Lift Up Your Eyes and Look
March 27th, 1960 @ 10:50 AM
LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND LOOK
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-27-60 10:50 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled Lift Up Your Eyes and Look. This is the beginning of our season of revival appeal. Always on the Sunday before the actual protracted series of meetings begin, we have a Church Covenant Day. All of our people gather, we read the church covenant together, we break bread together, we share the cup together, we dedicate our lives in a new and a meaningful way for the revival appeal. Our services therefore this morning are two: the first is a message from the pastor with an appeal for Christ and for His church; then after that is dismissed, we have this holy ordinance of breaking bread and sharing the cup. The passage of Scripture that is read this morning is in the Gospel of John, chapter 4:
Jesus left Judea, and departed into Galilee.
And He must needs go through Samaria.
Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
And Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well.
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.
(For His disciples were gone into the city to buy meat.)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?
John comments –
the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Then follows the conversation between our Lord and this very sinful woman whom He led to a saving faith [John 4:10-26]. "And upon this," verse 27, "came His disciples, and marveled that He talked with a woman" [John 4:27]. No distinguished rabbi would condescend to do that:
Upon this came His disciple, and marveled that He talked with the woman –
No, John wrote it with a woman –
But no man said, What do You do it for?" or "Why do You talk with her?
The woman left her waterpot, went away into the city, and said to the whole town,
Come, and see: is not this the Lord Christ?
And they went out of the city, and came unto Him.
In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.
But He saith unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathreth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
Herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.
All of this revolved around, was introduced by, that bitter hatred that lay between the people of Samaria and the people of Judea. "For," John explains, "the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans" [John 4:9]. And he began the incident with the avowal, "When Jesus left Judea to go into Galilee, He must needs go through Samaria" [John 4:3-4]. That is, He had determined to walk through the country of Samaria, which no good Jew would ever, ever do.
That violent hatred between Samaria and Judea had a long story and a devious, circuitous history. It began ultimately in the jealousy between the two leading tribes of Israel: the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Ephraim. And when those two tribes parted the kingdom asunder – the Ephraimites to the north, the Judahites to the south – there was constant war between the Southern Kingdom with its capital at Jerusalem, and its Northern Kingdom with its capital at Samaria [1 Kings 12:16-17, 25-27].
In 722 BC, when the Northern Kingdom was destroyed by Assyria [2 Kings 17:18], that bitterness and that abhorrence even the more violently increased. The great foe of the little country of Palestine was at first Assyria, with its capital at Nineveh. They looked upon that colossus from the north with indescribable dread and fear.
When Jonah was called of God to preach the gospel of grace and salvation to Assyria, he fled in the opposite direction [Jonah 1:1-3]. And when, in the providences of life, he was compelled to go to Nineveh and preach the gospel there, he did it with a vengeance, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed" [Jonah 3:4]. And when it didn’t come to pass he was violently disappointed [Jonah 4:1-5].
Kings of Asshur – Assyria, Sargon and Sennacherib, were tremendous generals; as great as the world has ever produced, and they were the scourge of the whole earth. They never failed, every campaign they ever projected ended in triumph and success; and they had a major campaign every three years. They conquered the civilized world. And in 722 BC, they came down from the north and wiped the northern ten tribes of Israel off the face of the earth [2 Kings 17:7-24]. They destroyed them forever. Sargon did that, and his successor was Esarhaddon. When Sargon took all the people away, Esarhaddon brought Mesopotamians and settled them in the place where the ten tribes had heretofore lived, in all that country of Samaria [2 Kings 17:24]. But those colonists that Esarhaddon brought down from Mesopotamia had a difficult time in building homes and cultivating crops and building cities in Samaria.
So they made an appeal to the emperor Esarhaddon that – evidently, they had displeased the gods of the land – and would he get a priest who would teach them the religion of the God of the land? So Esarhaddon found an apostate renegade priest of Judea from the temple at Jerusalem, and that priest went up to Samaria and taught those Mesopotamians the Jehovah religion [2 Kings 17:25-28]. The thing came out with a Jehovah religion kind of amalgamated with and fastened onto the cults of those heathen gods in Mesopotamia [2 Kings 17:29-40]. So you had a half-breed people up there with renegade Jews and the remnants that were left in the land, intermarrying with the Mesopotamians, and you had a half-breed religion.
