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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Arts: Visual Reminders Help Us to Obey God

Some thoughts on how Christians can use the arts to encourage obedience to God

Numbers 15:38-40

38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Dt. 22:12

Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.

Mt. 23:5

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

The main concern and requirement of God in relationship to those who bear His name is that they walk in obedience to His commandments. In the verses above, we get a simple but effective look at how God gave instructions so His people could be helped in remembering His commands, and to obey them.

In Matthew 23:5 we also see how something as simple and humble as that was abused by the religious leaders of Jesus' day, when they lengthened the cords on the fringe or tassels, depending on the version being read, for the purpose of positioning themselves as superior to other people. Jesus hated this, and called them out on it, among other things.

The fact this was a law given by God to the children of Israel, meant these were to be seen, in the same fashion we are to let our lights shine before men. We don't do these things in order to attract attention, but neither do we neglect to do them when in the presence of people, or interacting with them. That's why they were commanded to display them for all to see. It reminded them of their responsibility before God, but also revealed it to the world.

The word "borders" in Mt. 23:5 is the same as fringe, cords or tassels mentioned in the book of Numbers.

The point in bringing these verses up is they represent a methodology employed by God to help His people to remember to reflect on the laws of God, and of course to obey them. When the blue cord was viewed it called to their attention the commandments of God and the required obedience to them.

Color Blue

The color blue is mentioned here in reference to the cord because it represented the law throughout the Bible. It was in this case a tool God gave His people to trigger remembrance of what He expected of them.

Four corners of cloak or outer garment

In Dt. 22:12 when it mentions making "fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture" in the King James version, it's simply another way of saying making fringes on the four corners of an outer garment or cloak.

What's important there is the number four refers to creation in the Bible, and it without a doubt means, when included with remembering God's laws, is that we are to take dominion on the earth by doing so in accordance with the revealed will of God in the Holy Scriptures.

Do Not Love the World

1 John 2:15-17

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

I think it's obvious that Numbers 15:39, when saying these things should be done in order "that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes," was what John was thinking of when penning the portion of his letter above. 

Even when we're attempting to do things for and unto God, it must be done in according to what is revealed in His word. If not, we will only do that which we are seeking for ourselves. It's one of the reasons there is so much failure in works thought to be done in the name of God, when in reality they're works we've conjured up in our own minds and hearts, from what we've seen naturally and in accordance with our own wills.

Artistic relevance

What I wanted to call attention to in this article is that those with interest in the arts, including all segments of the sector - illustration, writing, video, audio, music, audio, and any other means of communicating through artistic skills, should use these verses as a foundation to work from.

Art in all its forms, needs to be primarily used by Christians as a means of stimulating and triggering the memories of people to learn and obey the commands of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. This can be done in a plethora of ways - both subtle and obvious - but it should be the end or our artistic endeavors.

The point is the color blue and the fringes or tassels are part of the fashion of the people of God in that day, and they were included in the clothes they wore as part of the means of stirring them up to walk in obedience to God.

In the end, we are to be shown beauty, holiness, God's law, God's character, and all the things revealed in the Bible, by creative Christians, in order to stimulate God's people to remember and adhere to what God has commanded.

The arts have been among the worst abusers of talent, as they have represented, probably more than any area of life, what the world is and enticing people to participate in the "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."

Christians need to totally buy back or redeem this area of life by creating all sorts of wholesome and compelling works that glorify God and remind, challenge and call people to walk in obedience to Him.

And as the challenge of Jesus to the religious leaders of His day shows, it must be done in a way that the creatives themselves are totally sold out to understanding God's commands and walking in obedience to them. Just doing something creative isnt' enough, it must be reinforced by the lives being lived by the artistic people creating things.

Also important, doing it for the sole purpose of being seen and implying you're more spiritual than someone else, just because you can create a quality piece of work, means we would be doing nothing more than those people Jesus strongly rebuked for doing things only for show.

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