The Beauty of Christ Jesus Revealed in NatureAugust 7, 2023
Jonathan Edwards believed passionately that nature was revelatory of the beauty, grace, and creative power of Jesus. In his Miscellanies, 108 (WJE, 13:280), he writes:
“So that when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and field, and singing of birds, are the emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and bounty.
When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous bow, we behold the adumbrations of his glory and goodness; and the blue skies, of his mildness and gentleness. There are also many things wherein we may behold his awful majesty: in the sun in his strength, in comets, in thunder, in the towering thunder clouds, in ragged rocks and the brows of mountains. That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively shadow of his spotless holiness and happiness, and delight in communicating himself.”
Our failure to recognize the revelation of God’s beauty in nature is due to several factors related our modern culture and the habits that we’ve developed. We rarely venture out into the realm of created reality, and even when we do it typically extends no farther than our own backyard. We are glued to the TV or the computer or the smart phone. The horizon of our vision is greatly limited by one “screen” or another.
When was the last time you sat quietly beneath a cloudless sky at night and marveled at the innumerable multitude of stars and the immeasurable power of God that put each one in place and holds them there? May we never forget that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).
Do you cower in the presence of thunder and lightning, or do you ponder the majesty of a God who can produce such marvelous sights and sounds?
We hear much talk (much of it hysterical and baseless) of the threat of global warming. But when did you pause to consider the possibility (and I only say ‘possibility’, not certainty) that the current heat wave spanning the earth is a not-so-subtle reminder from God that the incalculable heat of hell awaits all who continue in unbelief, immorality, and idolatry?
Some believe Edwards went too far in his efforts to find in virtually every element in the natural world a display of the character of God. But I suspect that such criticism is more the result of our own personal failure to open our eyes to the wonder of what God has made. Let us never forget that Paul himself declared that “what can be known about God” is plain to all mankind, “because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:19-20).