Interpretation of Baptistry Picture

Tom Bean, Texas - December 1943

This picture is not a true likeness of any particular spot in Texas. It is a grouping of your native trees around any calm stream in your state in the late spring, when the bluebonnets are in bloom.

In the sunset of the picture is painted the symbol of the gospel and in the stream, trees, path and sheep are the evidence of Gods creation. His love and providential care.

Its purpose is not to distract from the gospel preached by word from the pulpit but to supplement it, as a background that the eye see God through the things of his creation. For in him were all things created in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible.

It is my sincere prayer in reproducing nature upon this canvas that as you look from week to week upon the results of this effort now before you, you are caused to look through "nature up to natures God". If under its influence you are made to appreciate the work of the Creator keenly and to study nature as the countenance of God. If in a word you can discern more clearly the "heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handy work, its purpose will have been accomplished.

God put in the wilderness – "the trees – that we might see and know and understand together that the hand of Jehovah hath done this and the Holy One of Israel hath created it." Isaiah 41:20

God reveals himself in two books, the book of Inspiration and the book of Nature, they supplement each other in writing upon the human heart the understanding of the ways, the thoughts, the will, the love, the power of the Majestic beauty of God Almighty.

Oh that we might have the soul of the psalmist to sing songs of praise and exaltation to our God, when we behold the majestic beauty of a sunset, and looking beyond its glory and brightness of the sun and see our God as a "Sun and a shield" and that the glorious display of the heavens are declaring the glory of God.

The sweetest Singer of Israel said that and more. He saw the darkness enfold the earth as a mantle when the last rosy tint faded and the stars came forth one by one until the whole of heaven was a myriad of stars. He recalled the creation, and said, "the firmament showeth the handwork of God". The darkness fades as the sun like a "bridegroom coming out of his chamber and rejoices as a strong man to run his course", rises above the horizon and its shafts of light come between the trees to light the path and make a halo around every sheep. The sheep which are the sheep of God's pasture. David the shepherd boy said, looking on the path now a ribbon of light. God's word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It became unto him "the path of justice" – and "a path of righteousness" – a path upon which he must ponder that he might not cause that which is lame to stumble" – as they trod the path of life which leads to the "highway of Zion" – "The way of Holiness," the way the unclean shall not pass over, but it shall be for the redeemed.

Does not the sheep and the path of the picture cause you to think of "The Lord is my Sheppard I shell not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul. He quideth me is the paths of righteousness for his names sake." Ps 23:1-3

God brought Israel a vine out of Egypt. He drove out the nations before them, and planted it in a place large enough that it took deep root and filled the land. The mountain was covered with the shadow of it and the boughs there of were like cedars of God, but Israel became as the haughty cedar and the proud oak. They were no longer trees that God delighted in (Here the trees are a figure of God's people Israel) he would bring them low as an oak the once green and beautiful it should become as an oak whose leaves fadeth. I have the oak painted with young and tender leaves filled with sap and drinking of the stream at it's roots. We can visualize it as it would be in a few weeks full leafed and beautiful as a child of God a tree of righteousness drinking deeply of "the stream of life" that "living water" stream which Jesus told the Samaritan woman, "every one that drinketh of this water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life."

We can also visualize that oak strangled with Spanish moss though its roots are well watered, compare it to a Christian that becomes immersed in sin although he may drink of the word of God – They like the Jewish nation which has "truly been brought low. That which was once strong should become low and his works a spark and they shall burn together and not be quenched."

Another example of Israel's lost estate, look at the weeping willow on the left of the picture. The willow was once a token of joy and thanksgiving, to the Jews at the feast of the Tabernacle. But when they were in Babylonian captivity, it became a token of sorrow.

" By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps Upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song: And they that wasted us required of us mirth, Saying, Sing us one of the songs of zion. How shall we sing he Lord's song in a strange land? " Ps 137:1-4

Like a father who pampers a child Jehovah God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there he put the man whom he had formed - "In God's own image man was made to glorify and praise- The Lord who formed him from the dust. The ancient of days" – and out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. Because Adam hearkened unto the voice of his wife and ate of the tree God commanded him not to eat, Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, and placed a flame of a sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life." Even then our God loved man whom he had created. Though he put enmity between the devil and woman and between his seed and the woman's seed – but the seed of the woman would bruise his head, and the evidence of that fulfillment is seen in the cross. In the picture you see a cross like a shaft of light the symbol of Christ the light of the world. He pierced the clouds of sin and misunderstanding. Came bringing light and hope to all men fulfilling prophesy. "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light: and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up" Matthew 4:16

Let us give thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light who delivered us out of the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the son of his love in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins He who tasted death for every man, having become perfect through sufferings became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation and brings us "to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Rev. 2:7

Have you not made objects of the fleecy clouds. Look in the clouds of the picture above the cross you see a dove hovering over the cross. What more beautiful could symbolize the spirit of God who is our comforter than the dove, a symbol of peace and joy-

When Jesus was baptized, "the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Luke 3:22

The dove was a sacrificial type of our Savior. So here in the sun, the cross and the dove are things to remind us of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The water completes the gospel painted on this canvas. There are three on earth that hear witness: the spirit, the water and the blood.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are the fundamental facts upon which the entire gospel rests. They were the climax in God"s scheme of redemption.

In the water you see the symbol of the Savior's grave from whence he arose in glory to reign supreme.

The penitent believer, that his sins may be washed away in the blood of the lamb, is also buried with Christ in the watery grave of baptism. Romans 6:3-5 II Timothy 2:11-12

"Except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ." John 3:5

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" Mark 16:16

The birds and the flowers of the picture remind us of God's love and providential care as our savior so beautifully said "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add on cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought of raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, nether do they spin: And yet I say unto you , that even Solomon in all his glory was no arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Matthew 6:26-30

As the water mirrors that which is above, may you reflect Christ – is my prayer.

Blanch G. Perry