Welcome to the intriguing world of Vincent Van Gogh. Is ‘The Cows’ painting just another Van Gogh? I say there is more to it.
Unlock ‘The Cows’ & know Van Gogh’s heart
I say, unlock the meaning behind “The Cows” (Painting) and you will unlock access to the most raw and deepest part of Van Gogh’s heart and soul! And you unlock the why behind the very source and power that helped him craft his remarkable paintings.
And most importantly, you can unlock his great hope that enabled him to endure despite all his pain and trials, to the end. If you do this, you are on a journey to unplug the wells.
Let me explain. Most art historians will tell you ‘The Cows’ painting is Van Gogh’s cheerful rendition of a study of cows by Jacob Jordaen (1624). By comparison it does have distinctly bright colours which is typical of Van Gogh, so what is the deal?
‘The Cows’ unlocked
It is important to note that both Jacob and Vincent were people of a personal faith in God, which was often expressed in the biblical themes they painted. I believe ‘The Cows’ painting was a part of that repertoire and expression.
‘The Cows’ was painted in 1890, as Van Gogh’s health continued to deteriorate, and he finally died. He sensed his impending passing. It appears around that year, more and more biblical themes and symbolism crept into his paintings or were overtly portrayed. Many quotes in his letters also reveal an ever-deepening spiritual thirst and hunger. It’s apparent he is seeking and wrestling to return to his roots as he nears death.
What’s the point? If you look closely at both paintings, by both men, the cows are gaunt and impoverished. The bones appear through the flesh. I believe both men were reminded of the cows we read about in Genesis chapter 41 of the bible. Pharaoh had had a dream he could not interpret until he met Joseph, who by the spirit of God knew how to act upon it to save the nation and livelihood.
Pharaoh had seen seven scrawny, ugly, impoverished cows come up out of the Nile to eat and devour seven fat and prosperous cows, that had come out earlier. To Pharaoh who treasured his abundance it was a most dreadful sign. Joseph explained that a severe famine would devour all that the years of prosperity had brought; they must prepare.
Friends, I believe there is a prophetic meaning today. Have you noticed how years of abundance are being devoured rapidly today? Think of the many businesses of great stature and reputation of decades which are disappearing. Think of the crisis occurring in nations politically, environmentally, socially, economically as national debt mounts, and in every sphere of culture.
Like Pharaoh, have we been troubled and losing sleep? We are not sure what is going on or what to do? Many watch on in horror and terror at the chaos, destruction and stripping away at these famine times in our nations. But I believe there is hope.
It’s time to unplug the wells
Abraham dug wells as he sojourned. They are a prophetic symbol. He opened them and then we see in Genesis chapter 26 how the enemies of God closed them up. Isaac had to unplug them.
Friends, these wells speak of the salvation of God. In John chapter 4 Jesus spoke prophetically about the wells of salvation. Drinking physical water would leave the Samaritan woman thirsty, he encouraged her to trust him and receive the spiritual well of living water and eternal life by his spirit.
I believe Van Gogh had this well. You can see the extraordinary faith he had in his early years as a pastor and a missionary. This faith translated into his painting when the door closed on his mission work. However, due to the hurt and pain he experienced, he ended up blocking his well through bitterness of heart and seeking false comforts. We too must guard against legalism and falling away from God in our trials. But I believe he was unplugging his well again, especially toward the end of his life.
Think of heights of achievement in history due to these wells being opened. I think of many of the great masters, Johann Bach and composing, Isaac Newton and science, great inventors, William Wilberforce and politics, the great servants of God, across all cultures, the list is too numerous, like stars in the heavens!
When you study lives of believers, you see that faith and devotion to Christ was integral to their lives and passion. They unplugged God’s well to know his love and goodness, and great creativity flowed in their work. These people became contributors to their nation. Like modern day Josephs they brought cures and solutions to their land.
Let us unplug the wells again today and unlock the source and power behind our great heritage. In today’s world many are amazed at Van Gogh’s paintings and many things of the past. People rejoice in the form but may be ignorant of the true source. Paul warned, in the last times, we must be careful to simply have a form of godliness but denying the power. We must realise that a well was behind it all.
Opening the well like the Samaritan, requires confession of sin and getting free from shackles of various vices, as we understand God’s love and our identity. We unplug our well.
Maybe you saw president elect Joe Biden appeal to all Americans as chaos descended on the White House prior to the transition. “Aren’t we people of decency and order?” he said. Maybe we are losing sleep like Pharaoh. It’s time to get the cows unlocked and unplug the wells, and junk in our hearts. I declare open wells for you; destiny released, now!
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor in Mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, for about 4 years, from 1990. He has worked as a pastor-life coach over the past 17 years in Hope International Ministries. Mark is also an artist and author and has also written two books which are a collection of his own paintings, photography and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia with a voice to release your giant potential within.’ He has been counted among some of Australia’s best-selling authors since 2014 and is a public speaker in various community groups, organisations and churches. He has a special grace to help people find and release why they were born. See iconiccolours.com for more information about Mark’s services.