The Heavenly Observatory
In different parts of the country, there are buildings called observatories which are fitted up for astronomical research. In these observatories, men study the movement of the heavenly bodies. It may not have been your privilege to have visited one of these. Some parts of the country are very unfit for such observations of the heavens because of so much fog. In some places, there is not more than one-half dozen nights in the year without fog. It is for these reasons that observatories are usually on an elevation.
There are spiritual elevations from which it is our privilege to have a vision of heavenly things. This is necessary to living a heavenly life. Man will not live any higher than his vision of life. The more we see of heavenly things, the more heavenly we can live. Oh, let us live in a heavenly place! Let us live above the fogs of worldliness and human passion.
Not only are observatories on an elevation, but they stand apart by themselves. Jesus took Peter, James, and John “into an high mountain apart.” (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2) This is very significant. They are not only on an elevation, but they were also apart from a world of unbelief and sin. Elevation and separateness are the two things necessary for spiritual vision. It is interesting to study the instances recorded in the Bible where God took men into a mountain apart to give them a view of the realities of the unseen world. Seeing the unseen is our privilege, but we must get up above and apart from earthly things. It was when Moses was brought to the mountain of God, in the backside of the desert, that he saw the burning bush, and felt that he was treading on holy ground (Exodus 3:1-5). If you would feel the hallowedness of God’s presence, you must get into spiritual heights alone with Him. Peter, James, and John in a high mountain apart saw the transfiguration of Jesus. It is only in such a spiritual elevation, and apartness, that we can have visions of Christ in His beauty. God took Moses apart from the others of Israel into a mountain to talk with him and give him the law for the ruling of Israel. It is only from some heavenly height alone with Jesus that we can get His view point of life. We were asked by a certain one if it was wrong to go to a certain amusement. We replied, “If you will go apart with Jesus into the mount and get a vision of Him transfigured in His holiness, you will not need to ask me such a question.” There are those who have dwelt in the spiritual heights and seen glories and beauties of the Christian life, but have come down to the plane of earthliness and have lost their vision. The people perish where there is no vision (Proverbs 29:18). There is no sadder sight than that of seeing those who have had joyous contemplations of heavenly beauties and seen Jesus in His loveliness, now trying to satisfy their hearts with the works of art and human inventions.
Dear child of God, Jesus will take you often into some higher mountain apart and there will reveal Himself to you if He can only get you to leave the busy cares of life long enough. It may be that many of us would see more of the beauty of the Lord and be fashioned more into His likeness, if we would go with Him oftener and tarry with Him longer in the mount of prayer. The poet sang,
“I am dwelling on the mountain,
Where the golden sunlight gleams
O’er a land whose wondrous beauty
Far exceeds my fondest dreams.”*
And we would add,
I am in the mount with Jesus,
Dwelling in a heav’nly place;
Here I would abide forever,
To behold His beauteous face.
Come with us into this mount where the “golden sunlight gleams,” and there let Jesus reveal to you the wondrous beauty of His character, and you too will find it “good… to be here.” (Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; Luke 9:33) You will feel like tabernacling there forever. Alas, how few of mankind find the great and satisfying joy of being apart with Jesus in the mount of prayer. Too many find greater pleasure in beholding pictures on the screen than they do in beholding “wondrous things out of [His] law.” (Psalm 119:18) It is to be feared that many of Christ’s own “little flock” (Luke 12:32) do not repair to the mountain retreat as often as they should, and many times when there, do not tarry long enough to get a distinctive view of the heavenly life. They get one little glimpse of the beauty of the Lord and then run away to their earthly concerns, and Jesus is left to grieve over the disappointment of not having time to unfold to them some of the loveliness of heavenly things. Eye hath not seen the things God has to show those who live in the Spirit. It takes not only an unveiling of the face, but it also takes long looking to behold the glory of the Lord, and get it imaged in the soul. A distinctive view of the lovely face of Jesus is not to be gained in a passing glance. Time is required. In the work of photographing Christ in the heart, there needs be a “time exposure.”
