As the Head is Inseparable From the Living Body, So Are His Saints
Psa 89:5 “And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O YAHWEH: Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the Saints.”
We can never escape the reality that we are praying together with all the Saints in heaven. Even if you pray alone “Our Father” you are invoking all the Saints that went before you. We know all the Saints cease not to pray for us night and day. Paul also encouraged those in His letters to continually pray without ceasing, “praying for all the Saints continually” in numerous passages. That is what believers do. We pray for Christ’s militant on the earth.
Eph 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all Saints;”
There is a lot of spiritual activity going on when we give ourselves to pray for our fellow Saints in the earth. Rom 8:27 “And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the Saints according to the will of God.” It has a reciprocal flow of prayer and acknowledgement of His whole church, those in heaven “the church triumphant” and those on the earth “the church militant”.
As everyone who said that prayer, notice it doesn’t say “MY Father” or “MY bread” , it says “OUR father” and “OUR bread”, “forgive US/THEM others” etc. These aren’t your personal prayers to pick and choose, you pray together with His whole true Israel Christian nations. It encompasses His entire church, past, present and future. Of course we keep focus on the present, and for “this day’s daily bread” for His current righteous Kingdom that is above all power, principality, dominion and might.
Those Saints, as all Saints, the overcomers, do pray thusly for His Kingdom be done on earth as in heaven. Seeking it first above all other things. All of those who aren’t under the power of the second death are with YAHWEH living and reigning with Him. It says they/we are in the firstfruits. Not to mention, all the ones who never tasted death as Christ promised many would be assumed directly into heaven like Enoch and Elijah. They aren’t all named, but there are many traditions about who went directly up into heaven. For example Paul who called it “the mark of the high calling in Christ” had no recorded physical death. Mary is yet another. They all pray and work for us like the angels.
Often the Prophets who come back to earth are mistaken as being an Angel. For example when John fell down to worship an angel who showed him the visions, the angel responded,
“Then saith he unto me, see thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” (Rev 22:9)
While the Scriptures are full of examples of petitions and prayers directly to Angels and others in heaven, this does NOT connote worship. Some asked Abraham in heaven directly, some address Gabriel, some, like Jacob asked an “Angel of God” bless his grandsons.
There are plenty of cases where the Saints are addressed directly. However, most of the time it shows up in the Bible that an angel is addressed directly in a blessing or prayer it is done firstly with honoring and referring to the one who they serve, YAHWEH God. We will get into some of those examples.
In any case, prayer means to ask, not worship. Of course one might go too far, like they did in the wilderness with the bronze serpent staff YAHWEH commanded Moses to make. It was some generations later they started considering the bronze serpent to be as a god, and so it was broken rather than have the people fall into idolatry. Bowing and saluting was never called idolatry in the past, and many honor our national heros these days and they don’t call it idolatry either.
There are many “songs of Saints” just as there are many songs of “national heros” in every nation of the world. One example being singing the “song of Moses” in Revelation,
Rev 15:3 “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous [are] Thy works, YAHWEH God Almighty; just and true [are] Thy ways, Thou King of Saints.” We will get into a few more of these examples.
While singing of national heros, even dancing and celebrating, having a parade, wearing green clothing, for example, on Saint Patrick’s day, all are normal and fine remembrances of our Christian leaders. It is in spirit, “honoring our fathers and mothers”.
Worship is expressly forbidden to be to any other but YAHWEH Himself. So the only time any orthodox liturgy mentions addressing the Living Saints when we gather together, is with the phrase “please pray for us”. As we know they are already busy praying for us, some may argue it isn’t truly to “ask” them to do anything new, but is when we come into God’s presence to acknowledge at what level of heaven we are entering,
In Hebrews 12, verses 22-23, it says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”
Cherubim are painted and carved throughout all God’s earthly Temples “round about them” as it says in Ex 26:1, 36:8, 1Ki 6:23-29, 2Chr 3, and Ezekiel 41:18-20. Contrary to the lies of the unorthodox haters of our religion, God has commanded these depictions to be in our places of worship. Yes this is the true God of the old testament. Images were not forbidden but were commanded! We’ve written an extensive article of many other examples where the God of Israel YAHWEH has commanded worshippers to include many IMAGES, WOOD CARVINGS, ENGRAVINGS and other artwork throughout the sanctuaries of worship.