Now when Ezra – after the destruction of Judea in 587 BC by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar [Jeremiah 39:1-10, 52:4-30; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21] – when Ezra, about seventy years later, brought back from the Babylonian captivity the people of Judea [2 Chronicles 36:20-21], he refused to allow the Samaritans to have any part in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem [Ezra 4:1-3]. And when Nehemiah, the cup bearer to the king [Nehemiah 1:11], came to Judea to build up the walls of Jerusalem, he was greatly harassed by Sanballat and by Tobiah, leaders in Samaria [Nehemiah 4:7-8, 6:1-14]. And in 409 BC, Sanballat and the Samaritans built a rival temple for the worship of Jehovah on Mt. Gerizim.
That’s why this woman who was speaking at the foot of Mt. Gerizim said to Jesus, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain," and she pointed to Gerizim standing right there; "Ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship" [John 4:20]. So when Sanballat built that Jehovah temple on top of Mt. Gerizim, and Ezra and Nehemiah and all the Judeans were building the temple to Jehovah in Jerusalem, there was heightened that violent bitterness and violent hatred between the two people [Ezra 4:1-4].
So terrible was that bitterness and so violent was that hatred that when the Maccabean princes gained independence under Judas Maccabeus, one of his successors, a Maccabean prince by the name of John Hyrcanus, in 128 BC, took his army up there and destroyed insofar as he could the whole kingdom of Samaria, and he tore down that temple on Mt. Gerizim and burned it with fire. It was never rebuilt. All of that I’ve just shown to heighten and to illustrate the message of the morning.
No Jew would go through Samaria, and the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. The Samaritan was publicly cursed in the synagogue. No Samaritan could be adduced as a witness. No Samaritan could be won to God; his soul was damned forever [John 4:9].
And the harshest thing that the rulers of the temple could say about Jesus was this: "Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" [John 8:48]. You can see therefore the response of these disciples of the Lord who were faithful and loyal Jews when they found out that the Lord, to go to Galilee, proposed, determined to go through Samaria. For any good Jew would not contaminate his feet with the dust of that hated and defiled land.
Judea is here, and Galilee is up here, and when the Jew went from here up there, he didn’t go that way, for that was through Samaria. He went the long distance down into the valley of the Jordan and across the Jordan and into Perea, and up the other side of the Jordan in Perea, and then across back over at the base of the Lake of Galilee and so up into the Galilean country. But in nowise would He go through Samaria. When the disciples, therefore, saw that the Lord was determined to go through Samaria, they said to one another, "Then let’s go quickly. Let’s make it fast. There’ll be no additions to the kingdom of God in this forsaken land. And we don’t expect anything from God with these people."
They went into Sychar, which is old Samaria [John 4:5]. They went into old Sychar there to buy from the people, to trade with them [John 4:8]. It never entered their minds, it never occurred to them to tell the people of Sychar, the Samaritans, that outside their gates sat the Lord Christ Himself, the Savior of the world. Can you imagine, therefore, the meaning, how poignant, how pointed, when the Lord said to His disciples, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest"? [John 4:35]. And I can see the Lord with the gesture of His hand, pointing to that eager crowd of hungry-hearted Samaritans, who were coming to the Lord to see and to hear the Savior of the world [John 4:29-30].
You know one of the strangest things in the Bible, after you read the background through all those years of history of the Samaritans, how despised and how hated, how outcast and abhorred, then when you come to the New Testament, every reference that is made to a Samaritan, or the Samaritans, or the land of Samaria, in the New Testament, is made in deepest love and kindest sympathy. It’s a marvelous thing because the New Testament is written by Jewish people and by Judeans, by people who were conversant with God and conversant with the past history of Samaria.
