Man’s Blindness to God

Dallas Willard Part 2 of 8

Rolling Hills Covenant Church had listened to Dallas for over ten years. For this Sunday school class, they asked him to speak less about the spiritual life and more about God and the kingdom of God, about sin and our redemption from it.


Dallas:  . . . and if you would also make the effort to study the scripture passages that are indicated for each week as we go along, I think that will help. We have a very limited amount of time at our churches you know? I don’t know why it is we spend so little time at the things that matter most but sometimes we do and we just have a few hours or a few minutes every week for teaching and preaching in the churches. And so, if you will take this and do the reading, perhaps we can cover a great deal of material that we otherwise might not be able to—I’m gonna set this thing back a little bit or I’ll bite it. [Laughter] I guess it wouldn’t hurt me. It would probably hurt it. [00:52]

Now, this morning, we want to just briefly reflect back where we were last time and we were talking about the reality of Heaven. Remember that Heaven is not something that is going to happen sometime later. Heaven is the reality of God now. It’s the reality of God now and we went through many scriptures talking about what is in Heaven, and the relationship of Heaven to earth, God’s purposes with the various kinds of Heavens. You will find these things discussed on the sheets that have been handed out, but the important thing that we wanted to leave as we closed last time was that man begins to turn away from God and as he turns away from God, rejects knowledge of God.

Now, rejects knowledge of God in what sense? Not just in the sense of saying there is no God—many people admit there is a God—not just in the sense of saying we don’t know much about Him. Many people know books full of knowledge about God but when it comes down to their life, they live as if the only reality were this world. See, that’s the trap. They live as if the only reality were this world. [2:25]

We need to stop and ask ourselves both individually and with our church life, how much of this could go on if God didn’t exist? It’s a sobering kind of question because you see we are trapped by the world in which we come into seeing only this world. Now, there is a reason for that and we are going to be talking about that today. We need to try to come to understand as the title of our lesson for today says, Why Heaven is Not Visible to ManWhy Heaven is Not Visible to Man.

Was it intended to be visible to man? What would the effect be upon our lives if it were visible? Suppose all of the things we spent time last time talking about, suppose every morning when you woke up and opened your eyes, there it all was. Suppose every person, when they woke up and opened their eyes, there was God, the Triune Deity with the infinity of angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. [3:41]

How many angels are there? We talked about that last time—a lot of them.

Jesus said in Matthew 26:53 when Peter or one of the apostles got a little excited at the moment when He was taken, He said to them, “Do you know, I could call and more than 12 legions of angels would immediately come to my assistance.”

How many are twelve legions? 72,000—actually, He says more than 12 legions. You see all of those beings would not have to be shipped in by Speedy Freight on light waves or something you see. They are here. They are here! [4:31]

And Jesus says in Matthew 18:10 that a little child’s angels constantly “behold the face of the Father.” How does He do that? By television? You know, even in terms of our own solar system, if you send a light wave out from the sun to the earth, it takes eight minutes for it to get there. Hmmm? Eight minutes for it to get there.

Now, you see the relationship between God in His created dwelling which is the society of beings—we call them angels. There are many ranks or them. They are the spirits of just persons made perfect in that society—that Heaven which God has created. Remember, God is not Heaven. He has created Heaven to partly contain and show forth His glory—all of that reality which is there. [5:43]

You see, if we lived in full view of that, human life as we know it would not be recognizable. It simply wouldn’t be recognizable. The whole world order that is set up would be changed because of the overwhelming realization of God. Now, I’m not saying that’s bad. See, man was meant to live in conjunction with God.

Now, I want to begin with the scripture this morning looking at Romans 1 and then I want to go back to the beginning and we want to talk for the time that we have available about why Heaven is not visible to man, about how God cooperates with the human will, not to see and then we want to talk some about the details of how people are formed in their habit of not seeing and the role of choice and will in all of this.

