The younger generation of our readers will not be in a position to appreciate to a very great extent the above title. The wearing of glasses is either an experience which they have not had yet; or else they have not yet been introduced to the additional excitement (?) of wearing bifocals.
The above title does not fully express, either, that which we have in mind and concerning which we would write at this time. But it will serve to introduce the matter.
Bifocals are an ingenious device which enabled those who require it the ability to see clearly far into the distance by means of the upper lenses in their glasses and to read with ease the fine print at close range with the lower lenses of their glasses. One who needs bifocals will have to choose. otherwise, if he prefers to have only the one type of lenses set up in the frame of his spectacles, whether he wants a pair of glasses which will help him see clearly into the distance but be unable to read his newspaper without eyestrain, or else to be able to read with ease and to have his vision blurred as far as the distant scene is concerned. There comes a time in the lives of those who need the aid of corrective lenses when their eyes are no longer able to focus correctly at both the distant scene and the fine print of “his reading material. The muscles of the eye lose their tone. Age has made itself known and the body finds that it needs help from without in order to be able to live a somewhat normal life.
Spiritually you find people also who need bifocals and whose eye of faith is not always clear. Usually it may be said of these people that their distant vision is good. It is very clear; and that which they see is definite and set forth with clearly defined lines. But that which is close by they see in a very blurred and distorted way. Do you know such people? Are you perhaps one of them? Let me explain.
With the eye of faith some of God’s people see the promises of God and see them as definitely and clearly as a man with perfect vision sees the distant mountain top and the brightly shining morning-star. He sees the day of Christ. He sees the joys, the glory, the blessedness of the New Jerusalem in the new creation. He sees himself in that New Jerusalem. He sees Christ coming upon the clouds of heaven. He sees Satan and all his followers cast into the lake of everlasting torment. He has no trouble at all seeing the end of all God’s promises. It all stands out clearly before his eye of faith.
But what is just before him, the things that happened to him today, the things that appear about to happen to him tomorrow, that which transpires during the time that he passes his sojourn here below is blurred. It is out of focus for him. It just does not harmonize with what he sees in the distance so clearly. He cannot see, in other words, that all these present things belong to that which is so clearly before him in the future. He cannot see that all these present things work together for good and actually serve the purpose of his glory in that New Jerusalem which he sees so clearly by faith.
The disciples were to a great extent afflicted with that. Oh, they saw Jesus’ kingdom—so they thought—very clearly. They saw Him as the promised Messiah and they loved Him as that Messiah. But His Capture, His surrender in the Garden, His crucifixion and death were all out of focus and did not fit into the picture at all. They could see clearly into the distance but the things right before them were blurred, confused and distorted. They did not seem to belong to the same world.
Often God’s people today are afflicted with this same evil. They have the eye of faith. They can see God’s promises. Yea, with the eye of faith they can already see them fulfilled. But God’s work with them in this life they cannot see in the right light. The pains and afflictions they suffer, the losses and griefs they endure seem to look to them as evident tokens of His displeasure and wrath. They cannot see with the Apostle Paul that “our light afflictions which are but for a moment work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: While we look not at the things that are seen for they are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal,” II Corinthians 4:17, 18.
Another example of such distorted vision we find in Asaph’s personal observations in Psalm 73. He saw the wicked and was envious of them. Seeing all their prosperity and joy while he saw God’s people suffer reproach and shame, persecution and ridicule, he was ready to say that he had cleansed his heart in vain and washed his hands in innocency. Oh, he still had that far-off vision that he saw the things which God promised. He still believed in God and in His promises. That is why even though his vision was so blurred he still went up to God’s house. Then his vision of the things nearby cleared and he saw in what peril ungodly men stand. Then he saw the things of this life with its sufferings and sorrows in the proper light. He saw the near and the far clearly. All things were in focus for him.
