“Look at the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds, which are higher than you.”
Job 35:5 (ESV)
I like thinking about words; when I come across a word that is seldom used, I enjoy challenging my grandchildren for the meaning. One of my favourite words is ‘quintessence’ – I just like the sound of it! Having said that, it is a word used so infrequently. Collins dictionary gives the meaning as: ‘the pure, concentrated essence of anything’ or ‘the most nearly perfect manifestation of a quality or thing.’
Intriguingly, they also offer an ancient interpretation of the word: ‘In ancient and medieval philosophy, the fifth essence, or ultimate substance, of which the heavenly bodies were thought to be composed: distinguished from the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth).’ 1
Could it be that our forefathers thought if something was so totally pure, and so perfect, that they associated it with the invisible?
What are the occasions that we would use the word ‘quintessence’ or ‘quintessential’? For me it is when I see God’s amazing creation. Be it a new baby, a tiny brave spring flower or a majestic mountain – these are all quintessentially of God. They are expressions of His perfection, goodness and greatness.
King David discovered this when he wrote in Psalm 8:3-4: ‘When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?’
The prophet Isaiah felt the same way, he writes: ‘Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.’ Isaiah 40:26 (NIV).
As God’s children we may ponder on what our heavenly Father looks like, but the Bible does reveal who God is, and quintessentially He is love (1 John 4:8). Moreover ‘we do see Jesus’ (Hebrews 2: 9) who is revealed as ‘the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word’ (Hebrews 1:3). Let’s continue to marvel at the incredible quintessence of Him – and give thanks.
Wonderful Father in heaven, we thank you for your wonderful creation that manifests all that is pure and perfect about you. Amen.
Study by Irene Wilson
About the writer:
Irene Wilson is a deaconess in the Watford congregation of Grace Communion International, and also serves on the Pastoral Council.
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