Looking from the Heavenly Places
by W C Saunders
(Published in “Toward the Mark” magazine, Vol. 9-5, September 1980)
“Come with me… look from the top…” (Song of Songs 4:8)
This little book consists of songs and poems by which Solomon and his bride conveyed their love for, and to, each other. Behind the songs there lies a much deeper meaning than this, for they were inspired not merely by human love, but by the Spirit of God, in order to form part of Holy Scripture. Whatever the intention in the minds of Solomon and his bride, the Holy Spirit intended the songs to portray the love of Christ — the heavenly Bridegroom — for His bride… as well as her love for Him. If you look on the words of Solomon here as the words of Christ to the Christian, and the words of the bride as the response of the Christian to the Lord, you will discover some of the deepest and most precious truths affecting the full Christian life.
In particular we now consider this invitation to draw alongside of the king to look down with him from the top. In speaking thus to his bride, Solomon wants her to realise what partnership with him is going to mean. In this verse he reminds her of Mount Hermon and other mountains, but comparison with verse 6 will show that he really wants her to go with him to another mountain — the mountain which he describes as the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. I believe that he is referring to Mount Zion — that mount which was always so sweet and precious to him. It was sometimes called ‘The mountain of the Lord’. The temple was there where the glory of the Lord dwelt amidst the fragrant incense. It was also the place of His throne and His power.
To us these words come over from our great Lover, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Come with me” He calls, “look from the top”. It is to no ordinary mountain that He invites us to accompany Him. Solomon was inviting his bride to go with him to Mount Zion. The Greater than Solomon would have us with Him in His Home, the heavenly Jerusalem. On Ascension Day Jesus the Lord went back into heaven and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high — far above all. Now the Bible teaches us that as Christians we are ‘in Christ’ and one with Him in everything. We are one with Him in His death, and so spiritually speaking we are to reckon ourselves dead — dead to sin, to self and to the old life. We are also one with Him in His resurrection, so we are to walk in newness of life with all the power of His resurrection available to us. Furthermore, we are one with Him in His ascension. Spiritually speaking we have been made to sit with Him in the heavenly places — far above all (Ephesians 2:6).
We are to live in the good of this. He calls us to come with Him and look from the top. Here is a new realm for the exercise of faith, we are to reckon ourselves to be seated with Christ in His position of being far above all. Many Christians are too earthbound. They fail to realise and enter into the values of their true position in Christ. He wants His people to get on to higher ground, ever calling to us “Come with Me… look from the top”. Our position ‘in Christ’ brings a new elevation into our lives. We can see things — even earthly things — from heavenly heights.
How different everything in life appears if we see it from Christ’s level rather than our own! Here is the secret of spiritual ascendancy, to stand with Christ on high and view your life “from the top”. I believe that whenever the way is hard and we are prone to be cast down, the Lord Jesus would whisper in our ears this invitation to rise up to Him and view the situation as He sees it. When Elijah was so depressed and sat under his juniper tree wanting to die, God sent the message to him: “Go forth and stand upon the Mount before the Lord”. The prophet found that from that position everything took on a different face.
Jesus has a much more wonderful message for us than was given to Elijah. In the words of Ephesians 2, He reminds us that our true position is to be one with Him, even now. By His Word He calls us into those heavenly places that, with His help and encouragement, we may look from the top. This is surely the true significance of the promise that we shall mount up with wings as eagles (Isaiah 40:31). How can we do so except by rising on the wings of faith and then — like the eagle — looking down on earthly things from a bird’s eye viewpoint? Only with us it is to be more than a bird’s eye; it is to be the Lord’s eye view of things. It is of supreme importance that we learn to look on things as He sees them.
So often people speak of the limited possibilities of things, ‘under the circumstances’. Christians are never meant to be under the circumstances, but rather above them. In all things we are to be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). By this God means that not only do circumstances not get the better of us, but that by faith we are able to make them serve us. We are not to be ruled by them; we are to use them for the greater blessing of our souls. When Paul himself was taken to the prison in Rome, he proved these very words which he had written and indeed was able to affirm that “the things that happened to him” were turning out for the furtherance of the gospel (Philippians 1:12). He had heard Christ’s call to rise up by faith and stand with Him, so that even though in a prison cell, he could “look from the top”.
