A painting of Jesus’ Second Coming that was originally commissioned for the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is being hung in every Adventist high school in North America and in the offices of Adventist Church divisions worldwide.
Adventist artist Nathan Greene joined church president Ted N.C. Wilson and evangelist Mark Finley in handing out digital prints of the painting, “The Blessed Hope,” to the presidents of the 13 church divisions and the Middle East and North Africa Union last week.
A private, anonymous donor paid for the gift to the divisions and high schools.
“I believe it was the donor’s desire, and ours as well, to provide a visual reminder of the hope we have in the Second Coming of Jesus and the reality of the resurrection,” Greene told the Adventist Review.
“In modern life it is easy to be so distracted by the business and background noise of the world around us that we forget what united or pioneers in the beginning and what unites us still: the reality that the Son of God is about to return for us,” Greene said.
The original “Blessed Hope" painting is the centerpiece of the “Eden to Eden” permanent exhibit in the atrium of the world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. The exhibit’s 78 paintings portray Jesus’ guiding hand in the activities of His people down through the ages and now in the Adventist Church.
“The Blessed Hope” aims to offer a culturally diverse depiction of the Second Coming that allows all people to recognize and identify with it, Greene told the Adventist Review ahead of the painting’s unveiling at the General Conference Session in 2010. The painting not only portrays many races of people welcoming Jesus in the clouds but also angels with Caucasian, African-American, Asian-Indian, and Filipino features. The model used for Jesus was half Cuban and half Spaniard.
Finley, whose encouragement prompted Greene to paint “The Blessed Hope" in the first place, spoke with division presidents about the painting at a brief ceremony on the sidelines of the church’s annual Spring Meeting business session.
“The Second Coming of Christ is at the very heart of the biblical message and the Adventist faith. It defines who we are as Seventh-day Adventists,” Finley said in an interview.
Division presidents accepted tubes containing extra-large canvas reproductions of “The Blessed Hope” to take to their home offices. The reproductions measure 5 feet by 3.5 feet (1.5 meters by 1 meter) each, somewhat smaller than the original painting’s 8 feet by 5.5 feet (2.4 meters by 1.8 meters).
“May the gift bring inspiration to all who see it in your division building,” Magdiel E. Perez Schulz, assistant to the president of the Adventist world church, said in an e-mail to the division presidents after the ceremony.
Copies of “The Blessed Hope” are being hung in Adventist academies across North America. The first painting went up at San Gabriel Academy in late February during a visit by Wilson to the school in San Gabriel, California.
Artwork by Greene and Lars Justinen are among the most well-known of any living Adventist artist today. Just days before the ceremony with division presidents, Greene attended the opening of Finley’s new Living Hope Seventh-day Adventist Community Church in nearby Haymarket, Virginia. About 35 copies of his paintings, including “The Blessed Hope,” hang on the walls of the church.
“The picture ‘The Blessed Hope’ helps define who we are,” Finley said. “As it hangs in academies throughout North America and division offices around the world, it will daily remind Seventh-day Adventist young people and leaders of the hope that we have in Jesus. It will be a unifying factor for a people awaiting the coming of their Lord.”
Greene said he hoped “The Blessed Hope” painting would help people focus on what he said matters most: Jesus.
“Perhaps it will have a unifying effect and help all who see it to keep their eyes focused on what will be the greatest event of all times,” he said. “Maybe it will give hope and courage to those who are worn down by life's struggles.”
Greene, who lives near Berrien Springs, Michigan, said he was thrilled to think that the painting was traveling around the world.
“I like travel but until last summer I had never left North America,” he said. “But how nice it is to receive reports of my artwork appearing in many corners of the Earth. That is exciting to contemplate.”