I Have Seen Another World

by A.W.Tozer on May 31, 2022

I Have Seen Another World Isaiah lifts his eye to gaze on the King of Kings By A.W.Tozer
THROUGHOUT THE LONG centuries of God's dealings with humankind. He has been pleased to give His prophets an almost endless variety of spiritual experiences. At an important time in the life of Isaiah, God gave him the unusual privilege of gazing through an open window into a heavenly world still invisible to everyone around him. God had planned a great task and a vital ministry for Isaiah. But as a young man involved in the court life of a successful king, he seemed satisfied with this world and with things as they were. We can say that Isaiah's attention was too strongly focused on King Uzziah. How was the Lord going to get Isaiah's attention and show him the importance of the world to come? The same way He so frequently does it. He removed the object of Isaiah's interest. Suddenly, Uzziah, the great and successful king, was gone, taken by death. Isaiah must have been deeply affected, not only as he thought of his own life and career, but as he pondered what Uzziah's passing would mean for the nation of Israel. I suspect Isaiah stood in fearless grief and looked down at the face of the lifeless king. The silent mouth would issue no more decrees. The royal eyes would never again stare terror into any of his subjects. The royal hand and scepter would never again be raised in command. The royal head, cold and pale and quiet, no longer wore a crown. In the human family, that is the way it is, finally. King Uzziah was just another lifeless man, his body a piece of clay about to return to the dust of the earth. Lay the dead body of a king alongside the dead body of a potato grower, and a stranger who has not known either one cannot tell them apart. The young Isaiah was beyond consolation. The next thing Isaiah did, however, was the wisest thing he could have done. He raised his eyes from viewing the face of the dead king, and suddenly the Lord enabled him to fasten his gaze upon the eternal King of Kings! Isaiah testified that he saw the Lord sitting upon a throne. He saw God's glory filling the Temple. He saw the seraphim, those created heavenly beings, worshiping God. He heard the adoring ascription of praise around the heavenly throne: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory" This other-worldly scene upon which Isaiah was permitted to look raises a question that we do not ask often enough. What has God been trying to say to the inhabitants of our world throughout the centuries past? In the introduction to his letter, the writer of Hebrews tells us plainly: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:1-2). In other words, God has revealed Himself many times and in many ways to assure men and women made in His image that there is another and a better world than this vale of tears we refer to as home. In chapter 11 of that same letter we learn that Abraham, a man of faith and a friend of God, was able to endure throughout his earthly life because he kept his vision and his desires on the invisible things of God. By now you surely know that I believe there is another world. Although it is a spiritual kingdom, the realm of our triune God, I believe it is distinct and real. I have defined that invisible world rather simply for myself and for any who want to know. It is that spiritual realm ruled over by God the King, into which believing men and women enter by the new birth. Yes, that invisible world that God has revealed is more real, more lasting, more eternal than this world we are in now. That is why God has given us the prophets and His revelation in His Word. He wants us to be able to look in on the coming world. When people around us learn that we are involved in a spiritual kingdom not yet visible, they think we are prime candidates for a mental institution. But this we know: Those same people around us are subject to the cruel tyranny of material and temporal things—things that will decay and pass away. No world dictator ever ruled his cowering subjects with any more fierce and compulsive domination than the material, visible things rule the men and women of this world. Of all the calamities that have been visited upon this world and its inhabitants, the willing surrender of the human spirit to materialistic values is the worst! We who were made for higher worlds are accepting the ways of this world as the ultimate. That is a tragedy of staggering proportions. We who were meant to commune with the Creator God, with the angels, archangels and seraphim, have decided instead to settle down here. As well might the eagle leave his lofty domain to scratch in the barnyard with the common hens. Much of our apathy translates into an unspoken response: “I'm just a human being doing the best I can. I do not really have the time to think about God and eternity very much.” Of course we do not have much time! And we do not think about important things because of our 20th century noise and confusion. The devil does everything possible to keep us busy. As a result, very few of us are ever really alone with God. We boast that we can do things better, move faster and frazzle the nerves of more people, harming their ears and destroying the blessed solitude more completely than in the old days when the best we could do was to shout across the street! Very few of us know the secret of bathing our souls in silence. It was a secret our Lord Jesus Christ knew very well. There were times when He had to send the multitudes away so He could retire alone into the silence of the mountainside. There He would turn the God-ward side of His soul toward heaven and for a long time expose Himself to the face of His Father in heaven. I have said it before. We live in a world that gets noisier and noiser.  