Deuteronomy 4: 15 "Therefore, watch out for yourselves! Since you did not see a shape of any kind on the day ADONAI spoke to you in Horev from the fire, 16 do not become corrupt and make yourselves a carved image having the shape of any figure - not a representation of a human being, male or female, 17 or a representation of any animal on earth, or a representation of any bird that flies in the air, 18 or a representation of anything that creeps along on the ground, or a representation of any fish in the water below the shoreline. 19 For the same reason, do not look up at the sky, at the sun, moon, stars and everything in the sky, and be drawn away to worship and serve them; ADONAI your God has allotted these to all the peoples under the entire sky. (CJB)
Okay, let's begin by asking: What does God consider an idol? After all, isn't Yeshua allegedly God in the shape of a man?
Well, Christianity believes he is, but let's take a closer look at the whole picture....
Habakkuk 2: 18 "Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. 19 Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.
Throughout the Torah and Haftarah (and best represented in Habakkuk 2), an idol is described as a lifeless creation shaped (literally) by man from wood, stone, or metal. Of course, these manmade creations never bear any relationship to the God of Israel.
By sharp contrast, Yeshua was very much alive, very much human. The only difference is, he was a "divine" human - because ELOHIM, via the Ruach, placed him into the womb of a virgin, whose hymen was ruptured from the inside-out on the day Yeshua was born. (Since YHWH "spoke the universe" into being (Genesis 1), He could certainly "speak" an embryo into a human womb!)
Yeshua was a human with a divine qnoma (nature) - not someone who came to usurp the title of ADONAI ELOHIM; but rather, as YHWH's "arm" (Isaiah 53:1). An arm, as we all know, does what the brain tells it to do. This was the relationship between YHWH and His Divine and perfect Messiah, who was sent to serve as a reminder of who YHWH is, what He expects of His people, and how they were to behave according to His Torah.
In other words, Yeshua (the Word - John 1:1, 14) was an intercessor between YHWH and man, who came to do nothing more than to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH and do everything His Father commanded (see Luke 4:43 and 8:1; Acts 28:23), while leading people back to the Source: YHWH and His Divine Instructions for mankind, without which we would have no blueprint for moral, holy living! He didn't come to "change any rules" as Christianity insists.
The bottom line is: Yeshua was NOT "God" as Christianity insists; he was the MESSIAH! YHWH alone is ELOHIM! The Jewish "counter-missionaries" are correct in their assessment that "Jesus is not God," but they are completely wrong in their assertions that he wasn't even the Messiah! BOTH sides need to re-read the entire Bible to see what it actually says. (About "God" see Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7; Isaiah 44:6, 45:5, 45:21.)
Now - about Yeshua's death and resurrection: It is important to understand that Yeshua, like the original Passover Lamb, was our SUBSTITUTE (not a "sacrifice"!) when he martyred himself on the stake. No one "sacrificed" Yeshua; he martyred himself (against which there is no law!) That very act offered eternal life to anyone who accepted YHWH as their ELOHIM and Yeshua as His Divine Messiah.
As you know, this was also the purpose of the animal sacrifices for atonement - an act that gave people a chance to be cleansed from their sins so they could be considered "clean and holy" enough to be in YHWH's Presence. The situation is no different with the Messiah. (See Isaiah 59:16; see also Matthew 10:32)
Now, this is very important: Yeshua never proclaimed to be God! He never said he was ADONAI! While YHWH and Y'shua are ONE, Y'shua (the "arm" is part of the whole body) - as a human being with a divine qnoma/nature, sent by YHWH - didn't replace YHWH as ELOHIM. He was the MESSIAH - someone who could be seen and touched and looked upon. Scripture tells us that no one can look upon ADONAI Himself, and live. (As a matter of fact, YHWH told Moshe this just before putting Moshe in a rock cleft to protect him (Exodus 33:19-22). Even the Seraphim in Isaiah 6 "covered their faces.")
BUT ...we do see something in Philippians 2:5-11 that makes us realize YHWH and Y'shua ARE "One" - which is something the human mind cannot thoroughly comprehend:
Philippians 2:5 And think you so in yourselves, as Y'shua the Mashiyach also thought; 6. who, as he was in the likeness of Elohim, did not regard it sinful to be the coequal of Elohim; 7. yet disinherited himself and assumed the likeness of a servant, and was in the likeness of men and was found in fashion as a man; 8. and he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the stake. 9. Wherefore, also, Elohim has highly exalted him and given him a name which is more excellent than all names; 10. that at the name of Y'shua every knee should bow, of (beings) in heaven and on earth and under the earth; 11. and very tongue will avow MarYah - that is, Yeshua the Messiah - to the glory of Elaha His Father. (AENT)
FOOTNOTE: More than his literal birth name Y'shua (which was and is a common Hebrew name), and more than the perfect reputation that his name represents. Y'shua bears the Name of YHWH, the "name above all names!" Y'shua has the Name and reputation of the Father YHWH in him (John 17:11) and the name means "YHWH is Salvation" (Matthew 1:21). (The angels, for instance, only have YHWH's title of ELOHIM within their names: GabriEL, MichaEL, RaphaEL....)
Yeshua was a MAN with a divine nature ... a human being who was born and died. GOD cannot die! This is why we must be VERY careful to make a distinction between YHWH "the Father" and Yeshua the "Son". When Yeshua died, his soul returned to the Father to "sit at His right side" - which simply means he went to "be in the special place of honor." (Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, Matthew 22:44 and 26:64, Acts 2:34 and 7:55, 1 Peter 3:22 and elsewhere. Also see Psalms 63:8 and 110:1.)
For those who wish to throw around Deuteronomy 4 which indicates that God is without form, let's not forget that God "takes form" as a man in Genesis 18:1-2 and also in Numbers 12: 8 With him (Moses) I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles"; he sees the image of ADONAI.
While "face-to-face" doesn't necessarily mean in a physial form (rather, speaking on a personal level that can be clearly understood), the point is that at this point in Jewish history, God (who created the universe and everything in it) chose only to reveal Himself in a form in select circumstances. Who are we to say He didn't, when there are scriptures that reveal otherwise? That is why the notion that God "taking form" is tantamount to "idol worship" is simply not true! Deuteronomy 4 must be considered in the context of these other Torah passages - including the following:
Deuteronomy 18: 15 "ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him, 16 just as when you were assembled at Horev and requested ADONAI your God, 'Don't let me hear the voice of ADONAI my God any more, or let me see this great fire ever again; if I do, I will die!' 17 On that occasion ADONAI said to me, 'They are right in what they are saying. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I order him. 19 Whoever doesn't listen to my words, which he will speak in my name, will have to account for himself to me. (CJB)
It is important to note that God is not simply speaking of the prophets in general (Isaiah, Eziekel, etc.), but "a prophet" as great as Moses. A prophet that will play a role far greater than those played by traditional prophets, whom God communicates with through visions and dreams. (See Numbers 12:6.)
Taking these passages together, the concept of what constitutes idol worship and its applicability to Yeshua is placed in some context. Please review other articles on this website for additional information as you continue your journey.