Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"God as Artist"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Glimpses of Our God
Lesson 11: "God as Artist"
And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Gen 1:31).

The idea of God as an artist was introduced to humans when He created the earth. On the first days of creation, God pronounced His handiwork "good" (Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25), but His final characterization contained the superlative "very" good. In our society, we have become so accustomed to exaggeration that we might not recognize God's relatively mild description as simply being true, not an exaggeration.

Very good includes beautiful. In describing the special garden God planted for Adam and Eve, He "caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; …" (Gen. 2:9). Even food was part of the artistic plan. God could have fed His creation by sending manna or concentrated pellets every day, but He wanted to have His creatures make the connection between the beautiful trees and food. How characteristic of a loving God that He provided their food from majestic trees that formed the protective covering of their garden home. What delight Adam and Eve must have had discovering various plants and trees and learning what they produced and how they were different from the others, yet all were beautiful. These discoveries must have been part of what they shared with their heavenly Father each evening. Prompted by what God created, they enjoyed beautiful fellowship with Him in the beauty of holiness. We can still have that communion with Him as we enjoy His creation if we are willing acknowledge Him as the creator.

Like everything else it touches, sin perverts what God has made. Lucifer's admiration of his own beauty started his fateful journey into open rebellion against God (Ezek. 28:17). Eve was attracted to the tree which she found "was a delight to the eyes" (Gen 3:6). Until the flood, the earth retained much of its created beauty, but after, the result must have been devastatingly ugly to Noah and his family. The God of beauty vowed to never again curse the ground. He started by setting His rainbow in the clouds. Parts of the earth developed beauty in spite of the scars; even barren rocks, jagged mountain peaks, and deep fissures inspire awe and can be appreciated as beautiful.

Fortunately for the human race, the creative artistry of God is not limited to outward appearance. "He is a lover of the beautiful, and above all that is outwardly attractive He loves beauty of character; He would have us cultivate purity and simplicity, the quiet graces of the flowers" (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 85). The message of 1888 clarified the great truth that Christians can live victorious lives through Christ Jesus "the law of the Spirit of life" (Rom. 8:2). It rejected the concept that character development is based on human effort motivated solely by the influence of Christ's holy life.

That character is symbolized by the white linen robe of Christ's righteousness, which is "'that garment that is woven in the loom of heaven, in which there is not a single thread of human making.' … That garment was woven in Jesus; in the same flesh that you and I have, for He took part of the same flesh and blood that we have. … Christ is to be in us, just as God was in Him, and His character is to be in us, just as God was in Him, and His character is to be woven and transformed into us through these sufferings and temptations and trials which we meet. And God is the weaver, but not without us. It is the cooperation of the divine and the human--the mystery of God in you and me--the same mystery that was in the gospel, and that is the third angel's message" (A. T. Jones, 1893 General Conference Bulletin, p. 207).

The character was woven by God without our input, but it will not become ours without us. The beauty of it is that we are to have the garment as complete as Christ is. The weaver is God as He knows the pattern He wants for each of us. Many times we think the threads seem all tangled and out of shape, and there is no beauty to our character as we see it. But the pattern is not of our making. We are not the weaver, God is and His pattern is Christ, and "no man knoweth the Son, but the Father" (Matt. 11:27, KJV). We cannot shape our lives on the pattern, because we do not know Him, or see clearly enough to shape it correctly, even if we could do the weaving. God sees the pattern in its completeness before it is done. We can rest in the assurance that God will complete the work He has started in us (Phil. 1:6) so the resulting tapestry will be perfect, complete and beautiful. Our responsibility is to not resist what God is doing in our lives.
"Brethren, let him weave away. Let Him carry on His blessed plan of weaving through all our life and experience the precious pattern of Jesus Christ. The day is coming, and is not far off, when the last shuttle will be shot through. The last thread will be laid on, the last point in the figure will be met completely, and sealed with the seal of the living God" (Jones, op.cit.).

"By His perfect obedience, He has made it possible for every human being to obey God's commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ the heart is united with His heart; the will is merged in His will; the mind becomes one with His mind; the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then, as the Lord looks upon us, He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah (E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Nov. 22, 1905).

--Arlene Hill

Note: Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible, unless noted otherwise.
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