|Rejoicing at the Feast
|Does the Bible teach anything about the use of tattoos?
On Saturday, October 4, 2003, Edwin Pope will be presenting the sermon, “Fast to Draw Near to God.” Services will start at 2:30 pm Central time (which is 12:30 pm Pacific time).
On Monday, October 6, 2003, is the Day of Atonement. Norbert Link will be covering important aspects of the meaning of that annual Holy Day in his sermon, “The Two Goats.” Services will begin at 2:30 pm Central Time (12:30 pm Pacific time).
This will be the last Update prior to the Feast of Tabernacles, which will begin Friday evening, October 10, 2003. Opening night services will start at 9:30 pm Central time (7:30 pm Pacific time).
Our next Update is scheduled to appear on October 24, 2003.
We wish all our members, supporters, and readers a rewarding and uplifting Sabbath, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles.
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”
A SPECIAL NOTE: All of our services during the Feast of Tabernacles (beginning with the opening night) will be broadcast on the Internet. For dates and times go to www.cognetservices.org.
Rejoicing at the Feast
by Rene Messier (Canada)
In Deuteronomy 16:13-14 we are admonished by God in this manner: “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall REJOICE in your feast, you and your son and your daughter…”
We are told not just to observe or keep the feast but to rejoice in it, together with our families. For many of us, the only family we have to rejoice with is our Church family. Others are blessed of also having their flesh-and-blood family with them. Here are some tips to rejoice at the feast:
1) Let us make every effort to pray and study the Bible during the feast. It is not sufficient to just attend services. Personal study and prayer during that time are very important. Some have found it very helpful to take time out and review, as part of their personal study, the sermonette and sermon notes that they took down on the previous day. In doing this, our relationship with God will be strengthened, and we will be able to reflect God’s joy in our lives.
2) Let us pray for a positive personal attitude. We might run into problems before or during the feast, but they should not influence us to become upset and negative. When we notice that bad feelings seem to overpower us, let us immediately pray to God and ask Him to restore in us the joy we all need to have and to express to others.
3) Let us pray for one another that we will all arrive at the feast safely. This would include praying for the safety of the ministry who are there to serve all of us. We need to also pray for those who cannot be there this year, be it for personal or other reasons. Sending them a card is a nice way to let them know that they are not forgotten at this time. Most importantly, let us pray that God would restrain the hand of Satan so that the Internet broadcasts, Church services and other feast activities would go well.
4) Let us make this an opportunity to take brethren out for dinner who may not have been able to save enough second tithe. This would include, perhaps, a widow or a large family. I remember my first feast when I did not have a lot of second tithe since I was baptized in August. Another member took me out for a meal. It left a lasting impression on me. In subsequent years I was able to do the same for others. It has had a cumulative effect. I was able to pass on to others, what someone else had done for me first.
5) Let us strive to meet and converse with new people. It is amazing how we can draw close to one another and learn more about one another just by conversing and enjoying the fellowship afforded us at this time. This is perhaps the only time we will get to see some of our beloved brethren in the year.
6) Let us make every effort to stay in good health and get sufficient rest. This will enable us to attend every service to get the spiritual food which has been prepared for us, and also, to participate in all of the planned activities at the feast.
7) Let us serve as much as we have opportunity. There are many ways to serve the brethren at the feast, be it with ushering, offering someone a ride or giving them other needed assistance, or participating in choir or the Talent Show. If you have a talent in singing or playing an instrument, share it with others at the feast. This will help all of us to enjoy the feast more fully.
It is our hope that you will have a wonderful and inspiring feast this year. When we follow the time-proven admonitions set forth in this Editorial, it will be much easier for us to truly REJOICE at the feast.
