Since I was a child, I’ve been described as having a large forehead. Due to its apparent size, I was often told that I had a receding hairline, and that I would be bald by 30 if not 40. My hair has certainly turned gray, but I still have the same “large” forehead and a hairline at the same place.
When we look at a person’s face, whether we realize it or not, we see their forehead. If they have long hair, it may be hidden, which often accentuates it, rather than hiding it. Foreheads provide body language to help us identify the emotions of others (really important these days with masks covering so much).
It is also a place of prominence. In certain religions/cultures, symbols are worn/tattooed on the forehead to indicate caste standing, piety, and a number of other things.
In Christian thinking, one of the biggest is the “mark of the beast”. As we read in Revelation, John’s vision talks about the mark being on the hand or on the forehead. It was an open declaration of loyalty.
Yet, the lesser known “forehead mark” mention in Revelation is a declaration of faith in God through Jesus Christ. What is interesting is the comparison. The “Godly” mark is only on the forehead. The “beastly” mark is on the forehead or the hand. This indicates with the hand, at least, that not all who bear the mark are happy about it.
In Exodus, Aaron (and the successor Head Priests) are to wear a gold medallion in front of their foreheads. In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told to wear the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) on their foreheads.
The Christian church does similar acts through making a cross on the forehead whether it is Ash Wednesday, Anointment with Oil, or Baptismal Remembrance.
The forehead is, well, at the fore (the front) of our heads. It sounds silly, but really think of it as a billboard of who you are. For those of us with big foreheads, that might be a little disheartening. The intent of the words “on the forehead” are also an indicator of direction.
By-and-large, where your forehead points you go. This is the symbology that is present with marking the forehead. There is also likely a psychological reason for this. If it’s on your forehead you are very much aware of it.
Have you ever participated in Ash Wednesday, Baptismal Remembrance, or been anointed? What was it like? If you haven’t, what do imagine it would feel like? Why do you think foreheads were/are important?
Lord, help us find things and actions that keep you at the forefront of our hearts, souls, and minds. Amen.