Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Beauty

I wandered over to 3dhippo.com to have a peek at the latest developments in that quarter (okay, I admit I check it eagerly twice a day to see if the Busy Ones have posted any new thinkings!) and it turns out Janelle has posted some new thoughts on beauty in different cultures. Lovely and refreshing!
It made me think of God's idea of beauty. After all, he is the standard.
Do you know what God does when he creates beauty? He covers it up!
Where does gold come from? Underneath heaps and heaps of ugly gray rock. Flowers come from seeds that have been covered over in mud, and they grow even more beautiful if that mud has been fertilized with poop!
In the book of Exodus, God describes to Moses his plan for the tabernacle, a sort of portable temple in the centre of their encampment that he would inhabit. When the Israelites moved to a new place, they packed up the tabernacle and God moved with them. Imagine living in the next tent to God! The tabernacle was made of beautiful acacia wood beams in silver sockets draped with hangings of blue, purple, and scarlet linen. It was filled with gold. God even told Moses which craftsmen and designers to appoint. The tabernacle itself must have been beautiful, but that wasn't all. God asked Moses to make a heavy partition, behind which the altar stood, and where God would place his own glory. The high priest could enter that place, the Holy of Holies, once a year to make a sacrifice for the people. If anyone entered and witnessed the glory of God, it would kill them. Our eyes are too weak for such beauty.
Then God asked a strange thing, by human calculations. He asked Moses to cover up that beautiful tabernacle with coverings of goat's hair, ram skins, and badger skins.
If that tabernacle had been built by us, could we have resisted putting at least a little of the gold on the outside? (Well, fake gold, in case some crooked folk took a notion to start lifting "souvenirs".) There would definitely have been clear vinyl windows into the Holy of Holies so the tour groups could all have a peek. We'd have needed several acres for parking, with a big neon "tabernacle" sign that could have been seen for miles. Of course, you could have just gone to the full-scale replica complete with fake glory in Vegas...
In Psalm 45:13 the king's daughter is "all glorious WITHIN". This is why God says in I Peter 3:4, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as [elaborate] hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."
The greatest beauty this world, or any world for that matter, has ever known is the glory of heaven's Light, the Christ. But when God revealed himself in Jesus, he put away the silver trumpets, the streaming banners, the dazzling splendours of heaven. He came to us covered, as a man. Not a handsome man, or a strong man. Seven hundred years before Jesus came, Isaiah wrote what he would be like: "...and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him".
That's what God calls beautiful. Not what you might expect, but then, as I am learning, God himself is not what you might expect.

4 comments:

patrick said...

thanks jennypo! isn't He so beautiful?

joeyanne said...

Wowie. I am inspired to spend a little time beautifying myself as He sees me. I want the covered beauty that God loves. No mascara or lipstick will help with this one. I know that this beauty only comes from being with Him. Keep those spiritual curling irons plugged in, my truly beautiful sisters!!

HeIsSailing said...

JennyPo sez:
"Then God asked a strange thing, by human calculations. He asked Moses to cover up that beautiful tabernacle with coverings of goat's hair, ram skins, and badger skins."

Hi JennyPo. You will never believe this, but as soon as your opening sentence about God hiding beautiful things, I immediately thought, God has set a model for that in the tabernacle - afterall he hid the precious things in the Holy Place, and covered all the extravagance in Badger Skins of all things. Then wouldn't you know you go and say the same thing! But on a more practical level, you are absolutely correct. The most beautiful things are usually hidden deep and not immediately noticed. It is only when we dig a little that we discover real beauty.

jennypo said...

HeIsSailing,
Welcome to my little home! Glad we were thinking along the same lines. The Old Testament is a mysterious set of books, but I have come to love it for the context it offers for so many things. It speaks in pictures, which calls for more work on our part, but it is so worth it!