When I tried to find a way out of the Hampton Court Maze, I found that every endeavour to discover the way made by me from the horizontal level only got me more hopelessly lost in the twists and turns. It needed advice from a guide who looked down from a higher vantage point to get me out of that maze. It was easy to see the right way “from the top”. From the earthly viewpoint our life is a maze. Christ is in the vantage point, far above all. We must get up there with Him. If we do so we shall see:
1. The Lord is on the throne and is Lord over all.
He Himself has assured us that He has all power over heaven and earth. Down here we are all too conscious of the terrible strength of the powers of darkness; we need to rise above them in Christ and know that He is Master of them all. From His position of ascendancy He is able to keep all our varying circumstances under His omnipotent control. That is why Paul, from his prison, could describe himself as “The prisoner of the Lord”. He knew all about the Roman army and he had heard all about Nero. That was on the horizontal level. But in spirit he was able to enjoy his union with Christ in the heavenlies and to look down on the earthly powers from that vantage point. For this reason he could not be content to think of himself as the prisoner of Nero or the prisoner of the Roman army, but only as the Lord’s prisoner. He knew that these other powers could have no hold over him save as the Lord permitted it. When you look from the top you see the reality of Christ’s throne.
2. Our circumstances are part of the Lord’s great strategy.
None of us lives to himself. Our lives impinge upon and affect the lives of others. This explains why the Lord allows us to get into situations which bring us into contact with others. From the earthly viewpoint it all looks haphazard or even calamitous, but when with Him we look from the top, we find that our experiences are being fitted into His wise and loving plan. The Bible abounds with illustrations of this very fact.
a) Joseph. A nation needed to be saved from famine and starvation, a deliverance which required a God-sent ruler. What did God do? He permitted Joseph to be hated by his brothers, sold as a slave, cast into prison, held unjustly there until in due time he could be made the ruler of Egypt. That is the divine view of his story. We can see it so clearly now.
b) David. The nation of Israel needed a God-given king. For this purpose God took the young shepherd boy, David, had his father send him to the battle front with bread and cheese for his brothers, and all so that he could hear and respond to the challenge of Goliath. Everything in David’s life developed from that incident of the bread and cheese.
c) Esther. To save His people from the terrible massacre planned by Haman, God overruled all the affairs of the monarchy to bring Esther to the kingdom for such a time and such a task. So it is today. May the Lord give us grace to co-operate with Him by looking “from the top” at the various features of our daily life — our neighbours, our work, our joys and our sorrows.
3. All present circumstances are related to the future.
As we look down with Him, we see our circumstances and experiences as tools in the hands of the Potter. We find comfort in Romans 8:28 but we should follow this through to the following verse, where we are reminded that the governing purpose of God in all His dealings with us is to conform us to the image of His Son. The poor clay on the whirling wheels cannot understand this, but if it could see itself and its movements with the eyes of the Potter above, it would be restful and submissive under the skillful hands which are working with it. God always has eternity and His eternal purposes in view There is nothing so small as to be insignificant in our lives. We must not look at the incidents of life in isolation, but always see that in them God is ‘working together’, and always with that final glorious destiny in view. That is what can only be realised if we go to Him and “look from the top”.
4. He is able to use all things for His own glory.
“Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the residue of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10). The man who wrote those words was certainly viewing affairs from the divine standpoint. We can be certain that God is well able to restrain any wrath which cannot serve His purposes. The glory of the life of faith is that we know that when He does not restrain evil, it is just as purposeful and even more wonderful, for He plans to use men’s evil for His own greater glory. If, then, God can use the actions of evil men to bring Himself glory, how much more will He make use of everything in the lives of His own people to glorify His own name! “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby” Jesus said (John 11:4). That was certainly a case of looking from the top. So it is with everything in the believer’s life. We need to keep close to the Lord Jesus so that we may always see things as He sees them.