The life of faith, this side of Jesus’ return, is one of choosing between rival visions. Believers must intentionally focus their sights on some things to the exclusion of others. Paul describes walking “by faith, not by sight” with this contrast: “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18, 5:7).
How do we look to things that are unseen? The Bible’s consistent answer is that we see with our ears, not with our eyes. Faith is a matter of seeing God and his promises through hearing his word.
This was was testimony of the great heroes of the faith. Abraham did not allow what he saw with his eyes–“his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or…the barrenness of Sarah’s womb”–to overpower what he heard from God regarding the innumerable stars and sand: “So shall your offspring be.” Though he struggled at times (see: Hagar), seeing the unseen by hearing God’s word ultimately won out. “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:18–21).
Hebrews 11 chronicles the lives of those who exercised such faith, who lived by “the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Enoch lived a life of pleasing the God he could not see. Noah built an ark long before any human witnessed a flood. Moses chose mistreatment with God’s people over the luxury of Pharaoh’s palace–“he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).
God is calling you to such a life. He is calling you to see with your ears, not with your eyes. In our world of pop-up ads, billboards, and ever-present symbols of status and sex, he invites you to listen to his promises and see a God whose power, beauty, love, and faithfulness transcend the brief delicacies of this age. Next week we will explore the particular call in Isaiah to “Behold your God” in an idol-ridden land. Until then, as you meditate on God’s word throughout the day, may you see eternal glory and walk accordingly.