COPIES OF THE CROSS
Christians buy and make crosses. Some are used as jewelry. Some are on church steeples. Many are in forms of art or decor.
Christians, who would be condemned for worshiping Christ by Jehovah’s Witnesses, are severely criticized and even called idolaters for the making and buying copies of the cross of Christ.
COULD WATCHTOWER BE RIGHT ABOUT THIS ONE?
Because of the teachings of Watchtower, their failed prophecies, their adding to scripture and ignoring of scripture, I never believe something because they teach it. I do check in the Bible. I must say, however, that this accusation did concern me. Could they be right? The first commandment clearly says:
Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Now, I do not know of anyone who worships or bows down to a copy or replica of Christ’s cross, however, could we be wrong to make it in the first place. This has bothered me for some time and became a matter or prayer.
IS THE REPLICA AN IDOL OR A WITNESS?
The answer came from the book of Joshua. I’ve heard the story many times, but this time, I heard something I had not noticed before. After the Israelites entered the promised land, a problem arose. All Israel were ready to go to war with their brothers over an action by certain tribes. It seems that the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar, a replica of the true altar found in the tabernacle. They built it by the Jordan River on their side. Israel was extremely upset over this. Israel believed this was a turning away from the LORD, YHWH. We see this in verse 16 when they ask the question:
How could you turn away from the LORD and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now?
The Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh had an answer. Here is what they said:
Joshua 22:22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the LORD, do not spare us today 23 for building an altar to turn away from following the LORD. Or if we did so to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings on it, may the LORD Himself take vengeance. 24 No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25 For the LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the LORD.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the LORD. 26 Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27 but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”’ 28 And we thought, ‘If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, “Behold, the copy of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.”’
As I read this, I saw a similarity with the cross. It isn’t a cross on which we want to hang another Christ. It isn’t something to which we bow and pray. It is a witness that when our unsaved or even saved friends see it, they will know that we worship the King of kings and Lord of lords who died at Calvary and raised on the third day to reclaim the glory that He had with the Father in the beginning and to be our propitiation for sin.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…Romans 3:24-25
BE READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER IF ASKED ABOUT THE CROSS
Christians should see the cross and think of the atonement. The cross should cause us to remember that Christ suffered, bled, and died on a cross so that we might go free.
CARM lists the many things Christ did for us on that cross.
If someone asks why we have a cross in our possession, we need to be ready to give an answer:
Matthew 26:2, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”
John 3:14–15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Galatians 6:14, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
THE REST OF THE STORY CONCERNING THE ALTAR
Joshua 22:30 When Phinehas the priest and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh spoke, it was good in their eyes. 31 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh, “Today we know that the LORD is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the Lord. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the Lord.”
32 Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the chiefs, returned from the people of Reuben and the people of Gad in the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the people of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33 And the report was good in the eyes of the people of Israel. And the people of Israel blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and the people of Gad were settled. 34 The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness, “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.”