The Mark Of Love


Tattoos Are Popular

Do you have a tattoo? Where is it on your body? Why did you get it done?

What is it? Mum, Dad, Girlfriend, boyfriend, Liverpool football club, to remember a special event, etc.

For many years now I’ve heard many people, especially Christians, asking the question, is it sinful to have a tattoo?

Many people in society, including Christians, have tattoos somewhere on their bodies and at first, I didn’t believe the Bible said anything on the topic until someone pointed out the following Scripture.

‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put TATTOO marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.’ Leviticus 19:28 N.I.V

I was surprised to find this little verse tucked away in the Book of Leviticus, probably because I just read over it without really noticing the word ‘tattoo’.

After further study, it turns out I was right with my first thought, in terms of what the Scriptures actually say about the subject, they say nothing about them or address the subject in any shape or form.

Now you might think how I can claim such a thing as the above verse does mention the word, ‘tattoo’, but let’s look at the KJV.

‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor PRINT any MARKS upon you: I am the Lord.’ Leviticus 19:28 K.J.V

The actual word used in Hebrew for ‘print’ is the word, ‘nathan’ which means to inscribe or engrave symbols or words. The word for ‘marks’ in Hebrew is the word, ‘qa`aqa` which implies an incision or gash. The word ‘tattoo’ as used in the NIV isn’t actually used in the original text.

Background To The Text

Now, remember when this law was given to the nation of Israel, they have just been delivered from Egyptian slavery and they are about to enter the Promised Land of Canaan.

In Egypt where they spent 400 years, they were surrounded by people in Egypt who had tattoos, although this was mainly the Egyptian women.

The reason appears to be that tattoos on a woman were a sign associated with fertility. They wore them like some kind of lucky charm, in the hope that their pregnancy and birth would go well.

The Israelites are now about to enter the Promised Land of Canaan, the Canaanites didn’t really practice tattooing but would brand themselves with a hot iron. They would often slash themselves and very often they would cut deep gashes into their skin.

‘So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.’ 1 Kings 18:28

This appears to be for ritual purposes, especially in mourning for the dead. When we remember the Egyptian practice of tattooing and the Canaanite practice of marking their bodies, it appears that God is simply forbidding scarification for the dead but not tattooing as we know it today.

I personally don’t believe having a tattoo is sinful, but I also believe a word of caution would be appropriate concerning tattoos. Many people have had a tattoo done on their body which they have lived to regret for the rest of their lives.

My prayer is that you stop and think about what you’re doing, especially what you’re going to have tattooed on your body!

‘Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ 1 Corinthians 10:31

In Love

Is anyone in love at the moment? How does it make you feel to love someone and to be loved by someone?

God Has Your Name Marked On His Palm

The Babylonian army took away the Israelite’s youth during the time of Isaiah. The mothers got their hands tattooed with their children’s names. And it was in this way they would remember their children every day.

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’ Isaiah 49:15-16

It’s hard to imagine a woman forgetting the very child she’s just given birth to. It’s hard to imagine a child receiving no compassion from their mother.

In the text here, Israel in her captivity now complains that God has forgotten her suffering. But God says, it would be as easy for a woman to refuse compassion toward her infant son as it was for God to forget Israel.

God says Jerusalem’s walls are engraved on the palm of His hands. In other words, the thought of Israel was constantly upon God’s mind.

I remember going to the supermarket when our kids were really young. All of a sudden I noticed that Josh was missing and so panic stations set in. I ran around the shop shouting his name but there was no answer. I couldn’t believe he has slipped away so easily and you can only imagine what was going through my mind.

This was every parent’s worst nightmare, Josh was gone and all I could think about was someone had taken him. Thankfully we found him in the toy aisle and so we went straight home, but have you ever felt that way?

Did you know that this is the way Our Heavenly Father feels about us?

‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ 1 John 4:8-10

One day all Christians will go home to their Lord and when we do we will see for ourselves those tattooed nail prints on the hands of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

When Christ died for the sin of all mankind, His everlasting, ever faithful compassion and love for each and every single human being, past, present and future was engraved on the palms of His hands.

We all have days when we feel that we are alone and that no one loves us or cares about us. We have days when we think that everyone has forgotten us. But don’t let Satan tell you otherwise, don’t believe His lies.

Because of Christ’s death on the cross and those scarred hands, God has proclaimed once and for all.

‘Never will I leave you never will I forsake you.’ Hebrews 13:5

God says you are my child, I will never forget you or forsake you. When everyone else has given up on you, God says, I have your name tattooed on my palm. When you feel alone and deserted by your friends, God says, I am with you always.

A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on ‘The Love of God.’ As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix.

First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.

God loves you like that, God loves you this much that He sent His Son to die for you. If you are not a Christian then please know that God loves you that much. And if you ever wondered why Christians love God so much, the answer is simple.

‘We love because he first loved us.’ 1 John 4:19