April 15, 2015

20 Paintings You Don't Want to Miss on 'Eden to Eden' Tour

Visitors will never look at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s headquarters in the same way again.

The foyer and atrium of the church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, have been transformed into an art gallery that takes viewers on a journey from Adam and Eve’s garden home some 6,000 years ago to the Earth made new after Jesus’ return.

The 78 paintings of the “Eden to Eden” collection portray God’s guiding hand in the activities of His people down through the ages and now in the Adventist Church ahead of His soon return, said Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church.

“It pulls you in,” Wilson told top church leaders at a dedication of the permanent exhibition this week.

“When you visit ‘Eden to Eden,’ you will see how God has led His people every step of the way,” said Wilson, who began work on the exhibit shortly after being elected president in 2010.

The paintings — selected by Adventist artist Lars Justinen and Tanya Holland, design manager at the Adventist world church’s communication department — bring together beloved classics by artists such as Harry Anderson and contemporary works by Nathan Greene, Steve Creitz, and Justinen himself.

The paintings in the exhibit are handsome replicas, printed on canvas and hung in frames. The exhibit was conceived, constructed, and implemented by FlipTV, an Adventist-operated production company in Laurel, Maryland.

“Eden to Eden” aims to help visitors, church members, and church employees immediately understand as they enter the building that the Adventist Church’s headquarters is a highly spiritual and religious center, Wilson said in an interview.

“Visitors need to fully appreciate the great controversy theme that is being played out before the universe and that soon Jesus will come as the Victor,” he said.

A downloaded MP3 tour in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French is in the works. Visitors will be able to download the tour on their cell phones or other portable electronic devices and listen to it through their own ear buds or earphones. The English-language tour will be narrated by evangelist Mark Finley.

“I want you to know that after ‘Eden to Eden,’ the General Conference will never be the same again,” exhibit coordinator Williams S. Costa Jr., communication director of the Adventist world church, said at the dedication ceremony.

Here are 20 paintings that Justinen, creative director of the “Eden to Eden” collection, chose to showcase for Adventist Review readers:

Artist: Lars JustinenTitle: “The Substitute”When sin separated Adam and Eve from the presence of God and the effects of sin began to settle upon a fallen world, a merciful Creator revealed that a plan for redemption and restoration had been provided. But that plan would require a sacrificial substitute, the Creator Himself. Faith in this promise of a coming Savior was demonstrated by obeying the command to sacrifice an innocent animal.
Artist: Harry AndersonTitle: “The Bow of Promise”After the destruction of the Antediluvian world by a worldwide flood, the ark, built by Noah and preserved by God, came to rest on Mount Ararat as the waters receded. The tragic rejection of God’s offer to save all who would enter the ark was heartbreaking to Noah’s family, and, of course, to the Creator. Not wanting His children to live under fear of another flood God said to Noah  “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth” (Genesis 9:12, 13).

Artist: Lars Justinen and Steve Creitz collaboration
Artist: Lars JustinenTitle: “Miracle of the Manna”With hundreds of thousands of mouths to feed, only a miracle would allow the former slaves of Egypt to journey through the uninhabited wilderness. And that miracle was manna, which God supplied for 40 years, or about 14,600 days. This food of Heaven provided for all their nutritional needs. Each morning it was gathered from the land around the camp, enough to supply the needs of a single day. If more was gathered, it would spoil overnight. Except that manna gathered on Friday. That manna would last throughout the following Sabbath day.
Artist: Lars JustinenTitle: “Nehemiah at the Ruins of Jerusalem”“But I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemian 2:3). Nehemiah was a leader of the Jewish exiles and Cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. God put the burden on Nehemiah’s heart to begin the process of rebuilding Jerusalem, and, with the blessing and help of the king, the restoration began, as prophesied by Daniel.
Artist: Harry AndersonTitle: “Star of Bethlehem”Far to the east men of noble birth and high intellect studied the ancient prophecies. They understood a Holy One was to be born and the time prophecies be completed. "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel …” (Numbers 24:17). Daniel had told them when, and Balaam’s prophecy explained where. Now these wise men knew what they must do. They must honor this new Messiah, though the journey be long and dangerous.
 Artist: Lars JustinenTitle: “Divine Classroom”Jesus’ ministry and popularity grew, as did the crowds anxious to hear His teachings and be healed by His miraculous touch. He frequently taught in the Temple courts, but more often out in nature, where the crowds could more easily gather and where God’s handiwork might be more easily displayed. As the psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament shows His handiwork” Psalms 19:1.
 Artist: Harry AndersonTitle: “In Remembrance of Me”Christ’s final meal with his disciples before his crucifixion was filled with solemn symbols. The unfermented wine passed from person to person represented His blood, soon to be spilled for all. A loaf, ripped into pieces and passed along spoke of His broken body, as well as the sustenance believers receive in personally taking these into our bodies, symbolic of accepting His sacrifice to atone for our sins. “Do this,” He said, “in remembrance of Me” Luke 22:19.
 Artist: Harry AndersonTitle: “Golgotha’s Shadow”The darkest day in Earth’s history was also its greatest day of hope. “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5, 6).
 Artist: Lars Justinen, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists CollectionTitle: “Down From the Cross”As the Friday of Christ’s death waned, wealthy men arranged to have Jesus’ body taken down from the cross and buried in a grave originally prepared for a rich man. Hundreds of years earlier the prophet Isaiah had written:  “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, He will see his offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand” (Isaiah 53:9,10).
 Artist: Lars Justinen, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists CollectionTitle: “I Am the Resurrection”"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25). Christ’s deliverance from death becomes our hope of an eternity with Him!