While we are already in our normal daily lives “compassed with so great a cloud of witnesses, and must lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth easily beset us..”(Heb 12:1) it behooves us to also not ignore that we are when we come closer to His presence, in prayer and in worship, that we are coming into closer contact with the great cherubic orders, such as those who,
“..rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”(Rev 4:8).
These cherubim that are to be painted or carved throughout the sanctuaries are those who sing that they are “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb”, and “He has made us kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10).
Only the Saints fit the definition of these engraved cherubim, as that’s the exact text from Revelation Chapter 5, verses 9 and 10, “…kings and priests ruling on the earth” and “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!” Certainly “angels” weren’t redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Only humans fell in Adam, and needed the blood of the Lamb to be “redeemed”. The text goes on to say there are not just four, but millions of them, in the throne, on the throne and around the throne.
Most Orthodox agree that the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, (as the rest of the apostles) are part of the Cherubim. It’s traditional to connote each with the four aspects of the cherubim, Lion, Ox, Man and Eagle. This order of “redeemed Saints” are also mentioned in Ezekiel 1 and other places as His Glory. These are also the four ensigns of Israel for Dan-Eagle, Ephraim-Ox, Reuben-Man, and Judah-Lion, symbolizing the overcoming Israelites overall, who was originally to be the “royal priesthood”. Now the Christian Israelites are that holy nation, and “royal priesthood”(1Pet 2:9).
The artwork is good so it cannot be ignored where you are. Sometimes it helps to bring remembrance that the heavenly hosts do praise YAHWEH, pray to Him and inquire to Him. They also inquire about His present church situation, as all still do seek “His Kingdom come, and will be done on earth” and “seek first His Kingdom and righteousness” even while they have passed on to the higher immaterial world.
As they are in a perfect condition, and not held down by the corrupt physical flesh body, they are able to very effectively pray more than we can imagine. So it’s not a bad practice to acknowledge this ongoing capacity of the Saints.
David often spoke of how the whole creation should praise YAHWEH, that even we should tell our soul to bless YAHWEH, as those in heaven do continually praise Him.
Psa 89:5 “And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O YAHWEH: Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the Saints.”
All in heaven have knowledge of what is going on in the earth. In numerous Bible verses it demonstrates that even the old testament Saints know about our prayers to YAHWEH and that they do indeed intercede together with us, and continually for us. We will go over a few of those verses that show they hear our prayers. Although there are larger volumes documenting that aspect, the main part of this article will go over less talked about aspects of invoking Saints. Invoking the names of the church triumphant (or Saints) is indeed a praise to YAHWEH and His glory in the earth. His living church which brings Him glory.
Jesus (Yahshua) said He would acknowledge us, speak of us, and praise the names of His firstfruits Saints names before the great assemblies.
Jesus said in Rev 3:5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.”
Jesus finds it so special to invoke His Saints before His Father and the Angels. We are also to glory together in the rest of His church, the body of Him who is the head, Jesus the Christ (Yahshua).
He said His great glory was given to His Saints, and the whole church of Saints are one in the same way that Yahshua was one with the Father while He was on earth. See John chapter 17, verses 21-23.
Paul wanted us all to have a special enlightening of our eyes “to know the riches of His glory in the Saints” as it says in Ephesians 1:18. You cannot wrap your mind around this truth without a special help of the Holy Spirit.
This glory Christ said He has shared with His one body of the church, is a super natural, eternal life that does not let the grave hold us down (who were both born again, and numbered in the firstfruits).
This topic of the eternal firstfruits is a larger one with many verses also in the gospels. For simplicity lets take a look in 1 Corinthians Chapter 15, specifically look at verses 23, 49, 50 and 51.
23, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
49 “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,”
The Scripture is clear about the many who will not sleep, they were the ones in the firstfruits. This truth is mentioned in Rev 20:6 “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Some may argue that the souls of those beheaded who petition Christ were told to rest for a little while (and so they think it’s talking about “soul sleep”) Rev 6:10. However it doesn’t say that in the Bible, in Greek that word for rest is to be vitalized and actually can be to use energy in a celebratory way. You can see every time that Greek word anapauō is used to confirm it. It is possible however, that these are in a luxurious resting situation, as the other times this word is used. It says while they are souls under the altar they still do have a petition, and are not silent in the grave. This is mentioned all because they were comforted, and told to wait, and all were given white robes. If they are totally asleep then they wouldn’t need to be comforted, nor would they have any of the vocal petitions it says they have in heaven.
