When God does give vision it is that which becomes the occasion and basis of our testing, our education and our discipline. This is far more important to God than easy fulfilment and realization; than that kind of facilitation which is made possible by God’s overruling. Look at the prophets! They were men of vision. They stood in the gap between threatening disaster and the survival of God’s people. But what discipline they endured because of their vision!
It was their vision which brought all the inward as well as the outward suffering upon them. Look again at Habakkuk. How he cried to God about the situation and then took his position in relation to the vision. It is faith and patience which are the virtues to be perfected, so he realized that “the just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Similarly John, the man of the Patmos visions, described himself as the brother “in… the patience of Jesus” (Revelation 1:9).
So we may find that although things may be taking a new and different shape, the purpose of God has not changed. We may be presented with His vision in new and more advanced aspects, but it is only what God originally purposed. Can we adjust? Can we leave the things that are behind? Without raising questions as to the right or wrong of what has been in the past; can we go on and grow up as we move towards God’s end?
We thank God that ever He took Paul away from his ministry of travelling evangelism and let him be shut up in prison, for it was then that the full glorious vision and revelation of the “heavenlies” and the “eternal” was given. This seemed to eclipse all the earthly and temporal. It was worth it. What might have seemed a tragedy was not one after all. Satan may have had a lot to do with Paul’s imprisonment and with John’s banishment to Patmos, but from these troubles the Church has gained very much in heavenly values. The Holy Spirit is the custodian of the full purpose of God and under His government the Church and the individual believer will move ever on and up.
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