And then finally of course we want to begin to talk about how we may anoint our eyes with eye salve as Revelation 2:18, I think it is [It is actually Revelations 3:18] says, we are commanded to “ . . . anoint our (thine) eyes with eyesalve, that we may (thou mayest) see,” because there is a way that we can come to great assurance about the reality of this Heavenly reality, this Heavenly Kingdom, the reality of this Heavenly Kingdom, here and now, next to us. And when we do, everything—our faith, our humility, our love, our joy—all of the things that we associate with the promises of God in the scripture for human life become increasingly real. [7:39]

On the other hand, as long as we remain with our head stuck in the physical world and treat that as the only reality—pride, evil doing, hatred, faithlessness, inability to pray, misery instead of joy, anger at others, at ourselves, low self esteem—do you know why people don’t have self esteem? Because they don’t see themselves in connection with Heaven. That’s why they have low self esteem. [8:22]

Now, of course, bad things have happened to them but the cure of it all is to recognize the reality of Heaven and cry out for it and pursue it until we take our place in it and know it to be so and then all problems of self esteem are gone. Without that, the problems of self-esteem are insolvable because they will always be solved at the expense of someone else. But in the Kingdom of God, there are resources for the solution to that problem that will cure it without taking it out of someone else’s hide, you see.

So these are the things we want to go over now and let’s just look at Romans 1 and I want to begin by reading from verse 16 on but I am not going to read continuously. I am going to skip through here and try to make clear what happens when people turn in their knowledge away from Heaven. [9:41]

Paul says in verse 16—“ . . . I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ . . .”—the good news of Christ—“ . . . for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) Why is it the power? Because in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.

The power of the Gospel depends upon the effect of the truth about God on the human mind. We preach the Gospel. We reveal the nature of God and Christ coming makes clear that the nature of God is love as well as power and the acceptance of that in the mind begins the transformation of the self. That’s the power of God unto salvation. [10:41]

And as you have some faith and you step out on it, there is a revelation that corresponds to it and that gives you more faith and you step out on that and a revelation corresponds to it and increasingly, moment by moment, day by day, you become more sure that God is really what the Bible says He is and in the light of that, your life changes.  Your all changes because you are in contract with a different reality. That’s what Jesus came to do was to break through the veil that we talked about last time. He broke through the veil and He made the contact.

And He taught about the Kingdom, and then he let evil do its worst to Him and rose beyond it in a resurrection life. And the resurrection made clear the reality of the Kingdom, which Jesus talked about.  You can’t understand that and stay the same. [11:50]

Now, the words can run over your mind and you can say, “Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah; that’s true.” I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about an empty verbal knowledge and one of the greatest threats to folks around churches is they hear the words so much without the corresponding realities that their faith ebbs away in the midst of the words.

You remember James says to some of his Jewish Christian brothers, says, “You believe there is one God. You did great. The Devils also believe and shake. Why aren’t you shaking?” [12:38]

See, people who speak lightly of God don’t know what they are talking about. There is a whole lot of shaking in the Bible. We talk glibly about meeting God but if you notice that people who meet God in the Bible often wind up in a dead faint. The experience of God is a powerful thing and one of the ways that the knowledge of God slips away from us is words, words, words, words, words and we begin to assure ourselves that we are okay because the words are there.

One of the real problems of Christian radio, 24 hours a day or more, if there are [Laughter] is that just that flow of words that just keeps coming across there and you are going to be really put to the test to keep them alive and you can have scripture recordings playing in your house constantly and Gospel music on your car, and if you aren’t careful, it will just harden your heart. [13:47]

But we are dealing with God. We need to be active. We need to be seeking. We need to be broken. We need to be needy. We are needy and we need to acknowledge that and constantly keep it to the fore of our minds. God doesn’t fool around. People fool around. See? It’s people who fool around and we must be very careful with it.

