SEEING THE INVISIBLE


because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18 RSV

SEEING THE INVISIBLE

The entire genius of the Christian life, indeed the entirety of faith in both the old and new covenants, is here distilled and isolated as to its pure essence.

Trusting God, believing and obeying him, are finally nothing more than what is revealed here.

If one can see it, it cannot last.

All visible things are temporal, whether flowers, suns or galaxies; and it also applies to that which one sees when he looks at himself in a mirror.

The author of the book of Hebrews (just who could this have been, if not Paul?) devoted almost all of chapter 11 to an exposition of this verse, leaving the impression that the writer of this passage, after thinking about it for more than a decade, took up the Old Testament and applied the principle stated here to all of the salient features in it.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 RSV

FAITH itself is “a conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

This does not mean things which are merely overlooked, but things which, by their very nature, cannot be seen at all.

“Things not seen” include everything in the whole theater where faith operates.

It has been a failure to discern this quite obvious and simple truth in Hebrews 11:1 which has contributed so heavily to scholarly disagreements about what is meant by that passage.

Things not seen, that are invisible, include everything in the whole area of faith, the creation of the universe, the incarnation of Christ, the judgment of the world by the deluge, the second advent of Christ, the final judgment, the ultimate reception by every man of the destiny, good or bad, that shall be assigned to him by God’s enforcement of universal judgment, founded on justice and mercy.


GOD

  • God framed the universe itself out of things unseen (stated invertedly).
  • “Hath not been made out of things which appear” (Hebrews 11:3).
  • Modern science has proved that atoms, the building blocks of all creation, are not merely invisible, but are also practically nothing at all, being electrically charged particles in orbit around other particles and in the aggregate composed almost entirely of space.
  • It is literally true that the whole universe is made of “things unseen,” even regarding the tiniest particles of it; and, in addition to that, the great fundamental laws controlling all things in space, such as gravity, centrifugal and centripetal forces, inertia, radiation, etc., are, all of them, invisible.

NOAH

  • Noah, acting upon God’s instructions, preserved through the flood a new beginning for the human family.
  • “Being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet” (Hebrews 11:7).
  • Such a flood as God promised had never occurred before; and it was a sheer act of faith for Noah to believe in “thing not seen as yet.”

ABRAHAM

  • Abraham likewise trusted in the invisible; and although the word “unseen” is not used in connection with his obedience, the thought is surely in this, “For he looked for the city that hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
  • That city, to be sure, was invisible in any ordinary sense.

JACOB

  • Jacob, when near death, blessed his sons and “made mention of the departure of the children of Israel” (Hebrews 11:22).
  • This was trust in “things unseen” by virtue of their being future.

MOSES

  • Moses forsook Egypt and cast his lot with Israel; “For he endured as seeing him who is invisible,” the invisible God (Hebrews 11:27).
  • No greater test of trusting the “unseen” was ever successfully met. The wealth, glory, power and splendor of Egypt were very visible.
  • Moses could see the armies, orchards, palaces and pyramids which belonged to Pharaoh and might also have belonged to him; but he trusted the promises of the invisible God.

FAITH

  • This is exactly the challenge of faith in every generation, to believe in the things which no one can see.
  • Heaven, hell, the final judgment of all people, the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead practically everything of importance in Christian faith, regards the “things that are unseen,” and which things are designated here by Paul as eternal.

NEW BIRTH

  • “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16) regards the same confidence in “things not seen.”
  • The new birth is invisible; and, although the outward act of baptism may be seen, such things as the pollution of a soul by sin, the surrender of the heart to God, the forgiveness of the sinner which takes place not on earth but in the heart of God, and the resultant change of directions deriving from the new birth – none of these things can be seen literally.
  • They belong in that category of “things not seen as yet.”
  • However, since the universe itself is made of “things unseen,” no one need ever fear to step out firmly and confidently upon the promise of God. “The things which are unseen are eternal.”

SPIRIT

  • Just as God is invisible (Hebrews 11:27), the Holy Spirit is also invisible.
  • The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) are not visible, but are like the blessed Spirit himself whom no man has ever seen.

WORSHIP

  • The same principle is operative in the public worship of Christians.
  • The Lord said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
  • One may look around him at church, but he will not see the Lord, except by the eyes of faith.
  • Nevertheless, that presence of Christ in the worship is the eternal blessing of the church.
  • Being “unseen,” his influence is the eternal essence of every true worship service in his name.

KINGDOM OF GOD

  • Christ spoke of His Kingdom, and He said that “His Kingship is not of this world.”
  • Jesus taught many parables regarding what the Kingdom of God is and what it would be.
  • His was never going to be the Earthly Kingdom, and his Reign as Massiah would not be as the Jews expected for generations.
  • God’s Kingdom is Eternal and unseen until Judgement Day.
  • Yes, we experience God’s kingdom on Earth, manifested in the form of the Lord’s church, through fellowship, worship, and the body of Christ – but this is temporal, and Christ, like His Word, will last forever.
  • The Alpha and Omega.

Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

John 18:36 RSV

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