We are seeing a general abhorrence of being alone, of being silent before the Lord. We shrink from allowing our souls to be bathed in the healing silences. It was the practice of Jesus to spend time alone in prayer and communion with the Father. I have been thinking about the record of Enoch, the ancient patriarch. His family members did not go with him when he took a walk, because when he went for a walk it was to commune with God. When God touched Abraham and said to him,"Leave Ur, your city, and go to the land I will show you", we can be sure Abraham was not engaged in a sociable party or even a coffee klatsch. Unquestionably he was by himself, cultivating his soul. Twice Jacob had unusual experiences with heavenly visitors. Each time he was alone, in the silence of nighttime. When Moses knelt in the presence of God at the burning bush, he was alone and silent. In the silence. God spoke to him. So it was with the prophets. I doubt that Isaiah would have had his glimpse into the world beyond if he had not been silent and alone. Many of David's psalms were hymns of loneliness, composed in the silence of solitude. With that as background, I want to say something which may sound strange because it is not heard often in evangelical circles: There is such a thing as holding familiar fellowship with the powers of the world to come! We are aware that throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament as well, wonderful heavenly and angelic creatures walked among the people of God. Angels came to Abraham—three of them. And to Jacob. Strange beings came to Gideon as he was threshing. An angel came to Samson's mother when she was in the field. She dashed home to tell her husband. "Come back with me and see this wonderful man!" Were these disturbed, unbalanced, insane people? Were they fanatics? No. They were normal, sane people. Their subsequent lives and experiences proved it. But in matters of faith, worship and obedience, they had been in touch with another world, a world largely invisible. They had heard another and more compelling voice. They had seen an other-worldly vision and had communed with the powers of the world to come. Earlier in Matthew's account of Jesus life and ministry, after Jesus had fasted and prayed and come through Satan's temptation, the record reads, "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him" (4:11). When Peter was alone in jail, incarcerated for his Christian testimony, "the angel of the Lord" (Acts 12:7) came to him, tapped him on the shoulder and commanded him, "Arise up quickly.” The angel led him out of the prison to freedom and reunion with the other believers. Or go to the chapters of Revelation and gaze for a while into a wonder world called heaven. Throw back the blinds and look into the throne room and see the living creatures and the elders and the angels. Is all of this nonsense? Do we give in to those who describe these things as fantasies? Will we shrug off these recorded visitations? With a superior attitude and supercilious smile will we conclude that all these things belong to "the childhood of the race"? No, no! We dare not yield on the reality of the world to come. When Jesus our Lord was to enter our world as the God-Man to effect the Father's plan of redemption. He was announced to Mary by the angel Gabriel, magnificently referred to in history as the angel of the annunciation. Angels heralded His birth to the Judean shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem. And when Jesus our Lord died and His body had been laid in Joseph's tomb, angels were present for the triumphant announcement, “He is not here. He is risen!" Another world impinges upon this one. I would say that the doors swing open both ways. Jacob saw the angels going up and coming down, ascending and descending. They had been with Jacob all the time, and he did not know it. We need a kind of special benediction upon these thoughts. And I think the apostle Peter provided it in his first letter when he spoke of the soon appearing of Jesus Christ: "whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1:7-9). The beloved Christians, the elect brothers and sisters to whom Peter wrote, were God's by sanctification of the Spirit and sprinkling of the blood of Christ. Peter testifies that they were believers in what they had not seen and were not seeing. These and all other true Christian believers have always had to hold their faith in God in contrast to the nearly universally held proverb that "seeing is believing.” Any believing that must depend upon seeing may be a kind of believing. At least, it is a conclusion drawn from a testimony of the senses. But believing that must depend upon seeing is not a true New Testament faith at all. New Testament faith is the believing of a report about things unseen. That is the difference between real New Testament faith and every other kind of so-called believing! It is characteristic of the Christian that he believes there is a real world coexisting with this world. It is a world that touches this world, a world that is accessible to this one. Notice those three qualifying words. First, it is a real world. There is never any contradiction between spirit and reality. The contradiction is between spirit and matter, never between the spiritual and the real. Second, this real spiritual world coexists with our world. There is not a great vacuum between the two. Light and heat coming from the sun coexist and do not exclude each other. So the physical world God made that we call nature and the spiritual world God made that He calls the heavens are coexisting with one another. Third, the physical world around us and the invisible spiritual world are accessible one to the other. The gates swing in both directions. God could send His eternal Son from the spiritual world to our physical world. And He could carry the martyr Stephen from the physical world to the heavenly. Our prayers can go up and God's answers can come down. Here is the crux of the whole matter. In this material world, the Christian believes that none of the things he or she can touch are really worth very much. The Christian endures as seeing the invisible, the spiritual- another world. For him or her, that which has real existence is spirit, not matter.  A Christian believes that and lives in the light of it. It distinguishes him or her forever from all brands of materialism and all kinds of superstition and idolatry. As Christians, we are those whose faith in the invisible has been corrected, chastened and purified by Divine revelation. It is possible to be a believer in the invisible and not a Chrisdan, but it is not possible to be a Christian and not believe in the invisible! It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. He told us of the real world God has prepared for us. Jesus has been there from eternity, and He gave us this final, reassuring word: "If it were not so, I would have told you."