Williams, Australia – 2007
I would like to go to the first few verses in Revelation 4:1, “After this, I looked and behold a door was opened in heaven and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, ‘Come up hither and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.’ And immediately I was in the spirit and behold, a throne was set in heaven and One sat on the throne.” This was an invitation, and an invitation to John to come up a little higher. I believe this is the purpose of convention; this is in the heart of God, to invite us: an invitation to you and me, personally, an invitation to come up a little higher. Perhaps we feel we have been on a low level before this convention. But I am thankful for this wonderful invitation from heaven that came to my heart and the interest in the heart of God today; and these days is to help us to come up a little higher again so we could see things in the right perspective as we have been hearing, seeing Jesus again – that we could see all that has been prepared since the foundation of this world. There was an older brother Willie Smiley in Scotland, lying on his deathbed, and some of his fellow workers were standing there and some of his last words were, “a little higher.” It’s not just a little higher in these meetings but a little higher in our standards. Perhaps we have been on a lower level but now it’s “come up a little higher”; prove to the world that we don’t belong to this world. We belong to the kingdom of heaven and people would be able to see the standard a little higher: not the level of this world.
It tells us John was in the spirit and I like that. In the previous chapters, it says he was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day and we know the Lord’s Day is an important day of the week, even these days. John was in the spirit and there was fellowship between heaven and earth. John, through his spirit, had fellowship with the spirit of God. It would be a wonderful convention if we could feel “my spirit is in harmony with God’s spirit” and there’s fellowship between heaven and earth; between my spirit and God’s.
I sometimes say in Revelation 2 and 3, we read about the imperfection in the life of man; the letters to the different churches. We read about the failures and faults of man and John saw all that but God invited him to come up a little higher, “I want to show you the perfection in the life of My Son.” We have been on the lower levels and looking and feeding upon the weakness; but now, “Come up a little higher and I will show you the perfection you can find in the life of Jesus.” He got up and saw an open heaven. It’s a dreadful thing to suppose to serve God and the heaven is closed! There’s no fellowship, no connection between man and God. One friend said, “Before I professed, I only saw an open grave but when I listened to the gospel, God revealed these things to me and I saw an open heaven.” God’s people see farther than an open grave, to an open heaven, “Come up a little higher.”
This was a heavenly vision in Revelation 4 whereas Matthew 4 speaks about an earthly vision; about the devil taking Jesus up into the mountain and showing him the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. That’s our enemy! Revelation 4 is a heavenly vision, Matthew 4 is an earthly vision. In John 4, Jesus says, “Lift up thine eyes and behold the fields that they are ready to harvest.” That’s another heavenly vision. It’s a vision of the fields of usefulness. Lift up your eyes, come up a little higher.
Years ago, I was sitting in my first convention, a young man of 21 sitting in my very first convention. And God was speaking to my young heart, “Lift up your eyes and see the fields of usefulness.” I never gave it a thought before about this matter of looking to the fields, trying to be useful in the ministry. This struggle began in my heart. I didn’t tell others about this struggle that I had between God and myself. But I am so thankful after all those years that I have been willing for this lifting up my eyes and see beyond the sacrifice, and beyond whatever you might call it. I could see the fields all white. They say when the fields are white they are ready to perish but when they are golden they are ready to harvest! That was in John 4. You know the morning when I left home in South Africa to preach the gospel, I was up early. I was on my knees having precious fellowship with God, and then I had to go out. Eventually it was time for breakfast: it was only Mother and I. We were together at the breakfast table; my Father didn’t want to come so it was just the two of us. It was quiet because it’s a serious thing and a solemn thing. This matter of lifting up your eyes, seeing the fields and going into the fields. There was quietness: I wanted to say something to my Mother at the table and I felt that Mother too wanted to say something to me. We were alone and then she said to me, “My son, this is a very special day to me. It’s the day of our 25th wedding anniversary.” And I didn’t even know it. “God could never have given me a greater gift than to see you go into the fields. When you were born, you were a premature child and we never thought you would make it. But now, this wonderful thing to see you going into the fields.” I went from the breakfast table to my room and I had to pass my Father’s bedroom and the door was ajar; and for the first time in my life I saw my Father on his knees, and I’m sure he was praying for me. And then I had to go. Lift up your eyes and see the fields. The fields were waiting and I had to say goodbye to my Father. Just then, he came out and it was the first time I have seen tears in my Father’s eyes, and he said, “You have been my son for 24 years but now you have to take a suitcase and go into the homes of other people and accept others as your Mother and Father. But do remember, I will always be your Father and you are always welcome to come back.”