This Week in the News
The United States and Germany
DER SPIEGEL Online reported on September 29, 2003, about the “new-found friendship” between President Bush and Chancellor Schroeder. The magazine commented, as follows:
“… the most important objective of the meeting with Bush already seemed to have been achieved: The Chancellor wanted to reestablish a basis for discussion, something the German government and its most powerful ally, following their heated dispute surrounding the Iraq policy, had lacked for a sixteen-month period. The prevailing opinion at the White House was that it’s about time, and Schröder also felt that it was time to break the silence. He likes to say that nations do not pursue romantic relationships, and in this respect his sentiments echo the words of Otto von Bismarck, former Chancellor of the German Reich, who once wrote in his memoirs that ‘not even the king’ has the right to subordinate the interests of the state to his personal sympathies or antipathies…
“After all, the meeting was poised to begin on a less than positive note. In an earlier meeting, French President Jacques Chirac had given his US colleague an affected lecture on war, peace and international law. According to American sources, George Bush was… [extremely angered] and became all the more so when Chirac railed against a ‘policy of fait accompli’ in his speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations…
“Have German-American relations returned to their former state of normalcy? Schröder and Fischer, at least, would disagree, since they did not in fact abandon any of their prewar positions. On his flight to New York, the Chancellor declared that he was not traveling to the United States as a supplicant, and on his return flight one of his advisors repeated the sentence that was considered a rallying cry just a few months ago, but now describes little more than a state of affairs: ‘German foreign policy is determined in Berlin.’
“… So the relationship between the superpower and the ‘European central power’ (Schröder) has returned to that sober footing where personal sympathy is important but not decisive. In the future, both sides will deal with one another more cautiously and with fewer illusions. ‘There can be no greater error,’ said the first American president, George Washington, ‘than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.’ When seen in this light, Americans and Germans are henceforth partners without pathos.”
BILD Online published a commentary, dated September 23, addressing the deteriorated relationship between the United States and Germany. The commentary stated, “When the United States got rid of one of the worst dictators, Saddam Hussein, we saw anti-Americanism unleashed in Germany. The world power [United States] hit back. That was bad politics. And it will take a long time until the consequences will disappear. But at least — a beginning has been made.”
The United States and Europe
DER SPIEGEL Online published on September 29, 2003, an interview with Washington’s former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, discussing the feud between transatlantic allies, the US role, the Europeans’ failings and perceptions. We are bringing experts of Mrs. Albright’s insightful interview, as follows:
“…What has happened here in the United States as well as in Europe is so painful to me. There have always been times when there were anti-European sentiments in the United States and anti-American feelings in Europe. But when both trends occur at the same time, we have a vicious circle. This is precisely what has happened now. It’s disgusting to watch Europeans gloat over the chaos in Iraq or the recent power outages in the United States, for example. Conversely, should we be pleased when 10,000 people die in a French heat wave? Well, at least the squabblers are talking to each other again. But both sides bear responsibility for letting things get so far out of hand…
“There were some [European leaders] who preferred an entirely different approach to Saddam. There were many attempts in the Security Council, especially on the part of France, to ease the sanctions regime against Iraq. This already complicated the relationship with Europe… Chancellor Schröder could certainly have campaigned for reelection somewhat more elegantly – not exclusively at the expense of the United States. And President Chirac made the situation unbelievably complicated. In truth, both sides prevented the UN from playing an important role before the war. President Bush because he kept saying: ‘I don’t care what they say,’ and President Chirac because he said: ‘I will submit my veto, no matter what.’ Both contributed to the decline in the UN’s significance…
“The Europeans allowed a horrible disaster to happen in Bosnia, and that’s why it was important for us to intervene. But not alone. It’s sometimes difficult to do anything right for the Europeans. If the role the United States takes is too strong, we’re criticized. If we do nothing, we’re neglecting our commitments. It isn’t always easy to be the United States… I’ve always been fascinated by Germany. I was born in Czechoslovakia. When we fled to London, I knew that the bombs that were falling around me were German bombs. Consequently, my impressions of Germany were of course very negative. But in every conversation with Joschka Fischer I sensed that he was quite conscious of Germany’s responsibility for the past. When we discussed the Kosovo conflict and talked about how intellectuals from Pristina had been taken away, he said: ‘Yes, that is exactly what happened with the Nazis.’ I asked him more than once about his days as a street protester. His only response was this: ‘You know, Madeleine, you would have done the same thing if you had literally suspected every single authority figure around you – the police officer, the doctor, the teacher – of having supported the Nazis.'”
