One of the challenges of faith in our day is to operate spiritually in an age gone mad with sensory overload. There is so much vying for our attention in the natural realm that it gets hard to focus on that which is unseen.
But the unseen realm is greater. Scoffers may laugh, but even the physical realm is full of things unseen. Atoms, molecules; germs and bacteria; sound waves that fly through the air…a whole host of unseen activity is at work in the physical world. And this is a world that will not last forever, extremely remarkable in all of its complexity and wonder.
The spiritual realm is even greater. There are incredible events happening on behalf of the saints, even when times seem bleak. In 2Kings, chapter 6, Elisha and his servant seemed outnumbered by the Syrian army. That’s how it looked in the natural, but Elisha said to his servant, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. (vs.16-17)
If we were to get a spiritual hold of all the promises of God working on our behalf, we would never be moved by the circumstances that threaten us.
There needs to be spiritual perception. Look how David saw his deliverance, the picture he gave of how God responded to his prayer for help:
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind…
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them (Ps.18: 8-10, 13-14).
Though David was literally delivered from his enemies, he did not see these particular realities with his natural eyes. He saw them with the eyes of the Spirit. I believe he saw these events breaking forth in the spiritual realm before his deliverance in the natural was ever realized.
Do you see God sending His lightning bolts upon the invisible foes that seek your doom? How about His angel encamping around you (Psalm 34:7)? The flesh fails to understand, but the spirit may be strengthened when we “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2Cor.4:18). Looking to the unseen is a gaze in the right direction. By faith, that which is the true reality is understood.
Not what they seem
The wisdom of the world is turned upside down, as God accomplishes His highest glory in what the world considers meek and lowly. I once heard a radio preacher telling us to remember the humble scene at Jesus’ birth- the Lord of all creation was born in a manger among animals! This is what it looked like in the natural. But the scene in the heavens was quite different- the shepherds saw it- angels rejoicing and giving glory to God! A great company of the heavenly host chorused:
Glory to God in the highest (Luke 2:14)!
God gave those shepherds a special revelation of the reality that was behind the seemingly pitiful scene. He has given us special revelation as well. We know the reality behind life in this world because we have the Word of God. He has opened our eyes to the Truth through His Holy Scriptures. He has revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is a revelation that contains eternal glory, “the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1Cor. 2:7). It is remarkable that we might be regarded “the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1Cor. 4:1). He has “hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matt.11:25).
The pure shall see God
The heart is a thing unseen, in that it hides behind the veil of human nature and comprises the whole of our personality. It is the hidden seat of either sincerity or hypocrisy. It is a powerful influence in the makeup of the soul.
The pure in heart shall see God (Matt.5:8). This is a plain and simple promise, and it is loaded at the same time. It is implied that we will see God in the end, after all is said and done, when this earthly pilgrimage is over. What a great day that will be! “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” But it is not reserved just for that day. We will see Him NOW, as we approach Him in sincerity, be it through obedience, the Word, prayer, fellowship, or whatever else points to Him. What great days these can be for the pure in heart! He is with us, and all it takes are eyes of faith to behold Him.
When this happens, things unseen make a glorious transfer into things that are seen. Ultimately, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb.11:1). Having glimpsed at the invisible, faith manifests the unseen in producing Spiritual fruit. And this fruit brings a witness to all that Jesus is alive.
Victory in Christ
Victories surround us daily. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). God is acting on our behalf in ways that we have no conscious awareness of. But if we only look to what is seen, we may become discouraged. God calls us instead to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb.12:2).
The devil loves to taunt believers with his evil deceptions. You can’t go many places without being bombarded with sensory overload. Music, advertising, multiple entertainment options…all working to get our attention. For this reason, being spiritually focused requires some real discipline.
There will be a day when things unseen are once and for all seen in effortless clarity. Until then, God has given His saints armor to defend and keep their hearts pure. Those pure in heart who see God will be drawn further into the enjoyment of His presence and victory, for when they get a true glimpse of Him they will be drawn into the pursuit for more.
The alternative is to bump into things here and there, and never really get the picture.