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The English word symbol originated from a Greek word, pronounced symbollo, which, curiously, is a combination of two Greek words (pronounced) sym, meaning with, and ballo, meaning throw (the English word ball originated from that Greek word which meant throw). Despite the rather obscure literal meaning, symbol came to be defined as "something visible that by association represents something else that is invisible." From the Biblical perspective, symbolism can either be good or evil.

"Behold the Lamb of God"

The most obvious bad use of symbolism is specified by the Second Commandment:

The Lamb of God

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I The Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My Commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6 KJV)

Many Christian-professing people nevertheless claim that the idols that they have are not themselves worshipped, but are merely symbols of the invisible God, but that is the very thing that God says is wrong about them.

"Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that The Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female [see also What Would Mary Really Say About Idolatry?]" (Deuteronomy 4:15-16 KJV)

"we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:29-30 KJV)

There are however many uses of symbolism in the Holy Scriptures, none of which are idolatrous. Christ Himself very often used symbolism in His teachings. One of the most well-known is the Passover lamb which was a symbol of the sacrifice of the Messiah, the Lamb of God.

"The next day John [see John's Last Days, also The Origin of Baptism] seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29 KJV)

"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened [see Unleavened Bread]. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7 KJV)

Baptism (when correctly done, by immersion) is a symbol of death, burial and resurrection:

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:3-5 KJV)

"Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12 KJV)

Fact Finder: How was the Levitical High Priest merely symbolic of the Christ?
See Christ The High Priest

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