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Lesson 11 God as Artist
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<ul><li> 1. Le s s o n 11 *Mar ch 1016Read for This Weeks Study: Isa. 64:58, Ps. 51:10, 1 Chron. 23:5, Heb. 8:15, Rom. 11:3336, Acts 9:122. Memory Text: : One thing I have desired of the Lo r d, that will Iseek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lo r d all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lo r d (Psalm 27:4, NKJV).Key ThoughtGod as artist? http://midnighcry.blogspot.com</li></ul><p> 2. sa b b a t h af t e r n o oSo far, weve looked at various aspects of the Lord: the Trinity,Gods holiness, and God as Redeemer. There is one picture ofGod in Scripture, however, that is rarely given attentionGodas artist.Many people claim they have no interest in art. Many Christiansknow little about it. They may know what they like, but that is nothing morethan knowledge about themselves. Others acknowledge thatart exists, but they never consider its value or relevance. Christianityhas often been ambivalent about the arts. At times, the arts have beendenounced as irreligious and evil; other times, aesthetics have becomea secular religion with serious devotees. There are also plenty ofChristian writers, but they have seldom made attempts to relate theconcept of beauty to the central Christian doctrines.Beauty is truth, truth beauty, wrote poet John Keats. While Keatscertainly overstated the case, God is indeed Truth, and the Truth isbeautiful. Creation itself testifies to the fact that God is an artist and alover of whats beautiful. http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 3. Su n d a y Mar ch 11God as PotterBut now, O Lo r d, thou art our father; we are the clay, andthou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand (Isa. 64:8).When is the first time the Bible reveals God displaying His skillsworking with clay? Gen. 1:26, 27, 31; 2:7._______________________________________________________Scripture opens with God creating the first humans out of the dustof the ground. In fact, the Hebrew word for man, adam, is closelytied to the Hebrew word for ground, which is adamaha linguisticlink that enforces the amazing truth about Gods skill as a potter. Hetruly formed us out of the clay of the ground. Its hard to imagine how ahuman being, with our blood and bones and skin and nerves and all of theamazing parts of our body, could have been formed from the ground. Ourexistence is a miracle that far surpasses human understanding. In a sense, though the potter image works, in that the Lord usedclay to form us, in other ways (as is with most imagery seeking toexplain Gods work and power) it hardly does justice to His creativity andartistry. After all, what potter can take clay and turn it into aliving, breathing thing?http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 4. Su n d a y Mar ch 11Read Jeremiah 18:310, Isaiah 64:58, Psalm 51:10. How is theimagery of God as potter used in some of these texts?Among the concepts revealed in these verses is the idea of just howhelpless we are before the power of God. We are, in a sense, like clayin the hands of a potter; the potter, not the clay, is in charge.At the same time, God is working to re-create in us His image.However much God cares about His physical creation, how muchmore would He care about the beauty of what He can do in us? We areto surrender, to die to self, and to cooperate with the Lord, who seeksto re-create and restore to us, as much as possible, the original spiritual andmoral beauty that we once had. Sure, outside appearances canbe beautiful, but inner beauty is what really matters.http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 5. Mo n d a y Mar ch 12God as ArchitectAfter God dramatically delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt, Hebrought them to Mount Sinai. There, He joined them to Himselfin a sacred covenant. Among all the varied instructions He gavethem there, how was beauty included? Exod. 25:19.The first half of the book of Exodus details the miraculous deliverance of Israelfrom Egypt. The second half of the book deals with issuesthat include beauty. The divine instructions of Exodus 25:19 are followed byExodus 25:1031:11, with Gods blueprints for the portabletent sanctuary, its furnishings, and the priestly vestments. From Exodus35:1 to the end of the book (Exod. 40:38) are found Gods detaileddescriptions, along with the record of the precise accomplishment ofthem. This record includes extensive details of artistry.This collection of details is tedious reading to many modernChristians. But it pleased God not only to present these many instructions to thenewly freed slaves but also to include them in Scripture.http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 6. Mo n d a y Mar ch 12There are almost fifty chapters in the first five books of the Biblethat record Gods precise directives regarding a beautiful sanctuary.He provides not only the architectural blueprints but also the exactdirections for the furnishings. It is significant that on Mount SinaiGod gave not only the Decalogue, His instructions for