Make: Art in Scripture

Shhhh! Can you keep a secret? I have found a golden nugget, and because we are friends, I’d like to share it with you. May I? Tucked snugly into the second chapter of the Bible is a Hebrew word that gives validity (and purpose) to the task of creating.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

(Genesis 2:15)

Key in on the word for “work.” The Hebrew term is avodah, and it’s like a beautiful, nerdy onion: it contains layers of literary meaning. Although it’s mainly been boiled down in this verse to “work” in English, elsewhere in Scripture it is translated as “make,” “serve,” “worship,” and “do something wonderful.”

The Lord tasks His crowning creation to make things, to serve Him, to worship by doing something wonderful with their surroundings. Even now, after the fall, our primary purpose is to point the world to His goodness by the creative ways we live and love. Avodah shows that art isn’t just for hippies or toddlers: it is a form of work, a way of worship, a chance to join God in doing something wonderful.

Need other biblical grounds for making stuff? I’m so glad you asked!

He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

(Exodus 35:35)

You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for My priesthood.

(Exodus 28:3)

David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

(1 Chronicles 15:16)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:10)

She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

(Proverbs 31:24)

He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

(1 Samuel 8:13)

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.

(Jeremiah 18:3)

My heart is moved by a noble theme as I recite my verses to the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

(Psalm 45:1)

Nowhere in Scripture do we get the idea that creating things is a waste of time. Actually, the opposite is true: weavers, bakers, artists, musicians, and the rest are all seen as making valuable contributions to the kingdom of God. We’re even called His workmanship, masterpieces of the Lord Himself.

There is a strong case in the Bible for creating with and for our Creator. To neglect doing so is to live as thieves. We rob God of that worship. We rob others of the gifts we could offer. We rob ourselves of experiencing the depths of grace that bubble to the top with swirls of color and music and ingredients.

You were chosen specifically for this place at this time. Not to simply pay your bills and die, but to live out the full meaning of avodah: to work, make, serve, worship, and do something wonderful. It’s what we place on the altar as a fragrant gift to the Lord, our very best given joyfully and generously. I can’t wait to see how your life’s offering will turn out! Go forth and make bravely, knowing you are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses who have made before you, cheering you on.

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