As we are still one with Christ, as quoted in His prayer, He prayed that His church would be one in the same way as He was with His Father while He remained in heaven and He as son was staying on earth for a time. It was in that manner we would be one with His whole church. As Paul had re-iterated Christ’s promises that we would have eternal life, in 2Corinthians 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with YAHWEH.” (Though not all are in this firstfruits order.)
Heb 2:11-12 “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
Speaking of First Century events, there were more than one time that it appears Christ expected the names of His Saints to be praised with reference to God’s working in them. Also those who were against His word, that He would be ashamed of them before His Father and all the angels:
Mar 8:38 “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
It is established doctrine as most theologians agree that we are considered part of the “body of Christ”. We are part of His actual body. He is the vine, and we are the branches. While branches are always secondary, it is the part we point to, the part we see on the outside when referring to the whole vine. Just as the Temple has outter parts and inner parts, and God dwells in the holies of holies, we are called His temple as well as His body.
To further advance these concepts Paul wrote, in Col 2:9-10 “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power:”
So “all the fullness of the godhead” is also in us (at least in those of us who are part of the firstfruits). The ones who are not the firstfruits are not part of the body of Christ, but may be factored in as part of the Bride of Christ.
So any speaking of the “Living epistles”(2Co 3:2), “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the Saints”(Eph 1:18), is again a praise of Jesus Christ Himself, who they are part of.
These “praisers of Christ” are to be named very reverently and honorably (so long as it doesn’t go to the level of worship towards them). In most orthodox circles it is called veneration (or honoring and saluting your elders) and not worship. It is a major Levitical law that whenever we come near the face of an elder, we should rise up to greet and honor them (Lev 19:37). This includes “honoring your father and mother”. It was common to offer incense and other gifts on behalf of Kings and leaders, as the wisemen brought it to the Christ. As Paul called it “tribute unto whom tribute is due, honor unto whom honor is due”(Rom 13:7).
In any making memory of their exploits and praising God, we always give YAHWEH the credit of His indwelling Spirit for quickening them to their many good works. They were good yielded vessels who served the one God of Israel. They are also called gods or elohim, as Christ said “does not the word say ye are all gods? (Jhn 10:34, Ps 82:6)”, as it says in the Ps 82:1 “God standeth in the congregation of the gods, and judgeth among the gods”.
This tells us several things, including that God will judge (or reckon) us not on basis of the ungodly, but on basis of how we measure up compared to the rest of the Godly (Saints). Also God is not going to measure us up against the cowards and losers, but with the winners and “the mighty ones who hearken unto His word, and excel in strength”, and “there is not one feeble among their tribes.”(Ps 105:37) As Paul said “we are more than conquerors”(Rom 8:37) and John wrote “We overcome the devil by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony”(Rev 12:11).
Very very often in the Bible we find prayers to YAHWEH do invoke the patriarchs and others who went before us, praising them and YAHWEH’s working through them, as touching the basis of the new prayers we ask He answers for His Kingdom governance on earth.
Jacob prayed in His blessing to His grandsons that the God of His fathers, and that the angel of God (without mentioning the tetragrammaton) will bless the lads. Of course in other verses it says the name YAHWEH, however in this passage the tetragrammaton (or YAHWEH) was not used, but only the reference to YAHWEH when He said Gen 48:15-16 “the God who Abraham and Isaac had walked before.” (More proof the only God He was invoking was YAHWEH God, see also Gen 24:40, as it also says God sends His angel or Malak in Hebrew.) Malak means Angel, while Elohim has a broader meaning normally referring to YAHWEH.
So Jacob did invoke the Angel / Malak, and YAHWEH the Elohim of His fathers, of which He also had praised His fathers, invoking their names in the prayer.
Very very often Biblical prayers start with the phrase “God of our fathers”. Invoking all types of forefathers are fitting.
To make mention of our forefathers brings it home to us, in a covenantal kindred relationship to the miracles and inheritance. Bringing these forefathers as contractual parties of our prayers, with references of our relationship to them, brings a whole new dimension to our prayer lives.