Now, not only is the righteousness of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but the wrath and righteousness of God is revealed in the order of nature in the following verse that you read there. I won’t read all of them. Verse 20, however tells us “ . . . the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made . . .” (Romans 1:20) [14:45]

You see, He is talking about what the Psalmist in Psalm 19 talks about. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” (Psalm 19:2) There is no place, the Psalmist says, where the voice of God is not heard thru the works which declare His glory and yet just as we become blah-zey and indifferent, to the word even, if it is constantly with us and we are not attentive so we become blah-zey about nature and yet Paul says, “All you have to do is look at it.”

See, I don’t know how far I can go into such things and keep you awake but we really have to understand that God and His eternal being is without origin and all of the world we see around us came from somewhere. You can’t point to one thing that did not come from someplace else. You can’t point to one thing that does not depend on other things for its existence and its nature. In the physical realm, that is always true. [15:50]

In the realm of creation, that is always true but God didn’t come from anywhere. You see, we look around the physical world and we get the idea somehow it’s easier not to exist than to exist but God’s eternal being is everlasting. He didn’t come from anywhere. He’s not going anywhere. He is eternal. He will always be there. There was never a time when He was not.

A little child says, “But mama, where did God come from?” You see, the little child is already hooked on the idea that everything comes from something else because in the physical world, he knows that his toys came from the store, his mommy says, “you came from the hospital or the stork brought you” or something like that or perhaps a more sophisticated version from modern parents would be given to him. [Laughter] And all of this from the little child—everything comes from some place.

“Where did God come from?” And that’s the time mommy needs to sit down and have a gentle, calm discussion with the child about the nature of God and it needs to implant in that little child’s mind that there is an order of reality which is not like this.  It’s not like this. [17:19]

Now, you see, if you reject that knowledge, what happens is exactly what you find in the rest of Romans 1. You are all very familiar with this, I know. You are Bible students and you’ve read it many times so quickly let me just summarize it. “They knew God . . .”  (verse 21) but they didn’t glorify Him as God, “neither were thankful.” See, that’s the only appropriate attitude is to glory in and thank God. We are going to come in a moment to why that happened that they turned away.

Now, the effect of refusing to glorify God in your mind—to dwell upon Him, to be thankful is your imagination becomes vain and your foolish heart is darkened. (Romans 1:21) The light goes out. [18:04]

The next thing is “ Professing themselves to be wise . . .” Ahha! Now we are on to something—“ . . .professing themselves to be wise.” (Romans 1:22) Wonder where that came from? “ . . . they became fools . . .” and in this great wisdom, they “ . . . changed the glory of the uncorruptible . . .”  (Romans 1:23) [18:28]

Now, what was I talking about a moment ago when I said, there is something which never comes into being, never passes away? That’s the uncorruptible. They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image like corruptible man, birds, four hooved beast, creeping things and because of this, you see, the first thing that goes is the mind. The darkness moves in as the mind moves away from the knowledge of God against all efforts on God’s part to come through, to be present and the next thing that goes is the whole character. God gave him up. You see, God responds to the refusal in the heart of man to accept him for what he is by letting them go their way. You want darkness; you have darkness.

Man loved “darkness rather than light”—John 3:19 tells us because their deeds were evil. A person does something wrong, what’s the first thing they want to do? Hide it. That’s why lying is such an integral part of all evil doing. We want to hide it. That’s why there is so much hiding in the world. We are trained to hide. We are trained to scuttle off to the darkness. [20:08]

We don’t want people to know what is in our hearts. We don’t want people to know our abilities even sometimes. We are often ashamed of them. We hide for reasons, which aren’t even wrongdoing. We just want to hide. Put up a front because from behind that front, we believe we can manage our world and that’s the real challenge of course to every person, is to manage their world.

So now God has set aside—so, why does he put up images? Birds? Snakes? Because he is trying to manage his world. That’s what idols are about is world management. But now, you see, instead of dealing with a God that is so great and awesome, you deal with something on a stick or something standing around somewhere.

