Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You Set A Table Before Me

Although this image may look mysterious, there is nothing deliberately hidden or cryptic about it.  It's a very straight-forward illustration of part of Psalm 23:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Psalm 23: 5

This artwork refers to the first and last parts of the verse, only alluding to the oil with the branch of olives (and again, the olive leaves, if you read the last blog).  The table is the focal point.  On it are items that would be sustaining if in the natural, and although the Lord does provide us with our earthly sustanence, it is spiritual reality that I am illustrating. 

As I mentioned, there is an olive branch, which here represents healing and anointing. (We often think of the olive branch as representing peace, from the dove in Genesis, after the flood, but it was a leaf it carried, not a branch-- still we can also add the meaning of "peace with God, because of His covenant"-- which makes a theme in this picture, God's New Covenant with us).  There are grapes, which are "the fruit of the vine" from which wine is made-- so this can represent the wine of communion-- the blood of Christ-- and the fruit of the Spirit as well.  The bottle is a wine bottle, so that is redundant in a way.  I would take this to mean that the grapes represent the fruit of the Spirit more specifically. 

The bread is "the bread of life" which Jesus called Himself (John 6: 33, 35, 48, 51-- look these up for a really great Bible study).  However, notice that the bread is challah, a Jewish bread, but that it is not unleavened.  Jesus would have been serving unleavened bread at the "Last Supper," because He and his disciples were celebrating the Passover.  All though the communion table is somewhat referenced in this artwork, I think that the table I'm referring to here is really a more "every day" sort of table.  Truly, what is being served here is the Life of Christ in the middle of ordinary life. 

Lastly, there is cheese, which I chose to artistically represent the "milk of the Word", the "solid food", and if you'll allow me a little artistic license "the meat of the Word" as well (honestly, I didn't want to look at a leg of lamb sitting on the table, but I think it should be there spiritually speaking--the foibles of an artist!  Maybe I'll have to go back and add it after all-- but then, I'd have to put a bottle of milk there too!)  The cup on the table, which I decorated up with some designs and a cross, obviously symbolic, could be the "cup of salvation," -- it is there to hold whatever is being drunk, either the wine, or the milk, or the water.  It also represents the body and the soul.

That brings me to the large goblet behind the table, translucent to represent "unseen," spiritual reality.  It represents Christ and His presence, full of the water of life.  His presence is there, even if "unseen," officiating at the table, serving as He does, and ministering with His constant overflow.  In a way, it also represents the Christian, who, when he is in Christ and Christ is in him, truly can say "my cup overflows."  Here we are in the wilderness, and all we really need is the Cup, because everything on the table is actually a product of His overflow. 

We could also relate to Jesus praying, "let this cup pass from me, if it be thy will." (Matthew 26:39)  In the situation, or experience, of this picture, we may also be praying the same thing.  Our answer seems to be, "no, you have to go through this, but I will be with you."  And Jesus, having gone before us, has been the victor.  It is because He accepted the cup that was given Him that we are saved and delivered.

When I say the table is the focal point, I would have to say that it was  to me, when I thought of making this image.  And yet, the subject of the artwork is truly the "You" in the title, and the awesome power and presence of the Lord.  It's hard to miss the lightning, and when I first chose to put that in, it made me wonder if the viewer might take it as God was one of the enemies.  I'd say to that, "only if you are an enemy of God," and of course, that is your choice. 

For me, and any other child of God, the incredible power packed into that lightning bolt is a cause for fear and trembling, but it's not aimed at us!  If it's wrath against sin, Christ absorbed it, and He can take it.  I'd say, the enemies around better take warning, for that is just a tiny bit of a display of God's power.  This shows how much we don't have to fear any amount of display of so-called power by any enemy, demonic or otherwise.  We have God on our side, if indeed we are on His.

This image is a rather dark one, for the simple fact is that we live in a darkened world.  Sometimes our enemy is only the darkness of our own mind and the blind state we might find ourselves in.  In that case, the light of the gospel is shining, and it will overcome the darkness if we don't run away.  The lamp on the bottom left is representative of  Spirit and Truth, and it's not plugged in to any natural source!  It's getting its energy from the lighting, from God's power. 

