The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).
October 1, 2017
1) How Vivid were Visions from God? (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
How Vivid were Visions from God?
Have you ever wondered how clear and lifelike visions from God must
have been? It was one of the “many ways” (Heb. 1:1) in which the
Lord spoke to the prophets in time’s past.
The term itself is first seen in Genesis 15:1, in which the account
declares that “…the word of the LORD came to Abram in a
vision…” It is also seen with regard to Jacob (Gen. 46:2),
Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 7:17), Iddo the seer (2 Chron. 9:29),
Isaiah (Isa. 1:1), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1), Daniel (Dan. 2:19), Amos
(Amos 1:1), Obadiah (Obad. 1:1), Nahum (Nah. 1:1), Habakkuk (Hab.
2:2), Ananias (Acts 9:10), Paul (Acts 9:12), Cornelius (Acts 10:3),
Peter (Acts 10:17), and the apostle John (Rev. 9:17). All of
these received visions from God, and how many more there must have
also been! For the Lord had “spoken to the prophets” and “gave
numerous visions” (Hos. 12:10).
Consider Samuel’s experience with visions when still a boy (1 Sam.
3:1-15). During one night, God had called him three times by
name; but Samuel thought it was Eli calling instead. The voice
was that real! On the fourth time, Samuel then
responded, for Eli had told him to do so; and the Lord, who “came
and stood and called as at other times…” (v. 10), then spoke His
message to young Samuel, which is all referred to as a “vision” (v.
The book of Isaiah begins by saying, “The vision of Isaiah the son
of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the
reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (Isa.
1:1). Later in the book, Isaiah declares that “A harsh vision has
been shown to me…” (Isa. 21:2).
Ezekiel, while in Babylonian captivity, mentions in the first verse
of his book that while he was “by the river Chebar among the exiles,
the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” Some of the
visions Ezekiel received were most strange in appearance,
outlandish: “As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the
north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a
bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing
metal in the midst of the fire. Within it there were figures
resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they
had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. Their
legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they
gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides
were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them,
their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they
moved, each went straight forward. As for the form of their faces,
each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the
right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face
of an eagle” (Ezek. 1:4-10). He then goes on throughout the
rest of the chapter to vividly describe more of what he saw in this
vision. But notice especially the last three verses: “Now above the
expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a
throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled
a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. Then I
noticed from the appearance of His loins and upward something like
glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from
the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire;
and there was a radiance around him. As the appearance of the
rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the
surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the
glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a
voice speaking” (vv. 26-28).
Not only did Ezekiel hear and see visions from God, but he was also
“transported” by them. He writes: “….as I was sitting in my house
with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the
Lord God fell on me there. Then I looked, and behold, a likeness as
the appearance of a man; from His loins and downward there was the
appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of
brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal. He stretched out
the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the
Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the
visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of
the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which
provokes to jealousy, was located. And behold, the glory of
the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the
plain. Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, raise your eyes now
toward the north.’ So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold,
to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the
entrance. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, do you see what they are
doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are
committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet
you will see still greater abominations” (Ezek. 8:1-6).
Ezekiel had been in Babylonian captivity. Babylon was about
500 miles straight across from Jerusalem. Of course, travelers
would follow the Fertile Crescent NW, arching over at the top, and
coming down south into the land of Israel for about a 900-mile
journey, instead of going straight across the desert. But
Ezekiel was transported in a vision by God, so physical distances
Notice, too, that not only did Ezekiel see visions, hear God, and be
“transported,” but he also could touch, feel, and interact with what
he saw in the vision! For look what he goes on to say: “Then
He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked,
behold, a hole in the wall. He said to me, ‘Son of man, now dig
through the wall.’ So I dug through the wall, and behold, an
entrance. And He said to me, ‘Go in and see the wicked
abominations that they are committing here.’ So I entered and
looked, and behold, every form of creeping things and beasts and
detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were
carved on the wall all around. Standing in front of them were
seventy elders of the house of Israel… each man with his censer in
his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising” (vv.
7-11). So much imagery! And all of which he could see,
touch, feel, hear, smell, interact with, and experience! These
visions were way beyond mere vague notions or foggy
impressions! And since Ezekiel could move around in them and
interact, these visions must have been at least three
dimensional! How real they were!
