Friday, November 24, 2017

The Lord of All Beauty

"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us” (Psalm 90:17 NKJV).

Our Creator is an artist, and we are made in His image. God rejoiced in His creation: trees to delight the eyes, life that swims and flies, gold in Havillah awaiting the craftman’s hand. After the Fall, the descendants of Cain smelted bronze to make swords, but also tuned pipes for music.

Our Redeemer is the source of beauty as well as goodness and truth. Moses saw the beauty of the Lord in the wilderness. The generation that died there left no monuments, but Moses prayed that God would give meaning to the work of their hands and bless them with His own beauty.

Three concepts of beauty are linked with the Lord in the Old Testament. One is the beauty of majesty, like God’s pillar of cloud soaring above the tabernacle (Psalm 96:6). Another is the beauty of design, like the needlework on the garments of the priest (Exodus 28:2). The third is the beauty of loveliness: of a woman, of spring meadows, of a handsome man. Loveliness in which we delight is ascribed to God (Psalm 27:4), the beauty of God’s grace (Psalm 90:17).

God’s threefold beauty appears in Jesus. The beauty of His glory transformed Him on the mount and shines now at God’s right hand (John 1:14). In the beauty of holy array, Christ walks among the lampstands (Revelation 1:13–17). Above all, at the Cross we see the beauty of His grace. Hideously disfigured in His suffering. He was altogether lovely, the fairest of ten thousand. “Your eyes will see the King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17).

In the rich harmony of God’s revelation, there is always more than one level of understanding. Aesthetic experience is attuned to overtones, to the extra dimensions. For one who has eyes to see, the leap of a deer is much more than efficient propulsion. Beyond the glory of the galaxies and the soft green of the grass is the marvel of God’s redeeming love. The ultimate experience of God’s “extra” fullness is the knowledge of His glory, wisdom, and grace in Jesus Christ. It is that joy that sets us singing, gives beauty to our lives, and adds this incredible wonder: That the Lord delights in us!