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Onwards and Upwards


Typically, we think of things that are positionally higher as being things that are characteristically greater. The gold medalist in each Olympic event stands on a higher platform than the silver and bronze medalists—the greatest athlete stands higher than the rest. The ‘highest’ office in our nation is the Presidency—the greatest amount of power. And we talk about someone ‘climbing’ the corporate ladder—going to a higher position. The Bible has a surprising amount of upward focus. God’s plan involves us reaching, looking, and focusing upward in a multitude of ways. Take some time to ponder the connections between the items in this list:

• Moses was told to make a serpent, put it on a rod, and let the people look up at it for their healing.

• God’s temple was built on the highest point in the holy city of Jerusalem, and there were stairs to go up to the altar where the priests worshiped Him.

• When God met His people “face to face” for the first time, God stood on Mount Sinai and the people stood below and looked up at YHWH.

• When we pray, we bow ourselves downward, but our prayers ascend into His presence.

• The Psalmist said, “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help.” (Ps. 121:1, KJV)

• In Isaiah 55:9, the Spirit of God says to His people, “For as the heavens are higher than the the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

• When, in the writings of the apostle Paul, God speaks of the great and final resurrection of the dead, he says, “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

• When the apostle John is shown the vision of what is to come for the people of God, he sees the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. It is the city of Zion—a city built on a mountaintop.

• And when the Savior and Lord of mankind was put to death, it was not by an unseen or unobservable method. He was raised up on a cross for multitudes to see and for even greater multitudes to look toward through all the ages.

The Bible’s upward focus teaches us a few things about the nature of our God, but it also serves to reinforce some things about our daily lives. Our focus is upward. Paul said, “I press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). The gospel call is that we lead a life that is higher in its nature, and we reach for that kind of life because it is the greater kind of life for humanity. May God give you and all who read this the strength to press on to that calling.

 

Submitted by Dan Lankford

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