Christian Tattoos, Really?

The Name of God - יהוה

The Name of God – יהוה

“He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. … On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords” (Revelation 19:12-13,16).

Recently, I was shocked to learn that some Christians believe Jesus is going to return on a white horse with a tattoo on his thigh.  Not only that, but that he has us tattooed on the palms of his hands. Is  that what the Scriptures really say?  Will Yeshua have a tattoo of  ‘the name that only he knows’ on his leg?  If so, couldn’t anyone tattoo their thigh with some random letters or words and claim they are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords deceiving the whole world?  I hope that the Deceiver doesn’t own a white horse, have a robe dipped in blood and carry a sword!

Why is it that many Christians believes such nonsense?  The only answer could be that their interpretation of Scripture has become so skewed that their lawless doctrine of grace has no boundaries.   They have evolved a sinful savior who is incapable of delivering anyone so they remain in their rebellious carnality while proclaiming Jesus as their Lord.

Tattoos in Scriptures

Leviticus 19:28 states, “And do not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor put tattoo marks on you.  I am the LORD.”

The Hebrew word for ‘tattoo’ is qaqu and means ‘to cut or imprint’ the skin.  In the verses surrounding tattoos, God makes clear that his covenanted people were not to worship the gods of the the nations around them like drinking blood, divining spirits, selling their daughters into religious prostitution, or cutting their bodies for dead relatives.  Some people say that’s only for Israel, but don’t the words “I AM the LORD” have significance to Christians?   It would seem not as 25%  of all tattoos per year are religious in nature.  

As with many commands of God, the tattoo seems to have evolved away from the root of worshipping other gods and  death into something acceptable by everyone except a few lonely souls standing their ground.   Because tattoos are now called body art, the making of a mark, figure, or writing by pricking and inserting pigment under the skin, is not considered the same thing as not cutting the flesh for the dead.  It was not an honor in a concentration camp during the Holocaust to be tattooed with a number; however today believers tattoo birth dates, death dates, and anniversary dates to their skin.  From much of the art it seems the ‘other god’ is the idolatry of oneself and one’s flesh.  Branding the human body with flowers, words, and even Holy Scripture takes away from the handi-work of the Creator who made each of us in His image. 

I have learned from talking to people with tattoos that most, if not all, are done in memory of someone they loved, died or hurt them deeply.  These people, along with many believers,  justify their tattoo as a lasting memorial for the dead and to help them to get through the emotional pain.  Instead of going to the Creator and His salvation in order to be set free from anger and bitterness, deep pain and suffering, they cut their bodies?   Have believers become so ignorant of the Scriptures and the promise of the resurrection that they need tattoos so they can remember their dead?

I know one young man who tattooed the Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, the holy name of God, on his back.  He said it was to honor God.  From a death perspective I wonder,  “Is Jesus dead that we need to cut our flesh for him?”   “Is a tattoo a honorable memorial to him?”  According to my Bible, Jesus is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Luke 22:69, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1); therefore, a tattoo to honor him would be blasphemy. 

Yeshua’s  Hands

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands …” (Isaiah 49:6).  The word ‘engrave’ in Hebrew is patah and is only used in reference to engraving the names of the Tribes of Israel on stone.  This ‘engraving’ cannot be a tattoo on the flesh when used in context of the Hebrew word.  This means that the engraving on Yeshua’s hands are the scars from his death on the cross.

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).

Thomas was a doubter to Yeshua’s resurrection.  The scars that he touched were not  mere tattoos from some tattoo artist in Israel.  They were the crucifixion marks of a dead man come back to life!   The two men from Emmaus also recognized Yeshua by the scars on His palms when He broke the bread.   His scars were real scars from a real event and not some drawings he received in a tattoo parlor.  It is those same scars from the piercings of his hands and feet that when He returns, ‘all the people of the earth will look on the one they pierced and mourn’ (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7).

Faithful and True Witness

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God” (Revelation 19:11-12). 

Riding on a white horse, Yeshua is called Faithful and True.  To what is Yeshua Faithful and True?  The name written on him: the Word of God.

“Then they said to Jeremiah, ‘May the LORD be a ‘true and faithful’ witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us” (Jeremiah 42:5).

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘These are the words of the Amen, the ‘faithful and true’ witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14).

Being faithful and true means Yeshua was faithful and true to all of the God-breathed Words that were the essence of his life.  It means he was sinless and never broke one of God’s commandments.  If he had even broken one commandment, for example Leviticus 19:28 regarding tattoos and had tattoos on his hands or thigh, he would have sinned against God and become an ‘unfaithful and a false witness’.   More importantly, he would have been a blemished ‘lamb’ and unable to be a sin offering for us.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect [tattoo]” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Yeshua’s Tzizit

“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels (tzizit) on the corners of your garments with a blue cord on each tassel.  You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes” (Numbers 15:38-39, Deuteronomy 22:12).