The prophets, you know, never ceased making fun of these things. They can’t talk. They can’t move. They can’t eat. There’s a wonderful little passage in the prophets where it talks about how a guy goes out into the woods and chops down a tree and brings it in and makes a little furniture and has a little fire and he’s got a little left over and says, “I’ll make an idol” and he bows down and worships it. Why is that? [21:34]

You see, the name of the game in all religion that does not accept the glorious God for what He is IS self-control—control of the world by the self. I manage it through my idol and not all idols stand around in corners. You remember that Paul equated a covetous person with an idolater. There are all kinds of idols but it’s all an attempt to self manage.

As we go along, then the lust dishonors their own bodies. What do you primarily have under your control? Bodies—you have your body and how do you get at other people? You get at them through their bodies. You want to hurt someone? You know where to go, don’t you? Their body. And the body is that place now where all attention is focused—all concern is focused from the worldly point of view that has turned away from God. [22:42]

And then of course, they try to use the body to get feelings. Feelings—a wonderful thing—feelings, aren’t they? The world wants to run on feelings and so verse 26 “gave them up” to vile feelings—“vile affections.” I am not going to read the rest of this. It’s too terrible. I mean, you read it if you want to see the story but I mean this is the story of the reality of evil that rests in a world that has turned its back on God. God did not turn its back on the world—His back on the world. The world turned its back on God. It decided that it would hide.

Let’s look at Genesis 3 a moment now. In Genesis 3, we have the story of man’s sin and woman’s sin too—they were in this together—didn’t matter who went first. You notice the appeal that Satan makes or the serpent makes here. Verse 5 of Genesis 3 was precisely the appeal to knowledge—the appeal to knowledge. “Oh being I the know—being wise.” [24:07]

It says you’ll not die if you eat the fruit of the tree which God has put in the midst of the garden—verse 5—for God knows “that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” “Ye shall be as gods.” Hmmm. See, that’s what we want. We want to be as gods.

We want to be above reproach and we want to be in control. And that cuts us off from God because God is the one who is above reproach and God is the one who is in control. See?

We must accept our place as not in control and in fact now we must accept our place as sinful and weak. Yes, we must do that. No matter how fine we look, we have to accept that. There is not a person in this room today that is above accepting that. We must humble ourselves and accept our place if we are going to deal and live in God’s Kingdom. [25:25]

Now, they refused to do it—“ . . . the woman saw the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes . . . “ I won’t take time to elaborate on the significance of these “seeing it was good for food,” “pleasant to the eyes,” “desired to make one wise,” “ . . . and she took the fruit and verse 7 tells us their eyes “were opened.”

What were their eyes opened to? “They knew good and evil.” What did that mean, “they knew good and evil?” They knew sin, conscious and they knew also their vulnerability; now, they knew their need. You see, they were naked. We are apt to, from our modern point of view think of that purely in terms of the shame of the body being naked. It is referring to their realization now that they were out of touch with God; that the light had gone off in their souls and indeed they were going to have to look out for themselves. They knew good and evil now and they would know it even more. Remember what the curse imposed upon them was simply the consequences of their own willingness to be independent of God. [26:56]

And Adam now had to go out—Adam worked before the fall you know? He had a job, but he now had to take care of the earth in His own power. That’s why the scripture says, “In the sweat of your brow—in the sweat of your brow.” (Genesis 3:19) There was no sweat before that. Now the sweat begins because why? Because Adam is now having to work in his own strength and up to that point, he worked in the strength of God just like Jesus did when He came.

