Do decorations, statues, icons, etc., such as those made for holidays, classify as graven images 'made of things in heaven and on earth'?
NIV - 4 You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
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First off remember that Exodus 20:4 is talking to a people that worshiped 'graven images' as a habit and practice. If one is indeed "worshiping" these items then - NO - they should not be in the home, period. But if they are symbols of "Altars of Remembrances", then they serve a very good purpose. They REMIND us of God's Grace and Love for us. Exodus 20:24-25 - Genesis 12: 6-7 are 2 examples. Christmas, since that is what your post mostly points to, the Angels, the Nativity Set, the Star and such are all remembrances of the Birth of our Savior. They REMIND us of all the care God took when ".. sending His only begotten Son.." We do not worship these items, but they remind us to Thank God, for all the care, all the love and the specific planning (prophecies) that were in play when Jesus was born. The same question could apply to Christian's and the Wooden / Metal Cross. That too is " man made ", so should we have Crosses in and on our Churches? The Cross is the pretty straight forward sign of a Christian Church or Christians are here. We wear a Cross around our neck or on Shirt - Coat. They remind us of of the Death of Christ for our sins, as it should. We do not " worship " the Cross, it is an Altar of Remembrance that we carry with us. And they tell the world, We Are God's through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
If we will continue to read the Word to Exodus 20:5 the Lord clearly and specifically commanded not to bow down to them or worship them for He is a jealous God. I don't think your question about Nativity Set or Angel mini-statue and other decorations will be covered by this Commandment unless otherwise you will make an altar for these items to worship day and night. That is scary. I also believe the Commandment was not for us the Gentiles but for Israelites only. Lord Jesus has given us new Commandments and they were summarized into just two according to the Gospel of John, Matthew, Mark and Luke.
It is not ok, because it does break that commandment. It's pretty clear on that one.
I believe that scripture refers to the making of an image as an idol for worship. We have to consider the time that we live in. The items you mention are decorations. If you are putting them out for decoration, I believe it's okay. If you started making an altar to them and praying them, that would be wrong. Pray and ask God for peace on the subject.
It all depends on your motives. The scriptures given above in Exodus and others, point first off, to the Old Covenant or the Mosaic law. The command to not form or fashion any image of any thing in heaven or on earth was meant to discourage idol worship. They would make the image and then worship it. We have a Christmas tree, a nativity set, lights and the works in our house when we celebrate Christmas. Do we worship the stuff? A thousand times NO! Do you have pictures of Jesus or angels up in your house to worship them or to venerate them in some way? Then it's wrong. We, as Christians (as long as you are biblically saved), have the liberty to live in freedom to do as we please as long as it is glorifying to God and doesn't hinder or cause a brother to stumble. There is nothing wrong whatsoever in having these things up in your house to celebrate the seasons as long as they do not own you, control you or cause you to worship them in some way.
I am one of 6 cousins about the same age. Our grandmother brought us up in the summers as we stayed at her resort in the Northwoods. She indoctrinated us in The Ten Commandments, and of course, "No graven images" was one of them. (Exodus 20:4) I felt guilty for breaking this command growing up playing varsity football in high school. I made all city and honorable mention all-state, but I had this terrific colored photo of a football player on his knees praying. (I'd just become a Christian.) That was until one man in our small group Bible study which I led in college who objected to having Christian images in one's abode. I took it down and tossed it or I may have donated it to GoodWill. I did it so as not to make a weaker brother stumble. (Romans 14:13, 21; 1 Corinthians 8:13).
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