The hem of the garment or the four corners with tzizit (modern-day talit) are no mere trifle and speak volumes about the Name of God, the power of God, the anointing of God, and the commands of God!   Putting tzizit on the hem of a garment showed that the person wearing the garment was remembering the commands of YHVH and not going after the lusts of their own heart and eyes. 

When David and King Saul were at odds, David went into a cave and cut off the hem of Saul’s garment.  In doing so, he cut off his tzizit.  David was conscience-stricken and spoke these words, “The LORD forbid that I do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD” (1 Samuel 24:4-5).

Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel has a Hebrew heritage and a Jewish background.  As a Jewish man, he would have obeyed the command in Numbers and worn tzizit or tassels on the four corners of his garments.  The tzizit are made of strings and knots that have a numerical value for the tetragrammaton Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey or the memorial name of God: יהוה. 

It was the hem of Yeshua’s garment or the tzizit that the woman with the issue of bleeding touched and was healed (Luke 8:43).  It is highly probable that the name of God written on the Messiah’s leg are his tzizits resting on his thigh with as returns with his armies. 

… On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

In the Millennial kingdom, when Yeshua reigns from Jerusalem, Zechariah mentions the tzizit of the Jewish men.  He says that ten gentile men will grab one Jew’s tzizit in their hands because it is a sign that God is with them.   However, it could also mean that ten men from nations will take hold of this ONE Jew’s tzizit and confess that Yeshua is LORD!

“This is what the LORD Almighty says, ‘In those days [the Millennial Kingdom] ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, “Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:23).

No earthly king bears his thigh to the world, so why would the eternal and holy King of Kings and Lord of Lords bear his?  Kings wear robes and Yeshua will be no different.  His robe, however,  will have the testimony of God’s name on it.    The only reason Yeshua knows the name and no one else does is because the actual spoken rendering for the Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey has been lost over the centuries.  Though there are differing renderings to the spoken name of God, Yeshua, the Faithful and True witness,  will finally restore the Name when He returns.  There will be no confusion as to who he is as His thigh will bear the Name.’

Engraving the Word of God

“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3-4).

The Israelites were given a specific ways to remember the commands of God and it wasn’t with a tattoo on their body.  Specifically they were to tie the commands as symbols on their hands and bind them on their foreheads.  They were not to write them on their hands or foreheads as that would have been disobeying God’s command not to tattoo their bodies. 

These are the commands, decrees and teachings the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe … Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1, 8-9).

According to the new covenant, the Word of God is supposed to be inside of us, written on our hearts by His Spirit. I’ve seen people tattoo the fruits of the Spirit on their arms or the love chapter from 1 Corinthians 11 when the only tablet of flesh on which God’s teachings are to be written is the transformed heart.

“But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children— To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts]” (Psalm 103:17-18 Amplified).

I love the way the Amplified Bible relates the new covenant relationship with God  It says the commandments are ‘imprinted on our hearts’. If we could just tattoo words on our bodies and be at peace with God, then the purpose of the new covenant would be nullified.  Perhaps that is really what Christian tattooing is about – nullifying the commandments of God in order to promote the man of lawlessness and final rebellion!

We all must make a choice to either love God and His Word or willfully rebel against Him by justifying our sin in the name of freedom and grace.  Even though some people can reason that modern tattoos are not the same as cutting in Leviticus, could it be that all things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial? 

Soon, our King will be arrive on a white horse with a verbal sword.  His witness to his Father will be faithful and true.  His Kingdom will be ruled by justice and an iron scepter for those who refuse to obey the commandments.   Following the Commander of the Lord’s armies, dressed in white, riding white horses are those who will rule and reign with Messiah because the Spirit imprinted the commands of God on their hearts and not their bodies.

Tattoos on Yeshua. Nope.  Even if he had even a miniscule one, he could not have been our salvation.   He would have sinned against His Father and himself as the Word of God.  With a tattoo, he would not have been a sinless, blemish-free Lamb that was able to remove the sins of the world.   He would not have been the Messiah of Israel as he would have abolished the Torah and the Prophets.  Most importantly,  he would not be the One we are waiting for to return to earth riding a white horse with a sharp two-edged sword and the name of God written on his thigh and called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Christian tattoos, really?  No.

©2012 Tent Stake Ministries Book Nosh

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