Copyright © Jonathan Martinovici 2019
In this session, we will be considering the abilities God gave to man, or the faculties God gave to man, and emphasising the fact that these abilities are good, because they belong to the nature that God gave to man when He first created them. This will be important as we get to the next section about “The Difficulty of Evaluating Art”, because we will consider in the next session that these abilities have been corrupted and this corruption influences our ability to properly evauate anything, including art.
Genesis 1:26 tells us that God made man in His own image, and gave them dominion over all the creatures:
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.””
To be made in God’s image means that we are like God in some way. God gave human beings dominion over the earth. This is one way we are like God, because God is the ruler of the universe – He has dominion over everything.
Colossians 3:9-10 tells us that one part of God’s image in man is knowledge:
“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him”.
When God created man, man was good.
Ecclesiastes 7:29 says:
“Truly, this only I have found:
That God made man upright,
But they have sought out many schemes.””
Proverbs 2:1-9 speaks of knowledge, wisdom and discernment as gifts from God, and as important to our relationship with Him, and therefore good:
“My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.”
Human beings naturally understand God’s law, even if they have not read God’s word, the Bible, because God has revealed it in their consciences, so that they sense right and wrong. Romans 2:14-15 says:
“for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them”.
Aside dominion, and wisdom, knowledge, discernment, understanding, etc. God gave man other abilities for the exercising of dominion over the earth, including Music, Visual Arts, Speech, Writing, Dancing, and such like. We will consider these next.
As we noted earlier, Genesis 1:26 teaches that God gave man dominion over the creatures. This means that God gave man abilities to carry on this dominion. We will survey these briefly now.
God gave man the gift of speech. God and man spoke to each other from the very beginning.
Genesis 1:29-30 gives one example of God speaking to man in the beginning:
“And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.”
God gave man speech for speaking about the world. Genesis 2:19-20 recounts that Adam named the animals:
“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.”
God also made speech for human beings to communicate with each other. Genesis 2:21-23 recounts Adam speaking to his wife, Eve, before the Fall:
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.””
Music is a gift from God, and is therefore a good thing. Psalm 33:1-3 says:
“Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”
God also gave man abilities for visual arts. Exodus 31:1-11 shows how God gifted particular people artistically when making the tabernacle:
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.
” “And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tabernacle of meeting, the ark of the Testimony and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tabernacle— the table and its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base— the garments of ministry, the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests, and the anointing oil and sweet incense for the holy place. According to all that I have commanded you they shall do.””
God also gave man the gift of dance. In Psalm 150:4 we read:
“Praise Him with the timbrel and dance”.
We will close this section with James 1:17:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Making art is one way we exercise our dominion over the earth. We shape the world around us through art. We communicate with each other through art. We shape each other’s minds through art.