How miserable is our state! The things we ought to have loved are so remote and undiscovered and unknown by us, that while we are men and situated in the prison of this body, the things that are truly good and eternal are utterly incapable of being seen or heard or thought by us.
- Columbanus, Sermon III, Irish, 7th century
Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.
- Numbers 22.31
That’s just the problem with unseen things, isn’t it? We can’t see them. Yet seeing unseen things, and living the understanding of reality they represent, is a crucial component of true faith (Heb. 11.1).
Yet because unseen things – Christ exalted in glory, angels coming and going, the heavenly throne room of the Lord – are beyond the reach of our physical eyes, how can we hope to see them, so that our lives become shaped by them?
God can show them to us by other means. If He could enable a donkey and a mercenary prophet like Balaam to see into the unseen realm, surely there’s hope for us?
There exists a glorious landscape of unseen reality, things “truly good and eternal,” with Jesus enthroned right at the center. Angels move here and there as He directs. Departed saints sing and worship and celebrate the pleasure of His company. Glorious fixtures, sights, sounds, and smells fill the heavenly landscape, and are a foretaste of the new heavens and new earth to come.
The unseen realm is a spiritual place, of course, and the means used in Scripture to describe it are intended to engage seen beings such as we by images and terms familiar to us, with an experience of holy spiritual pleasure which can only be known behind the veil.
This is real – unseen, but real. We are commanded to fix our gaze on that heavenly terrain (Col. 3.1-3). Paul says we possess an “eye of the heart” (Eph. 1.15-23 ESV) which God may open as surely as He opened the eyes of Balaam, so that we can see with the eye of understanding beyond the veil that separates the seen world from the unseen, and gaze upon wonders far greater than our physical eyes have ever glimpsed.
God can open our eyes to this unseen realm, but we must be willing to gaze there. Only as we search the Scriptures, and lodge in our minds the vision of unseen things related there, will we begin to have the resources for seeing into this realm. The more deeply and frequently we contemplate this landscape, the more our lives will take shape accordingly, and we will give evidence of the reality of this glorious realm.
But giving evidence of the unseen things (Heb. 11.1) takes practice. If we do not subject our souls to the disciplines of grace, by means of which we enter behind the veil into the unseen realm, we will remain prisoners in our bodies to mere earthly commitments; we will be blinded to the larger world around us.
In prayer, meditation, and slow reading of God’s Word, we can position ourselves before the Lord and all His angelic host, from which vantage point, in His pleasure and time, He can uncover our eyes to see Him in His glory.
If it’s possible – and surely it is! – is it not worth pursuing?
Do not allow the things we love most – Jesus in all His glory, that great cloud of witnesses and angels, and the beautiful City to Come – to remain remote, undiscovered, and unknown. God is able to uncover our eyes and make His glorious mysteries clear to our hearts.
We need only to meet with Him consistently in those disciplines where He can do His illuminating work in our souls.
1. How would you explain the unseen realm and its importance to a new believer?
2. What is your present approach to seeing into this realm with the eye of your heart?
Psalm 113.1, 2, 4-6 (Armaggedon: Who Is on the Lord’s Side?)
High above the mountains, on Your glorious throne,
Who is like You, Savior, ruling all You own?
Sovereign and all-knowing, over all above,
praise to You is owing for Your perfect love!
Praise the Lord, O praise Him, all who know His Name!
From this day forever, magnify His fame!
Open the eyes of my heart, O Lord, that I might glimpse Your face, see Your splendor, encounter Your enormity, and go forth to…
The Landscape of Unseen Things
If we are to gain the benefit of the unseen realm, and to grow in our faith thereby, we must become familiar with that spiritual terrain. Our workbook, The Landscape of Unseen Things, provides a tour de force of that vast domain in 24 studies. Roaming throughout the Word of God, and meditating and reflecting deeply, you’ll begin to see unseen things like you never have before. This is an excellent resource for personal study, study with a friend, or in your small group. Order your copy by clicking here.
Our weekly worship guides are currently focusing on a series entitled, “The View from Here.” The purpose is to create a worship/meditation setting in which we can begin to see more clearly with the eye of the heart what God holds out to us in the unseen realm. These worship guides are designed for personal or group use. You can download the first two installments in this worship series by clicking here.
Your prayers and support
It is our privilege to serve you, and our joy to have you share with us in this work. The Lord supports our work through the prayerful and generous gifts of those who share our vision and are served by our ministry. Please join us in praising Him for His kindness in supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe. I ask you to seek Him in prayer, and ask Him whether He might be pleased to use you in the financial support of our work. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 77.