There were ten lepers that Jesus healed. One came back and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan [Luke 17:11-19]. When that lawyer asked, "Who is my neighbor?" [Luke 10:29]. Jesus told the story of a priest that passed by the man wounded and left to die, and a Levite that passed him by, but a Samaritan came and ministered to him [Luke 10:30-35]. And when Jesus asked the lawyer, "Who was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" that lawyer wouldn’t say "the Samaritan," he had to say, "He that showed him mercy" [Luke 10:36-37]. But he wouldn’t say that word "Samaritan."
In the great, great, and final commission in [Acts 1:8], Jesus says, "And ye shall be witnesses of these things in Jerusalem, and all Judea," and why didn’t He say, "and in Perea," or "in Decapolis," or "in Trachonitis," or "in Abilene," or "in Phoenicia," or "in Idumea," they were all just as near as Samaria. But He said, "And ye shall be witnesses of these things in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria" [Acts 1:8]. And that was the point of His word, "Look, lift up your eyes, and look, those eager Samaritans, coming out to hear the word of the Lord at the invitation of this Samaritan woman who had found Jesus as a Savior" [John 4:29-35].
And then the Lord says, "You do not realize, you do not realize, one sows, and another reaps, others have labored, and this is the prepared harvest" [John 4:35-38]. We don’t realize – says our Lord – what influences have been at work preparing a man’s heart for the appeal of the gospel. We say, "He’s very difficult, he’s unusually hardened, he has no interest, no need to talk to that man." We don’t realize what things have been working together to open that man’s heart to the appeal of Christ. Others have labored, others have sown, others have prayed, others have wrought and worked, and the influence of their lives have made it possible for us to come and to see a marvelous moving of the Holy Spirit of God that you never thought for, never looked for, and never expected.
I held a revival meeting one time in a place that was very difficult – there was no Baptist church there – held it in a schoolhouse in an auditorium. It was a farming community where the main roads of the whole district came together. And people from all around attended the revival in the schoolhouse.
And there was a man in that little town, in the country community that was very hard, and very difficult, but very influential. He had a big creamery there, and the farmers miles and miles around brought in their milk and their cream and sold it to this man. I do not suppose there was a more difficult man to reach for God than that man. But some of those people were praying for him and laid it upon my heart especially to do what I could to win him to Jesus. It was such a hard assignment and very difficult, discouraging. But I prayed, asked God to help me, and I went to his creamery. In the providence of the Lord, at that hour, there was nobody in the establishment, and he was seated on a tall stool at those high desks that sometimes you see in lumber yards and creameries and places like that.
He was seated on that tall stool with a letter open in front of him on that desk. And he was crying. When I went up to him, I asked him why he was crying. And his sister had written him a letter, and there had come into the home, into the family back there, a great, great sorrow, a great family tragedy. And his sister had written him of the sorrow in the family back home. And he was seated there with that letter spread out before him, crying. It was no time, no time until that man took my hand and the Lord Jesus as his Savior. When I got through preaching that night and gave the invitation, that revival really started. We had a sweeping Pentecost that night led by that man. You don’t know, you don’t realize, Jesus says, there are influences at work, there are circumstances in life, there are the very courses and hosts in heaven that are on your side. One soweth and another reapeth; the fields are white, influences have been at work to make it possible for you to bring to God a wonderful harvest [John 4:35-38].
Now there are many things to be said from this. And in the little while that remains, may I point out some? One is this: our message is to everyone, all men everywhere, either in our church or in our missions. Wherever there is a man, wherever there’s a lost man, wherever there is a home or a family, we have an appeal to that man and to that family.
He did not come to condemn the world,
He did not come to blame;
He did not only come to seek,
It was to save that He came."
And when we call Him Iēsous, Savior,
Jesus, we call Him by His name;
for the love of God is broader
than the measure of man’s mind,
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
[Author and work unknown]
And the harvest is more ready than you think; we are to visit, and to preach, and to make appeal with great expectation and assurance. You don’t know, you don’t realize what God has done to prepare for your coming.
