Looking Upward

June 2017

The Divine Gaze – Looking
The apostle Paul instructs Christians to set their thoughts, or meditate on things above (Colossians 3:1). The person whose desire it is to gaze upon things divine is a person who practices biblical meditation. This is the aim of the psalmist David who said, 

 “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4 (KJV) 

The psalmist’s eyes of faith beheld or gazed on the beauty of the Lord when his desire for the Lord inspired him to seek the Lord. Which then moved him to dwell in God’s presence and to “enquire” or meditate on the Lord. The word “enquire” in the original Hebrew language means to meditate, ponder, think about; even commune with holy mutterings. The aim of the Christian, as was the gazing psalmist’s, is to have the eyes of the spirit opened to see the soul-throbbing beauty and glory of God. C.H. Spurgeon said,

“…where will you find giants such as those who lived in the Puritanic times, whose lips dropped pearls, because they themselves had dived down deep in the fathomless ocean of mercy by the sweet aid of meditation?” (Sermon: Quiet Musing by Spurgeon)

In my readings of the old puritan Christians it seems their hearts were always in heaven, their eyes were always seeking the beauty of Christ, and they strove always to live life under the fount of the heavenly outpourings of grace. To them, the world meant little because they would rather have their hearts and minds looking upward. Puritan preacher, Richard Baxter (1616-1691) in his book The Saints Everlasting Rest pointed fellow believer’s upward when he said:

“Christian, do you not sometimes, when gazing a long time heavenward caught a glimpse of Christ; do you not seem to have been with Paul in the third heaven, whether in the body or out, to have seen the unutterable? Have you never looked so long on the Sun of God, until your eyes were dazzled with his astonishing glory; and didn’t the splendor of it make all things below seem black and dark to you when you looked down again?”

If you and I are going to capture, as Richard Baxter said, the Sun (Son) of God, until our eyes are dazzled with his astonishing glory, it will be because we dived deep in holy thought by meditating on God’s word. It is therefore, through God’s word, the Bible, we hear God speak. And in the holy whisperings of prayer and silent musings on the Lord, if he so chooses, he may reveal something of himself to us. So then, joyful meditation on the Word brings the revelation of the Lord. This connection, between God’s word and the revelation of God’s glory, was common in the announcements of the biblical prophets.

“And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:5

This particular prophetic word spoken by Isaiah was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ. Again, the writer of Hebrews makes the connection between God’s word, as spoken by the prophets, and God’s revealed glory in Christ when he says:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…” Hebrews 1:1-3

So then, for us to see, by faith, the wonders of God, we must meditate on the word of God. Only then will the eyes of our hearts be illumined to His glory. Only then can God reveal, in the depths of our heart, himself. This illumination, this revealing of the Lord to the heart is borne out of scripture. Whenever the scriptures bring a clear revelation of Jesus, of who he truly is, there was the attending word of God. For instance, at Christ’s baptism, there was the confirming word or voice of the Father that he was his Son:

“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

And again, when Jesus was gloriously transfigured before the apostles God’s voice again was heard:

“…and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Matthew 17:5

The Dawning Light of God’s Word

Let’s look at another scripture which gives us a picture or analogy of the relationship between God’s word and the revealing of himself to the believing heart.

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…” 1 Peter 1:19

Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. The beatific vision of Christ is revealed in the heart by means of the Word, the scriptures. Peter is saying, the previous prophetic word(s), which were given before the time of Jesus, are now more fully confirmed. Meaning, now that Jesus has come we have the very words of God as spoken by his Son; as well as through the apostles (2 Peter 1:21). God’s word is likened to the dawning of the day; like the morning sun which rises and chases away the darkness. The rising of the morning sun brings the world out of darkness, showering it’s light on the earth and bringing into view all it’s colorful beauty. This is what the word of God is like. Peter tells us we would do well to pay attention. Pay attention to what? We are to pay attention to God’s word. To give our undivided attention to it. The word of the Lord should attend all we think and do. In so doing, we prevent our hearts from wandering, drifting into sin or being distracted by unimportant things (Psalm 119:11).

If you ever watched a sunrise, your eyes were riveted on one thing- the dawning of the sun. So it is with God’s word. It is like a sunrise in our souls. We are to keep our spiritual eyes fixed on God’s word. We are to set our gaze and patiently meditate on God’s word. Soon His word, like the dawn, will rise and bring light to our minds. And the light of the Word will reveal the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ to our hearts. Like a morning star, the light of his glory will chase away the darkness in our hearts and bring the dazzling glory of himself to our mind and heart. The heart is filled with inexpressible joy as his presence fills the temple of our hearts.(1 Peter 1:8)

So, where do we begin? We begin with meditating on things above and not on things of the earth. The apostle Paul was of the company of those saints I would call divine gazers. His mind was always pointed north, to heavenly things. Things above. Things that lifted the heart, stirred affections for Christ, and graced the eye with a glimpse of God’s eternal glory. He loved the beauty and majesty of Christ and sought to seek and dwell in the Lord’s presence. He so wanted Christians to experience this dawning in the heart that he reminded believers to keep their thoughts constantly looking upwards. He said in Colossians 3:1,

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Paul further encouraged biblical meditation when he instructed Christians on what to set their minds on:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

As Christians, as those who desire to gaze beyond the veil of this world into the glorious beauty above, we must look into the Word to thereby see what’s above. We must dwell in God’s presence and wait for the Word to dawn in our hearts. Then, the light of the knowledge of Christ will fill us with his overwhelming love and beauty.

“For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Copyright © June 2017 Steve Covarrubias