Walking by faith and not by sight (1)

By Femi Aribisala

Jesus says some people have eyes, but they cannot see. Some have ears, but they cannot hear. But some have eyes that can see and ears that can hear. (Matthew 13:13-16).

Solomon provides the distinction: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” (Proverbs 20:12).

Two examples should suffice. The Pharisees had eyes, but they could not see. Jesus said to them: “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (John 9:39).

The Pharisees had blind eyes, but they did not know.

Bartimaeus, on the other hand, was a blind man who could see. What or who could blind Bartimaeus see? He could see Jesus: “He cried out, saying, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Luke 18:38).

How did he know Jesus is the Son of David? He had the seeing eye.

Seeing resurrected Jesus

Mary Magdalene saw the resurrected Jesus but did not see Him. She thought He was a gardener. Jesus opened her eyes and identified Himself to her.

Cleopas and another disciple saw the resurrected Jesus but did not see Him. They only realised who He was on His departure:

“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:31-32).

Note that the burning was in their heart, not their eyes.

The natural eye

The natural eye is not for seeing. The natural eye prevents people from seeing God. The natural eye localizes and limits our vision. You cannot see with the natural eye Someone whose glory fills the heavens and the earth.

Moreover, the glories of this world prevent people from seeing God. Isaiah saw God after the death of King Uzziah. But the believers of today are greater than Isaiah.

The seeing eye is the eye we use to behold God. We cannot use the visible to behold the invisible. But we can use the invisible to behold the invisible. We cannot use the natural to see the spiritual. The spiritual must be seen with the spiritual.

Yearning heart

God cannot be seen with natural eyes. But He can be seen with our heart. The spiritual man sees with his heart. Thus, Michael W. Smith wrote a seminal song saying: “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see You.”

This means the invisible God is visible even now. He can be seen with our hearts. Jesus says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8).

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When our heart is opened, we see the glory of God all the time. Thus, in the height of his affliction, Job declares the confidence that he would see God in his lifetime:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).

The bible testifies that Job’s yearning was realised. Job said to God when God finally intervened: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6).

Indeed, God hides, but He often appears in our times of affliction. He does not always hide in the storm. He appeared to me for the very first time during an armed robbery attack.

When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the burning fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, the pre-incarnate Jesus showed up in the fire and was seen even by the pagan king:

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ ‘Look!’ he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’” (Daniel 3:24-25).

This tendency for God to appear during our afflictions is affirmed in Hosea. There, God says: “I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15).

But when we earnestly seek God, we find Him. He says: “I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain.’” (Isaiah 45:19). “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Which is better, to see God or to know God?

When we know God, we also see Him: “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20).

Open vision

God has now been made visible by the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus says: “He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.” (John 12:45). He says to Philip: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:7).

We sin because we foolishly believe God is invisible and, therefore, absent. But God always shows up. Therefore, Hagar says to Him: “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’” (Genesis 16:13).

Similarly, Jacob woke up from a dream and exclaimed: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16).

We are afraid because we lose sight of God. We see problems but don’t see God. We see storms but don’t see God. But the Lord is everywhere. He never leaves, never forsakes. His Name is “THE LORD IS THERE.” (Ezekiel 48:35).

Gehazi saw those sent to arrest Elisha. But he did not see the mighty army of God sent to defend him. Therefore, Elisha said: “‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17).

Do you really believe that God has been your dwelling place in all generations? Do you really believe that it is in God you live and move and have your being? Do you really believe that you are in God and God is in you? Then you should be able to see God.

Open your eyes. You must belong to the generation of Jacob; the generation of those who seek God’s face. (Psalm 24:6).

Tell God: “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’ Do not hide Your face from me.” (Psalm 27:8-9).

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