man to climb into the infinite heavens to discover the holy God. God speaks first. And He speaks in ways that we can hear, even if it is in Hebrew J.
Now you might appreciate even more why God’s Word is so important. It is the only allowable means of expressing Who He is. Treat it with great care. It’s not just ink on a page.
Topical Index: Commandments, Idolatry