I noticed that while I was working close up into the picture, and the table and the chandelier filled the screen, or higher up where the lightning hits the cup, it is very bright.  It is only when you back off from the image that it looks dark.  This is very significant, as that's how it is with our walk in Christ.  If we back off from Him, our experience becomes very dark and frightening.  We start looking at the darkness in the world and at the enemies, and we feel threatened.  Instead, we should get closer to God, and His light then fills our mind and changes our experience.  Suddenly, the enemies are of no consequence.

There is only one active enemy visible in the picture, and that is the snake (an emerald tree boa), which represents Satan, the accuser.  He is hiding in the shadows, waiting for a chance to devour.  But the only chance he has is for us to stand still and give him permission and access into our minds.  He constricts by telling lies, which we don't have to listen to or believe.  Basically, he has no power over us except to tempt or confuse, and if we're focused on Christ and His Word, he is easily overcome.  And if you look carefully, a tip of lightening is touching him, as if the finger of God were reminding Satan of his doom.  For the truth is, Jesus already overcame the devil.  Thinking of this reminds me of Jesus in the wilderness after He was baptized.  The Spirit led Him there to be tempted of the devil.  He overcame Satan with the Word of God!  That is the same thing we are to do when we find ourself in that situation, say "It is written":

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:1-4 NKJV
 
When Jesus came out from the wilderness, he began his ministry in power.
 
I chose the background picture of the stones in an ancient celtic circle to represent other spiritual forces, either demonic or human, that are not submitted to God but are not directly trying to attack the viewer.  I am not thoroughly familiar with the meaning and usages of these stone circles, except to know they were part of pagan worship.  I do know that they are still held as sacred by some people, and are popular imagery these days in spiritualistic or occult belief systems.  The demonic spirits behind this type of worship are territorial.  They don't mess with me, but I have become an enemy to them, and have aggressively camped on what they call their ground.  The people's minds who are held captive to false religions are what is being fought for.  This is the ground, the territory where the battle is.  My purpose is to call these people out of darkness and into God's glorious light. 

There are so many people who are interested, on a fascination level, with anything spiritual.  For some, it's an escape.  But people are really looking for answers these days, and are looking to spiritual things.  I think some people are more drawn to light than others, and if they will come near the light, that is good.  Maybe they will accept the true Light and be saved.  But how many realize that just because something is spiritual doesn't mean it's good, even though it might look it?  That snake looks very pretty sometimes (he can appear as an "angel of light"  2 Cor 11:14 ) and can sound very pleasing, but if you put up with him, he's deadly.

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.  For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 2 Corinthians 11: 13-15, 20 NKJV)

This artwork shows a battlefield-- a very personal one for me.  Having been saved from the occult myself, by Christ Jesus, I can only do what is right and try to shine His light out into the world, perhaps to draw others to Him, who is the only  way to God.  I am aware of the danger of battling for a mountain that Satan holds at present.  I know I am not beyond temptation or deception.  As I step out of my "cave" where I feel safe from the world, I take the risk of being stumbled by something in it.  And yet I can do no good by hiding my light.  Therefore, I must partake of the feast of the Lord "in the presence of my enemies," since now they know where I am.  And though I am not afraid of them, they do try to hinder me.  I thank the Lord for His constant presence and protection, and that He will defend me as I remain in Him.

The images I used for this composite were licensed from Dreamstime.com
Castlerigg stone circle © Boguslaw Kupisinski
Round Antique Table 3d © Vadim Andrushchenko
Old goblet © Ole Jakob Ihlebæk 
Ornate Table Lamp Chandelier © Margojh
Red grapes isolated © Cs333 
Emerald Tree Boa © Eric Isselée
Challah bread isolated on white © Kgfoto
Wicker Bottle © Fabrizio Troiani 
Olive II © Pjgon71 
Cheese isolated on white © Yana Gulyanovska 
Grunge texture © Draganea 
Tattered Scroll Collection © Cajoer 
The beginning of the tornado © Victor Zastol`skiy
Sheep with lamb © John Butterfield
Celtic flower design © Patrick Guenette
Fencing © Galina Afanasyeva

1 comment:

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