When Jesus came, He didn’t have to grab ahold of the waves and by main strength and awkwardness make them be still, did the? He just said, “Peace, be still.” That’s the way Adam worked before the fall. He worked in the power of God, but now you see they are naked. They are vulnerable. [27:58]

So, what did they do? They hide. They hide. They’re scared. They are afraid. They know fear. They hide. Now, the surprising thing about this passage is not that they hide but that they can hide. And I want you to just think about that a moment. “And they heard the sound (voice) of the Lord God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord.” (Genesis 3:8) How can you hide yourself from the presence of the Lord?—Only with the cooperation of the Lord—only with the cooperation of the Lord. [28:59]

Now, you don’t want to be here upset by teachings about God’s omniscience. God’s omniscience does not victimize His omnipotence. If God wishes to not know something, He can do that. He can do that. If He wishes to not know something, He can do that. Some theologians talk about God as if He were this great cosmic stare, the King that constantly was fixed upon every blade of grass, every molecule in every grain of sand and everything you are doing and thinking right now, see?—big brother of cosmic proportions. God can know anything that He wants to know and He cannot know anything He doesn’t want to know.

And if He decides that He doesn’t want to see Adam back of the bush, guess what? [Laughter] He doesn’t see Adam back of he bush. See, omniscience refers to God’s abilities. It refers to the fact that He can know anything but there are times—and the Bible talks about this over and over—when God chooses to hide His face. [30:28]

That is, He chooses to allow people to be out of His presence. This is the worst thing that can happen to you. It’s described sometimes in theological terms by the big word—hell.  Hell is exclusion from God. It is exclusion from the presence of God. God withdraws His presence from Adam. He allows Adam to hide and it is out of God’s allowing Adam to hide and Adam’s choice to live away from the presence of God. Look, they heard and they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden. They hid from His presence. They didn’t want to be in His presence.

You know, you hear stories about revivals—you know what makes a revival happen? God allows His presence to be felt. Real revival comes when a few people beseech and prevail upon God simply to come and let His presence be felt. When God’s presence comes into a place, forget about the arrangements. [31:47]

Now, we’ve misused the word revival and we’ve come to the place to where we often don’t know what it means anymore, but revival comes—re-life; that’s what revival means-“re-life.” Re-life comes whenever God’s presence moves in to an area and if you’ve read the stories of real revivals, you know what the effect of that is and how marvelously it outruns all of human efforts to plan and to talk and to sing and persuade and many times, people are smitten with the consciousness of God even before they get to the place where the revival supposedly is taking place because the presence of God has come down in that area. See.

Now, when the presence of God comes into the area, then people can no longer do the things they want to do. It changes everything. They are faced with the reality of God. They have some sense of this overwhelming power and reality which is in their midst but God doesn’t always push it and so people become used to being blind. They become used to living as if God were not there. [33:24]

Listen to these words in the 28th chapter of Genesis. “And Jacob went forth  (out) to Beersheba, and went toward Haran. (Genesis 28:10) And he lighted upon a certain place”—the 11th verse of Genesis 28—“and tarried there all night, because the sun was set . . .” and he put up a stone “for his pillow and laid (lay) down at that place to sleep. And he dreamed.” You see one of the things that you will find is that God sometimes uses dreams to bypass the hard heart of waking consciousness and touch the soul. He sometimes does that, you see? What was on Jacob’s mind at this point? [34:09]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Roughly, it was how to keep from getting killed by an angry brother, right? See, isn’t that characteristic of the kinds of concerns we have—how to keep from getting killed by an angry brother. How much mileage he could get out of his camels or his feet or whatever it is he was running on, you see.

So, you see, God does not force His presence. God gives His presence in special ways to people who may even not know that they need it but they need it and would receive it. God finds a way to bypass the consciousness; sometimes He comes in very surprising ways, such as Paul met Him on the road to Damascus. [34:57]

Now, Paul didn’t know what he was looking for but Paul was seeking Jesus. He was looking for him real hard. He didn’t know it. Jacob didn’t know what he was looking for. He thought he was just looking for escape but he was looking for safety. And our safety is in God. God had His plans for Jacob of course and He had His plans for Paul.

So, “ . . . he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached into heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending upon it.” (Genesis 28:12) How long was the ladder? Not very long, actually you know because Heaven is here. See? Jacob was blind to it. It was not very long and the angels coming and going—you remember, Jesus also spoke of a time when people would see the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. [36:07]

What is He talking about? He was talking about the interchange between man and Heaven. That’s what He’s talking about. See, you say, “Well I’ve never seen an angel.” Are you sure? So while the interesting things if you take the Biblical record, and indeed if you go on and listen to stories which you can gather about these things.

