Adumbrations of Christ's Glory
One of the reasons God created the world as he did was to display within it the beauty and excellencies of his Son, Jesus Christ. Continue reading . . .
One of the reasons God created the world as he did was to display within it the beauty and excellencies of his Son, Jesus Christ. Yet, no matter how clearly we see his handiwork in the natural world, says Jonathan Edwards, what we behold there is still only a “shadow or glimpse” of God’s excellencies (Miscellany 108; Yale, 13:279). Or to put it in other words, “the beauties of nature are really emanations, or shadows, of the excellencies of the Son of God” (ibid.).
From this Edwards concludes 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” (ibid.). What might be some examples of this? Edwards answers:
“When we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and fields, 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” (ibid.).
Before you too quickly dismiss this as unduly speculative, remember that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). If the creation above speaks of who God is and what he’s like, then surely the creation below (the earth) will do the same. The Apostle Paul adds his imprimatur by reminding us that God’s “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. 1:20). So, I do not think Edwards is off base in saying that
“when we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous [rain]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” (ibid.).
So, take a walk early in the morning or at midday or at night and look around, look up, and behold the beauty and splendor of your Savior!