You may have seen those pictures where a number of faces were more than half hidden among the branches of a leafless tree. You would have to hold the picture in a certain position and look a long time to see all the faces. You will need a certain attitude of heart, and look a long time if you would get a clear view of the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. It takes a practiced eye to see all the beauty of the landscape or of the sunset. The trained eye of the landscape painter can see beauties that the untrained eye cannot see. To many, there is no beauty in Jesus that they may admire Him (Isaiah 53:2). Is He the fairest of ten thousand to your soul and the one altogether lovely? How often do you get such a delightful view of the beautiful life of Christ in the secret place of prayer that you feel like staying there all the days of your life to behold the wondrous beauty? When we see the time that is spent and the money that is expended, the far distant journeys men are taking to see the works of art and the wonders of nature, merely to excite the emotions of their sensous life, do we not feel ashamed we are spending so little time and effort to behold the wonders of the spiritual life which excite, into the highest state of ecstacy, the emotions of the soul. To see God and the wonders of His grace, there needs to be the open eye. “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18) The open eye is what is needed. We do not need to pray the Lord to give us eyes, but to open the ones He has given us.
The holiness of Jesus is the blooming sort. It flowers out in goodness and in deeds of love. We need the open eye that we might see the bloom. It is to be feared that the holiness of some is the cold, lifeless, unblooming kind. It is because they do not see anything more in the life of Jesus. On a shelf in my study is a bouquet of artificial roses. They are quite beautiful, but they lack the blush of life. Let us not be satisfied with a staid, formal holiness, but seek a holiness that has the bloom of Christ upon it. To have this, we must repair to the heavenly observatory and in the Spirit get a vision of that bloom as it is upon the life of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the telescope that brings heavenly things close to our view. God need not create a well of water for thirsting, weeping Hagar and her dying son. He need only to open her eyes to see the one already created. God has in the spiritual realm everything to satisfy the soul of man. All man needs is eyes open to see. Tears blinded Hagar’s eyes so she could not see (Genesis 21). Mourning over the loss of earthly goods or over unfavorable circumstances has prevented many a soul from seeing the blessings of the Lord. When we are losing property, and men are misrepresenting us, and we have been neglected by those we love, we need to get up into the heavenly observatory and there behold everything working for our good. It is indeed a heavenly sight and one that will gladden the heart when all else will fail.
The “horses and chariots of fire” (2 Kings 6:17) were around about Elisha in the mount, but the servant did not see them and he was afraid. He did not see them because his eyes were closed. Elisha prayed that his eyes might be opened. Then he saw, and his fears were gone. Trembling, fearing child of God, there is an angel of God in every trial and unfavorable circumstance of life. Get up into a spiritual elevation, and you will see.
There is a reason for not seeing more than we do. It is because there is some object obstructing our view. It takes a very small thing in the eye to shut out the light of heaven. Just a very small object held close to the eye will hide a whole landscape from view. Sometimes when preaching, we write the word, “GOD” in sight of the congregation and then ask how many can see the word. They all hold up their hands. Then we place a dollar bill over the word and ask how many can see it. No hands are up. A dollar has gotten between them and “God.” This is why many do not see more of the glories of salvation. Something of the world is between them and God.
A father said to his son, just married, that he could select any two acres on the farm he wished to build for himself and his young bride. The son selected two acres on a hill which was the most unfertile spot on the farm. The father asked him why he did not select two acres of fertile land in the lower land. The son replied, “From this hill, I can always have your home in view. I can see the lights in the window by night and the smoke curling from the chimney by day. I do not want to build where I cannot see your home.” Alas, how many are building on the lowland! How many are pitching their tent “toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12)! Beloved, if you value your soul’s eternal prosperity and a heavenly life on earth, never construct anything in this world that hides heaven from your view. Be careful where you build. Jesus unrolled the true path of life behind Him in His journey through life among men. Keep your eye opened straight on this path and walk daily in it, and the glories of heaven will ever be bursting on your sight.