Art is a common language that can be shared all over the world. Twice I had the incredible opportunity to travel outside the United States and observe the art culture in two diverse locations: Italy and Israel. Both locales were in stark difference to the U.S. by the virtue of time. Compared to us these cultures are both very old. Our guide in Rome assured us, as we gazed upon ancient ruins and massive sculptures, that they didn’t consider their country old, because they compared it to places like Mesopotamia. But to us from the states, the juxtaposition of the ancient right next to the contemporary was fascinating…and even more so in Israel. In moments of reverence and awe we stood before the wailing wall and offered our written prayers by placing the scrapes of notebook paper with written requests along with thousands of others, between the crevices are large hewn rock. Then, like millions throughout the centuries, we stood before that wall and prayed from our hearts to the God of the universe.
When King Solomon was overseeing the building of the temple in Israel, the book of I Kings brings out how intensely the buildings were decorated. Often the artistic themes were taken from nature:
He decorated all the walls of the inner sanctuary and the main room with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid the floor in both rooms with gold.” I Kings 6:29-30 (NLT)
I find it comforting and encouraging, as an artist, that God directed that visual art would be a part of the worship space by design. God made a world with striking beauty and images of the natural world He made adorned the temple in many aspects. There is value in artisitc beauty, especially when that art is used to direct our thoughts higher to the Master Artist, who is worthy of all our praise.