Revelation 4 is a heavenly vision, Matthew 4 is a downward vision and John 4 is the fields of usefulness. God spoke to John there, “Come up a little higher and I will show you.” The eye is a quicker pupil than the ear. I forget things that I hear in convention; but what we see we don’t easily forget. God wants you to come up a little higher so we can see things. The very first thing God showed John was the throne, “Immediately, I was in the spirit and behold, a throne was set in heaven and one sat on the throne.” That was the first thing he showed him. The greatest thing in God’s creation is the throne. This fourth chapter tells us where this throne is situated: it’s in heaven. It’s in heaven, not on earth! We’re here today, not to enjoy earthly things. You understand what I mean, but we’re here to enjoy heavenly things. This throne is in heaven and Hebrews 4 tells us what we can receive from this throne. It speaks of coming up boldly unto this throne where we can receive mercy and grace.
So Revelation 4 tells us this throne is in heaven and Hebrews 4 tells us that we can receive mercy and grace from this throne. The first thing God is anxious to show you is His seat in heaven – immoveable! It will never be taken out of the presence of God; and what comes from there is His mercy and grace. We have the mercy of God: it covers our past. And we need the grace of God in order to do a little better in the future. “I want to show you a better view.” The devil works on our past and God works on our future.
An older brother used to quote, “The devil wants us to fear and regret our past. He wants us to waste the present and he wants us to have fear for the future.” God wants us to forget the past, to redeem the present and to give us hope for the future. “Come up a little higher, forget the past.” There was a little boy who had a butterfly in his hand and he went to a fortune teller. And he had that thing in his hand and he thought of asking this man if he knows whether this thing is alive or dead in his hand. So he thought to himself, “If this man is saying this beast is alive, I am just going to press it and it’s dead. But if he says it’s dead, I am going to open my hand and he will fly away.” But the man said, “I don’t know whether it’s alive or dead, but the one thing I do know, it’s in your hand.” We all have a past and we cannot change it anymore. But I have a future awaiting me and it’s in my hand. “Come up a little higher and I want to show you this wonderful thing: the throne.” Revelation 4 tells where it is situated and Hebrews 4 tells what comes from it.
James 4 gives me a picture of those who really qualify for His mercy and His grace. There are people who qualify for grace and mercy and that’s in James 4:6. It’s the humble! The spirit of God doesn’t accept those who feel they are so important. The proud. You know proud people will never feel at home in this fellowship because pride isolates people; they are sort of lonely people. It’s a wonderful thing to be in the presence of people who are humble, not people who are proud; but just humble in their ways, in their actions, their spirit. You can feel it; it’s real in their lives. They are the people who qualify for grace and mercy. I tell you it’s not what other workers say but what the Bible tells us that God resisteth the proud. The spirit of God cannot accept it and that’s in James 4.
Another thing he saw – there was a rainbow. There was a rainbow around about the throne: you could see it from every angle. That’s God’s promises! From every angle of this world they can see; experience and know this wonderful thing – the rainbow. After a dark experience, one day back in Holland, it was a few weeks after the death of my Father in South Africa. One day, I was walking and it was a dull, dark day in Holland. My thoughts and heart were there, and I wondered how they’re getting on. And that feeling of loneliness for my Mother, my brothers; it was a dark day. Then eventually, I saw a rainbow coming through that cloud and the cloud disappeared and I saw the colours in the rainbow. I had such a wonderful feeling; that moment in my heart, that God was so close and so near to me and wanted to give me the assurance that, “I am with you. Go up a little higher and I will show you. My promises are still the same as it has been in the beginning.”
He showed John another thing when he stood there. He saw that river; that water, that river of life pure as crystal, proceeding from the throne of life. “Come up a little higher and I will show you that river.” It tells of two things: it’s a river of life and it’s as clear as crystal. This truth, when I listened to the gospel, they weren’t eloquent speakers, but wonderful revelations: crisp and as clear as crystal. My Dad said to me when he got to know I had been in gospel meetings and he said, “I will be very disappointed in you if you ever leave the church.” I said, “I don’t understand much of what is spoken in these meetings but I have seen it with my eye and it’s as clear as crystal. It’s the truth!” Wonderful when we sit in a meeting and you feel in your heart and in your spirit, this is as clear as crystal and there’s no doubt about it, it flows from the throne of God.
