A couple of years ago, I was preparing for a mission trip to the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina, and it came time to head up for the trip orientation. With it being my first time, I did not want to go alone, so I convinced a good friend of mine to head up to the reservation with me.

Well, we decided it would be fun to take a little detour and go through Clemson, catch some lunch with a couple of our students, and then we could shoot to Cherokee using the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The time to go came, we jump in the car, the conversation was going on, and we made it to Clemson. We go to lunch, jump back in the car, and head to the mountains. It wasn’t long until we hit the parkway, and almost immediately the conversation stopped. Suddenly, we begin to look upon the beauty of the mountains. You know what I’m talking about. The trees, the streams running down, every once in awhile an animal. It even seemed like the winding roads had a beauty about them up in the mountains.

It was truly amazing gazing upon the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We can all think of something in our mind that we thought was beautiful, so we just sat there and gazed. Have we ever been like David, in Psalm 27, where we just sit and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord? Let’s look at what David says:

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4

David says he has one thing that he asks – the only thing he wants to do is to sit and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in the house of the Lord. So, we have to ask the question, “How is the Lord beautiful, and how does his house, the one that David desires to dwell in, how does it show us the beauty of the Lord?”

1. We see the beauty of the Lord as He dwells with His people.

First, he sees the beauty of the Lord in his dwelling. See the Lord dwelt in the temple – in his house. This temple, during the time of David, was not very elaborate. In fact, it was only a tent.

We see this tent elsewhere in the Bible. Specifically; one occurrence in the Exodus narrative. We all probably know the story pretty well, but if you do not let me give you the run-down.

You can split Exodus into three major sections: Chapters 1-18, 19-24, and then, 25-40. Three 4-letter words can summarize these sections: bush, hill, and tent. In Exodus 1-18, the Lord is the God of the bush, where he promises to deliver his people. In Exodus 19-24, the Lord is the God of the hill, where he speaks from the smoking mountain and tells his people how to live. Finally, in Exodus 25-40, the Lord is the God of the tent where he dwells with his people.

God says in Exodus 25:8, “and they shall make for me a sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst.” The climax of the entire Exodus narrative is that the Lord dwells with his people. He cannot get close enough to them, he has to be among them! It is easy to stop and say that the crossing of the Red Sea is the climax, or maybe even the rock spewing water. The real climax the most important thing to the Lord is God being in the midst of his people.

The Lord, in Exodus 25, comes down and makes himself known to his people. God desires to be close to them, He must be among them. This is fleshed out even more for us in the New Testament. John 1:1,14 says, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God…and the word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

To draw more emphasis on this, “And the word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” (Jn 1:14) This becomes even more personal for the believer as Jesus says, “and if anyone loves me, we will come to him and we will make our home with him.” (Jn. 14:23) We see the beauty of the Lord in his dwelling with His people.

And our God, he is only not the God of the flaming bush or the smoking mountain. He is the God of the tent who wants nothing more than to dwell in the midst of His people. He can’t get close enough. He must be with them.

And this means something to us because we know he is near. Because he dwells with his people, we can know for certain that no matter the situation, he is with us. Even when it seems like he is absent, he is there and he is not silent. As believers, our God makes his home with us, and that is beautiful.

2. We see the beauty of the Lord as He reveals Himself to His people.

We have to place ourselves in the shoes of David for a minute. We have to look around the temple of God, the house of God. We have to remember what is present in that temple; that tent.

In the house of God, we find two tablets, and on those two tablets, we see God’s commanding word – his covenant will for his people. See, God has revealed his will to his people. He has shown us, and told us, his covenant law – he tells us how to live. See there is something beautiful about God – YHVH – revealing his will to his people.

When we look at the Exodus narrative, we see the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). Here we see that God establishes them for his people. He says, “I have delivered you, I have made you my people, and now this is how I want you to live” (Ex. 20:1). We know it! There is no confusion. God reveals himself and his call to obedience.

That does not happen in other religions. We have a God who beautifully reveals himself and his will to us, even if sometimes, we do not like it. There is something to be said about knowing exactly where you stand. There is also something beautiful about knowing the truth, and knowing exactly what we are supposed to do and be.

This is the beauty of God’s revelation. He is our God, who speaks to us. He is clear. Many times we fail, and many times we do not like it, but it is all for our good. It is all to mold us and make us more like Christ.

3. We see the beauty of the Lord as He nourishes His people.

Looking into the temple, we see a table and on the table, we see the “showbread.” This bread is not there for God to eat, but it is there to show us something about God. It is there to remind his people that the Lord sustains his people.

Going back to the Exodus narrative, in chapter 17, we see God providing and sustaining his people as he drops manna from Heaven. David dwells on this, and he remembers the beauty of the Lord is unlike anything that he has ever seen before. God in his nourishment – his sustaining his people – is unlike anything that any unbeliever around him, and even around us, has ever witnessed.

Moreover, what is on David’s mind as he writes, “and you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5).

This is not God grabbing a Big Mac in the drive-thru at McDonald’s. This is God preparing a table – a feast – before us. Therefore, we can sit and eat. We can enjoy the meal. We can do this even in the presence of our enemies. We learn something from this, if the Lord can sustain us there, we must ask the question, “Is there anywhere that he can’t nourish and sustain you?”

Christian, you do not have to hold up or carry the Lord, he holds you up and carries you. The Lord is beautiful in his nourishment.

4. We see the beauty of the Lord as He provides atonement for His people.

In the temple, there was a bronze altar as soon as you walk in. This was the altar that the priest would spread the blood of the sacrifices. This also was the Old Testament sacrifice system. This was not a system set up for God’s people to bribe their way to forgiveness. No, the sacrifices we see in the Old Testament are an act of faith, using the gifts of God’s provision.

This is where looking at Leviticus helps. God says, in reference to sacrifices, “I have given it for you, to place on the altar to make an atonement for souls” (Lev. 17:11). Here God is proclaiming that this is a gift for you, a gift of grace, to have fellowship with the Lord.

What is beautiful about this? Well, it shows us that God is the one who deals with our guilt. God is the one that deals with my sins. My life is paid for with the life of a substitute.

This brings Jesus quickly to our minds. He is our substitute. We are forgiven, proclaimed not guilty in the sight of God because our life has been paid with another. God is the only Judge who took his judgment upon himself.

When something is so familiar to our minds, we quickly pass it over. In times like these, we must be like King David. We must dwell on the atoning work of Christ because God has dealt with our sins. We have an advocate, a substitute, taking our place so that we can have fellowship with our beautiful Lord.

This is a part of the beauty of the Lord, in his atonement. He takes us, filthy sinners, and makes us clean.

I love the old hymn, There is a Fountain Filled with Blood, as it beautifully sings about the forgiveness of sins,

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

May God open our eyes even more to His beauty, as he dwells with us, reveals himself to us, nourishes and sustains us, and deals with our sin and guilt.