I was looking in William Carey’s personal library in Serampore, which is up the Ganges River about eighteen miles from Calcutta; and I wanted to see a Telugu Bible. And there was a young Indian student there in that college, and he was looking around also, and I found he could understand English and I asked him, "Could you help me find a Telugu Bible?"
"Oh yes," he said; and in just a moment he laid hands upon it and put it in my hands. I said, "Can you read it? He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Telugu?"
"Yes," he said, "I’m a Telugu, I’m a young minister of the gospel, and I’ve come here to prepare for that ministry."
The Telugu were a great numerous tribe and section of India that the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society had voted to discontinue; it was too hard, it was too difficult. And they had voted to discontinue and to call their missionary away. But the missionary refused to leave. The missionary refused to go. The missionary refused to stop. He kept on working, and he kept on preaching. And the day came when that missionary baptized over three thousand Telugu in one day. I’ve heard that used as a classical illustration of how Pentecost could baptize over three thousand in a day [Acts 2:41]. He and a companion or so, baptized over three thousand Telugu in one day. And the whole nation, and the whole tribe, and the whole people turned to God. You don’t know, you don’t realize, there are influences at work. There are movements of the Holy Spirit of God that make it possible for us to reach a man’s heart and a man’s soul that otherwise we could never, never appeal to.
I can’t win anybody to the Lord; you can’t win anybody to the Lord. God has to do something, and God does it. He just needs somebody with faith, and great expectation, and assurance to enter into the field and to reap where God, and His angels, and His people, and our fathers have sown. "Lift up your eyes and look, white unto the harvest. One soweth and another reapeth. And herein is that saying true" [John 4:35-37].
Now may I say a word about the reward? When they came back, our Savior had just won this very sinful woman to a saving faith in Himself [John 4:7-29]. And she had gone away to tell all of the people of the village that outside their gates there was the Lord Christ, the Savior of the world [John 4:29-30]. So while she was gone testifying, witnessing, the disciples returned from the town with the food and offered it to the Master, who sat weary on the well [John 4:6, 31]. But He wouldn’t eat and they said unto Him, "Has somebody else brought Him food while we were gone, and He ate while we were away?" [John 4:32-33]. But Jesus said unto them, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of [John 4:32],He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal" [John 4:36].
I want to speak of that reward, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of" [John 4:32]. I am not hungry. I have been fed. A true scientist knows what that means. Keppler, the incomparable astronomer, lived on a pittance, but he discovered the great planetary laws of motion, and he lived with God in the whole created universe the Lord had made. A true physician knows what that means. Like a country physician, that gets nothing sometimes for what he does, ministering to a family night after night and day after day, way out there in the hills; but he saved a life, and it was reward enough. A true missionary knows what that is. Working under great privation, in darkest ignorance and heathenism and paganism, but around him that little band of saved Christians. And a true servant of Jesus will know what that means. "I have meat to eat that ye know not of. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal" [John 4:32, 36].
Last night, in my study at home, I was poring over that part of my sermon. As some of you know, last Sunday I preached so hard and tried my best, and I was greatly discouraged in the response that was made to the appeal, very discouraged. And while I was poring over this passage, the telephone rang, and a young woman who is a teacher in our public school system asked if she could see me. I said, "We will make an appointment."
"No," she said, "I so desperately need to talk to you now, my heart is so heavy." Well, I said, "You come." And she came to my study and said to me this: "Last Sunday, last Sunday in the message you delivered there at the church, every word, every word, fell on my heart." She said, "When you gave the appeal, God said to me to go."
Well, I said, "Why didn’t you go?"
"I do not know," she said, "I was afraid. But it’s been a burden on my heart ever since, and I can stand it no longer. And I’ve come to talk to you about the burden on my heart." Last Sunday, when I thought I had so signally failed, and this morning, at the eight-fifteen o’clock service, we had eight to come forward, and that young woman came for baptism; and she had her roommate by her side. At the eight-fifteen o’clock sermon this morning, service this morning; you don’t realize.
