Brethren Archive
Read Gen. xiii. 8-17.

The Lifted Eye.

by Alfred Page

ABRAM'S faith was sorely tried and tested, yet by Divine grace grandly victorious!  He stands before us in the Word as the typical man of faith—father of all who believe.  God, in His infinite wisdom, always tests the grace that He imparts, for purposes of blessing.  Hence, we are not to think it "strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you"—but rather rejoice, because in every trial of faith, the Lord designs that we should know more of Himself, and become more fully conformed to the Divine mind and will—the afterward "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb. xii. 11).  Abram's faith was tried when called to leave his country, and his kindred, but "he obeyed and he went out, not knowing whither he went."  The Word of God was sufficient, and every step was a victory of faith—he went on in triumph over all that hindered or opposed his onward path!  Again, his faith was sorely tried in reference to the birth of Isaac—the promised Seed—and he was called to years of patient waiting.  Even when the promise was renewed, when it was utterly impossible according to the course of nature, yet was he "strong in faith, giving glory to God " (Rom. iv. 19-21).  He looked not at second causes, or surrounding circumstances or temporal difficulties; but the heart rested in the promise of Him Who never fails!  And as surely as faith was tested, so surely was faith rewarded, and the promised son was given!  But the most severe trial of his faith must have been when commanded by God to take that God-given seed and son of promise and offer him up for a burnt-offering!  What a mysterious and unheard-of mandate!  Yet how promptly and implicitly obeyed!—the three days' journey over with its depth of anguish; the place reached, the aged father with his own hands "built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood"—"took the knife"—this was obedience to the utmost point; but not until then did God's deliverance come in, and the divinely appointed substitute was given to take the place of the beloved Isaac!  All this was beautifully typical of the Coming One, yet at the same time, a glorious victory of God-given faith!  Now it was in the power of that faith that Abram said to Lot: "If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or, if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (Gen. xiii. 9).  He could well afford to let Lot choose, assured through faith that his own portion was absolutely secure; but alas!
Lot, in making his choice, appears to have had the eye fixed only upon the earthly, for we do not read he sought God's guidance or glory in the matter.  How many in the present day put the earthly before the heavenly, the temporal before the spiritual—the things of time and sense in the place of eternal blessings! How many are seeking to grasp the one at the expense of the other, living only for the life that now is!  The Lord Himself has warned us, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it," and is not this a solemn word for saint as well as sinner?  Are we not in danger of seeking satisfaction in things around, forsaking the "Fountain of living waters" and hewing out to ourselves "broken cisterns" which must soon utterly fail!  Thus, we miss the mark and deprive ourselves of that very satisfaction and delight which we so eagerly sought in a wrong direction; all our efforts end in loss—loss here, loss at the judgment seat of Christ!
Lot chose for himself (always a dangerous path), for as surely as the child of God does this, he brings sorrow to his own soul.
One has beautifully written—
"Our plans may be disjointed,
But we may calmly rest.
What God hath once appointed
Is better than our best."
Rather, beloved, let the Lord ever choose for us, and in deep humility of spirit at His dear feet, may we ever say—
"Take Thou my cup and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As ever best to Thee may seem.
Choose Thou my good or ill."
Then, surely, all must be well!
The three steps in Lot's career are very significant:—
1. "Lot chose" (Gen. xiii. 11).
2, "Lot pitched . . . his tent toward Sodom" (ver. 12).
3. "Lot sat in the gate of Sodom" (xix. 1).
The choosing for oneself leads to world-bordering, always a dangerous place for the Christian—the place of ruined testimony, loss and failure.  It was one of Satan's stratagems in seeking to retain the children of Israel in Egypt: "Only ye shall not go very far away" (Ex. viii. 28).  If the enemy can only succeed in getting the believer into close proximity to the world he gains a great point; for the saint's blessing, influence and power are alike hindered!  Oh, Christian, beware of world-bordering—"pitching toward Sodom!"  It does not end here, for a little while after, Lot is found "sitting in the gate," and you remember the terrible sequel, how he was pulled out of the burning city with the loss of everything, in addition to the sorrow he entailed upon himself; for Peter tells us: "That righteous man, dwelling among them in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds" (2 Pet. ii. 8). Lot's deliverance from Sodom is a picture of some (perhaps many) at the Judgment Seat—    "Saved, yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. iii. 15).  Loss of reward—gone, forever gone, with no opportunity of regaining: places of honour in the kingdom, forfeited: crowns lost!: "an abundant entrance" trifled away!  Yet through mercy, the soul saved!  Reader, let us heed the lesson for our own eternal profit, and, above all, for the glory of Him Whom we profess to love.