obediencewithin the covenant, but also specific directions of how to fashion alavish structure involving almost every type of artistic skill.God was architect of it all, even inspiring the artisans to craft theminute details of decoration. Nothing was left to human devising.There are more chapters regarding the plans for, and consequentbuilding of, this sanctuary and its furnishings than for any other subject in the firstfive books of Moses.Upon what was the earthly sanctuary modeled, and what does thattell us about Gods love of beauty? Exod. 25:9, Heb. 8:15.If the earthly sanctuary was only a shadow of the heavenly, wecan hardly begin to imagine the kind of beauty that must exist in thereal sanctuary, the one made by God Himself. http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 7. Tu e s d a y Mar ch 13God as Musician Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand areto praise the Lo r d with the musical instruments I have providedfor that purpose (1 Chron. 23:5, NIV).Try to envision the scene above: four thousand people playingmusical instruments in praise of the Lord! That must have been anamazing worship service.Gods artistic expression is not restricted to the representationalarts. In Scripture we find that, along with sacred architecture, Israelsliturgy was inspired by the Lord. God is a lover of beautiful music,as well.How does King David describe his composition of the psalms Israelused in worship? 2 Sam. 23:1, 2.David was clear that he was inspired by the Lord to write the songsthat he did. Although this doesnt mean that the Lord wrote the wordsand music for him, it does mean that the Lord cared about the kind ofmusic that was played. Otherwise, why bother to inspire it?Read 2 Chonicles 29:25. What does this verse tell us about the role of theLord in the music that was played in Israels worship services?http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 8. Tu e s d a y Mar ch 13Throughout the Old Testament, when temple worship is recounted,music is evident and impressive. Picture, for instance, the worshipatmosphere described in 1 Chronicles 23:5. Four thousand instruments!Whatever the music must have sounded like, it certainly wasnt boringor dry!It might be argued that aesthetic dimensions could be expectedwithin sacred worship and that throughout history all nations haveexhibited such in worship of their gods. However, Israel alone insiststhat God Himself designed every aspect of His worship, includingarchitecture, furniture, priestly attire, and liturgy. There can be nodoubt that artistic design is sanctioned in the Word of God. Anyonewho rejects the aesthetic dimension, or who denies that being an artistcan be a relevant vocation for a Christian, does so against the recordof Scripture. http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 9. We d n e s d a y Mar ch 14God as AuthorBible scholars have often been impressed by the incredible literaryquality of the Bible. Many secular colleges also teach courses on the Biblesimply for its literary beauty, not because they view it as Gods Word.As Christians, we have the blessing not only of enjoying the literarybeauty of the Scriptures but of learning the truths about God as revealedin the Bible. No doubt, too, the artful construction of the narrativesand the poetry, all influenced by the Spirit of the Lord (yet written outthrough the words of Gods prophets), goes a long way in helping us tounderstand the truth contained therein.The apostle Paul, for instance, with his complex theological discourse,regularly punctuates his theology with powerful literary devices. Forexample, in the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans, Paul givesa comprehensive account of the gospel. Look through these chaptersand note the various topics Paul weaves together.Read Romans 11:3336. Compare these texts with Romans 11:132.Like a hiker who has reached the summit of a high mountain, theapostlewho has taken in the vast panorama of salvation historynow bursts into praise. Before Paul goes on to outline the practicalimplications of the gospel, he worships.http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 10. We d n e s d a y Mar ch 14Paul exhibits this subtle literary rhythm several times in his epistlesand letters: intricate theological reasoning interlaced with praise toGod before concluding with practical counsel.The book of Revelation also is filled with an imposing mosaic of literary devicesthrough which God portrays salvation history. Much ofthe book was taken from the Old Testament. The reader is presentedwith an exceedingly complex tapestry of words, phrases, and themesborrowed from other biblical writers but now woven together into anentirely new fabric. This final book in the Bible is in a style vastlydifferent from what Paul and the Gospel writers used. Instead, weare almost overwhelmed with a profound aesthetic display carefullystructured around seven scenes of the heavenly sanctuary, each oneopening with deeper access into the heavenly court.The book of Revelation is an extensive aesthetic display. God couldhave furnished John with a standard historical document to present thecourse