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Heavenly Visions

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    HOW THE LORD INSTRUCTS HIS PEOPLE

    J. N. LOUGHBOROUGHHEVI 63.1

    “GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” Hebrews 1:1, 2.HEVI 63.2

    In a former article we called attention to three ways by which, in ancient time, the Lord communicated with his people. These were by audible voice, by visitation of angels, and by prophets. He said of the latter class, “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” Numbers 12:6.HEVI 63.3

    The visions given to the prophets were of two kinds. One of these was called “open visions,” when the prophet could be seen while in the vision, and the people have opportunity to know something of the power that accompanied the vision. The other class was called “night visions.”HEVI 63.4

    In the case of the child Samuel, reference is made to the “open visions,” in these words: “The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” 1 Samuel 3:1. There were prophets at that time who received instructions from the Lord, but their visions were not, it appears, given to them openly, before the people. In the chapter previous to that in which we have the record of Samuel’s vision, at the same date,-1165 B.C.,-there came “a man of God”-a prophet-unto Eli, and told him his wrongs, and predicted the fate of his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, that they should both die in one day, etc. 1 Samuel 2:27, 30, 34. In the same chapter where it is said, “There was no open vision,” is found the record of the vision given to the child Samuel. It was not an “open vision;” not even Eli saw Samuel in the vision. The Lord taught Samuel the tidings he must bear to Eli. The record of the next morning reads, “And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision”. 1 Samuel 3:15. Samuel at that time had a vision from God, although it was not an “open vision.” It must, then, have been of the character designated in the Scriptures as “night visions.”HEVI 63.5

    In the book of the prophet Ezekiel is an account of one of his visions which could well be called “an open vision.” We read. “And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the color of amber. And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.” Ezekiel 8:1-4. This vision he said was in the presence of the elders -” an open vision.”HEVI 63.6

    According to the record, one of Daniel’s visions began openly, before his associates, who might have seen him in the vision had not they in their fright run away to hide themselves. Of this vision we read, “I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision.” Daniel 10:7, 8. The men over whom Daniel was placed were Chaldeans-heathens-idol worshipers. They knew not the Spirit of God. And when in mighty power it fell upon Daniel, in their presence, it filled them with terror, and they ran to hide themselves from this power unknown to them.HEVI 63.7

    There were many cases of “night visions” recorded in the Bible. When Jacob was journeying from Canaan to Egypt, “God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation.” Genesis 46:2, 3.HEVI 63.8

    When the wise men of Babylon were sentenced to death for failing to tell the king, Nebuchadnezzar, his wonderful dream which he had forgotten, it is written, “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.” Daniel 2:19. He recognized this as direct instruction from the Lord. And, as he came in with all confidence before the king, he uttered these words: “The secret which the king hath demanded can not the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king; but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.... . The dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Daniel 2:27, 28, 45.HEVI 64.1

    Daniel’s wonderful dream of the four beasts, recorded in the seventh chapter of his prophecy, is another instance of “night visions.” The record reads, “Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea,” etc. Again we read, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came in the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom. Daniel 7:1, 2, 13, 14.HEVI 64.2

    An account is given in the New Testament of the call for Paul to visit Macedonia, in these words: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” The apostle seemed to have all confidence that this was a heaven-sent call; for Luke in recording it says. “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Acts 16:9, 10.HEVI 64.3

    When Paul had come to Corinth, and was laboring at his trade of tent making for his support, and preaching every Sabbath to the people, the Jews raised a tumult against him, so that he was obliged to adjourn his meetings to the house of Justus, close by the synagogue. It looked to outward appearance as if his way was hedged up. “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not they peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Acts 18:9, 10. The efforts of the Jews, shortly after, to defeat the work of Paul, and how they were defeated by the speech and course of Gallio, as recorded in the same chapter, is a confirmation of what was told Paul in that “night vision.”HEVI 64.4

    Then, again, there is the account of that memorable night in Jerusalem, when the apostle was confined in the castle, and more than forty of the Jews had banded themselves together “under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.” “The Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Acts 23:11, 12.HEVI 64.5

    Shortly after this, at Caesarea, Paul was brought before Festus. There he appealed unto Caesar. This was no hasty move on the part of Paul,-not a move simply by which he thought to secure some personal favor; but rather the accomplishment of the instruction he had received concerning his preaching the gospel at Rome. He well knew that in order to have his case brought before Caesar, he must personally go to Rome. When there, he would improve the opportunities that might open up to fulfill the commission to preach the gospel in Rome.HEVI 64.6

    When on his way to Rome, and when the ship was in the midst of that awful tempest, “and when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and ... all hope that we should be saved was then taken away ... Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” Acts 27:20-25.HEVI 65.1

    Paul had “abundance of the revelations” from God. He had the prophetic gift. The Lord had said, “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream.” Numbers 12:6. Such dreams and night visions are of a different character from those of which Solomon spoke when he said, “A dream cometh through the multitude of business” (Ecclesiastes 5:3); these are from as higher source; they are of a character entitling them to the highest credit as coming from God. From the instances cited, one is led to conclude that “night visions” should be regarded as having the same force and origin as the “open visions.” The Review and Herald, June 30, 1903.HEVI 65.2

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