As Christians/Messianics we all know what Yahweh means when He says we are not to make graven images and worship them as Elohim (God) (Exodus 20:4). Yahweh is unseen and is to be worshipped as unseen (1 Timothy 1:17; Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 11:27). When a person tries to represent Him as a statue or carved figure, he creates an 'image' or 'reflection' that is not remotely connected to His reality. Even the mental pictures we create of Him are not to be worshipped because they are the workmanship of our own minds and such images again do not correspond to His reality. When we worship Yahweh in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24) we worship neither an external nor an internal image or projection of Him: we worship the Ultimate Reality who is a Person and the Divine Father of all. We worship the One who transcends any and every feeble attempt by mortal man to represent Him in any form, material or mental. We call upon His Name - YAHWEH - the Eternally Present One - the Name we are commanded to make known to all the nations, through His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) - which means 'Yah[weh] Saves'.
The faculty which we call our imagination includes the ability to create pictures or images of people, places, divinity and even abstractions. The work of artists throughout the millennia is enough to illustrate the capability of the mind to create pictures which, with the help of a skilled hand, can then be transformed into art that either pleases or revolts. What the artist admits into his mind and nurtures in his heart before being translated onto canvass with the skilled strokes of his brush can come from either purity or perversion, order or chaos, beauty of ugliness. The painting of an artist is a spiritual expression of facets of his soul.
Because people are such complex creatures and take time to really get to know, we have a tendency to create a 'mental image' of them which, as we become better acquainted with them, becomes modified over time. For the most part we are disturbed by our lack of accuracy. 'When you get to know him you'll really like him,' someone might say of a person who otherwise comes across as being objectionable. And sometimes the people we think are wonderful turn out to be absolute blaggards. The image we have of someone - at least initially - rarely corresponds to reality.
These days people rush into marriage or common law relationships knowing almost nothing about their partners. They form an image - usually highly idealised by romantic notions and personal expectations - that turns out to have little correspondence with reality. What is particularly dangerous is when a person falls in love with an image of a person, marries him or her, and then ends up not even liking them, let alone loving them. When the image is shattered, sometimes people can be left with nightmares.
Our relationship with Elohim (God) is supposed to be based on a real encounter, not a mental projection or construction. As a result, many people become disillusioned with 'God' for not meeting up to their religious expectations and drop Him, mistaking their image of Him for the reality. Persuading people to return to the living God - Yahweh-Elohim - can often prove to be very difficult because the mental image which has disappointed them and which they have rejected still lingers. Sadly, we tend to do the same thing with people, whether in a marriage relationship or in friendships. Because we have been conditioned by society to see the world in TV and DVD images and the like, moden man often has great problems forming relationships with other people. Society encourages us to sell an 'image' and conceal what we really are. We know, for example, how expert the politicians are at this game. Little wonder, then, that people are generally disillusioned with politicians - the images simply bear little or no relationship to reality.
Idealistic people have a tendency to inject more into the image of a person than is actually there in real life, and cynics do the reverse by assuming the very worst. However noble our aspersions when it comes to seeing people in a positive light, unless we have a grip on reality and see the real person for what he or she actually is, we are going to ultimately reap bitter disappointment and possibly unhappiness. As Christians/Messianics one of our first priorities must be to teach people not only to meet Elohim (God) as He really is, and not as they want Him to be, but to teach them to be genuine and transparent both in their behaviour and in their search to see and understand others. Whilst love does indeed - and should - cover a multitude of sins (1 Peteter 4:8), it should never lose sight of reality. Pretending an obnoxious person is wonderful creates an artificial relationship that will eventually collapse; recognising that an obnoxious person is obnoxious but loving him as Christ would have us love him is quite a different matter. And unfortunately Christians often confuse the two, especially in marriage relationships where the passion of love can, and does, have the tendency to blind to spiritual realities.
If you want to see the art of image-making in action, go to any dating agency and read what people say about themselves in their personal ads. You will rarely find descriptions that point out character defects in such a manner as to be brutally honest. There is even an art even of being self-critical but it is done in such a suave way as to virtually assure a positive response. 'I am stubborn but you'll like me' may be declared in a amusing way when what is meant is 'I never listen to anyone else's point-of-view and want my own way in everything even if it means walking roughshod over your feelings'. I am sure you know what I mean. Because people have been brought up to 'project an image' - even (sadly) Christians - we have got to be very careful when we start looking for marriage companions. Getting to know someone well in a variety of different circumstances over a sufficiently long enough period of time to let the masks drop and the 'real person' shine or be revealed in their stark horribleness really is a prerequisite to knowing whether or not they will make suitable marriage companions. For even when we honestly approach Yahweh in prayer for a revelation about a potential mate there is a tendency to bring along our image of a person to the throne of grace instead of the reality of who they actually are. And when we do that, Yahweh may give us an answer based on the image and not the real person. How tragic if He rejects the image you bring before Him when he is ready to confirm the rightness of marrying the actual person. Or you get positive feelings about an exaggerated image of someone who really isn't suited to you at all.
