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Lesson 11: God as Artist *

Introduction: Think about looking at a beautiful painting, a beautiful sunset, a beautiful vista, a beautiful car or a beautiful person. How can we say all of these are beautiful? They have more differences than similarities. What is it about them that we call beauty? For me, the beauty in all of these different things is that I take pleasure in looking at them. Sometimes the pleasure seems like rest, in others the pleasure seems more like excitement. Our lesson this week investigates the artist side of God - the beauty that is part of the personality of God. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out more!

  1. Beauty in Creation

    1. Read Genesis 1:31. God is at the end of His Creation work week and He pronounces, "very good." Would that suggest that the world was beautiful?

      1. What could God have failed to do that would make the world less beautiful?

        1. What if animals looked more like humans? All humans look pretty much the same. We have different colors, different heights and different weights, but it is all put together pretty much the same way. What if this were true for the animals?

      2. One answer I would give to the "what could God have left undone" question is flowers. How are flowers essential to our lives? (They are not. This shows that God cares about beauty.)

      3. Another answer I would give is colorful fish and birds. Do fish and birds need to be colorful in order to live? (There are plenty of dull-looking birds who manage to live. The colorful ones are here to provide beauty.)

      4. For every other beautiful thing you can think of, is its beauty essential for its life? (God gave us beauty even though it was not required. This says something important about God and His attitude towards us.)

    2. Let's talk architectural design for a moment. Nissan designed a car (the Cube) that has an asymmetrical design (meaning one side looks different than the other side)for a few of its features. The Cube is mostly symmetrical (meaning both sides are the same). Imagine if humans were asymmetrical? Do you need two nostrils, as opposed to one big air hole on the side of your head?

    3. Read Psalms 19:1. Have you seen pictures of galaxies? Some pictures I've seen are of breath-taking beauty. What does this text suggest about beauty and the glory of God? (Part of God's glory is the beauty He creates.)

    4. Read Ezekiel 28:17. Many Bible students believe that this is a description of Satan when he was still an angel in heaven. What does this say about the way that God created him? (Beautiful!)

      1. In this case, Satan's splendor was a source of his seduction into sin. Why would God create a beautiful angel knowing that this would be a problem? (This tells us that beauty has independent value in God's eyes.)

  2. Beauty in Humans

    1. Read Genesis 1:26. What does this say about humans and beauty? (It that says we are made in the image of God.)

    2. Read Isaiah 53:2-3. This is a prophecy about Jesus. What did God look like when He became a man? (Isaiah says that Jesus was not handsome.)

      1. Does that mean that God is not beautiful? Is that the reason we are symmetrical, but otherwise sort of dull looking? (So many attributes of Jesus' life as a human seem to be based on the idea that He came to earth as "one of us." He came as a "second Adam." (See, Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:45.) I think that dictated several disadvantages for Jesus as a human. He was poor. God is not poor. He was not born into royalty. God is the King of Kings. If Jesus was rich, royal, and incredibly handsome, then those who are not would say that Jesus was not "tempted in every way, just as we are." ( Hebrews 4:15).)

    3. Read Ezekiel 16:15. What does this suggest might be a problem with human beauty?

    4. Read Luke 12:27-28 and 1 Peter 3:3-4. A number of translations throw in the word "merely," so that the sense of the 1 Peter text is "your beauty should not come merely from how you wear your hair, the quality of your clothes, and the wearing of jewelry." Would the God who made lilies beautiful want us to look drab?

      1. If the answer is, "No, if God created beauty in flowers, He supports beauty in humans," how do you understand this text in 1 Peter? (Peter is saying that true beauty does not consist of what you wear, how you arrange your hair or the value of your jewelry. Instead, true beauty comes from inside, it has to do with your character.)

        1. Is this some sort of scam? When I was young, whenever some adult recommended that I should date someone with a "great personality" I knew this was a code phrase for "bad-looking." Is God just trying to make plain people feel good?

    5. Read Psalms 96:9. "Splendor of His holiness." Does this sound like "beauty of holiness?" If so, how can holiness be beautiful? (Let's go back to the introduction. How can a painting, a car, a sunset and a woman be beautiful? (We say, "How do I react to that?")

    6. Now, let's read Proverbs 31:30 and revisit 1 Peter 3:4. What is the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit?" (Both of these texts tell us that physical beauty has a "shelf-life" (it does not last forever). I've seen woman who were beautiful for many decades - but I'm getting older too, so that might influence my opinion. However, the sad Biblical news for all of us is that physical beauty generally fades with time.)

      1. How can a quiet spirit be beautiful? (Beauty is "how do I react to that?" How do you react to a gentle person?

        1. Do you know members of the opposite sex who are great to look at, but you would not want to be married to them? The adults who used to tell me about a "great personality" were not involved in a scam.)

      2. Which would you prefer: a beautiful, mean spouse, or an plain, loving spouse? (Since beauty fades, the odds are that all you are left with is mean! If beauty means to enjoy beholding, then plain and loving wins.)

    7. Read 1 Samuel 16:7. Are we destined to look only at externals?

    8. Read Proverbs 20:29. Let's look at God's design of human beauty from another angle. Can beauty change with age? (Yes. What is pleasurable about young men? They are strong. What is pleasurable about old men? That they are distinguished. You can take pleasure (find beauty) in different things about your spouse as time passes. Perhaps you took pleasure in the physical beauty of your spouse when you were young, but you take pleasure in the personality, creativity, humor, or wisdom of your spouse when you are old.)

    9. Read Psalms 51:10. If we decide that we do not have a beautiful spirit, can God sculpt us into a more beautiful person?

  3. Beauty and Music

    1. Read Revelation 15:2-3. Have you ever seen someone "hold" a harp? We had a harp at my daughter's wedding. You had to truck that thing to the church. Friend, these instruments in Revelation are guitars! (I am partially joking.) What does this say about music and heaven? (It will be part of praising God!)

    2. Read 1 Chronicles 23:1-5. Notice this, a combined choir and orchestra of four thousand! Have you ever been in a large crowd that was singing praises to God?

    3. Why did God give (most) humans and some animals the ability to sing? (Again, this shows the beauty created by God.)

  4. Beauty and the Sanctuary

    1. Exodus 25 contains the instructions for building the tabernacle in the wilderness. Read the list of materials used in Exodus 25:2-8. This sounds like a beautiful creation. Josephus describes the temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans as a fabulous place. Why does God surround Himself with beauty? (Because He appreciates it and He wants us to appreciate it.)

      1. What about helping the poor instead of building fancy churches? (It should not be an "either/or" issue. We should build beautiful churches and we should help the poor. Both beauty and kindness are attributes of God.)

    2. Friend, can you better appreciate the essence of beauty - that reaction of pleasure when you are in its presence? God, the great Artist, blessed us with that!

  5. Next week: Love Stories.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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