Element of the Ideal
Revelation 4:1-11
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven…

The standpoint from which God views everything is vastly different from that which men commonly regard as their standpoint. God is for quality, clearness of vision and fundamental principles; man too often for mere quantity, haphazard vision, superficial estimates. God is ever seeking to draw man up to His level, man thinks to reduce the things of God to his convenient level, from which he hopes, without much trouble, or even thinking, to form some opinion or gain some knowledge of that which, in the deeper moments of his nature, he knows to be of vital and eternal importance. The higher the standards are the more must energy strive to reach them. It is a vastly different thing to brave the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc, or those gigantic mountains which rear their heads heavenward and lose their summits in the clouds. Climbing them means the hardest kind of toil and steadfast courage. Our standards determine the height of our aspirations, our aspirations press us on in the climbing and furnish the impetus to the outreach of our faith and courage, hut they must be fed by God, who leads us to His own standard and bids us look up and beyond, even beyond the material, into the realms of the spiritual, with a faith that does not shrink from the lessons such leadings bring. The question of questions is, Do we see, do we behold these high level truths of God? or have we so little interest in beholding that we skim them over, as we do the pages of a book that has proved uninteresting? John says, "After this I looked and, behold." God can never do anything for a man who is blind, unless open his eyes; but God will not do anything for a man who wants to be blind. Looking shows desire. Beholding suggests power. John saw, and behold a door was opened in heaven and the first voice which he heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with him, which said, "Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter." That seems to us to be a beautiful but exceptional sight. Picture John's lonely exile life on Patmos. There did not seem to be much for him to live for, shut out and away from the busy work of life, and perhaps we have a theory that God was very gracious to him for that very reason. But such visions always come to souls that can see — long to see — and needing the blessing of such a vision. Whatever the outward life, the inner life is the condition of beholding. Lives need to be broadened and exalted. Heaven is not only to make life more tolerable, but life is to determine heaven. The vision came not to the place, but the soul, and was determined not by the meagreness of the surrounding, but by the condition of the heart-life of him who beheld. By every analysis we are to know, then, that life is not in itself either omnipotent, or satisfying, or self-sufficient, nor has it any high standard, nor is it enough to be merely practical — doing without seeing, deeds without visions. God gives us to see what we are, in order that we may see by the aid of this revelation what we may become. Ignorance is simply fatal to all progress and enlightenment. "And immediately I was in the spirit," John says. The thought for us is this: the power that exalts life is of God and comes from above. Look above, then, though you walk the earth. Open your heart and mind and soul to the unseen realities of the eternal. Higher and higher we must go and grow, like the vine upon the trellis, abiding in the branch, lifting its myriad shoots towards the summer shining and the clear, pure air. From His standpoint, God will give us to see what must be hereafter. Our privilege is to hear God's blessed invitation, "Come up hither, higher, to higher altitudes, with waiting, expectant attitude." God help us to break the spell that keeps us down; God help us to unlock the bolts that shut us in; God help us to fling aside the shutters that keep us in the dimness; God help us to be as free as His truth makes us, and then, when we truly behold, how beautiful everything will grow. Just as the little child, long blind, having at last her sight restored, said to her mother, as she looked for the first time upon the beauty of nature, "How beautiful! Why didn't you tell me how beautiful everything was!" The element of the ideal must occupy a large place in our practical life if we are to grow at all strong, buoyant, and symmetrical. Visions are not mere air castles. Some one has said, "All men who have shown our race how great things are possible have had their inspiration in dreaming of the impossible." The vision changes and goes on changing, adapting itself to our need and our life, but the reality always remains. Visions, therefore, are the wings which bear us upward and aloft. You do not have to teach a bird how to fly. The soul, saved by the power of the Divine Christ, rises because it can; it ascends because it has within it the irresistible yearning to do so, and faith and hope give impetus. This is the revelation which is constantly coming to your life, to my life. God help us, above all, to be "in the Spirit," as in meditative quietness of life we steadfastly watch for and behold the visions that come to us. The cross and visions of the Christ are the inspiring themes of the Christian life. Life is truly potent, as we see its lines shaped according to the Cross of the Lord Jesus, as the symbol of our salvation and the standard of our service. Look and live, then live and look, is the whole of the Christian life. Let us not be satisfied with plodding, but let us be climbing. Let our lives take on daily newer beauty, the beauty of holiness, which is the adornment of righteousness.

(C. E. Eberman.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

WEB: After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this."

An Invitation to Glory
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