God is an artist. An atheist once said to me that God should never have created a world with a history full of pain and suffering just for the purpose of fully revealing Himself to us. Rather, he said, God could have just downloaded all of the information about Himself right into our minds. But that’s not how God works. God is an artist. God doesn’t just give us a list of informative statements; He uses images, parables, stories (such as history itself) to communicate with a richness, depth, and beauty that could never be matched by bare information.
The instructional words “God is gracious” can’t compare to, “There was a man named John Newton, and he was a dreadful man. He mocked God. He was a slave trader. He led such a wretched life that he ended up living as a servant of slaves on an island off the coast of Africa. And Christ came down from a place of perfect comfort and splendor to suffer and die in that man’s place so that he could be adopted and welcomed into God’s very family. To John Newton’s astonishment, God saved him and changed his life. And at the end of his life, Newton said, ’My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.’”
God isn’t just a master author; He’s also a painter. Baptism is a visual representation of our union with Christ in His death and resurrection. Communion is an image of the Gospel and our identity as one body of Christ. God created an entire sacrificial system with a temple to show us what it means for Him to be holy, what our sin costs, and what Christ would come to do for us. He created marriage to depict the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.... He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.... [A]nd the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” He created shadows of Christ throughout history to illuminate the reality He most wanted us to know—Christ Himself, “the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.”
Because of His artistry, just as there are layers of meaning in a painting, there is an unfathomable depth to the world He created and the words He revealed, and the deeper we go, the more we see of Him and the more beautiful it all becomes.
I was reminded of God’s artistry yet again when I saw what Nicholas Davis had to say about the change from worshiping on the Sabbath (the last day of the week) to the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week, the day of His resurrection) and what that visual ritual declares to the world:
There is one significant difference between the Jewish Sabbath and the Christian Sabbath (or Lord’s Day) that is important to note. The Jewish Sabbath mirrors the creation account in Genesis 1–2, where God worked for six days and rested on the seventh. Interestingly though, the Lord’s Day reverses this pattern entirely.
According to the Law, we are to work first, and then we are granted rest. Jesus reversed this pattern for us when he perfectly obeyed all of the Ten Commandments and kept the law on our behalf. By living the perfect life, Jesus has met God’s perfect standard.
According to the gospel, we are gifted with rest; and then out of gratitude, we actually want to work. Now, we don’t have to try to earn God’s favor—he is already favorable toward us in his Son. Because of Jesus’ work, we start each week with rest—mirroring that eternal Sabbath rest that is already our inheritance in the new creation (Heb. 4:9–10). Giving thanks to God, we return to our workweek refreshed and thankful for what God has done for us in Christ.
Just by worshiping and resting on Sunday instead of Saturday, we are acting out a picture of the Gospel! This is the kind of world God designed—a world full of His imagery, where all of His people can experience and see Him in everyday ways. It’s a world of beauty, rich in meaning, created by an Artist.
(HT: Tim Challies)