Ezekiel then relates other things God declared and revealed to him
by a vision. Following that, the prophet then writes of his “return”
to Babylon: “And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision
by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision
that I had seen left me. Then I told the exiles all the things that
the LORD had shown me” (Ezek. 11:24-25).
How real that vision was! But would Ezekiel have had any less
trouble in explaining exactly how all that was happening to him than
the apostle Paul when saying, “…but I will go on to visions and
revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years
ago – whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not
know, God knows – such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And
I know how such a man — whether in the body or apart from the body I
do not know, God knows – was caught up into Paradise and heard
inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On
behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not
boast, except in regard to my weaknesses” (2 Cor. 12:1-5).
Paul is speaking in the third person about himself in this passage.
He knows this miraculous event happened to him, but he can’t fully
explain the process of how it took place. For he knew not
whether he had actually left his own body or remained in it when he
was caught up to that heavenly realm. But how vivid and
beautifully real it must have all been to him — and even though it
is referred to as “visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Cor.
Like Ezekiel, the apostle John was also given some very unusual
visions by God for the Revelation letter, which are highly
figurative and symbolic to the reader (cf. Rev. 9:17-21).
But now consider even more of just how real in appearance these
visions must have been to those receiving them. In Acts 12,
“Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being made
fervently by the church to God” (v. 5). “Peter was sleeping
between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of
the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the
Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck
Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And his
chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself
and put on your sandals.’ And he did so. And he said to him, ‘Wrap
your cloak around you and follow me.’ And he went out and continued
to follow, and HE DID NOT KNOW THAT WHAT WAS BEING DONE BY THE ANGEL
WAS REAL, BUT THOUGHT HE WAS SEEING A VISION” (vv. 6-9, emphasis
Peter knew about visions. He had received one prior when on
the rooftop of Simon the tanner’s in Joppa. In that vision,
Peter “saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet
coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were
in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the
earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, ‘Get up, Peter,
kill and eat!’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord, for I have
never eaten anything unholy and unclean.’ Again a voice came
to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider
unholy.’ This happened three times, and immediately the object was
taken up into the sky” (vv. 11-16). This is referred to as a
“vision” (Acts 10:19; 11:5). So, yes, Peter was well aware of
how real a vision could appear.
But now Peter was seeing an actual event, which wasn’t a vision,
when an angel of the Lord had come to him in prison (whom he had
seen), had struck him on his side to awaken him (which he had felt),
with the chains now falling from his hands miraculously (which he
could also see and feel), and his obeying the angel’s instructions
to gird himself, to put on his sandals and a cloak, and to follow
the angel (which he could see and experience himself doing).
Peter was involved in all that. It was all really happening —
but Peter thought it was just a vision! Doesn’t that indicate how
real visions from God must have been?! They were certainly not
just a hazy awareness, or some type of foggy image that cannot be
clearly seen. For in that jail, Peter was seeing reality; but it was
so far from a normal event that it seemed to him like a
vision! So the vision he had seen at Simon the tanner’s must
have been vividly real with lifelikeness — like seeing
reality! And would not the same be also so for the many others
— from Abram on down — who had also received visions from God?
How amazingly real and clear it must have been for them!
(All Scripture from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
News & Notes
Here are some folks to be praying for:
All those who were affected by the recent terrible shooting in Las
Vegas that resulted in 58 deaths and 489 wounded.
Let us continue to remember in prayer the others who have also
recently lost loved ones: the friends and family of Geraldine
(Jerri) Coop, of Kelli McDavid Fleeman, of Ronald Ray Renfrow, and
of Ladonna Andrews.
Myrna Jordan has been having a little trouble with her hip.
Danny Barlett has been having some trouble with his knee,
which had become swollen and painful.
Also those with health issues: Shirley Davis, Cedell Fletcher,
Judy Daugherty, Pat Joyner, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse,
Rachael Gerbing, and Mary Vandevander.
Those healing from recent surgery: Anita Abbott, Mary
Kicklighter, and Charles Crosby.
And also for Cicily Thompson who is seeking employment.
WordPress version of this bulletin:
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not,
salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m.
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies' Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
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