Because we are all at different levels of sanctification our discernment when it comes to prayer may not be everything we would wish it to be. That is not to say that we need to have a perfect relationship with Yahweh before we can expect to get a clear answer to a prayer on so important a matter as choosing a marriage companion: but it is to say that we really should do as much ground work as we can ourselves so that we can use common sense and experience in aiding us in discerning what Yahweh wants of us (see Whom Should I Mary?). He reveals Himself in different ways and it is always dangerous to assume that He will tell all without our doing our part. Not all marriages are arranged by Dad as Isaac's and Rebekah's was. Sometimes we must travel and search far, like Jacob, before we find those Yahweh has ordained for us. You never know how Yahweh is going to do it. But you may reasonably assume that Yahweh expects us to be wise: and to be wise means not rushing anything and doing your homework on a potential spouse properly.
Even after marriage it is possible to have an idealised picture of ones spouse that is not based on reality. Many marriages are often based on mutual image-worship and what that means in fact is that you have fallen in love - and are loving - not an actual person but an image within yourself. In short, you are loving yourself. Such a relationship in a polygamous marriage can be, and usually is, disasterous. If each wife is loving her own image of her husband and not the real man, then in truth they are not only loving different 'men' but actually loving their own selves. And selfishness, as you all know, is a sure recipe for major problems in a plural relationship. Often a new wife will 'see' her husband in a completely different light to those who have been married to him for sometime. She will form prejudices about him and possibly look down on the other wives who do not see her 'image' which she mistakenly believes to be their husband. And if a husband views his wives as images within himself, then he will be unable to relate to, and unite, them. Any husband who cannot see reality cannot possibly lead and guide his wives in the paths of righteousness.
In my experience, when images substitute for the real person, you can be pretty sure there are demon problems. Demons are attracted to, and make their home in, false images. Their whole art is constructed upon lies crafted into mental and emotional illusion. For this reason alone dismantling illusions should be a Christian's/Messianic's urgent priority: once demons have place, they are soon in the business of wrecking relationships, or otherwise creating artificial or perverse ones which they control and stage manage for their own ends. Plural marriages where there is lesbianism, or where a man may have married a mother and her daughter, or married two jealous sisters (both of which are forbidden by Torah), are a few cases in point. When people believe that Yahweh's laws don't matter, they create their own illusions as to marital 'rightness'. These laws may be plain sense matters like not marrying next of kin or they may be the more subtle internal idolatry with mental images I have been speaking about. In either case, they are an invitation to demonic oppression and unstable relationships. And typically, when the instabilities are addressed, they are addressed in the wrong way: in any demonic presence, perversion will be added to perversion until you have complete and utter chaos.
When a woman (for example) falls in love with an image, she sets up an idol, even if she is 'submissive' to that idol. In truth, she is being submissive to herself (and possibly to the demons behind, and animating, it), and setting herself up as her own authority without perhaps even realising it. She may, as a result, start getting haughty towards her husband and displaying feministic tendencies. She may not intend to, but because she has an image within her own mind and heart she is submitted to, she sets up the authority of the husband within and as herself. Once she does that, she will have unknowingly invited a demon in who will start exercising control and undermining patriarchy.
By the same token, a husband who loves and adores images of his wives inside will render his real wives invisible to himself. I know of men who refuse to admit that they have problems in their marriages because it is damaging, as they suppose, to their 'ministerial image'. They therefore treat their wives in the idealised way they want them to be (and severely punishing them when they don't match up) and thus fail to address their real needs and problems. When the relationship starts falling apart, they are speaking to their images instead of their wives and no communication results. Their wives might just as well not exist. And if the wives are seeing their husband in the same light, then they are talking across each other.
It is critical, therefore, that husbands and wives do two things:
Where do we form images of people, things, and circumstances? If you close your eyes and try to touch that part of your brain where you are forming those images I am pretty sure that you will find your finger resting on your brow between your eyes. That is where most people 'see' inside. Interestingly, this corresponds to what occultists call the 'Third Eye' which they use in their visualisation techniques. This also happens to be the exact location (in addition to the right hand) where the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16; 14:9; 20:4) is located or, alternatively, the Mark of Christ. The Mark of the Beast - or Satanism - is at its core about self-worship. And when you worship images (whatever they may be of - God, husband, wife, Satan, etc.), it is still idolatry and Satanism. It is on this self-same spot where Jews wear phylacteries or their proper name in Hebrew, tefilla, mistaking a symbolic set of scriptures to be literal.