of the salvation story. Instead, what we find are stunning pictorial vistasportraying the working out of the great controversy betweenChrist and Satan, and expanding on the imposing apocalyptic displaygiven earlier to Daniel and Ezekiel.http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 11. Th u r s d a y Mar ch 15God as a SculptorGod is also a sculptor, but not one limited to granite or marble.Instead, He sculpts our characters. He can take a sinful human beingand mold and chisel and hammer away until that person reflectssomething of heavens glory. God has given extensive evidence ofsuch profound skills. From cover to cover in Scripture, we find Godtaking persons we might disregard as unattractive and unworthy andfashioning them into something beautiful.Who are some characters in the Bible who needed a bit of spiritualsculpting, as it were? What needed changes were made in theirlives? For instance, Jacob (Gen. 32:2230); David (Psalm 51);Peter (Luke 22:31, 32); Paul (Acts 9:122). Whom else can youthink of, and what kind of changes came about in them?Another good example is Mary Magdalene. Mary had been . . . agreat sinner, but Christ knew the circumstances that had shaped herlife. . . . It was He who had lifted her from despair and ruin. Seventimes she had heard His rebuke of the demons that controlled herheart and mind. She had heard His strong cries to the Father in herbehalf.http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 12. Th u r s d a y Mar ch 15She knew how offensive is sin to His unsullied purity, and inHis strength she had overcome. . . . [This woman] who had fallen, andwhose mind had been a habitation of demons, was brought very nearto the Saviour in fellowship and ministry. . . . Mary stood beside theCross. . . . Mary was first at the tomb after His resurrection. It wasMary who first proclaimed a risen Saviour.Ellen G. White, TheDesire of Ages, p. 568.Salvation history is full of divine creativity, restoring in fallen menand women the lost image of God. The gospel is no cosmetic facelift but amatter of life-changing orientation running deep and swift inits power to cleanse, shape, and beautify. The gospel of Jesus Christcreatively builds with integrity and wholeness. Genuine newnessis the result of an inward dynamic at work, a divine creativity thatrestores beauty to a fallen, sinful life.http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 13. fr i d a y Mar ch 16Further Study: Let the converting power of God be experiencedin the heart of the individual members, and then we shall see the deepmoving of the Spirit of God. Mere forgiveness of sin is not the soleresult of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice not onlythat sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored,rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence ofGod.Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, p. 11,emphasis added.How earnestly and perseveringly the artist labors to transfer tocanvas a perfect likeness of his model; and how diligently the sculptorhews and chisels out the stone into a counterpart of the copy he is following. Sothe parents should labor to shape, polish, and refine theirchildren after the pattern given them in Christ Jesus. As the patientartist studies, and works, and forms plans to make the results of hislabors more perfect, so should the parent consider time well spent thatis occupied in training the children for useful lives and fitting themfor the immortal kingdom. http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 14. fr i d a y Mar ch 16The artists work is small and unimportantcompared with that of the parent. The one deals with lifeless material,from which he fashions forms of beauty; but the other deals with ahuman being whose life can be shaped for good or ill, to bless humanity or tocurse it; to go out in darkness, or to live forever in a futuresinless world.Ellen G. White, Child Guidance, pp. 476, 477.Discussion Questions:l What opportunity have you had to develop and use any artisticskills? As you created something of beauty, how have you beenmindful that this act of creation is one way in which you are reflecting theimage of God? That is, by being creative, how are you inyour own way reflecting the creative power of the Lord.l Look around at the created world, at nature, even after ithas been so long defiled by sin. In what ways does it powerfullytestify not only to the creative power of God but to His artisticmastery and love of beauty? What things in nature do you findtruly beautiful and why? http://midnighcry.blogspot.com 15. fr i d a y Mar ch 16l As we said in the introduction, Christians have always had someambivalence about the arts. Why would that be? What are some ofthe pitfalls in art? At the same time, how can we use our own artisticgifts in a way that glorifies God and advances His kingdom?Summary: Gods skills as an artist have been underrated. His createdworld is often appreciated, but the expression of His artistic skillsextends His great abilities much further. God designs that Christiansespecially should be a source of beauty in a dark and dying planet. http://m...</p>