In the Scriptures, beauty is inseparably related to God and His salvation. The Scriptures speak of the natural ugliness of sinful man and of the beauty of salvation in Jesus Christ, while warning against false beauty in the working out of that salvation. The Hebrew word means bright, fair, comely, and glorious. The word in the Greek has the basic meaning of hour; then, belonging to the right hour, timely; and finally, flourishing and beautiful.
The Lord our God is a beautiful God! The desire of the saints is “to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4) and to have the beauty of the Lord upon them (Ps. 90:17). The beauty of the Lord is especially His holiness according to which He is without any sin and perfectly dedicated unto Himself. He is to be worshiped in the beauty of holiness (Ps. 29:2). God is graceful, charming, glorious. He is the God of truth, and truth is beauty. Because God dwelled in Jerusalem, the city of God was “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Ps. 48:2). “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined” (Ps. 50:2). Because they proclaim the wonderful salvation of God, the feet of gospel preachers are beautiful upon the mountains (Isaiah 52:7).
When the gospel of Jesus Christ comes to men throughout the world, it finds them without any soundness, but covered with “wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Is. 1:6). In salvation, God gives His people beauty for ashes (Is. 61:3), clothes them with beautiful garments (Is. 52:1), and beautifies the meek with salvation (Ps. 149:4). By the Word and Spirit, undone, ugly sinners are recreated after the image of God with the beauty, loveliness, and glory of God Himself. Thus they are made fit to dwell with Him in the new Jerusalem.
Although the outstanding Old Testament types of Christ, Moses, and David were beautiful children, this could not be said of Christ Himself. Very strikingly, the One whom God sent to beautify the church with salvation was not beautiful! “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Is. 53:2). It would be an understatement to say that Jesus was plain in appearance, for “His visage was so marred more than any man” (Is. 52:14); He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3); there was nothing physically attractive about the Son of God in our flesh. Undoubtedly God had a purpose with this. Men must not be drawn to the Christ for the wrong reasons: the stature of a Saul (I Sam. 9:2), the unblemished beauty of an Absalom (II Sam. 14:25), or the suave charisma of a modern-day religious leader. We must hear and believe on His words which are always gracious (Luke 4:22), for the words which He speaks, “they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63).
There is a lot of emphasis on physical beauty today, the beauty of a Delilah, a Bathsheba, or an Esther. Young men must be warned not to lust after this beauty in their hearts, nor to be taken with their eyelids (Prov. 6:25). Godly wives are reminded that “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30). The multibillion dollar industries of fashion, cosmetics, beauty parlors, and body-toning salons, with the vain beauty they encourage, are a far cry from the beauty that is more than skin deep, that endures unto endless ages, and that is pleasing to God.
Ezekiel speaks of all that God has done for His people in making them exceedingly beautiful and prosperous as a kingdom. “Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through my comeliness, saith the Lord God.” But Judah trusted in her own beauty, of which she had none, and God pronounced woe upon her (Ezek. 16:14, 15, 23). Jesus sounded a warning against outward show and hypocrisy in religion when He told the scribes and Pharisees that they were beautiful on the outside, but within full of dead men’s bones (Matt. 23:27). Whited sepulchers reveal this in showy giving, prayers, and church attendance.
Although the Bible does not condemn all outward adorning such as the plaiting of the hair, wearing of gold, and putting on of apparel, it does condemn the notion that such things comprise true adorning (I Pet. 3:3). As men and women of God, we are interested in being truly manly and beautiful. True beauty for the woman is to have the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. The stalwart man is the man of knowledge and prayer (I Pet. 3:4, 7). When God beautifies the meek with salvation, He begins that work in the heart, which He alone sees. From the heart that inner beauty radiates through all our lives so that with Jesus we “increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). When we die, we shall awaken immediately with the likeness of our glorified Lord, the beauty of the Lord God shall be upon us, and we shall be satisfied. And when Christ returns, He will make the entire creation beautiful with the glory of God.