In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. – Genesis 1:1, 26-31.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12.
It is said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and this certainly seems to be true. I actually know those who can look upon a major city skyline of concrete, chrome and steel and see the beauty in it. The are awed by the wondrous feats of man with his building skills. I don’t want to dispute that, but I personally find beauty in the things that have been created “not with earthly hands,” but by the Hand and Plan of God Almighty.
I have ALWAYS found beauty in the scenic geography of nature. Where ever Sue and I have lived, we have seen the beauty of those regions, though as diverse as could be. We have looked upon it as one of the blessings that the Lord has given to our hearts. From Washington State, with its evergreens and it’s high desert fruit orchards, wine vineyards and mountain meadows full of a plethora of flower varieties, to the desert lands of Arizona, with its cacti and dry washes, arid cotton fields, and copper-mining mountains and then finally to here in the Western Slopes of Colorado with its grand mesas and every variety of green tree, beautiful lakes and rivers right in our backyard! God’s Handiwork has been evident in every place we have ever lived and it has always amazed us at the beauty we are able to see in such diverse surroundings.
This always reminds me of something my brother-in-law told me when I was a young man just starting out in my 20’s; I know I have mentioned it before, but I have never forgotten the significance of it. My wife Sue, her brother and his wife were visiting Paradise at Mount Rainier and we were walking over a stone bridge heading towards the Paradise Lodge when we stopped midway across the bridge, looked over the railing away from the majestic snowcapped Mount and down through a mountain draw carpeted with every array of green imaginable. All you could see for miles, ending in a fog-shrouded horizon was tree upon wondrous tree making up the forest before us. It literally took my breath away. I mean, literally I let out a gasp that everyone in our party heard.
I had been to Mount Rainier many times before, but in the crispness of this day and in the light that shone the variances of the green in the many trees, it was almost more than my mind could handle and my wife’s brother, Ron told me in all seriousness, “Just remember, the beauty you see, that literally takes your breath away, is still marred by mankind’s sin!”
I have never forgotten that and in fact it has more than once been inspiration for my mind to speculation and meditate on the things of the Lord and how they should be and one day, will be again. No matter how we perceive beauty, in this natural world, it is tainted, it is hidden behind a cloudy veil that our natural eyes just cannot see in the way that our Heavenly Father created it for us to enjoy!
If you are reading this, I want to take you on a journey where you will stretch your imagination and expand your thinking OUTSIDE the box that you have so neatly stored your religious and theological thoughts into. Maybe you have never been asked to think on or speculate about the Heavenly, and spiritual realm and I know there are some out there who will tell you in their teaching and preaching that it is vanity, it is useless to speculate on things you can never totally comprehend. But I want you to think of it as a way to try and grasp even slightly the beauty, joys and glories that God Almighty, our HEAVENLY Father HAS prepared and is preparing for His children!
This is what the Apostle Paul INSTRUCTED Christ’s followers to do; “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” – Philippians 4:8.
The Apostle Paul also reiterated what the Prophet Isaiah spoke of; “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9, (Isaiah 64:4).
Remember before Adam’s sin, God created a beautiful place of sanctuary for him. “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
“And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him. Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.” – Genesis 2:8-20a.
If you haven’t given thought to this Scripture and have only skimmed over it as you read it, consider giving it some serious thought. Try to imagine the beauty, unmarred by sin. Every good thing to eat, every herb, every fruit suitable for sustaining AND enjoying life was to be found there. The animals were not wild, but rather roamed, flew and swam freely, enjoying also that beautiful Garden the Lord created.
This was also a place that God held a relationship with Adam and I would imagine Eve as well as can be surmised by the Scriptures detailing their fall from God’s Grace. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:8-10.
Consider this; “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden.” They KNEW the sound of the Heavenly Father in their presence. This allows us to assume that they were familiar with His presence in the Garden. He created it for them, so it is safe to assume that He also established a relationship with them, talking and walking with them from time to time. They RECOGNIZED His presence this time but they were afraid, because they knew they had disobeyed His command.
God had given Adam and Eve the most beautiful sanctuary you can imagine. Not just the beauty of the living things, plant and animal, but gold and precious stones which are also beautiful to behold. God had given Adam the ability to tend and keep it, and most likely it was not a strenuous thing to do for upon their banishment, tending the ground then became laborious. There was rest, despite labor, peace and comfort in the Garden and especially in knowing that the Presence of the Creator was in their midst. Remember, they were not aware of “good and evil” at that time, for it was only AFTER their disobedience that they became aware of it. “Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.” – Genesis 3:22.
From that moment onward, the ground, the very creation was cursed for mankind due to his disobedience in the face of God, his Father. However, even creation itself is looking forward from freedom from that curse! “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” – Romans 8:19-21.
Creations fate is tied directly to mankind’s fate. When we are finally redeemed, so will creation be restored! What a concept, what an amazing thought! As the Apostle Paul wrote, creation’s destiny is tied to ours. God is and always had wanted a relationship with mankind that was not forced or constrained. He wants His creation to love Him for just Who He is, our Heavenly Father and not some supposed task-master! This is why in His complete and perfect knowledge, He was not taken by surprise with mankind’s downfall. Rather, His plan has always been to allow man to make His own decision. Even in the Garden of Eden, the most perfect and beautiful sanctuary, it was always man’s choice to be obedient, or to reject the wishes and will of The Father.
With God’s plan to allow Jesus the opportunity to pay the price we owed, the hope and the chance of all of creation being redeemed is once more assured! God already KNOWS who will accept His gift and who will reject Him; just like He knew in advance which way Adam would choose, yet had a plan for redeeming creation back to Himself, His plan even now is going forth to restore the beauty He created in all of its unveiled splendor!
Next in part two, we are going to jump from the unimaginable beauty of the sinless past into the redeemed beauty of our eternal reward! Get ready to stretch your mind and imagination with the glorious possibilities even more!
In a couple of days, I will post and we will continue Part Two of Beauty Beyond Imagine.