What a full reward to Abram's faith is shown us in ver. 14 of our chapter.  "The Lord said unto Abram . . . lift up now thine eyes."  What a divine comment (as it were) upon the "lifted eye" of Lot, and yet what a marvellous contrast to his choice!
Lot had chosen for himself, "Now lift up thine eyes," God seems to say, "and see the fair inheritance I have chosen and secured for thee. Do it now, and from the place where thou art.
See all the land is thine northward, southward, eastward, westward!"  Every foot of it, in every direction, all his own by Sovereign gift and divine choice!  Blessed portion!  And beloved, blessed, thrice blessed word for your heart and mine!  The world may have its own, and money-getters and money-grubbers may hoard their wealth and hug their gold; yet our blessed portion is secure—preserved by sovereign, almighty power, only you must have the "lifted eye," and remember the word "now," and "from the place where thou art." Yes, just now, and just where you are, lift the eye of faith and behold for yourself the fair inheritance within the vail!
"Incorruptible"—its perfection.
"Undefiled"—its beauty.
"Fadeth not away"—its duration.
"Reserved in Heaven for you."  No power on earth or in hell can rob you of it; no sin can stain, nor moth corrupt.  And, mark, it is all thine own, "Every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ" (Eph. i. 3).  Truly ours now, though as yet we have not entered upon the full enjoyment of it.  The moment of grand investiture is at hand, when, as the royal co-heirs with Christ, we shall enter upon all that He has made ours by grace!  Sons now, and "if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ " (Rom. viii. 17).  Our portion vast as God's creation, for "all things are yours." . . . "Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
"How vast the treasures we possess.
How rich Thy bounty God of grace,
This world is ours, and worlds to come.
Earth is our lodge, and Heaven our Home!"
Above all, how blessed to know that Christ Himself in all His wondrous fulness, the fulness of the Godhead, is the everlasting portion of all who have received Him by faith, and in Him and with Him, the soul possesses "all things!"  Reader, may we live day by day in the enjoyment of this precious truth, with the eye "lifted" above the earthly scene.  Surely thus shall we be strengthened for the path, and find that rest of heart which none else can give or take away.
II. Joshua's "Lifted Eye" (Jos. v. 13-15).
"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes, and looked" (ver. 13).
The Children of Israel had by Divine power and grace been delivered from Egypt, led safely through the wilderness, and were now in the promised land, with the Red Sea (judgment) and Jordan (death) behind them.
Before them were seven nations greater and mightier than they.  They could not go back, and it was quite as certain that in their own strength they could not go forward.  Just at this crisis—this nick of time, man's extremity—the Captain of Jehovah's host appears upon the scene on their behalf, for their salvation, and to lead them on to certain victory!  All their strength and hope were centred in Him—His omnipotent arm; His almighty grace.  They had but to yield implicit obedience to His will, to bow to His commands, to trust Him under every circumstance, and victory on victory was theirs!  Beautiful picture of God's provision for us. Every believer, who knows intelligently his or her standing in Christ, understands that death and judgment are behind us in the Cross of Calvary.  The Red Sea lesson is, "He died for me." There we see Divine judgment executed.  The Jordan lesson is, "I died with Him," and thus in the Person of my blessed Substitute, I have already borne the extreme penalty of the broken law.  Death and judgment are behind, but we are called to face the foe—to "fight the good fight of faith."
We have the threefold enemy—the world, the flesh and Satan arrayed against us.  Blessed to know that in the Captain of the Lord's host, we have one infinitely superior, and Who has Himself, on our behalf, laid every enemy low!  Moreover, see God's wonderful provision. Faith gives victory over the world; for "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John v. 4).
Moses, in the power of that God-given faith, could turn his back upon all the learning and honours of Egypt, and esteem reproach for Christ "greater riches" than it all.  Paul, in the same spirit, could, and did, "count all things but loss" for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.  Yes, and however attractive the fascinations, allurements and sinful pleasures of the world may appear to the natural eye and heart, the believer may, by Divine grace, be victorious over it, and will be, as the "lifted eye" of faith rests upon the Captain of the Lord's host, and we derive all our strength and wisdom from Him.  If faith is victorious over the world, the Spirit gives victory over the flesh; desperately wicked, corrupt and sinful as it ever is, and ever will be, under every condition however favourable. He that dwelleth in us is greater than the depravity of the natural heart.  Hence, we read: "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh" (Gal. v. 16).  In dependence upon His power, in subjection to His will, assuredly He will “lead from victory unto victory."  Though the carnal nature still lives, and seeks to work through the believer, it is blessed to know that complete judgment was passed upon it at the Cross, in the Person of our all-gracious Substitute.  Paul could say, "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal. ii. 20). God reckons us dead to it, and it is our privilege to reckon so, too; while full deliverance from it awaits us at the coming of the Lord. Saved from sin's penalty now, He lives to save us from its power, and He is coming to save us from its very presence!