We agree that invoking Christ Jesus (Yahshua) alone is enough, and we do not debate that in any way. However, making mention of His glory in His servants brings all the more glory to Christ, by speaking of Christ’s actual body!
All people will agree we worship “toward the temple” as it says we are to do in the Bible. However that does not mean that we worship the Temple itself. We worship the one YAHWEH God who lives in and works in that Temple. Now we who are called Christ’s Temple AND Body, His literal body, we do not fall into idolatry by simply pointing ourselves toward the King of Kings, in posing our direction toward His (and the Holy Spirit’s) exploits in the church. Always making mention of Christ’s actual glory working in them.
Plenty of apocryphal books mention prophets such as Jeremiah prays for God’s nationalist people (now the Christian Israelites).
Most will agree that we are all to “discern spirits”, “war against spirits”, “cast out spirits” but few are following in line with the other side of the coin. Just knowing there is an open communication always running in the Spirit, as we have quoted for you from the Holy word of God, that is a powerful enlightenment in and of itself.
We are connected with the whole body. Did you know every moment, all your cells communicate electronically with every other cell in your human body? That is science. The heart and blood pulsates to all the cells of your body. The brain also sends signals to every part of your body, it is all in a connection and communication. Every cell can also feel your emotions and change it’s functioning.
As we grow spiritually we can go up into the head, Eph 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” and Paul wrote several times that we are already seated with Him in heavenly places far above all power, principality, dominion and might. Also that “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” (Eph 1:22-23)
So those who did overcome they indeed have that capacity to have instantaneous communication and serve a great service to the God of Israel, interceding and praying for His church on earth.
Rev 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in his throne.”
Asking those in heaven “please pray for us” goes back to before the flood of Noah. In the book of Enoch (previously a received canonical book), Chapter 9, verses 2-3:
“the earth cries the voice of their crying up to the gates of heaven. And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, “Bring our cause before the Most High.”
We find that not only the regular souls of men knew to petition to the Archangels, but also the watcher’s descendants.
In the book of Enoch, Chapter 10 it says that all the bastard sons of watchers (or giants) will make many requests of Gabriel, but YAHWEH commanded him not to answer any of their petitions.
Gabriel and Michael both had to physically come to earth to answer the prayer of Daniel (see Daniel 10:13). It says the Angel (Gabriel) had help of the Archangel Michael to get through to earth to answer the prayer.
Mary and Joseph were approached by Gabriel to announce the birth of the Christ. Their interaction with the angel was very good and reverent.
On the mount of transfiguration Elijah and Moses were immediately identified by the Apostles and they wanted to give them a home to stay in.
Jesus (Yahshua) said MANY who were there with Him would never taste death(Mat 16:28, Mar 9:1, Luk 9:27, Jhn 8:52). This gives credence to the philosophy that Mary and many others were assumed into heaven like Enoch and Elijah. There is also no record of Paul’s (Saul of Tarus’) death.
In 2Timothy Chapter 1 it mentions that Paul prays together with his forefathers in good conscience. He then goes on to mention the progenators of Timothy, his mother and grandmother by name, who first had his gift.
Verse 10: But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
He then mentions Onesiphorus who visited him though he already went down in history for his martyrdom. Yet he was still helping Paul in prison when everyone else had turned against him.”
In Hebrews 12 it climaxes on the topic of “His new and living way” of His priesthood. In chapter 10:20 mentions the new Temple itself and the veil of it being Christ’s body broken for us. In verse 1 It says Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
So to conclude on the artwork (or icons of Saints), we should not give up on the “beautifying the sanctuaries” the same way of the ancient Hebrew Synagogues were “decked around with cherubim” as we covered in this article. Besides those old testament ordinances to have the cherubim engraved in the synagogues, here are several more that show such artwork imagery is commanded by God. It indeed remains a good reminder for times of worship, and remembering the God we worship. “the God of our Fathers” and “the God of Israel” and “the God of Hosts”:
Wooden carved artwork is mentioned as being perpetually in all the sanctuaries in Psalms 74:4-9, and says in verse 6 “however”(strongs 6256), the wicked have sought to burn it down.
- Cunning artwork of “gold, silver and brass” Exodus 31:3-4
- Beautification of the Temple Ezra 7:27
- “Ensigns of our Fathers house”, Coats of Arms and other art symbols are generally raised up for parade assembly, for civil buildings, and for genealogical purposes in Numbers 2:2.