New European Plans?
The Guardian reported on September 23, 2003 about a “super region” plan to revive the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. The article pointed out: “Political leaders from three countries, including Austria’s controversial far-rightwinger, Jorg Haider, are pushing for creation of a new European ‘super-region’ that would slice through national boundaries and take in a large part of the old Austro-Hungarian empire.
“The plan is likely to meet a frosty response from Tony Blair and other European leaders who are keen to ensure that power in the European Union stays with nation states.
“Riccardo Illy, recently elected president of the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, told the newspaper La Stampa the projected ‘super-region’ was planned to extend from Austria to Rijeka on the Croatian coast. It would also include his own region and parts of Slovenia.
“He said Mr. Haider, governor of the Austrian state of Carinthia, had been ‘very positive.’ The scheme had won the backing of the mayor of a key Croatian local authority and was under discussion with the Slovenian government… His plan would reunite territories that all formed part of the Austro-Hungarian empire that ended in 1918.”
Euobserver.com reported on October 2, 2003, that “France and Austria clash over [the proposed European] Constitution.” The article continued, “Austria finds itself at the head of the group of smaller countries arguing for substantial changes to the draft, whereas France — along with the UK and Germany — are wary of unravelling the text drafted by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.”
Water Shortage in Australia
ABC News reported on Wednesday, October 1, 2003, about mandatory restrictions for Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains. The article pointed out that “the region’s main water supply, the Googong Dam, is now at 36 per cent capacity. Recent rain has done little to alleviate the region’s water crisis. Even though water consumption is already below the stage three target of 127 megalitres a day, total dam levels are still below 50 per cent. The ACT Government has described Canberra as being on a knife-edge, warning there is no room for complacency, particularly during summer. From today sprinklers are banned, as is washing your car at home. Private gardens can only be watered with hand-held hoses or buckets on alternate days, though pools can be topped up as long as they are covered. Anyone caught breaking the rules could face fines of up to $5,000.”
We are informed that there have virtually never been water restrictions in Canberra before. The Googong dam, about five minutes drive from Canberry, has usually been fairly full. An additional indication for the unusual events in Sydney can be seen by the fact that Sydney usually has high rainfall and is semi-tropical.
Meteorites in India
BBC News reported about a meteorite that crashed in eastern India. Fortunately, only three people had been injured as a result of the meteorite falling to earth. Officials investigating the event say it was part of the most spectacular meteor shower in the country’s recent history, according to BBC News.
The article continued, “Flaming debris from the space rock lit up the sky in Orissa state on Saturday night, and sent villagers running after its burning fragments set fire to their houses. ‘I have never seen a meteor covering such a large area with a huge fireball and roaring sound,’ said Basant Kumar Mohanty, senior director of the Geological Survey of India. According to state authorities, two large fragments of the meteorite, weighing roughly five kilograms each, have been recovered.”
Does the Bible teach anything about the use of tattoos?
It sure does. Although tattooing our bodies is extremely popular amongst many peoples and even in our Western society, including amongst sailors, marines, teens and others, the Bible clearly prohibits this practice.
Leviticus 19:28 tells us:
“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.”
The translation “tattoo” is an accurate rendering of the original Hebrew. The Authorized Version states, “…nor print any marks upon you.” The intended meaning is “tattoo” or “tattoo marks.” The New International Version states, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourself.” The Revised Standard Version states, “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you.” The Revised English Bible states, “You must not gash yourselves in mourning for the dead or tattoo yourselves.” Compare, too, Moffat, the New American Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible, and the Elberfelder Bible.
The Hebrew word, translated as “tattoo,” is “qa’aqa.” Strong defines it under Number 7085 as an “incision” or “gash” or a “mark.” The Interlinear Bible Hebrew-Greek-English edition by Jay P Green Sr uses the word “tattoo” as a literal translation of Strong’s Number 7085.
The Ryrie Study Bible comments on Leviticus 19:28: “Both cutting and tattooing the body were done by the heathen.”
Soncino remarks, “…’nor imprint any marks,’ i.e. tattooing with a needle. The flesh should not have any marks other than the ‘sign of the covenant,’ circumcision.”
