Anglican Morning Devotion, 23 February 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; 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 enquire in his temple. 5For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.” (Psalms 27:1-6; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Beauty is only skin deep,” is an old worn-out slogan of the past that is often true of things mundane, but certainly not things pertaining to the Glory of Heaven and the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. In this world, too often beauty is judged by the outward appearance and not the inward substance. Men have offered to define this circumstance in many places:
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Kahlil Gibran. In describing the beauty of a woman, F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. The comprehensive description of the beauty of a woman is found in Proverbs 31:10-31 The first two verses of this description are the sum of the whole: “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12) But even these qualities of the virtuous woman cease at death and are renewed in Heaven. Is there a beauty of unceasing duration to be found?
The beauty of Heaven possesses beauty unblemished by the feet of men and beasts. It is an eternal beauty extending across the full scope of eternity from eternity past to eternity future – a bit too long for any manmade calendar to cover.
We have tasted that Heavenly beauty in the only one who came down from Heaven and has ascended again – the Lord Jesus Christ. “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13) and see, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Divine Essence of true Beauty. He is the Beautiful Savior through and through.
The feeble conception of man often misses the true beauty of that which is profoundly beautiful! We have a contrast in examples from Isaiah concerning the Redeemer: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:1-3 (KJV) Our Lord came to us bearing our own contempt. He bore our sins, yet, we viewed that as ugliness in Him. In fact, it was our own ugliness we saw and not His own. “In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” (Isaiah 4:2)
A lily planted in the wilds will first appear as a tiny sprout of no significance, but when in full bloom, it will beautify the wilderness landscape. Christ came in our form and our likeness, and we mistook our weakness for His beauty. He demonstrated to us that Divine beauty is quite different from what the world beholds as beautiful. The value of a cup of cool water is not the design of the cup, but its contents.
The Book of Solomon describes the Bride of Christ in terms of beauty that the world can understand. Though the Church is not presently beautiful in this world, she will be so when adorned as a “Bride adorned for her Husband.” (Revelation 21:2) “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 54:5) The very innate beauty of Christ is beheld as ugliness to the lost world. But He came bearing gifts of Redemption, Salvation, and Atonement in His Gospel. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15) (See also Isaiah 52:7)