For example, Billy Graham has a wonderful book on angels. I don’t know if you’ve ever read it. I urge you to do it if you haven’t. [He has several but it could be Angels: God’s Secret Agents by Billy Graham.] One of the most interesting things about angel stories, in the Bible is, normally, people don’t know to whom they are talking. See, we have the idea that if we were to see an angel, it would you know—everyone knows how angels look, right? We’ve seen pictures of them, right? So here comes something and it looks like a human being, perhaps. Joshua walks up to a guy who is out there on the battlefield and says, “What are you doing out here? Who are you?” Do you think he would have said that if the thing looked like the pictures? [Laughter] He wouldn’t have said that. He would have said, “Whoa, I know who you are! You are an angel, right? [37:20]

No, He didn’t—you see, God comes to us in ways, which we have to reach out for. It’s like prayer; when you began to pray seriously, one of the greatest temptations will be to discount the answers as coincidences and if you do that, you will stay right there in your prayer life until you decide you want to do something different because you will discount the answers and your faith will not grow. People are blind to the activity of God. You have to accept that as a starting point that we are blind to the activity of God. [38:02]

Jacob said, “ . . . Surely, the Lord is in this place . . .” He is in this place “ . . . and I knew it not.”  (Genesis 28:16) You see, he had, by this point; humanity had taken on their blindness to God. It was a part of Jacob’s life and he was afraid. That’s the normal response. When God is really present, people are not jumping around and singing, “singing, smile, and pray;” they are scared to death. [Laughter] That’s why normally the word right after “Howdy” when they meet an angel is, “Don’t be scared. Don’t be frightened.” You remember how often that is? “Oh, don’t be afraid.”

Jesus comes walking on the water; they get a little glimpse of this—what?

The scripture says, “They were screaming. They were screaming.” The King James says, “and they cried out.” {Matthew 14:26, Mark 6:49) We think, oh, no, no. They were screaming and graveling. They were frightened to death because they were sure they had seen a ghost and of course Jesus says, “Fear not. Don’t be afraid.” See? [39:18]

Fear comes to the person who is cut off from God and has not learned the heart of God and the nature of God and so they look at His awfulness and they are pulled beyond the normal and things begin to get out of control and they say, “Wait a moment, Lord; if it’s going to be this way, I’d just as soon you go away and let me run it.”

See, what happened in the Gadarenes, when the Lord cast the demon out of the old fellow and sent it into the pigs because they asked him to. What did they want Jesus to do? They said, “Jesus, you are wilder than the wild man; you leave, okay?” So when things begin to get out of control and they always get out of control when God shows up. Now, please don’t take me to be saying that every ridiculous thing that anyone can do is a sign that God is there. It isn’t! No! No! We’ve got other things to look at to determine whether it’s God or not. [40:18]

There is a lot of foolishness that is done just to show that we are out of control. Well, I mean, that’s controlled out of control—formless form—planned ritual of being non-ritual so, I mean, there are all sorts of ways that one can do this.

So, you go into—I won’t mention denominations but go into a lot of them and I find in every one of them, they have a “thing” that is their “thing,” right? Since there probably aren’t any Quakers here, I’ll mention in the Friends Church, well, their thing is they don’t baptize and they don’t take the Lord’s Supper and they have a moment of quiet, see in their service. That’s called a time when God could move. {41:08]

Normally, God doesn’t move in those anymore. Now, there was a time when God moved in those. Normally, God doesn’t move in those because He doesn’t want to disturb the quiet moments, you see? (Laughter) And the quiet moment has become very precious to the dear Friends there. I love the Quakers and I am going to quote a moment from George Fox about some things.

