Chapter 9 Seeing The Lord

Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts (Isaiah 6:5).

When we assemble together as the redeemed of the Lord, what do we see? Those still in their sins do not see anything (John 1:18). There are some believers with only partial vision—a small measure of spiritual sight. They “see men as trees, walking” (Mark 8:24). Nothing is very clear, but everything blurred and indistinct. We have great need for anointed eyes so that the things of God are clearly seen and fully understood.

Men with Spiritual Vision

Isaiah said: “I saw the Lord.” It was a vision of the glory and the majesty of God. It was in the year that king Uzziah died which was the fifty-second year of his reign, and, incidentally, the year that Romulus, the founder of the Roman Empire, was born. Uzziah had been smitten with leprosy because of his impious arrogance in presuming to burn incense in God’s house, which duty was given only God’s appointed priests to do. “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” The kings of the earth must die. The living God lives forever. Isaiah’s vision was really a vision of Christ—the Lord of all men—even the greatest. That was all, but it was sufficient. The things of God were at once discerned by Isaiah. He could see heavenly realities. True, it humbled the prophet and gave him a sight of his own wretchedness. But it also brought a new sense of cleansing and a new committal to the Lord. Unless our eyes are opened by the Lord, we must daily walk in a very low marsh—be bound by a very limited horizon—and have no watchtower of hope with which to survey the future.

Then in Galatians 1:15, 16, Paul said: “It pleased God…to reveal His Son in me,” and before king Agrippa to testify—“I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” That vision, as with Isaiah’s, was probably not corporeal, but he saw the Lord with eyes of spiritual understanding. What a sight to see our Lord enthroned in majesty, high and lifted up,—that is, exalted above all creatures. That vision of the risen, ascended, and glorified Jesus Christ changed the whole of Paul’s life and made him the greatest of the apostles. All Isaiah’s rich and fruitful life began where his great ministry began—that is, when he said, “I saw the Lord.” Such men were seers—that is, seeing men—wise men—men of vision.

The Meaning of Spiritual Vision

It means seeing what others do not see. So with Joseph and his dreams. He saw what his brethren could not see (Genesis 41). It was spiritual vision which enabled him to remain steadfast when the “iron entered into his soul.” By him God was able to save Israel and so fulfill His purpose through His people.

“His glory is like the firstling of his bullock” (Deuteronomy 33:17). Joseph stood stately—beauteous—strong—as the prime offspring of the herd. Men who see the Lord reflect His image. They are made strong in the Saviour’s strength—beauteous in the Saviour’s beauty. They are as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It was in such spiritual vision that Moses saw the pattern of the tabernacle God wanted built, in order to dwell in the midst of His people (Exodus 25:8). The tabernacle testimony was not Moses’ idea but something of God which he saw. It is what is seen in spiritual vision which works out into fellowship with God in His purpose. So Paul: “It pleased God to reveal His Son in me”—“I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”—“I labored more than they all.”

Spiritual vision is the shining of heavenly light. Seeing involves light. This is the most pleasant light that can ever shine upon the soul of man. When that light shines, all darkness is scattered. It is heavenly and divine light around and within the soul of man. “They looked unto Him and were lightened.” It was the saying of a saint of God in Germany upon his deathbed, when his eyesight had gone, being asked how it was within,—“Why,” said he, “though all be dark about me, yet (pointing to his breast) here is light enough.”

Then again, it is spiritual vision which transforms men. Nothing but such vision could have changed such as Saul of Tarsus—an utter, uncompromising Pharisee of Judaism. If a man never sees, he will never be changed—never enter God’s kingdom—never become a true child of God—never become a true worshipper in spirit and in truth—never a faithful servant. We must “see the Lord.”

The Issues of Spiritual Vision

What happens when the Lord opens our eyes and we see? In the case of Isaiah there was an experience of cleansing. He was made conscious first of his own corruption: “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). He felt the wretchedness and miserableness not only of his own sinful being but also of the wickedness around him— “I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” He felt so unworthy to take the holy Name of God upon his polluted lips. And certainly the people around him, the Jews, were wicked, not only in Isaiah’s time, but much more so in the Saviour’s time. They traduced Him as though He were a vile person. Some said He was a Samaritan—some that He had a devil. But Isaiah was touched with “a live coal… from off the altar,” and it was said of Him, “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:7).

Then came a call to consecration. Paul said,—“I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision; but showed first unto them at Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:19, 20). And Isaiah said the same thing,— “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

This was followed by a sense of calling. With spiritual vision comes a sense of purpose. This is something more than doing a job. There comes to the man who has seen the Lord a master-purpose in life (Philippians 3:13, 14).

Finally, there is in such men a spirit of cohesion. Spiritual vision draws such men together—making them “a together people”—those who go on in a certain way of life together. The people of vision are like those in Nehemiah’s day. They hold together—build together—and do so with a strange variety of temperaments, qualifications and gifts.

Blest are the pure in heart,
For they shall see their God,
The secret of the Lord is theirs,
Their soul is Christ’s above.

Still to the lowly soul
He doth Himself impart,
And for His dwelling and His throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.

Lord, we Thy presence seek:
May ours this blessing be;
Give us a pure and lowly heart
A temple meet for Thee.

—John Keble