There are some places you never want to visit. This warzone we call earth has its share of them, and they can be mean and nasty. But thankfully it’s not our only option.
There’s a saying I’ve heard whose source I cannot identify, though I’ve searched for some time. It says, “This ain’t hell; but you can see it from here.” You don’t have to look too far to see the effects of the enemy’s war against us. Real wars abound in many places, and with the reports of vicious war crimes. Terrorist activity regularly rears its ugly head. I get reports almost daily of Taliban torture and murder, most often accompanied by the photos that will hopefully be used against the perpetrators in a war crime tribunal someday. There are some things your eyes simply cannot unsee. Yeah, you can see hell from here.
But if you look, you can see something else.
Today’s verse says BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY WILL SEE GOD
And that begs the question – HOW? The upcoming recreation of the new heaven and the new earth where God proclaims, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, I am making all things new” is an encouraging promise. But, if you’re like me, you’re looking for a more present one. Sure, when He appears we will see Him. But we who serve Him are God’s children NOW. And NOW is when we need to see Him and His presence. NOW is when we need His grace; grace upon grace poured into our lives. NOW is when we need to have His Spirit continually filling us with His power. NOW is when we need to see His signs, wonders and miracles.
As a father, two words that got my focused attention whenever I heard them were, “Daddy, HELP!” You and I have a Heavenly Father who responds to our cry for help, too. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. He’s listening. Even as my eyes are on hell’s fury, HIS are on me. He counts me among the righteous, because Jesus’ blood covers all my sin; and because of Jesus the Father’s ears are open to my prayers. Yes, He truly is listening.
But today’s verse ISN’T about God listening. So how does it tie in?
We see God with us in trials because we are not walking through them alone. Like the three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace, we are in the company of the Son of God. Never alone, never abandoned.
So we who are pure in heart see God with us as the flames of hell flare up and threaten to consume us. But there’s even more to the story because, when we face the trials and assaults of life in His power, those around us see something, too.
First, they can see God WITH us. The king looked into the fiery furnace and asked, “Hey fellas, if we threw THREE bound prisoners into the furnace, why do I see FOUR people walking free inside?” The king even commented that the fourth guy looked like the Son of God. And the king was right!
Second, they can see God WORKING THROUGH us. We see God, and we see what He is doing. And, like Jesus, we do what we see the Father doing. In this we bring glory to God, and honor to His name. As we do, we are like lights set upon a stand or like a city on a hillside. Our light shines brightly into their darkness. Our light draws them. And the closer they come, the better their view of God. He will allow them to see God in us, so they will come close enough for us to tell them how to meet God. Light is most clearly seen in the darkest of places.
No, this ain’t hell. But it is a pitched battle between the armies of evil and the Church who serves the Living God for the souls of those who are not yet saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
No, this ain’t hell; but you can see it from here. Its gates are trying to hold those who have not yet heard inside its devilish prison. You may have heard that Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you that gates don’t move. Gates do not attack!! We do! It is His Church, stepping into the fight to shine the light of Jesus Christ into the deepest and darkest of places who are on the attack. And the gates of hell don’t stand a chance.
No, this ain’t hell; but you can see it from here. And when the army of God engages the enemy, storms in, and takes the battle to the enemy, you won’t see some demon saying “Welcome to hell” — He’ll be running. My bible tells me that when I fight the enemy he will flee.
No, this ain’t hell; but you CAN see it from here. So our target is in sight. Let’s roll.