THE CORRECT GAZE INTO THE HEAVEN

Tue, Mar 21st 2017 | Posted by Admin

THE CORRECT GAZE INTO THE HEAVEN

 

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,” Acts 7:55 (KJV)

 

It is still very challenging for me to see how consistent Bro. Stephen, our elder, kept his gaze on Jesus and heaven. Here was a man who was standing trial and who knew quite well that he was in danger of death, yet the Bible says “but he”!

 

The introduction of the word ‘but’ shows, as it were, the other side of the divide. ‘But he’ shows to me that Stephen was on the other side of the divide and the Bible, while describing what was going on, shows the side of the priests, who had brought Stephen to trial, and what was going on the other side, where Stephen stood.

 

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked steadfastly into heaven! I noticed that the saints of old were not full of the Holy Spirit only when they prayed, I see that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, even when they speak or when they were challenged. I remember that Peter was also full of the Holy Spirit, when the Sanhedrin quizzed him and John, on the miracle that was done on the lame man. Here again, I see Stephen being full of the Holy Ghost when he was standing trial.

 

Why should I be full of anger when challenged? Why should I be full of bitterness when people lie against me? Why should I be full of unholy spirit, when I stand trial for that which is right? Those who put Stephen on trial were full of anger and bitterness but should Stephen be full of the same thing? If I am full of what those who hate me are full of, then there is no difference between us!

 

Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked steadfastly into heaven. I think there is a difference between looking towards heaven and looking into heaven. I can look towards heaven and at the same time look into heaven. It is possible for me to look towards heaven for help and help can come therefrom without me seeing what or who resides in the heaven. A man can stand at the gate of a house, trusting that something can come to him from that house and the householder can ask somebody in that house to go and give whatever the man at the gate desires without the householder coming out to meet him or allowing him to come in.

 

Oh LORD, help me to look beyond the life that terminates at ‘toward’; help me to grow the life that goes ‘into’! Help can be sent from heaven, without doubt, if I look toward it; but much more importantly, I can be connected with heaven such that I would receive help in due season as part of my legitimate right.

 

Why would You pay me off when I can have a relationship that pays off with You? Take me beyond the cloud of glory, right into Thy very awesome Presence, where my soul desires to dwell! Oh LORD, simply beholding Thy face is enough answer to all the questions of my life and of this life. Why look forward to what I cannot look into? Why look toward the heaven that I cannot look into?

 

Stephen did not just look towards the heaven for help; he rather looked into the heaven to see Jesus. Stephen had a penetrating gaze into the heaven, such that he was able to see what was going on there. He could see beyond the cloud of witnesses, right into the Heavens and upon the Heaven of Glory his eyes settled, beholding the glory of God and of His Son, Jesus! It was a great sight, which I want to see daily, my LORD. Seeing you for myself and to describe Thee for the world to know.

 

I don’t want to be like Joash, who cried, “my father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof” (2 Kings 13:14), when he actually saw nothing! Why would I live to repeat what other men saw of Thee, without me having my own personal experience of Thee? Though the quote was correct and a sweet reminder for Elisha, of the great starting point of his exploits in ministry; but alas, it was a mere lifeless quote for the King of Israel, who was describing what he had never seen! Why preach a message that has not touched me? Why preach a revelation that has not affected me personally? Why do I need to quote a man for relevance? Why do I need to use the popular phrase of a man of God so that I can be accepted? When will I have my personal revelation and stop boasting in the revelation of another?

 

I need this penetrating and heaven-stripping gaze that would unveil the heavens to me! I need this gaze that would take me beyond what others are seeing and saying about God. I need a gaze beyond the haze of this life. I need the gaze that would make me see what others could not see, such that I can describe Thee in my own words and not in the words of others.

