In the beginning, God created a breathtakingly beautiful universe. And then God created men and women with eyes, minds, and souls to appreciate his creation and to be inspired by it. He made them not only with an eye to behold his beauty, but to dream, imagine and create in their own right. The design of the tabernacle as described in Exodus is one example of this creative force at work in man:
See I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:2-5).
There is a place for “art for art’s sake.” Beauty brings joy, and joy is something God wants for us. “And he decorated the house [the Temple] with precious stones for beauty” (2 Chronicles 3:6). Art does not need to have a “use.”
In addition to being beautiful, art can also relate to mission. The gospel is a message that can be conveyed and understood through art; God’s very existence is shouted aloud by the magnificence of Creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” as Psalm 19:1 says. The beauty of the Tabernacle was also meant to tell us something about God and his holiness. Art can be a medium that connects our earthbound existence with the reality of a transcendent Creator.
And because we are made in God’s image, we too can create. Even if we cannot wield a paintbrush, we are moment by moment choosing to create our lives in conformity with Yeshua, or we are not. Our lives are works of art. “See the art in me,” sings the music group Jars of Clay. “You show that you are a letter from Messiah . . . written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3).
This edition of Havurah includes contributions from several Jewish believers who employ the visual arts to convey meaning and truth to others. Enjoy their reflections, listen to their stories, and where possible use your own artistic abilities—and your life—to speak of our Messiah. And if you’ve created art that does just that, we’d like to hear about it.