The whole armour of God is the divine provision to meet, oppose and conquer "wicked spirits in the heavenlies," and the injunction is "Wherefore take,"  "Put on" (see Eph. vi. 10-18). Reader, ponder well this wondrous panoply, "The girdle of truth," the truth received into the heart, with all its keeping power.  "The breastplate," practical righteousness.  "Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."  "The shield of faith," faith in God and His Word. "The helmet of salvation," which takes in past, present, and to come.  "The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God."  Let us see to it that we lack no part of this Divine defence.  Thus, fully equipped, "Be strong in the Lord, and the power of His might."  "Praying always," and certain victory is yours over all the powers of darkness.
The military orders contained in Joshua vi., for a host of armed men to march round those towering walls in perfect silence until a given signal, may have appeared to some passing, strange.  The Ark of the Covenant borne by Priests and preceded by seven others, blowing their rams'-horn trumpets: no battering rams nor engines of war to lay flat those mighty defences.  All this so utterly different to the general art and stratagems of war.  And yet how complete the triumph, how absolute the conquest!  And thus, dear Christian, we have in the inspired record the path of victory marked by an all-wise, unerring hand.  May it be ours humbly to follow it, in simple dependence upon Him, for "the battle is the Lord's."
"Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chron. xx. 20).
III. Isaac's "Lifted Eye."
"And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide; and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold the camels were coming" (Gen. xxiv. 63).
The chapter before us beautifully sets forth the calling out of the Church.  If in Gen. xxii. (Isaac upon the altar), we have a foreshadowing of the Cross of Calvary; and in chap, xxiii., in the death of Sarah, we have a type of the present spiritual death of Israel, consequent upon their sin and rejection of Christ; in chap. xxiv., we see God's purpose (typically) concerning a Bride for His beloved Son.  The servant is sent to seek a bride for Isaac.  So, the blessed Spirit has come from Heaven to earth to seek and call out an elect company, destined to be the companion of Christ, and the sharer of His eternal joy!  The servant meets her at the well (figure of the grace of God)—that grace which alone seeks and saves the guilty and the lost and brings the poor rebel sinner into such wondrous relationship to God in Christ.  In ver. 22, she is immediately sealed for the absent one, and receives the pledges of his love: so every saved sinner is not only made a member of that one blood-bought Bride, but sealed by the Holy Ghost unto the day of redemption, and receives through Him the sweet assurances of His grace and favour.  Further on in the history, the servant testifies of Isaac in the far-off country, and makes known his vast possessions and abounding wealth to the listening ear of Rebecca. How the Spirit, when our hearts are bowed to Him, delights to take of the things of Jesus, revealing to us His matchless glories and infinite perfections!  May we ever remember that we are absolutely dependent upon Him for these revelations of Christ, through the Word.  In ver. 53, Eliezer brings forth "jewels of silver and jewels of gold and raiment."  These are from the one whom, up to this time, she had not seen, although her heart was open to receive him. Beautiful figure of those precious graces, so dear to the heart of God, and which is the true adorning of every heaven-born soul.  What a rich profusion is presented to us in the verse before us, and how grand the counterpart in Gal. v. 22-23.  Oh, beloved, may they be manifested more and more richly in our lives, by Divine grace, and surely it will be even so, as we walk in companionship with Him, from Whom alone is all our fruit found.  Abiding in Him, and He in us, the sequel and outcome will be "much fruit " to his glory!  One great point in the narrative is the captivated heart of the Bride-elect.
"Wilt thou go with this man?"  And she said, "I will go."  Her heart is won for Isaac.  He, henceforth, of all earthly objects, takes the first place.  Kindred and country, friends and home, she is willing to quit for his sake.  It is himself who fills her vision and engages her thoughts and heart.  Ah, dear reader, in a still higher and spiritual sense, may our hearts be entirely captivated for Christ, our absent, yet quickly-coming Lord; Oh, to love Him with all the powers of our ransomed being.  May our whole hearts so completely respond to His mighty love, that we may joyfully yield to Him in "loving, sweet surrender."
May we enter more fully into the experience of one who has beautifully written—
"I have seen the face of Jesus,
Tell me not of aught beside;
I have heard the voice of Jesus,
All my soul is satisfied."
Day by day may He become to you nearer still—dearer still—
"A living bright reality!"