- Graven statue artwork of Crosses was used for remembering He is raised up as a serpent on a Cross, as our healer in Numbers 21:8. (As the Son of man is to be lifted up John 3:14.)
- Depictions of the Saints in the sanctuary as the “Most finest gold stones of the sanctuary” which are called “holy sons of Zion” and repeats “finest gold” that has become “esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter” and “are poured out in every street.” Lamentations 4:1-2
- Cherubim is depicted on ten carts and ten lavers 1Kings 7:29, 36
- Cherubim is associated with places His presence was manifested Psalms 80:1; 99:1. As David said He would always remain in the Temple, it may be that He brought depictions of the cherubim wherever he went. No doubt, this is one of the inspirations for decorating our “prayer closet”.
- His Majestic Ornament (probably the cross) has been mis-used by the wicked Ezekiel 7:27. (Note, the Cross is very ancient as Yahshua was “slain from the foundation of the world” as it says in Revelation 13:8 and 1Peter 1:20 as our sacrificial Lamb. The Hebrew Passover lambs were always placed on a beam that looked like the cross. A dozen more reasons for decorating with, or wearing a cross can also be found.)
- Note: Several commentaries say “His ornament” is the cherubim decorations of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the Lion, Ox, Man and Eagle representations of Christ the King.
- Cunning art of the “tassels and fringes” in the four corners of our garments are used to “look upon” daily to remind us of His commandments, and not be led by flesh passions as in Numbers 15:39.
- Many cherubims and surrounding artwork are decked throughout the temples of YAHWEH in the Bible (i.e. Moses’, Solomon’s and Ezekiel’s temples) with most cunning artwork depicted on the veil in Exodus 26:1 and 36:8. In 1Kings 6:23-29 they’re carved into all the walls of the house round about with cherubims, palm trees and open flowers, both within and without. With larger depictions and more decorations in 2Chronicles 3. In Ezekiel 41:18-20 it says they were also depicted “through all the house round about”.
Scripture points to us that the Saints are also eternal, meaning they go back in time. The Predestinated were always in the hand of the Father. As Moses had said in Deu 33:2 “And he said, YAHWEH came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, He loved the people; all His Saints are in Thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.”
Lets all get back to these orthodox ways and spread awareness against those who slander our brothers as being in idolatry, when they celebrate our Christian leaders, and beautify the Temples exactly as God had commanded with God’s one church triumphant and church militant, in unity.
We should continually speak of the church and continue to emulate their piety. “Earnestly contending for the faith that was once delivered to the Saints” (Jud 1:3) as we give glory to God for His work in their lives, in our lives, and in the lives of all our Biblical progenitors, giving reverence to all who are part of the body of Christ. As they are continually praying for us, we know there is a constant “communion of Saints” that we can rejoice in, and be encouraged. Most Protestants also confess the Apostles Creed, that they believe in “the communion of Saints”.
It is such an encouragement to know the Saints who went before us do pray for us.
Jesus Christ (Yahshua) prayed that the church may all be one in the same miraculous way that He is one with the Father.
Jhn 17:21-23 “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: 23 I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”
This speaks volumes. We must understand how it is that we mortals can all be one in the same way Yahshua was one with the Father. He was one with the Father in many ways, and in those same ways we are all one with the rest of His church. Yahshua went on to speak of the greatest glory in the universe that was given from His Father and how He has imparted that glory to this one eternal church. We pray that this article today has brought several of these mysteries to light. These truths may need to be read and re-read several times until it gets into your heart and understanding. It is important to learn all the word, and this is just one of many encouraging truths you will learn from our Primace of the OCC, His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen Michael.
This article has been another iteration in layman’s terms, of the Orthodox Theology on the difference between an idol and an icon. In technical terms (Greek) the difference between idol and icon is whether the latreia (divine service) is directed ultimately to God (ie worshiping towards the Temple) or stops at the person or thing, which then becomes an idol. Proskunesis (to express adoration, to offer relative worship) is an act of reverence which can be suitable for things and people other than God, but this depends on the intention and context. Proskunesis is not idolatry if it is offered in a relative sense, with the intention to refer all things to the Divine source. For instance, all honor is due to God, but we offer honor to parents and kings / rulers with reference to God who is the source and authority.