- 1. They must all insure that they are seen for what they actually are - that means really getting to know one another and dismantling all false images ... that means LOTS of talking and observing (and forgiving); and
- 2. They all agree to allow Yahweh to make them into what He wants them to be, and to do that, they must agree to submit themselves to His commandments - His Torah.
Jewish men and boys wearing phylacteries or tefillin
Now what is this tefilla and why is is worn where it is? For those of you who want to study this further, they consist of two hollow cubes made of the skin of clean animals and were made to be worn both on the head and the hands. The head tefilla is divided into four equal compartments containing the following passages from the Torah:
The point here is not the phylateries themselves (which are merely man-made outward symbols and which were not standardised before the second century AD) but the symbolic meaning of binding Yahweh's commandments to our foreheads and hands. The right hand is a well-known biblical symbol representing might, power and authority, whereas the forehead represents in Scripture the seat of human determination or the power to persevere. It is on the forehead - the location of the 'third eye' - that we are to bind the Shema:
"Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 'Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.' And Moses said to the people: 'Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Aviv. And it shall be, when Yahweh brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to Yahweh. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what Yahweh did for me when I came up from Egypt.' It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that Yahweh's law (Torah) may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand Yahweh has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year" (Exodus 13:1-10, NKJV)
"And it shall be, when Yahweh brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to Yahweh all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Yahweh's. But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' that you shall say to him, 'By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that Yahweh killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.' It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt" (Exodus 13:11-16, NKJV).
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is Echad (one)! You shall love Yahweh your Elohim (God) with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NKJV)
"'And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love Yahweh your Elohim and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.' Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest Yahweh's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which Yahweh is giving you. Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth" (Deuteronomy 11:13-21, NKJV).
This is the only 'image' we are to have 'between our eyes' and it isn't even an image or picture at all. This is the truth that must be before us at all times and which is to define our consciousness, viz. that Yahweh is echad or One. Since a mark denoting Yah'shua (Jesus) is also on the foreheads of true believers, and since Yah'shua is the 'Salvation of Yah[weh]', it follows that the both marks are one and the same: Yahweh is echad and His salvation is to be received through the atonement of His Son Yah'shua (Jesus).
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim (God), Yahweh is Echad (one)!" (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Whatever 'imaging' we do in our lives must always be through the Ultimate Reality, Yahweh, meaning that it must not be fantasy - it must be based on Truth. Hence Jude's warning against "dreamers" whose idle imaginings lead them to serious sin (Jude 8). To conceive an image of a person that is not true, or only half-true, and then act towards that person as though the image were the person, must surely constitute a serious sin because it is passing false judgment on him. That is why it is necessary that believers reserve judgment, and not assume they know a person, until they really do.
If believers are to be one with each other, and with Christ, then that oneness or echad must be on the same basis as the union of Yah'shua (Jesus) with His Father - and our Father - Yahweh (John 17). That echad is one of truth, not fantasy. Yah'shua's (Jesus') prayer was that they should know the Father as He did, and thus commune with His reality, which is to place His Name on their forehead, above the 'third eye' - in order to commune with Him and not channel demons or cultivate forbidden psychic or telepathic powers as the occultists do. Fixation on images of the wrong kind do ultimately lead to detatchment from reality by progressive degrees and in its extreme form leads to either madness, demon possession, or both. That is why Torah so strenuously forbids the making of graven images of any kind that might be looked upon as 'God'.
Plural marriage is much more complex and intricate than a simple monogamous one and to be successful and happy requires deep communion with Yahweh and tranparency between husband and wives. Because people are often reluctant to open up - even spouses - for many different reasons (shame, fear of judgment, etc.), it is important that this marriage openness is mediated by the Holy Spirit. And this can only be done if the 'third eye' of believers is fixed upon Yahweh, His Unity (Echad), and His Torah (Law), which today is mediated to us through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). It is Torah that binds husbands and wives together in a unified mindframe and lifestyle which itself reforms our own natures to make them progressively more and more like Christ's. It ensures that doctrinal and practical divisions dissolve upon the anvil of Yahweh's Truth and not man's traditions or his carnal lusts. By husband and wives having the unity of the Name of Yahweh before them at all times, unity is fostered and the barriers set up by the flesh are rendered thin enough to be penetrated and dispensed with. With the echad unity of Yahweh before our eyes, we in our turn can have Yahweh make echad marriages - true oneness, harmony, and love. Before this unity, all illusion dissipates, all imagery vanishes - for who has need of images when reality is before one? That reality - the Reality of Yahweh, and the reality of the pure bonds of matrimony - obviates the need for any fantasy - who needs fantasy when everything is clear? And when that happens, the demons must flee and man and wives are left alone to be united solely with their Creator and thus with each other and the wider Messianic Fellowship.