Read: Exodus 30:10
Recognize this guy? Many do not. This is a statue by Michelangelo and the guy is… Moses! Did those “horns” fool you? That’s because most people don’t understand the Bible or “horns” very well. Most people associate horns with evil – we joke about it sometimes when someone is acting mischievous, but that’s not what the Bible says. Biblically speaking horns were a sign of power and holiness!
A quick history lesson. The Old Testament (OT) is a collection of “books” written over a span of 1,000 years, the newest being written about 400 years before Jesus. The OT was written by Jewish authors, in the Hebrew language. The New Testament (NT) was written down after Jesus lived 33 years among us, died on the cross, and rose from the dead on Easter Day. The NT or was written by authors who spoke and wrote in the Greek language, from around 50 AD to 110 AD. The NT was written in Greek, it was a universal language at the time, after the conquests of Alexander the Great and the Greek (Macedonian) empire.
The OT views “horns” positively! Horns were a sign of holiness! The great altar in the Temple of Jerusalem had “horns” on each of the four corners. The symbolism being that God is holy, and God’s authority extends from the altar in all four directions of the Earth. The OT law indicates that mercy is found when someone (a guilty person) sought forgiveness while grasping the corner horn of the altar. God’s holiness granted mercy, not judgment and condemnation. It was forbidden to arrest someone who was grasping the horns of the altar seeking God’s mercy – that’s the dual meaning of “sanctuary” – a safe place, and a holy place.
Judeo-Christians affirms the idea of the sanctuary/safe place. All who seek God’s mercy are welcome. It was pagan Greek culture with a wicked mythological deity named Pan who had horns, (Pan was a creepy ½ goat, ½ man god). Pan’s image is what influenced people to think that the devil has horns, not the Bible.
So, when the great artist Michelangelo was trying to depict Moses, a man of holiness and authority from God, he gave Moses horns – not unlike the “nimbus” or halo, that later artist used to represent holiness or godliness.
Pastor Rob Nystrom