Wonderful Christians—one of the most powerful movements where you go in and you sit down in those meeting and I have been in England to them; I’ve been in Wisconsin to them; out here and you go in and you sit down in those meetings and you nearly freeze to death, see? Nothing is going to happen and they call that being quiet and meditative. It’s just like a graveyard. It’s quiet and meditative out there, you see? [41:59]

Now, Quakers do it one way. Baptists may do it a different way. They all have their little thing that says, “We are in control. We are in control and we are going to see to it that things are done rightly.” Well, why not just back up a moment and see what God would do with it. Well, of course one is scared to death because God might decide to do nothing and we are here to have a service. So, what’s going to happen in that case? Right?  What will happen?

Listen, I want to tell you friends, one of the best things that could happen to many churches is that nothing should happen. You remember a church in the book of Revelation that Jesus said to, “You have a name that you are alive and you are dead. You are dead.” (Revelation 3:1) See, if we want to test the power of our religion, we have to look at the effect of it on our communities. We have to look at the effect of it really on our lives; not does it just prop up our notion of proprietary and righteousness but is it actually transforming lives? Do we have people who are filled with love? Who are fearless? Hmmm? People who have the power of God to accomplish the “ends of God” or are we just looking real good? [43:26]

Now, every little child, when it comes into the world, is put out there where it’s got to control things. It’s scared to death and the first thing that occurs to it is; well, you know, when it comes right down to it, I prefer to do something wrong than to be regarded as weird, you know? Because a little child has got to be “in” with the others, got to be “in” with its family; it is victimized by the sin that is around it in the world and all of those angels have a very hard time getting its attention.

Now, actually children are very sensitive to these tings if they are trained—if they are taught, but they are normally not and they are put in a situation where their integrity—even a little child—the integrity of the little child is called into question and as they grow up, they are pushed into patterns of behavior. They may be terribly hurt. They may have terrible experiences, which impose upon them burdens of anger and guilt and lust, despair, self- hatred and after awhile, they identify with that. Finally, they say, “Yes, this is what life is and this is me.”  That’s where you get people who do all the dreadful things in the world. [44:57]

How do you think you get people always drive by shootings? Where do these people come from? They come from just the process I’ve explained to you. They start out as little children. The game phenomenon is a particularly clear version of the drive and need to fit in that most human character against God and makes them blind as a bat. That “will” not to see God is predicated on the desire to master and be the master of ones’ own life and as many other persons as possible.

God said to Adam, “By the sweat of your brow, thou shalt eat bread.” (Genesis 3:19)  And Adam said, “Well, I think I’ll try the sweat of someone else’s brow.” And cities, of course, are places where people learn to live off the sweat of other people’s brows. If you are stuck out in the country by yourself; and there’s no one around, you gotta get it. It’s your sweat. But, if you get a lot of people around, you start figuring out ways to get it off of someone else’s brow. So, the need to master and to master others and that’s where the world system comes from. [46:14]

We often have people who are in touch with God in some degree who get misguided about this. You may remember the story of Balaam. I don’t have time to go through it all this morning but I’ll just refer you to Numbers 22. Now, here is a case of a person who obviously was in touch with God, carried on conversations with Him, served Him in some capacity but what really happened here was that this fellow, Balaam was offered a great deal of money to do something which God told Him not to do. God told him not to do it and this is a pattern you will see over and over and you cannot study it too closely.

What happened was that Balaam kept thinking about it and talking to God about it until finally God said, “All right, go on out there”—verse 20 of Numbers 22—“go with them,” you know? You want this, go with them. But He says, “the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” [47:29]

Now, you say why didn’t God just shut him down, break his legs on the spot and say, “You can’t go.” God doesn’t deal with us that way. God wants to know where our heart is and He lets our heart move. So, He says to Balaam, “You go. I told you not to go. You go, but you say what I say.” Now if Balaam had had any sense at all, he would have been able to look into his heart and realize that when he got up there, he was going to be in real trouble.