Artist: Jes William SchlaikjerTitle: “A Prisoner for the Gospel”Paul, once a bitter foe of the new Christian church, was converted personally by Christ and became the great missionary apostle to the Gentiles. Through hunger, shipwrecks, stonings and rejection he stayed true to his faith, even proclaiming before kings, “I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:29).
Artist: Lars JustinenTitle: “The Church Today”“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Today the followers of Jesus continue to obey His commandment to share with the people around us the Good News, that God is love and that He has come to give us life, and that more abundantly.
 Artist: Harry AndersonTitle: “The Advocate”Man’s deeds are judged against God’s perfect law. But man is sinful, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God …” Yet, Christ died so we would not be abandoned to suffer the wages of sin. He offers His righteousness as a substitute for our sinfulness. “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” We “all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).
 Artist: Lars JustinenTitle: “Watching”The Holy Scriptures command us to watch for the return of our Savior. “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This is the blessed hope for every child of God, to see Jesus face to face and live forever in the home God intended His children to have."
Artist: Steve Creitz, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists CollectionTitle: “Before Jesus’ Throne”God’s people, delivered from the broken earth and sin, live in Heaven for 1,000 years, learning what it is to be citizens of God’s Universe, and ambassadors of His Grace. “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev 20:4).
Artist: Lars Justinen and Steve Creitz collaborationTitle: "Streets of Gold"In vision, the apostle John saw heaven. He said, “[An angel] carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. …The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass” (Revelation 21). Our imaginations are too finite and feeble to even begin to imagine the wonders of God’s creation unblemished by sin.

Artist: Paul RemmeyTitle: “Eternal Home”“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We know that the greatest joys and wonders of this life are but faint reflections of the world to come. Our language is too limited to describe that world, but we know that He who created us knows what gives us the greatest fulfillment and purpose.
 Artist: Nathan GreeneTitle: “The Lion and the Lamb”God is a lover of the beautiful, of the peaceful, of the hopeful. The world He has created for His created children is safe and eternal. No longer will violence and pain create fear and suffering in our lives. He who blessed the little children when He was on earth, will again bless them in the earth made new.
Artist: Nathan GreeneTitle: “The Family of God”God promised Abraham that One would come to unite us, and to save us from our great enemy. “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed” (Genesis 26:4). He is our Brother, our Example, our Master, and King. Most importantly, He longs to be in our midst. When on earth living as a man, Jesus prayed for us: He asked that we “may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:21-23).

Justinen explained why he chose these 20 paintings:

“In choosing these 20, I have focused on paintings that have a lucid and dramatic visual appeal, images that communicate clearly a Scriptural event and stimulate our imaginations,” he said. “I included paintings that are new to most people, some having been painted just within the past year. Some are classics that never get old, such as the great works of Harry Anderson. Some are familiar to many of us, such as the beautiful works of Nathan Greene. And some represent the new art of rising Adventist artists like Steve Creitz.

“All these images should remind the viewer of various parts of the great mosaic arch of mankind’s spiritual journey, the story of how things came to be the way they are, and what God wants us to understand about who He is and what He has planned for us. I hope you find a painting or two that resonates personally with your spiritual journey — art that speaks the unspoken words of the Spirit. Words of hope and faith.”

Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, prays at the opening of the "Eden to Eden" permanent exhibition at the General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, on April 12, 2015. Courtesy of Mylon Medley / ANN