"She followed the man."  Sweet testimony!  Nothing had she to do with picking or choosing her own path—her will was yielded to another.  Difficulties and dangers there were—perplexities and annoyances, sorrow mingled with joy, cloud and sunshine, but through it all, "she followed the man!"  How lovely the portrait!  Grandly has the Spirit traced the pathway for your feet, dear believer.  A greater than Eliezer has gone before—"leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps" (1 Pet. ii. 21).  And what a path He trod of suffering, sorrow, rejection, shame!  What a pathway of perfect love and absolute self-sacrifice!  The truly separated One—separated unto the will of God.  The key-note of His whole life—"Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." (Heb. x. 9).  How different this, from the mere profession of religion—the name without the power.  How different, too, from the self-seeking and the self-pleasing of too many in the Church of God.  Christian, awake to your responsibility, for "the night is far spent."  Hear afresh the Master's voice as He calls to the path of true service and testimony—"Follow thou Me."
In ver. 63 we read: "And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold, the camels were coming."
Isaac, contemplating the joy of receiving his bride, surely give us a foreshadowing of that joy which not only sustained the blessed Saviour in the very midst of His suffering and humiliation, but also of that deep joy which now, even now, occupies His gracious heart, in the midst of all those glories surrounding Him at God's right hand—the joy of receiving His ransomed and blood-bought Church unto Himself!  He anticipates the reward of His travail and sorrow, and that anticipation shall soon have its blessed realisation when He comes to gather from the tombs and from the earth "His loved and His own."
"There amidst the joys of Heaven,
Sweeter to His ear,
Is the footfall through the desert,
Ever drawing near.
There made ready are the mansions,
Glorious, bright and fair,
But the Bride the Father gave Him,
Still is wanting there."
Surely within the vail, He has the "lifted eye" upon that which is so dear to Him, and which cost His own life's blood to redeem.  Yes, although enthroned so high in Heaven, His eyes and heart are here, ever watching and yearning over His poor, tired, sorrowing people, and rejoicing in the prospect of having them for ever with Himself.
"And Rebekah lifted up her eyes and . . . saw Isaac " (ver. 64).  Blessed, glorious consummation!  Happy, thrice happy climax!  She actually sees him of whom she had heard so much—the very one for whom her heart had been captivated and won, and for whom she had been willing to leave country and kin and brave the difficulties and dangers of the unknown and untrodden way.  She saw her bridegroom.  Ah, dear children of God, well may our hearts beat high with holy anticipation—the long, tedious journey of the desert will soon be o'er—the long dark night soon be past—the breaking day is truly at hand—earth, with all its sadness and sorrow, will be left far behind—
"The Lord Himself shall come,
And shout a quickening word,
Thousands shall answer from the tomb,
For ever with the Lord."
Then, indeed, our "lifted eyes" shall behold Him even as He is, and we shall be for ever like Him.  Oh, moment of supreme rapture!  Day of wondrous triumph!  Eternal triumph for Him, and for His loved ones through Him!  Emancipation from all our woe!—complete deliverance from the very presence of sin—the joy of the resurrection body—bodies "fashioned like unto His body of glory"—the meeting and greeting of long-severed loved ones—above and beyond all, the blessed, sweet, eternal joy of gazing upon Him, Whom here we love—delighting in the beams of His peerless face, and in the realized fellowship with the triune God as we have never known, and never could know, on earth.  Even now, may the eye be "lifted" to anticipate it with still greater delight—to dwell upon, and live in the joy of it from day to day.  So, even here, shall many a cloud be dispersed, many a sorrow lightened, and our "Marahs" turned to "Elims" of gladness.  In view of such a combination of glories, we may well sing amid our tears—
"What will it be to dwell above,
And with the Lord of Glory reign,
Since the blest knowledge of His love,
So brightens all this dreary plain?
No heart can think, no tongue can tell,
What joy 'twill be with Him to dwell."
In conclusion, we would say to any dear unsaved one, into whose hands this little book may fall: "Life and peace can only be yours, as your eye is lifted to JESUS the Sinner's Friend, and only Saviour.
"If at this moment, you are conscious of your guilt and danger, earnestly desiring to know the blessedness of God's Salvation, listen to His Word: 'Look unto Me, and be ye saved.'  Yes,    'there is life in a look at the Crucified One,' and none other can satisfy and save.  Look and live, why will ye die?  May your eye even NOW be thus lifted to Him that you may know Him as your own personal Saviour, then with the 'Lifted Eye', follow on in the path of obedience to His will till Glory crowns His work of Grace!"  A. Page
“The Faith and the Flock” 1913 


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