Men of old heard from heaven. They walked with God, talked with God, and witnessed His mighty hand at work in their lives. Moses saw his rod turn into a serpent. Elijah witnessed God's fire descend from heaven, devour the evening sacrifice and lick up even the watery moat. Noah heard the screams and shrieks of his wicked neighbors as they drowned in God's great flood. "O that God would perform mighty miracles for me, like He did for men of old," you think. "O that I might see God, as they saw Him." Think again, Christian. When God shows up in a man's life, it is never a picnic in the park. When men of old finally saw God, they usually tried to hide from His frightful, awful presence. God sometimes reveals Himself when men reach the end of their human rope and die to themselves. Only then do men see "him who is invisible."
by Jerry Gentry
"By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:27).
For one hundred twenty years, Noah and his sons preached righteousness and built an ark. Logs were cut, sawn and placed. Holes were drilled, pegs were driven and pitch was rubbed within and without. Neighbors laughed. Town councils scoffed. Uncles and aunts and cousins of Noah railed against this dreamer's crazy idea of building a big boat to float above the coming tide. "Haaah! Ha! Haah! Hahhh!," they mocked. "Such a rising tide is a big joke, impossible! It will never happen," they jeered.
The local psychiatric board suggested counselling. The Chamber of Commerce printed flyers and set up a special tourist committee to coordinate sight seers and sell pop corn and hot dogs. Scientists got together and set out lengthy evidence why such a coming flood was scientifically impossible. A carnival atmosphere thrived, until. . .
. . . until the rains finally came down and the tide turned on the mockers who cried and begged and shrieked and prayed. They and their little ones crowded helplessly and hopelessly on top of every hill, every tower and every mountain top. The waters rose to knee deep, then waist deep and chest deep, up, up, up, and over their noses. They all drowned, every wicked man and every living thing, as the ark floated away in the distance. Only then, when it was too late, did men believe that the God of heaven had spoken. Never even then did the wicked see "him who is invisible." They drowned in their dull, insipid blindness.
"By faith Noah. . ." (Hebr. 11:7), the Bible says. It was only amid ridicule and rejection and heartache and loneliness and reproach that Noah came to see "him who is invisible" (v. 27).
Yes, Noah saw God as few men in all of history have seen God. He saw God in a watery destruction that wiped the whole earth clean through divine judgment. He saw God in the rains that came down for forty days and forty dark nights. He saw God in every living cow and deer and elephant and squirrel and horse and dove he had tucked safely away on the ark. Noah saw God all right, and Noah listened carefully to what God had to say.
Job also saw God, but only after he had endured the trial of his life. You see, Job was a righteous man who ". . . was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1). Job had lived his life as a God fearing man, who prayed and sacrificed often. He had heard of God, and knew God from afar, from a safe distance. Only after the God of heaven swept away all of Job's wealth, even killed his sons and daughters, and inflicted Job's body with unsightly boils, did Job experience his epiphany. Only after his wife advised, ". . . curse God, and die," (Job 2:9) did he actually see God like never before, in brokenness, in utter rejection and loneliness and self abhorrence, in the death of his old man. Only when he got himself out of the way could he see "him who is invisible." In the end, Job confessed, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5).
Yes, men of old saw God up close, but not without heartache and pain and solitude and persecution and prayer. Elijah saw God. He experienced the mighty hand of God close up. He personally called down the fire of God from heaven in one mighty witness against wicked Jezebel and her four hundred fifty court prophets of Baal. This man Elijah was no pacifist. He personally caused these priests of Baal to be slain with the sword. Then he ran, alone, into the wilderness. He felt so discouraged and distraught and rejected that he prayed for death. ". . . he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers" (1Kgs. 19:4). He lay under a juniper tree where an angel brought him bread to eat and a cruse of water to drink.
For three and one half lonely, torturous years, Elijah lived in seclusion. Elijah prayed for rain, and prayed again, seven times. He prayed until a wispy cloud appeared over the sea. Soon the dark, billowy clouds poured down torrents of rain. Later, through miraculous power, his very breath slew the king's emissary of fifty men on two separate occasions. A third emissary was spared divine destruction. Through it all, Elijah, though he "was a man subject to like passions as we are" (James 5:17) saw "him who is invisible" at work to save His people.
Moses saw God. He had grown up in the Egyptian royal court as Pharaoh's crown prince who would one day rule Egypt. Through a series of fatal mistakes, Moses fled to the back side of the desert, somewhere near Perth, Australia, or was it Eastern Siberia or Gila Bend, Arizona? He moved where the opportunity for realizing his dream of ruling Egypt was nil. For forty long years he endured the burning desert sun and washed the lingering sands from his weary feet. For forty years he followed the sheep from pasture to watering hole. For forty years he lived as a stranger in the household of Jethro, his father-in-law, who gave him a daughter, Zipporah, to wife.
When Moses saw the burning bush, it was more than a curiosity that drew him closer. His vision for kingly rule was so dead by now that he later had the gall to argue with God, who spoke with Moses alone mouth to mouth. At God's command, Moses, the meekest of men, removed his shoes and listened intently. Time after time, in days ahead, Moses prayed and God answered miraculously. He destroyed Egypt with seven plagues. He parted the Red Sea. He fed His people Israel with quail first, then manna. He brought Moses to the top of Mt. Sinai. There, He gave Moses the Ten Commandments, written with his very own finger, on two tablets of stone.
Yes, Moses again and again saw "him who is invisible," even though at times ". . . Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God" (Exod. 3:6).
Abraham and Sarah and Hannah and Samuel and Gideon and David and Daniel and Shadrach and Meshech and Abednego, and every great man and woman of God eventually came to see "him who is invisible."
Though she first laughed at the report, Sarah "Through faith also. . . herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised" (Hebr. 11:11). Sarah saw "him who is invisible" and brought forth the seed of the promise. When she truly believed, by the grace of God, she found and experienced the truth of that great beatitude of Jesus: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
Hannah fretted and prayed and wept for a child. Before conception she dedicated that child to God forever. Through the birth, growth and dedication of Samuel, Hannah realized the vision of motherhood and saw "him who is invisible."
The apostle Paul persecuted Christians, in the name of the God of heaven, with a vengeance. Then there came the day when "suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven" (Act 9:3). Though struck with blindness, now in the end Saul the persecutor became Paul the apostle to the gentiles, when he finally saw "him who is invisible." A new vision for God was born and the gospel went to Israel scattered abroad. His student Timothy saw God. He restated this same great vision: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1Tim. 1:17).
Men of old came to see God through suffering and rejection and persecution and loneliness and heartache. There is no other way to see God, to see "him who is invisible."
You too may see "him who is invisible." How? Jesus said, ". . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). Have you seen Jesus Christ? You will never see "him who is invisible," apart from a personal saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
Friend, if you will see "him who is invisible," you must walk through the only "door of the sheep," (John 10:9). You must come through that "strait. . . gate, and narrow. . . way" (Matt. 7:14) called Jesus Christ risen from the dead. You will never see "him who is invisible," apart from "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), that is, Jesus Christ. Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Do you know Him, love Him, worship Him in truth? Only through Jesus Christ will you come to see "him who is invisible," because "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24). You will see God the Father, only by finding and seeing Jesus Christ, through brokenness, self abhorrence, and repentance. Jesus said, ". . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father. . . " (John 14:9), for Jesus Christ alone ". . . is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15).