Aesthetic Delight: God, Creation and You

Aesthetic Delight: God, Creation and You!

Pasquale MingarelliBy Pasquale Mingarelli5 Minutes

As a nature photographer, so often I feel compelled by nature’s beauty to go grab my camera. This could be when I walk in our garden, hike at a local nature preserve or head to the mountains. When I look around me through my lens, one thing stands clear about God; He knows how to create! No wonder Genesis tells us God saw His creation as “very good.”

So, what does that mean to us today that God make a very good creation back in Genesis? Well, it does tell us many things.  First, it tells us something about the original world God created and why nature is beautiful.  But it also tells something about God and it tells something about us.

Creation: God’s Very Good, Aesthetic Delight

Looking at the phrase “very good” in the original Hebrew writing of the Bible will help us discover some things. The Hebrew phase translated to “very good” is “tob (or tov) meod”. Elsewhere in the Bible, God uses this very same phase to describe beautiful women. The phrase “tob meod” is translated “very beautiful” when describing the beauty of Sarah, Rebekah, and Bathsheba. So, when Genesis describes God’s creation it describes it as a work of beauty — it describes it as a work of art.

According to Brian S. Chan in his book The Purple Curtain, the phrase “tob meod” means “a very great aesthetic delight which evokes a reaction of pleasure in someone.” It describes a breath-taking contemplative beauty or a beauty we pause to admire. It’s a beauty that grabs hold of us. Simply put, God took great pleasure in His creation just by looking upon it!

Though tainted by sin, that very good creation still exists today.  When I go hiking, I simply often want to sit down and pause to take in the overwhelming beauty I see with my eyes, I hear with my ears and smell with my nose. I’ve journeyed to places where the beauty strikes one in the heart so much that one just needs to stop, breathe deeply, and take it all in.

That’s what God did when he called His creation “very good” in Genesis.

Contentment in Our Art

Beside mentioning a very good creation in Genesis 1 and 2, Genesis also states we were made in the image of God. God created us in His image not in a physical way, but in our essence. Most theologians agree that one characteristic of being made in God’s image is that He gave us a desire to create. And this is not just a simple desire to create, but to create like Him.

Wow! So, God designed us with not only a desire to create, but to create things with magnificence and beauty. And just like Him, we are to take pleasure in what we create. This applies to both the act of creating and in the finished work.

If God paused to admire His own work and to find contentment and satisfaction in it, then we ought to find contentment and satisfaction in our own creative work. This not only applies to the visual arts, music, and writing, but also to engineering, architecture, craftsmanship, baking and all other creative disciplines.

So, knowing that God called His creation “very good” tells us that He took artistic delight in it. Knowing He created us in His image tells us that we were made to do the same. When we create, God calls us to create with a sense of contentment and satisfaction. He wants us to take artistic delight in what we make, especially when we pause and gaze upon it.

How about you? How do you find aesthetic delight in what you create?