Not Downward but Upward
Where are You now? When darkness seems to win? Where are You now? When the world is crumbling? I hear You say, “Look up child, Look up child.” Where are You now? When all I feel is doubt - Oh, where are You now? When I can't figure it out - I hear You say, “Look up child, Look up child.”
– Lauren Daigle
It has struck me recently in the Scriptures how much we are told to “look up” and “lift up our eyes”. At first I thought it was most likely just a synonym for “look” or “see”. However, in the midst of this pandemic, I have been reminded time and time again to “look up, not in”.
We have a tendency to look inward to solve our problems. Looking to our own understanding: “if only I can figure this out…” Or, to our own comforts and needs: “I need a little ‘me time.’” First things are my own: “I will take care of my finances and household, then I can tend to the church and the needs of others.” The tendency of sin is to move us inward and cause us to navigate with an internal GPS. An inward resting place can often lead to a shallow worldview and to be honest, one of despondency and unfaithfulness. The continual command of our God is for His people to “look up and lift up your eyes”.
Genesis 13:14 says “The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are…’” This is a call to obey. This is also a call to set his sights not on what is right under his nose (the place where you are) but rather, to the place you will be. Of the twenty or more times the phrase "lift up your eyes" is used in the Bible only a handful are negative and those generally are forbidding lifting up eyes to idolatry. The primary thought is that to lift up one's eyes is to see reality. Over and over again, lifting our eyes is linked to the reality of God and His majesty.
What is the reality in our world today? What is really real? Jesus Christ and His victory over sin and death! Scripture reminds us to keep our primary focus: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). We set our sights not to what is seen—but to what is unseen. We are people who have hope for the future—the coming Kingdom of God and promised land He guarantees. God calls us to look outward and upward to the limitless possibilities He has placed before His children. This is not so we can be “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” On earth, there is work to be done, ministry to get busy with, and justice to be brought on the scene. However, the secret of faith is to keep our eyes open to the vision of the Almighty. He will lead us into glory.
This week’s passage casts that vision – the vision of the Heavenly Kingdom to come. Our true paradise. Where our eyes should be fixed.
You’re not threatened by the war, You're not shaken by the storm, I know You're in control. Even in our suffering, Even when it can't be seen, I know You're in control. Oh, I hear You say, I hear You say – “Look up child.” – Lauren Daigle.
Look up, Hebron!
As you prepare for worship this week, read Genesis 13:14-18.
1. Quickly read over the paragraphs leading up to our text this week. What insight into Abram and his character is evident here? Why do you think our verses follow this story of Abram and Lot?
2. The text begins with the pronouncement that the Lord spoke to Abram. What emphasis or stress does this add to the promise?
3. How does this text communicate the all-encompassing nature of God’s promise here to Abram? What ways does that sweeping imagery communicate God’s desire?
4. The land is given to Abram and to his offspring. Why does God phrase it that way? Why not just to Abram? Or, just to Abram’s children?
5. By linking Abram’s offspring with the dust, what is God trying to communicate? What alternative interpretations might lie behind the imagery?
6. Why does God have Abram walk through the land? What is His point here?
7. How does God desire for us to have the same experience? What is the “land” we are to see when we look up? Upon what is this promise given?