Some years ago, we were in the parliament building and we had a guide. Then we got into that huge hall and there was the throne of our queen. The guide said, “The place where this throne stands is the heart of Holland.” But this throne is the throne of God, proceeding from the throne of heaven. Wonderful we can drink of that water that comes from the heart of heaven. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? Only that which comes from the heart of God and the heart of heaven is living water: pure as crystal. In Europe, we have that river known as the River Rhine. Its origin starts from Switzerland and it flows through Germany and comes to our country. But there in our country, they say it isn’t clean and if you drink it, you will get sick and die. The only place it is pure is to get back to the source, its origin. In this world, with all its doctrines and religions; and I am not here to criticize others. But the only place to get that water that’s pure, that hasn’t been polluted by the mind of man – and where is that source? From the heart of heaven and it comes into the hearts of men and women with a life-giving effect to the lives of people. In Psalms 137, it speaks of the rivers of Babylon. Israel: God’s people sitting at that river and they were asked to sing a song. Do you know what Babylon means? Confusion! But why is it contagious? Because the source was from the earth; it was bad water. Any other lecture or any other scripture, if the source or the origin isn’t from the heart of God, it will not be able to have the life-giving effect on your heart or mine. It’s like the rivers of Babylon! I dread the thought when I preach to people about this wonderful thing. Perhaps I am going to confuse them. The only way I will bring confusion is if I drink from the waters of Babylon. But when we drink from that source that comes from the heart of heaven, you will see it and you feel it in your spirit.
There was another thing: it speaks about another thing close to the throne – angels. What they are, I don’t know because I have never seen an angel, but the Bible tells us they are ministering spirits. At times when we feel we have gone to the uttermost and can’t go any further, then God in His mercy comes in the presence of an angel. And we receive strength and we feel that we could go on. When we think of Jesus, the greatest man that ever lived in this world, when He had that struggle in Gethsemane’s garden; He prayed to His Father three times, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” But it wasn’t possible. He had to take it and drink it. Sometimes in experiences of life, we have to go through the experience in order to get rich in the experience. One brother once said, “If it’s possible, let this cup pass from me.” But then, “Not my will be done, let thy will be done.” Not the human nature, but the divine nature. Then the third thing. The number 3 in the Bible is a number for strength: you can make a study of it. When the angel came from heaven – there was no help from earth, it was only the help from heaven and it was to give him strength. God says, “Come up a little higher and I will show you this wonderful provision in order to give you strength.”
Another thing he saw was the Lamb; a lamb that was slain. “This wonderful thing in the midst of the throne I will show you today or these days, the lamb that has been slain for the sins of the world.” Can we really still see the Lamb? Isaac, on his way to the place of sacrifice in Genesis 22, he said, “We have the fire and here is the knife, but where is the lamb?” Isaac was concerned about the sacrifice; he just realized this sacrifice would have been incomplete without the lamb. This convention would be incomplete without the Lamb in the midst of the throne. Sometimes John says, “Where is the lamb?” and Luke 22 says, “Here is the lamb.” Jesus, for the last time partaking of the bread and the wine said, “This is My body and this is My blood.” The One who is going to give his life for the sins of the world saying, “Come up a little higher and I will show you this wonderful thing.” The Lamb that’s different to any other lamb, is the one that was slain and He died for the sins of the world.
I sometimes speak in Exodus 12 where we read about the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. And I call that chapter – protection. That’s the protection that we have in the blood of the lamb. Hebrews 12 speaks of the mediator: speaks of better things. Why? The blood of Jesus speaks of forgiveness, reconciliation. Hebrews is the reconciliation that we have in the blood. And Revelation 12 speaks where they overcame him by the word of their testimony and by the blood of the Lamb. That’s the victory that we have in the blood of the lamb. When John saw Jesus, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” The devil works on my past but the blood of the Lamb takes it away. He doesn’t cover it and that’s what you read about in John and his disciples. But in Zechariah, you read of the high priest standing there in filthy garments, and the message was, “Take away the filthy garments.” This is God! This is the provision! He didn’t say, “Fold it up nicely and leave it in a corner,” so he could see it again. This is God! He takes it away for all eternity.
Psalm 51 we read where David was struggling with his past and asked God, “Purge me with hyssop.” This hyssop has a bitter taste. When I read that I got the impression that David was saying to God, “I am willing for the most bitter experience in life as long as we can be in harmony again.” That’s how we feel in thinking of the past: as long as I can be in harmony again in this convention. David found it difficult to forgive himself, but I’m sure God had already taken it away never to be remembered again.
I read about a man who was in prison and was to be executed. He was sentenced to death and was in prison. But while he was in prison, he committed suicide; and he had left a little note behind in his room. On that note, it says, “The world knows that many times I failed, but only God knows the many times I have tried.” We feel like that. People know it; they see it. Many times I have failed but wonderful to know that God knows the many times I have tried. And this encourages the heart of God today, to come up and look higher; to take away the past so we could have a clean and pure future. May God help us that we would feel we have come up a little higher from this low level, and in my spirit, I am in harmony with God. If I am in fellowship with God, then I have fellowship with my brethren.
**Karel van Heerden is a worker in Holland.