“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:17)
“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us!” Truly a wonderful and blessed thought for the present moment – a psalm of eternity containing blessings for the temporal life which I live, move in, and have my very existence. I yearn to be satisfied early with God’s mercy so that I may rejoice and be glad all my days (90.14). Visible demonstrations of God’s mercy and lovingkindness toward me convey His gracious presence even though He seems so far away at times. When the beauty of the Lord our God is upon me, I look toward that eternal Day when I shall truly see Him unfettered by my sin which demands His mercy each and every day within the temporal realm.
Whole volumes are given over to the study of God’s character in the pages of Scripture. It is a pursuit that accomplishes what seem to be two opposing goals: drawing me closer to the Lord while at the same time letting me know that I’ve only scratched the surface of my understanding of Him. The fool denies eternity placed in his heart. He will worship none other than himself. Therefore, God gives him over to his obstinate folly, and he remains without excuse.
Design within the creation, variety, pleasure, and beauty all point to the glory of God (Psalm 19). The creation demonstrates that God is all-wise and all-powerful. Those looking for answers to ultimate questions will not find them by ruminating over dead poets and philosophers. These answers come from the illuminating work of God through His Spirit. Those of us viewed as fools by the world have a wondrous revelation of God in His Word. Those deemed as wise by the world have these things hidden from them. It’s quite sad. They grope aimlessly for some new twist or turn in the meanderings of men.
But God is not manifested within the creative order alone. I see Him in the pages of mankind’s history. He is sovereign. Everything is rushing toward the Day when He shall be all in all (1 Corinthians 15.28). I see Him beautifully weaving and stitching together not only history in general but also my very life. My times are in His hands. This is the beauty of the Lord our God! He has redeemed me for His glory and so I worship Him in the beauty of His holiness and for His glory. The greatest goal of all creation is to bring glory to the Creator. And the Lord Jesus Christ has made this possible. Jesus is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light (that of the Father), whom no man has seen or can see (again, a reference to the Father), to whom be honor and everlasting power” (1 Timothy 6.14-15).
We see the Father in the Son who is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1.3). The beauty of the Lord our God is found in the Person but also the work of Jesus Christ. His painstaking work of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, His redemptive work upon the Cross of Calvary, and even His work of judgment from His glorious throne in the yet future Millennial Kingdom represent the beauty of the Lord our God in perfection. Men journey with me and hear whispers of God, but I see what they cannot see. You as a child of God see what they cannot see. That is why it seems that the myriads of people who hear the same words from the Scripture we do remain deaf and dumb toward them while we are humbled and our faith deepened by the very same words.
The Lord’s beauty is conveyed through light shining out of darkness into our very hearts in order to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus mediates the beauty of the Lord God. He has shown us light that the world cannot see. Not only this, but He has given to us the opportunity to reflect that light and thereby glorify God.
The primary reason for gathering for worship on Sunday is so that we may behold the beauty of the Lord. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4) Our yearning, broken, contrite, and dependent hearts expect satisfaction in the beauty of the Lord. So, the venue of our idea of a sanctuary has changed. But we still desire to see God’s power and glory (Psalm 63.2).
Second, mankind is created in the image of God (Genesis 1.26-27). But that image is much maligned. We must experience a new birth so that we might “put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4.24). It is the beauty of the Lord that we behold with unveiled face. It is the beauty and glory of the Lord that shines forth and reflects or radiates from our lives as a mirror reflects the image of a man. What happens inside of us is the transformation from glory to even greater glory and so forth. It is the sanctifying work of the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3.18). This verse communicates a continual process until we are made perfect as our Father is perfect in Heaven above.
We look toward the Day as we press toward the mark until “we come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4.13). May the Lord grant that His beauty be upon us today and to a greater degree tomorrow. Let us grow in grace and flourish in holiness! Pray that we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18–19)
The goal is that nothing in our temporal life affects our pursuit of this fullness. Even tribulation works patience, experience, and eventually a deep and abiding hope – a confident expectation that God will make good on His promises. Trials reveal deeper problems within us. They refine us. So, we bear up underneath them in the school of affliction knowing that God will use them to show us His glory in greater detail and to conform us to the image of His Son.
Our pursuit of holiness is our pursuit of God. Our pursuit of mercy is our pursuit of God. Our pursuit of any perfection of God is our pursuit of Him. Therefore, time spent in Scripture and in prayer within the sanctuary (wherever that may be) keeps me balanced and growing. May the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us!