Be sure to put on your spiritual bifocals when trials and distresses come your way, when wickedness seems to triumph and prosper round about you. If clean hands seem worthless and pure hearts seem vain, if it seems as the crime pays and that those who oppose the truth and maintain with stubborn tenacity the lie are blessed of God and have things their way; put on your spiritual bifocals. You are not looking at these things correctly. You may still see the distant scene clearly, but your vision of the present matters is out of focus. Begin with Abel in Paradise and trace the history of the Church through the Scriptures and then through the history of this world. Do not overlook the abuse: and. bondage of Egypt. Be sure to stand at the cross of Christ. Take a good look at Paul in all his trials as he mentions them in II Corinthians 11:22-33. Spend some time with John on the Isle of Patmos for the witness of Christ. Then look again at your lot and at that which befalls the Church of God in this life. Be sure that material success and earthly prosperity are not taken by you as an undeniable evidence of God’s grace. Never mind the opinion and judgment of men. Forget not likewise that Job’s friends (?) accused him of terrible sins and with vigor insisted that God was punishing him because all his material and physical possessions were taken away from him. Job had clear vision for the distant and for that which was nearby. He blessed God although, he lost all his material possessions. And with an eye to the far-off future, with beautiful clarity of vision he stated, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand upon this earth at the latter day; And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another; though my reins be consumed within me,” Job 19:25-27. He sees the future very clearly and, can tell you in detail what will take place. But he also sees the present; and though his friends (?) would have him see it out of focus and see all things wrong, Job says also of the present things, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” He knows that he has one who will redeem him out of all that present woe, one who controls and rules all these things and that these present things do not deny God’s grace and love to him but rather he still has a living Redeemer.
Then again, there are those who live in the present and see thee future very dimly. The distant scene is out of focus for them. The things that shall be in the last days they see but faintly. Nothing stands out with the definiteness that it should. Near at hand they see very clearly. What they see is gold and silver, houses and land, abundance and plenty. Or as the Pharisees of old they see their own works and are very satisfied with them. Are they not esteemed and revered of men? Have they not a large place and great influence among men? Have they not acquired fine buildings, financial assets? Can they not claim a large following and have so much that the eye can clearly see of this earth’s goods? My, how God has blessed them! Oh, how good He has been to them! Who needs any special lenses to see that? Who needs spiritual bifocals to see that these indeed are the elite, the chosen of God, His favored people?
Such also speak loudly of God’s blessing upon them. They utter prayers with high-sounding phrases of thanksgiving to Him for all His manifold blessings which He has (?) bestowed upon them. And then they mean material things. That they no longer have the truth in those fine, spacious and beautiful buildings; that they stand for many increasing evil practices which are loathsome in God’s sight, they do not see. And therefore because they have deceived themselves by the material things close by, they see but dimly and out of focus that appearance before the great white throne, which stands so big and clear in the future. Because they have opposed their consciences—which at first did smite them—until they have hardened themselves in their wickedness to the point where they find peace in it and actually look to the future with such distortion of fact and reality that they expect God to express His approval of it all before the judgment seat of Christ. What they now, see close at hand stands out as something very good and righteous in God’s sight. And that they must stand one day before the Judge of heaven and of earth is a thing way out of focus for them.
Do not forget that Jesus speaks also of such. Much, very much of the present joy and reasons (?) for thanksgiving to God today will in the day of Christ be turned to great, everlasting sorrow. That is not philosophy or an out-of-focus observation. Jesus says that to many God will declare in that day, “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. I never knew you.” In feigned amazement they may say, “But did we not cast out devils in Thy name? Did we not do much good? Were we not an influence for good upon the whole religious world? Were we not a mighty people, strong in number and universal in our witness of Thee?” Yet in all that for which they gave thanks (?) in prayers without number, in song and speech, the judgment of Him Who presides over The Supreme Court will remain unchanged.
Let us be sure that both the present and the future stand out in clear focus and that we see both aright. Live close to the Word of God. Let it explain the present as well as present the future to your mind’s eye. And do not judge God’s grace and favor by material standards. For then His grace is for the evildoer and a rare thing for His people.
Rest in the Lord with quiet trust,
Wait patiently for Him;
Tho’ wickedness triumphant seem,
Let not thy faith grow dim.