I was speaking a few days ago to a wonderful church, its board of deacons and their wives, and after the service – after the banquet was over – one of the wives of the deacons came to me and said, "You don’t know this, you wouldn’t realize it, but," she said, "I was seated at home one day, I listened to you preach on the radio, and I was converted, I was saved, listening to you preach on the radio. And I knelt down by my chair and gave my heart to Jesus after you had finished your appeal." You don’t know, you don’t realize.
I read in one of the messages of Spurgeon, he was sick, and tired, and greatly discouraged, and seated in his study without spirit or heart to prepare another sermon. He happened to see on his desk a report of a missionary and his name in that report. He looked at it. A Baptist missionary in San Domingo had had a terrible and cruel and discouraging year; but there was one bright incident in it: a man had come from the interior of Haiti and had asked baptism at the missionary’s hand. And when the missionary found him to be an intelligent Christian, he asked him how, in the interior of Haiti, he had found the Lord. And the man replied, "Somebody somewhere had translated into French a sermon by the great Spurgeon of London." And reading that sermon he had found the Lord and had come to San Domingo to the missionary to be baptized at his hands. And then Spurgeon describes, as only he could, how it inspirited him, and how it heartened him, and how it cheered him, and how he had given himself to preach more sermons, and to print more books, and to do more and better for Jesus.
"I have meat to eat that ye know not of. He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal" [John 4:32, 36]. I do not think I exaggerate it at all when I say that when we get to heaven and walk, and mingle with the crowds in glory, there’s going to be a multitude of people that come up to you, and humbly, I pray, somebody come up to me, and shake my hand and say, "You don’t realize, you never knew, I never had opportunity to tell, or I was too timid to say it, but the reason I found the Lord was on account of you – a word you spoke, or a letter you wrote, or a kindness you did, or a sympathy that you showed, or an invitation that you made." God’s kingdom is put together like that. We don’t realize the influences, we don’t realize the ripening of the heart, we don’t realize how ready to harvest. God bids us lift up our eyes and look [John 4:35]. Families, and young people, and children, everywhere, maybe not all of them will respond, but some of them will; and they are trophies of grace we lay at the holy and blessed feet of Jesus. "Lift up your eyes and look, white, white fields unto the harvest" [John 4:35].
And now before this service ends and we begin our second service of communion, the pastor, in the name of Jesus, offers free pardon and salvation in the cross of Jesus. Somebody you, looking in faith to Him, would you come? [Ephesians 2:8]. Is there a family to put your life with us in the church? Is there a mother, a son? Is there a wife, a daughter? Is there one somebody you? In this balcony round, on this lower floor, as the Spirit shall make appeal to your heart, coming down one of these stairways or stepping into the aisle and down to the front, would you make it this morning? Would you make it now? On the first note of this first stanza that we sing:
Sowing in the morning, sowing in the evening,
Sowing in the noonday, and the dewy eve.
By and by the harvest and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
[adapted from "Bringing in the Sheaves"; Knowles Shaw, 1874]
While we sing that precious song, somebody you to come, on the first note of the first stanza, into the aisle and down to the front, would you make it now? Would you make it this morning? Immediately, "Here I come, preacher, here I am." Or, "Here we are, the whole family," while we stand and while we sing.
LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND LOOK
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. No loyal Jew would go through Samaria
A. Years of jealousy between Judah and Ephraim
B. Constant war between Jerusalem and Samaria
C. Years of bitter abhorrence following destruction of Northern Kingdom
D. Ezra refused to allow Samaritans to rebuilt temple
1. Nehemiah harassed by those who built a rival temple (John 4:20)
E. Worst thing temple rulers said of Jesus (John 8:48)
II. Spirit of disciples
A. Did not expect additions to the kingdom
B. Never thought to tell the people the Messiah had come
III. Spirit of Jesus
A. Wonderful kindness and sympathy
1. Every reference in New Testament to Samaria made in love, compassion (Luke 17:11-19, 10:36-37, Acts 1:8)
B. His appeal (John 4:35)
1. We do not realize what has been working to open a man’s heart
IV. The message to us
A. Our ministry is to lost men everywhere
B. Our ministry is to be done with great expectation and assurance