Friday, May 29, 2009

The Nature of Beauty

God is beautiful. This fact is plainly taught in the Scriptures. But we shouldn't think He is beautiful in the same exact way a painting, a flower or a melody is beautiful. This would belittle Him. God does not conform to some standard of beauty outside of Himself. In His very nature, God is the superlative of everything good. He is the standard by which all other beauty is to be measured and understood. God's beauty is prototypical, inherent and intrinsic. All other beauty is derived, contingent and dependent. All other beauties are streams that spring forth from God, the eternal ocean of beauty. His dwelling place is called the perfection of beauty (Psalm 50:2). The hope of the believer is to forever gaze upon His beauty (Psalm 27:4, Isaiah 33:17). The reality of the beauty of God is truly astounding, especially when considered in conjunction with another fact that is also plainly taught in the Scriptures:

God is invisible.

God cannot be seen. 1 Timothy 6:16 says that "no one has seen or can see" Him. He has no physical form. He is hidden from our eyes. And yet He is perfectly beautiful. What does that say about the nature of beauty?

grace and peace,
shai

17 comments:

James said...

"God is invisible."

Hm...didn't Moses see the back of God?'

And in Revelation 4 we see John gazing upon "one who is on the throne."

While I know that Revelation is full of allegories and analogies (I haven't studied it sufficiently to give much light on this), it does seem that we will be able to see *something* about God.

And as for the Moses situation (I don't recall the reference...if you don't know what I'm refering to, I'll look it up), I do recognize that God appears to Moses (and Israel) in different ways (burning bush, cloud of fire, etc.).

How do we reconcile these examples with the idea that "no one has seen or can see" God?

Those are my first thoughts.

My next questions/thoughts involve your last statement. "He has no physical form. He is hidden from our eyes. And yet He is perfectly beautiful. What does this say about the nature of beauty?"

I assume that you are trying to point out that beauty is not skin-deep, and the people who our world has deemed unattractive can be (and often are) beautiful. I fully agree with that.

But beauty does lie in physical things as well, right? God created a physical world for us to dwell in, so it makes sense that a beautiful being would create a beautiful world (did God create an ugly world?). Consequently, there are many beautiful, physical things. Mountains, oceans, fields, trees, animals, and, yes, people. And some things are necessarily more beautiful than others, or there would be no meaning to the term "beautiful."

I suppose I just want to say that while most people fall on the side of saying that beauty is only physical, there is a danger of falling into saying that beauty is never physically related.

I love your music, and you always give me something to think about in your blogs. Saw you here in soCal in April (after Hawaii and Master's).

God Bless,
-James Arnold

Anonymous said...

Hey shai waddup fam! I just wanted to leave a comment or better yet a question about God's beauty. I do know that God is beautiful and that scripture clearly teaches that. But I was wondering if you knew of any books that open this topic up a bit more. Because personally, I have a hard time gazing at God's beauty. I really want to know His beauty better. And seperate His beauty from His creation. Get @ me when you get a chance. thanx fam.

ztothep@yahoo.com - email

Abigail @ Pearls and Diamonds said...

You're back to blogging. :) I've been pondering beauty lately as well...and was captured by the question you asked at the end "what does [God's invisibility] say about the nature of true beauty?" Which is especially intriguing to me in light of Peter's command to women to adorn themselves with the *hidden* person of the heart. In seeking to mirror God's beauty, I should not be seeking to draw attention to the outside, but seeking to draw attention to Him! How convicting is that? Anyway, I found your post to be an encouraging reminder of the Beautiful Creator.

Blessings!

Abigail @ Pearls and Diamonds

Nikolaj Bourguignon said...

Oh wow, this is good! Thank you!

da' Sciple said...

Brother shai --- I love you man. You really know how to spark deep thought and meditation.

So what does that say about the nature of beauty? Walk with me as I attempt to answer you.

Well nature is defined as:

the essential qualities or characteristics by which something is recognized;

It seems to me that we worship God through(in) Christ, and praise/worship God because of His creation, mainly because God's essential characteristics, by which we recognize Him, are summed up here.

Romans 1:20 states that his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

Colossians 1:15 states that He[Christ] is the image of the invisible God...

Therefore we have two "revelations" if you will of the manifest beauty of God. In His creation and in His Son; one of which worships Him and waits in eager expectation of being restored(Romans 8:19-22) setting the example for us as believer (v.23), and One is to be Worshipped -[For in Christ all the fullness of the Godhead lives in bodily form(Col 2:9)].

Your thoughts?

Thanks for taking me here. It led me into some pretty good cross referencing.

grace & peace

germs said...

this blog on beauty reminds me of the sermon you gave at epiphany a while ago, when you said beauty is one of the main characteristics of GOD and how its mainly inward, very encouraging words

ant said...