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary has this to say about “tattoos”:
“A permanent mark or design fixed upon the body by a process of picking the skin and inserting an indelible color under the skin. The moral and ceremonial laws of Leviticus declare, ‘You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks upon you,’ (Leviticus 19:28). Any kind of self laceration or marking the body was prohibited amongst the Hebrew people. Such cuttings were associated with pagan cults that tattooed their followers while they mourned the dead.”
The Nelson Study Bible adds, “The human body was designed by God, who intended it to be whole and beautiful. Disfiguring the body dishonored God, in whose image the person was created. Cutting one’s flesh for the dead and tattooing (or perhaps painting) one’s body had religious significance among Israel’s pagan neighbors. In Israel, such practices were signs of rebellion against God.”
Henry’s Commentary points out, “The rites and ceremonies by which they expressed their sorrow at their funerals must not be imitated… They must not make cuts or prints in their flesh for the dead; for the heathen did so to pacify the infernal deities they dreamt of, and to render them propitious to their deceased friends.”
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, has this to say about the subject: “… nor print any marks upon you — by tattooing — imprinting figures or flowers, leaves, stars, and other fanciful devices on various parts of their person — the impression was made sometimes by means of a hot iron, sometimes by ink or paint, as is done by the Arab females of the present day and the different casts of the Hindoos [sic]. It is probable that a strong propensity to adopt such marks in honor of some idol gave occasion to the prohibition in this verse; and they were wisely forbidden, for they were signs of apostasy; and, when once made, they were insuperable obstacles to a return…”
The Broadman Bible Commentary adds, “The peculiar markings referred to in vv. 27-28 were all customary mourning rites practiced by the ancient world. Their intention was to make the mourner unrecognizable to evil spirits who might hover around a dead person. In Israel such deference to the presence and power of evil spirits was prohibited.”
Some religious people, although they are aware of Leviticus 19:28, nevertheless claim that they tattoo their bodies just for decoration, without thinking about evil spirits, or mourning for any dead person. They feel Leviticus 19:28 only prohibits tattooing in the context of mourning for the dead. We need to realize, however, that tattooing, even if it was originally done for the purpose of expressing sorrow for a dead person, had a somewhat permanent nature — the person would still continue to wear the tattoo long after his mourning for the dead had ceased. It is also important to consider the origin of a certain practice. If tattooing was originally done to placate evil spirits and to mourn for the dead, as most commentaries suggest, and was therefore prohibited, it would still be wrong to carry out such practice today, even if it was done for different motives. For instance, members of God’s Church don’t keep Halloween, because this festival is clearly of a pagan or demonic origin. This fact is not changed by the argument that most people keeping Halloween today don’t do so for the purpose of placating or expelling demons.
In addition, Leviticus 19:28 contains two commandments. The first commandment prohibits cuttings in the flesh for the dead. The second commandment is broader than that. It says, “…and do not tattoo yourselves” (New American Bible). Although tattooing “for the dead” is included, it is not limited to it. According to Leviticus 19:28, all kinds of tattooing are wrong.
We need to realize, too, that tattooing is a form of “mutilation” (compare Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol.21, ed. 1959). A Christian is not to “mutilate” himself, except where it is expressly commanded or impliedly permitted by God, such as in the case of circumcision. A Christian is to take care of his body in a right and cherishing way (Ephesians 5:29). He is to glorify GOD in his body, knowing that his body is the temple or dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20).
More proof on the background of this now popular activity of tattooing may be found in Deuteronomy 14:1 wherein God strictly forbids pagan practices about cutting or disfiguring oneself. Also, in the account of 1 Kings 18, Elijah confronts the false religious leaders of his day. Verse 28 states: “So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.” When Jesus confronted demon possessed people, one of the common manifestations was that these people mutilated themselves in destructive ways.
Tattooing has given rise to other forms of body mutilations that often prove to be permanent disfigurations. Right and true worship of God not only avoids these practices, but Christianity is a way of living in which individuals seek to honor God through the kind of obedience that is rooted in love–not body mutilation.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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