When we are divorced from God's presence, it is profound ugliness and sorrow.
Restoration of that relationship is the primary message of God's messengers.
God is calling His people together and to Himself in this Advent season.
"One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple." - Paslm 27:4
The Greeks had a curious concept of beauty. It had to do with the relationship between the common word for beauty and the word for hour. Something truly beautiful had come to its hour much as the fruit is most fragrant and delectable at the hour of its ripeness.
David understood that the beauty of God was eternal. It transcended time and space. If he could linger in the presence of God all the days of his life, none of God’s beauty would diminish.
There would be no decay.
God is consistently beautiful and is the very logos behind all beauty. All that we consider lovely in the arts and in nature finds its perfect form in Him.
For that reason every work of art or music that is offered to God is to be a reflection of His loveliness. Every edifice of architecture, every sonnet, every work of literature, every dramatic presentation or dance, all of these and more are to be the best we can give that He may be honored and His beauty, through us made manifest.
We are to give God our best and trust Him to supply the rest.
For David, beholding the beauty of God was a step toward inquiring of Him. He knew that he could gaze upon God in whatever way He disclosed Himself as a means of meditating upon His truth.
In doing so, David could meet God and so can we.
The God of all beauty views His relationship with His people a thing of beauty, like a marriage.
Anything that threatens that relationship, even vain and empty religious practices, but especially violence and injustice, is like a divorce. It is ugly. It is heartbreaking.
He sends His messengers to restore the breached relationship... and every relationship broken by that primary breach ... to restore the beauty.
Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob anyone who does this—any to witness or answer, or to bring an offering to the Lord of hosts.
And this you do as well: You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor at your hand. You ask, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his. And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
The theme continues, and we find ourselves in the house of Zechariah.
God's still longs to gather His people together to Himself.
In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
A new messenger is arriving in the person of John the Baptist. John will announce the coming of the Lord, the Bridegroom, the God of beauty.
David often failed God, but He never lost his longing for God's presence. He had tasted the sweetness of an intimate relationship with the Holy One, and he longed to dwell in God's presence for all the days of his life.
May that be our passion as well.
Consider these words of the Lord throughout the day.
Scriptures from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.