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By Steve Bietz

Burke County


Although lots of portraits of Queen Elizabeth exist, she did not pose for many of them.  If she disliked a particular picture, she would have it destroyed.

Her Secretary of State, Robert Cecil, an astute diplomat, worded it carefully…”Many painters have done portraits of the Queen but none has actually shown her looks or charms.  Therefore, her Majesty commands all manner of persons to stop doing portraits of her until a clever painter has finished one which all other painters can copy.  Her Majesty, in the meantime, forbids the showing of any portraits which are ugly until they are improved.”

So, what did Queen Elizabeth really look like?  Quotes from her visitors to her court shed some light.

In her Twenty-Second Year:  “Her figure and face are handsome; she has such an air of dignified majesty that no one could ever doubt that she is queen.’

In her Twenty-Fourth Year:  “Although her face is comely rather than handsome, she is tall and well-formed, with good skin, although swarthy; she has fine eyes and above all, a beautiful hand with which she makes a display.”

In her Thirty-Second Year:   “Her hair was more reddish than yellow, curled naturally in appearance.”

In her Sixty-Fourth Year:  “When anyone speaks of her beauty, she says she was never beautiful.  Nevertheless, she speaks of her beauty as often as she can.”

In her Sixty-Fifth Year:  “Her face is oblong, fair but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked; her teeth black; she wore false hair and that red.”

By the way, historians tell us Queen Elizabeth ate sugar almost constantly and it turned her teeth black.  It is also known that she contracted smallpox in 1562 at the age of 29 which left her face scarred.  She took to wearing white lead make up to cover the scars.  Then, in her later years, she suffered the loss of her hair and her teeth.  It was at this same time that she commanded that all the mirrors in her rooms be removed.  If she was to travel from the palace to any other location, and she was very active late in life, Elizabeth required that before her arrival, all mirrors must be removed from the place.

Indeed, mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?  James describes the law of God as a mirror.  “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”  James 1:22, 23.  The law, like a mirror, tells us if our spiritual face is dirty or our lives are sin-stained.  If the spiritual mirror tells us that our face is soiled and needs washing, what will you and I do to remedy the situation?  Try to wash our face for the mirror?   Or maybe hide the Holy mirror because it reveals a sad fact that is disagreeable.  Neither course of action would clean our faces.

We must discover the true relationship existing between the law of God and the Gospel.  On one side there are those that insist that by strictly keeping the law of God we may somehow, someway, earn God’s gift of salvation.  That wouldn’t be much of a gift, would it?  Romans 3:20 tells us that no one is going to work his way into heaven merely because he outwardly keeps the commandments of God.  Still, others contend that the claims of God’s law must be forever banished if one is to enjoy the full freedom of the gospel.  This they claim in-spite of God claiming that His law is holy and just and good.  (Romans 7:12)

Both ditches will get us lost.   God’s law has a very important role for all of us.  It reveals sin and impresses upon us our need for a Redeemer that can cleanse us.  No, the law cannot wash and save us; it merely points out sin in our lives.  Only Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, can save us.  The law is God’s sin detector, for “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) It is the straight edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.

The apostle Paul declared that a glimpse of the commandments revealed to him his own sin:  “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law said, thou shalt not covet.”  Romans 7:7.

Have you and I looked at the mirror on the wall known as the Ten Commandments recently? Don’t have all of God’s mirrors removed from your house.  Instead, may we look at the mirror of God’s law often, and then run to Christ so that we can be forgiven, and our dirty faces cleansed.  We may even come to the point that the Psalmist reached in his relationship with the commandments of God when he said:  “Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  Psalm 119:97.


Steve Bietz is the pastor at Morganton Seventh Day Adventist Church.