 

As Stephen looked steadfastly into the heaven, the Bible says, he saw the glory of God:

 

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,” Acts 7:55 (KJV)

 

Was that not the glory Moses prayed to see in his days? I can infer that Stephen saw God. Or what is the meaning of “…and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,”. He did not only see the glory of God, he also did see God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God! Or how did he know that Jesus was standing on the right hand of God if he did not see God? 

 

Truth is, the simplicity of the men of old would not allow them to boast in what they had, though it be obvious to all and sundry. Stephen saw both the glory of God and God but he chose to describe that experience in modest terms!

 

“And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56 (KJV)

 

Why couldn’t he describe the God that he saw? Though he was apt in acknowledging my Master but he did not describe God, though he saw Him. Dr Luke helped him to paraphrase his experience by saying  “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God…” Though Stephen was at the verge of death, he was yet not arrogant; his simplicity made him to describe what he saw in very modest language.

 

Why the boast of revelations I see? Is it not to intimidate others and make them feel inferior? God sees my heart and knows my thoughts! Help me the way You helped the men of old, oh LORD. I remember that John the Beloved never used the word ‘I’ in his reportage, even when he was the one writing; his simplicity made him prefer the phrase ‘that disciple’ or ‘that disciple whom Jesus loved’ to the word ‘I’.

 

It is not boldness that makes a man to speak with all of his mouth, especially when describing the secret things or personal dealings of the Most High; it is arrogance and lack of skill. It shows that there would be some things that God might show to me, which I dare not describe or declare to the world, if I am a well brought up son. Yes, what He tells me in the dark, I should proclaim on the housetops, but it is clear here that there are some things that should not be described at all, in order not to abuse the liberty God gives me to peep into His secret place.

 

A STEADFAST GAZE

 

I need to note again that the kind of look Stephen cast into the heaven was not a casual one; it was a steadfast one. It was such a look that did not get tired. There is a way I can look at the Bible and there is a way I can look into the Bible that would make me to see the glory of God and the Son of Man.

 

Many could be reading the Bible without seeing Jesus just because their look is casual, not steadfast. Some are looking for what to eat. Why are you only looking towards the Bible, possibly for what to eat and not into the Bible for a revelation and a relationship with Jesus?!

 

It takes a steadfast look into the Bible for anyone to see God and Jesus boldly printed on its pages. I cannot just cast a casual glance at the Bible and yet expect a large glare and a deep revelation of its contents. I cannot just have a flippant glance on heaven and yet expect the depth of heaven to be shown unto me. There is a need for me to have a deep penetrating, steadfast gaze into heaven for it to properly open unto me.

 

The word ‘steadfast’ means “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering”. This is what I need to change my vision and my experience. For a deeper revelation in the Word of God, I need a resolutely firm and unwavering gaze into the Word of God. God is ever willing to show me the contents of the Bible if I dare to gaze into it. If God could show the heaven to a dying man, then He would gladly show it to a man who still has little more time to spend on earth!

 

A man who cannot gaze steadfastly into the heaven would not graze steadfastly on the green pastures of heaven. A man who cannot gaze steadfastly into the Bible cannot graze from the Bible.

 

There are two words in the word ‘steadfast’; they are ‘steady’ and ‘fast’. What is steady is stable, firmly fixed, supported and the word ‘fast’ means firmly attached. Therefore, the word ‘steadfastly’ implies being firmly fixed in two folds!

 

GOD AND JESUS

I wish to know that Stephen did not see God alone; he saw both God and Jesus! It tells me that wherever the Father is, there, Jesus will be, for these two are one. It also shows that Jesus did not lie when He said He was going to the Father.

 

However, it looks to me as if it is not correct for me to see the Son of Man without seeing God or to see God without seeing the Son of Man. It also suggests that for people to see me without seeing Christ is quite wrong. Anywhere I stand, should be a place where Jesus is. Jesus says:

 

“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be…” John 12:26 (KJV)

 

(Segun Ariyo, TRANS Camp, Iju, Akure. 2nd September, 2015.)

 

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