God IS beautiful bro!
I'm not sure if you question about the nature of beauty was rhetorical or not so I'd like to respond, not really answer but just respond.
Jesus came to die and purchase grace for sinners so they could truly see with the eyes of faith; not with physical eyes, we already have/had that kind of sight. So when you ask the question about God and the nature of beauty I keep thinking (and thanking) that my soul, my soul, my soul can actually see! My heart can see! My mind can see! I can truly see because I can see that which is truly and completely beautiful--God. I see beauty flying at my heart/mind from the pages of the Bible, a book that to many, is filled with words like many other books; there's nothing particularly beautiful about words in general. But, when God by His grace made me alive and opened the eyes of my heart I could see real beauty in a book filled with words that prior to my new eyes wasn't really beautiful at all. Beauty is indeed a "God-thing", in fact, it is God. I'm so glad bro (and I know you are too) that because of Jesus and His finished work, I can truly see and because I can truly see, I can see true beauty. I can see Jesus. Man. . .I'm convicted too. Christ purchased my new vision for me with His life, so that I see Him and I think of the times that I set the eyes of my heart on things and places and people as if they were truly beautiful and more beautiful than Beauty Himself. Man. . .
Praise God for His grace, without it we'd all be hopeless and pitiful cases scrapping at crap and hoping for pearls. It's always Leah, praise God that He never is.

God thank you for eyes to see true beauty. Please forgive us for being bad stewards of our eyes and mocking Your beauty. Give us hearts that are truly repentant and relentless in their pursuit of gazing upon the Most Beautiful One.

Aric Wardian said...

Power is God's hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty. - Stephen Charnock

Shai, not only is God beautiful but God makes us beautiful after we were ugly in sin.

Aaron Jonathan Lopez said...

Let us not conform to the beauty that lies in even the "simple little things in life". The most beautiful sound or song, or painting or sight that I have(by YHWH'S GRACE) ever experienced, is NOTHING at ALL compared to HIS MERCY, TRUTH, LOVE, COMPASSION, GLORY, WRATH. Like you where saying all true beauty derives from the Father.

I leave you with a quote from Jonathan Edwards from 1723!

you might have to read at least 4-5times to grasp it!!! hehe

HAHA ALL GLORY TO KING OF MERCY

"There is no pleasure but what brings more of sorrow than of pleasure, but what the godly man either does or may enjoy." - Jonathan Edwards

Jessica said...

Thanks for that blog! I hope you get a chance to listen to this songs.
Such a great song.

Beautiful Lyrics
Artist(Band):Phil Wickham

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Anonymous said...

Then the Lord said Behold there is a place by Me and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come out while My glory is passing by that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back but My face shall not be seen. Exodus 33:21-23 Looks like we can see his backside.

Ephraim

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Matt Brown said...

Amen, brother.

Reggie said...

"All other beauties are streams that spring forth from God, the eternal ocean of beauty."

I like that. If you marinate on that for a while you begin to soak in the perfect beauty of our Father.

Exodus 33:20-23
And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
And the LORD said, Behold, [there is] a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:
And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:
And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

A good book about the beauty of God is "The Knowledge of the Holy" by A. W. Tozer

Reggie

Christopher said...

thanks for the blog shai.I have been reading song of solomon,"come away my beloved" by francis roberts and also the imitation of christ and they have collective opened my eyes to the altogether beauty and holiness of God.once again thanks for the words of encouragement.Grace and peace.

ourpatienthope said...

James,

You asked who it was that The elders of Israel saw at Horeb and who it was who appears in Isaiah, I would suggest that it is the same person who had a meal with Abraham, fought with Jacob and appeared to Manoah and finally took on the human form permanently and became known as Jesus The Messiah, aka The Son of Man.

Who was He and who is He still? Well essentially He shares One Name with The Father and The Spirit; YHWH. But he also goes by other descriptive names such as The Word of God, The Word of YHWH, The Messenger of The Presence, The Messenger of YHWH. He is the One seen by Ezekiel, The One who appeared to the boy Samuel and stood and is referred to by Samuel as The Word of YHWH. The One who reveals God to man and is God himself. He is the visible image now because he took on the human form. As for God being invisible, I suspect Paul is talking of God the Father who can not be seen with the human eye, in this world at least. For Jesus also says "blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."

Hey Shai your so right about the beauty of God. Some times I find myself caught up looking at one aspect of beauty in creation and how it relates to God and forget that its the whole of its beauty that speaks volumes of him, though each small aspect has its part in the larger picture. The Invisible worlds, the invisible beings, the physical world and physical beings. God has form, He has a body....we just can't see it. But we look at Messiah and we catch glimpses every time He was revealed in scripture to prophets, ordinary men and women and apostle's alike.