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Believers’ Penetrating Vision Heb. 11:13

By Nelson Thomas Mumbai

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

One of the features of true faith life is the ability to see what is invisible. While describing the faith of various Old Testament saints, the writer of the book of Hebrews refers to their telescopic spiritual vision by which they could see afar off. Hebrews 11:13. The writer says that they never received what God promised them; however, those heroes of faith saw the same afar off by faith and even embraced them. Such assurance of divine promises helped them to keep their faith till the end of their life, always acknowledging their pilgrim status to the people around.

This is exactly the way every believer in Christ should live in this world. Instead of focusing our attention on all that is happening in our surroundings, we need to look ahead and concentrate on the Lord and His purposes for eternity. Let us consider three wonderful outcomes of such a magnifying spiritual viewpoint.

1. It takes away all our fears and doubts. Hebrews 11: 23

“Being born, Moses was by faith hidden by his parents three months, because they saw the child was fair; and they did not fear the king's decree.”
We are aware of the circumstances in which Moses was born in Egypt. The decree of the king was to throw away every male child into the river and keep only female children alive. But Moses’s parents did not fear the command of the king. According to the writer, the reason was their right view of the child, not just of his appearance rather they saw the divine plan for the child. Cf. Exo. 2:2; Acts 7:20. As they glanced at the face of their little one it seems that they perceived the divine hand upon the child. The outcome of their fearless response to such a difficult instance is beyond description. All because of the faith and subsequent spiritual discernment of the parents.

No wonder, David writes, “I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” Psa. 16:8. The psalmist always fixed his eyes on the Lord, and that helped him to stay firm, unmoved and strong.

We have many examples in the scripture where we see when God’s people failed to see beyond their immediate circumstances, that resulted in fear, doubt, murmuring, and even unbelief and rebellion. Consider what happened at Kadesh Barnea. Numbers 13, 14. The ten spies who went to spy out the land could not see beyond the Anakim giants and the fortified cities in Canaan. But the two, Joshua and Caleb, saw beyond that difficult situation. The shortsighted judgment of the ten resulted in fear and rebellion among the people of Israel and that in turn led to the divine judgment upon them.

2. It emboldens us to forsake the worldly things. Hebrews 11:27

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured seeing Him who is invisible.”

Moses’s story also tells us of the effect of a healthy spiritual perspective. As he saw the Lord and his purposes afar off, it inspired him to sacrifice all that he could enjoy freely in Egypt. The passing pleasures of Egypt, the massive wealth of the kingdom or even the throne could not change the commitment of Moses, for His faith was not just an assumption, but he was seeing by faith. He not only saw the Lord by faith, but his reward too. Cf. 11: 24 - 26.

Often, it’s very hard to understand how difficult it is for certain people to forsake the possessions of this world. Few years ago, we read about the unclaimed financial deposits in certain banks in India. Years ago, these dear ones deposited huge amount of cash in these financial institutions but later they either forgot it or they are no more. Similarly, there are vast plots of land in certain places whose owners have migrated to foreign countries. They or their descendants have no plans to return, yet they refuse to dispose their plots of land. Even unbelievers fail to understand the rationale behind keeping such properties without any use.

Yes, to joyfully sacrifice ourselves, we need a real spiritual insight. One who is engrossed in earthly matters like achieving a name, fame, position, possession, etc., will not have the farseeing spiritual eyes to realize the emptiness of this present world. A spiritually minded Christian will be looking forward to the day when they shall stand before the Lord to give an account of their life. This will definitely control their thirst and hunger for the things of this world, even enable them to sacrifice and give away, for it’s a short life and it’s now to give, to spend and be spent for the Lord. Colo. 3: 2.

3. It helps us to bear our bodily afflictions patiently. 2Corinthians 4: 16, 18.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing… we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen.”

In the midst of untold troubles from every direction whether physical, mental or even social, Paul the servant of God never lost heart. 2Cor 4: 8ff. He bore the death of Christ daily in his body so that others might enjoy the life of Christ through his ministry.

The secret behind such tranquility in the midst of manifold physical ailments was his fixed foresight of eternity. He was sure that whatever is visible is temporary and the invisible is eternal. Such a vision of the things to come helped Apostle Paul to evaluate the present with the future, and he concluded that it’s a light affliction for a moment and the reward will be an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Cf. 2Cor. 4: 17

Apart from the unprecedented pandemic, the disturbing social and political developments around the globe might lead a common man to depression. But it’s the blessed privilege of a Christian to be aware of the real state of the world and look ahead with the sure hope and expectation of the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder Apostles John wrote, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1John 2:17



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