In response to God’s 2nd Word, many questions were raised about the items and implements in the tabernacle.
Is God maybe not contradicting Himself by having these so-called “symbols” or “images” constructed as part of worship of Himself?
I believe the answer is NO for the following three reasons.
First, it was God Himself who designed all of these Tabernacle tools and implements.
Every one of the items was God-ordained and given in precise detail.
Second, nothing inside the Tabernacle used images of animals whether on land or in the sea, or humans, or even stars, moons, or suns to represent God.
Third, none of these items were designed to represent YHVH and none of these objects were representative of what Christians call the “Godhead” referring to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To me, the most persuasive reason why these tabernacle objects are not an example of God contradicting His 2nd Word is because they are God-ordained and God-authored.
Whereas, the 2nd Word is a clear instruction forbidding us humans to let our imaginations go hog wild in creating all kinds of images of who WE THINK God is.
See, when we do this, we are creating God in our image instead of His, which is really what idolatry is all about.
So what was the purpose of these Tabernacle items?
The first purpose was to teach Israel about the most important attribute of God: His Holiness.
Because all of the items in the Tabernacle were to a degree a reflection of God’s attributes such as His Holiness and Mercy etcetera.
A second purpose is that all of the tools, implements and altars served as a foreshadowing of things that would be accomplished or fulfilled by the Messiah in the future.
They pointed to a future reality yet to come.
This is different than these objects being representations or icons of the Hebrew religion or the God of Israel.
Before closing, I wanted to point out another important point.
Although this whole time I’ve been harping on the prohibition against creating physical symbols, I think we need to keep in mind that the 2nd Word “Thou shall have no other gods before me” can also be referring to other things besides physical symbols and images that we may create and place ABOVE God.
Have you ever attached too much importance to your job or making money?
Do you spend so much time on your hobbies or watching TV that you neglect your Torah study or quiet time with the Lord?
Is your sense of positive self-esteem attached to what kind of car you drive?
If so, then I would have to say you may be entering the danger zone where you might be breaking this 2nd Word of God.
Anything, whether a physical object or not, that we put above or even on the same level as the importance of God in our lives is idolatry.