Now, his donkey that he was riding on had more sense than he did. [Laughter] And verse 22, “ . . . God’s anger was kindled because he went . . . ” Why was God’s anger kindled because he went when God said you can ago?  Would you think about that? You see God often gives us what we keep asking Him for. [48:17]

The people in the wilderness didn’t like manna. You know what manna is? Well, manna is—they didn’t know what manna was—manna is; you should call it, “What’s that stuff?” Go out and get another basket full of “what’s that stuff.” They didn’t know what it was. Well, it was the congealed word of God is what it was. They didn’t want it. They said, “We want meat. We want meat. “ Did God send them meat? He sent them meat. What else did he send them?—leanness into their souls—lean souls—(Psalm 106:15) Balaam went up. God said he could go up. Why did God say he could go? Because Balaam wanted to go up. He was hooked on this thing. It had gotten into him. He said, “I remember all those years as a poor country pastor out there and how much I did without. I drove that old car until the wheels fell off.  Now’s my chance.”

See, the heart hides these things. It may not be a root of covetousness like that. Hebrews mentions a root of bitterness and it sits there. See, that’s why it’s so important for us to live in the full blaze of God’s glory and to be satisfied in that. Balaam had a hard spot in his heart. He had an uncircumcised heart. He had a heart that was insensitive to God and when God said, “Yes” he didn’t realize the tone of voice because he wasn’t listening. He was not seeing because he didn’t want to see. [50:08]

Now, the ass had more sense than the prophet and verse 23, “ . . . the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in his (the) way . . . “ It is a real interesting story here. I mean, this angel was going to kill Balaam. He scared the donkey. The donkey was looking. Really, that’s sort of the job of donkeys. You ever notice that when you go up on these mountain things, you ride on donkeys? They are good at looking.  They notice things but prophets are often notable for not noticing things.

And this prophet was so caught up, he was sitting there counting his money on the back of that donkey and the donkey turned out of the way and he tried to force him back in there and verse 25, “ . . . the ass saw the angel of the Lord, and she thrust herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot . . .  (Numbers 22:25) and he smote her again” and that got his attention a little bit “And the angel (of the Lord) went further, and stood in a narrow place . . . “ (Numbers 22:26) “ . . . And (when) the ass saw the angel (of the Lord), she fell down . . . “(Numbers 22:27) and said, I give up. “And (then) the Lord opened the mouth of the ass . . . “ (Numbers 22:28)—notice again, this got his attention. He couldn’t hear what God was saying to him so God adopted special means and then finally verse 31—He “opened the eyes of Baalam. . . ” [51:41]

Now, this can just look like a weird story, you see. It isn’t a weird story. It is a story about seeing and not seeing. We have to understand that all around us, all of reality is filled with the glory of God and if we will look at it, if we will to see it, God will show it to us. And when he shows it to us, all of our lives will be changed. [52:09]

Let’s close by reading some words of Bishop Kiven Gary of Uganda. He’s been just now—I just got this letter in the mail from Africa Enterprise—he’s been diagnosed with leukemia and he’s expected to die. Listen to these words.

“Well,” he says, “we don’t ignore the possibility of the miracle from God. He can stop this leukemia if he wants but I am at peace as I give this message. I consider it a rare opportunity for a brother to know that his time is limited in this world so that he can plan and pray and look up into Heaven.”

See? Everything is changed when we open our hearts to the reality of Heaven and accept our humble, lowly place in that world. Then God lets us see because He can trust us, and it won’t hurt us. [53:10]

Well, there is so much more I would like to have said about this that I’ve written out on the sheet and I hope you have a chance to study it over rather carefully and prayerfully and I believe it will minster to your hearts.

“Lord, we pray that you will give us the will to see. Give us the will to see how we are spending our time, the attitudes and feelings of our heart and anything that would keep us from living with Heaven before us. Bless each one in this group today. Minister what we need individually. We ask it in your name. Amen.”

Listen to all parts in this The Soul’s Eternal Anchor series