Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Dear Pilgrim, do you sometimes feel you are hidden from the eyes of the Lord?

Dear Pilgrim, do you sometimes feel you are hidden from the eyes of the Lord? When your prayers seem to go unanswered, when your affliction weighs heavily upon you, does it seem as if His eyes are looking elsewhere? As your enemies gather around you, do you cry out in all humility “Arise to help me; look on my plight” (Ps 59:4)?

Pilgrim, be reassured of this truth - the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love. The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. "Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’" (Isa 29:15). "They say, ‘The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.’ Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does He who fashioned the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see?" (Ps 94:7-9)

For our God is unlike the idols which have eyes but cannot see (Ps 115:5). The four living creatures surrounding the throne of God are covered with eyes, in front and behind, all round, even under their wings (Rev 4:6,8). Covered with eyes, Pilgrim! He sees! Our God is El Roi! He sees! Our God, the One who made eyes that see, looked upon all that He had made and He declared that it was very good.  And after sin had entered the world, He saw with grief Adam and Eve hiding from Him in the Garden. He is the One who saw our unformed bodies when we were woven together in the depths of the earth. From heaven He looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling-place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do (Ps 33:13-15). Oh, Pilgrim, who is like our God, for He is the One who sits enthroned on high, and yet He stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth! Have you considered why He looks down, dear Pilgrim? "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God" (Ps 14:2).

And He has delivered His verdict – that truth is nowhere to be found, there is no justice. He saw that there was no-one, He was appalled that there was no-one to intervene (Isa 59:15-16). No-one, Pilgrim! Not one! Oh, have mercy, Lord! Look on our affliction and our distress and take away all our sins (Ps 25:18)! So His own arm achieved salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. And people stared and gloated over Him, all who saw Him mocked Him and hurled insults at Him, they were appalled by His appearance which was disfigured beyond that of any human appearance. The One who keeps His eyes always on the Lord, the One who said He could only do what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19), His eyes closed as He died our death. But Pilgrim, He did not see decay (Ps 16:10), for after He suffered, He saw the light of life and was satisfied (Isa 53:11)! What a Saviour!

And behold, our Saviour came! He came and opened our eyes to our sin, and as we looked to Him for salvation, He saw our faith and these words rang out: “Take heart, your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9:2). And ever since the cry of our hearts has been “Why have I found such favour in Your eyes that You notice me?” (Ruth 2:10). It is because He sees the blood, dear Pilgrim (Ex 12:13)! He sees the blood of His precious Son which has been sprinkled over you by faith! Listen to His declaration, Pilgrim: ‘These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word’ (Isa 66:2). Be assured of your favour in His eyes, dear Pilgrim, as you remain bowed low before Him, submitted to Him in faith. You are not hidden from His eyes. His eyes are not looking elsewhere.

For Pilgrim, as we look at Him now, risen, ascended, glorified, do you see His eyes? Look – His eyes – they are like blazing fire (Rev 1:14). Blazing fire – eyes of love, dear Pilgrim, love for His Bride. Listen to the words of His Bride:

“Place me like a seal over Your heart,
like a seal on Your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.”
(Song of Solomon 8:6)

How He loves His Bride! How He is jealous for His Bride! Oh, look into those eyes, Pilgrim! Look into those eyes of blazing fire – eyes that see clearly, eyes that burn away the impurities, eyes that expose the darkness and bring all things into the light. What eyes of love! Yet those same eyes will blaze with a holy fire on the day of His wrath when His righteous judgement is revealed. On that day those who do not know Him will cry out to the rocks and mountains to hide them from His face. Even now, Pilgrim, let us cry out to the Lord that they would see His hand lifted high and look to Him in faith that they too would know Him as El Roi.

And may the knowledge that our God is the One who sees strengthen our faith. May this truth give us confidence and assurance in our faith to draw close to Him, to look upon Him with eyes of faith. May He lift our eyes to His that we may be blessed to see His eyes looking upon us, those eyes like blazing fire.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dear Pilgrim, do you hear the sound of weeping?

Weeping willow by Andre Karwath (

Dear Pilgrim, do you hear the sound of weeping? Do you hear the sound of wailing, of mourning, of grief?

This is the Valley of Baka (Ps 84:6), a dry valley, a valley without water, the valley of weeping. This is the place where tears flow like a river day and night, where beds are flooded with weeping and couches are drenched with tears, where streams of tears flow from eyes. This is the place where daughters are taught how to wail, where laments are taught to one another. This is the place where ashes are eaten as food and drink is mingled with tears. This is the place where sackcloth is worn and dust is sprinkled on heads. This is the house of mourning, dear Pilgrim.

Oh, Pilgrim, take courage as you pass through this valley. Be heartened, for this is not the sound of worldly sorrow that you hear, this is not the crying of self-pity that leads to death. Listen, dear Pilgrim. Can you hear this is godly sorrow?

For streams of tears are flowing from eyes because His law is not obeyed (Ps 119:136). Mourning over sin in self and mourning over sin in the land, the cry goes up to heaven that all the tears that fall be listed in His scroll and in His record (Ps 56:8). The hearts of the fathers have been turned away from their children in the land, so here in the Valley of Baka hearts are poured out on the ground in the presence of the Lord, hands are lifted to Him for the lives of their children who are fainting from hunger at every street corner, fainting from a hunger and a thirst for righteousness in the land. For truth has stumbled in the streets, and righteousness stands afar as His laws are disregarded. Is there anyone who can bring comfort? Is there anyone who can build up the wall and stand in the gap?

Oh, Pilgrim, now you are weeping too. Overcome by grief, you are weeping and weeping as you cry out “Is there no-one?”

Do not weep, dear Pilgrim! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed! The Righteous One came, full of grace and Truth, and after He shouted in victory "It is finished!" He rose again, He ascended, He has sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time He waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet. And now that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom 5:5), we overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

For as we travel through the Valley of Baka, it becomes a place of springs. As we acknowledge the Lord, as we press on to acknowledge Him, as surely as the sun rises He will appear, He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth (Hos 6:3). In the dry and weary land that you are passing through, as you spread out your hands to Him in your thirst, He will come and He will open your eyes to see the springs of water that He has provided. Where there is no water, He will give you the faith to cry out to Him in your thirst, and He will open up for you an En Hakkore – a caller’s spring (Judges 15:18-19)! He will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched land into flowing springs (Ps 107:35). The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs (Isa 35:7).

Be ever watchful though, dear Pilgrim, as you pass the springs – for not all are His - there are some deceptive brooks (Jer 15:18). These are springs without water, without His life-giving water (2 Pe 2:17). These are springs which will fail. For not only do some forsake the spring of living water, but they dig their own broken cisterns which cannot hold water (Jer 2:13). Oh, Pilgrim, watch out for those who will lead you astray, who mouth empty, boastful words and appeal to the lustful desires of the flesh, serving up to you muddied water out of a polluted well. There is no life in them! The only cure for bad water is to take a new bowl filled with salt and throw it into the spring (2 Ki 2:19-22).

Be patient as you travel through the valley, dear Pilgrim, waiting for the autumn rains. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. (James 5:7). Be patient, dear Pilgrim, as you go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, as you sow with tears. For you will reap with songs of joy in the fullness of time, you will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with you (Ps 126:5-6)!

And you will go from strength to strength, until that glorious day when you appear before God in Zion (Ps 84:7), where He will wipe away all the tears from your face, where you will drink without cost from the spring of the water of life (Rev 21:6) and where your mourning will turn to laughter (Luke 6:21). And when He comes and places a crown of beauty on your head instead of ashes (Isa 61:3) your joy will know no bounds.