“Yes, you are a God who hides, God of Israel, Savior” (Isa. 45:15, CSB).
Why isn’t God more obvious? The question is often asked in many ways and in many contexts: When prayers go unanswered, why is God silent?
When suffering or tragedy strikes, why would God allow this to happen? When struggling over the countless millions who don’t know about God revealed in Jesus Christ, why wouldn’t God want more people saved?
When the “evidence” seems to counter the biblical narrative, why doesn’t God just give a sign? Why not do something really big and grand like He did with Moses or even with Jesus’ miracles today? Why does it look like God hides?
I think that if He would show Himself more openly there would be less sin. Sin would not multiply so much. Yet why does God still hide?
Perhaps God hides because of love. Love? Yes, love. God created us to love us. He wants us to love Him.
But love by its very nature cannot be forced. Love must be freely given. So that would mean that humans created in God’s image could not love their Creator.
Genesis tells us of the choice Adam and Eve made concerning God. For them to have a choice, God had to hide. God hides from us, so we may hide from him.
God is still just as much present, but He gives the illusion that He does not see. That is why when the pair heard God walking in the cool of the day, they hid themselves (Gen. 3:8). God called out “Where are you?” like He didn’t already know. He hid, so they would make their own choice.
God hides out of mercy. Moses, when he was on Sinai asked to see the glory of God. The Lord told him that if he did, he would die, “for no man may see me and live.”
When we ask for God to show Himself, we don’t really understand for what we’re asking. You see, God and sin don’t mix well. The full appearance of the Lord will come, and when this happens there will be no more mercy. It will be the Day of Judgment. On that day, God will remove all sin from His glorious presence.
Finally, God is hidden because He is a person. C. S. Lewis described it well in in his book, Mere Christianity, to which I paraphrase his argument: If you are a geologist and you want to learn about rocks, you go to them. They cannot come to you, and they cannot run away.
The initiative is all on our side. But if you are a zoologist and you want to learn about animals in the wild, you must go to them, but they can also run away. You must be careful in your approach. Here we see the beginnings of the initiative on their side.
Moving a step higher, suppose you want to get to know a human person. If the person does not want you to know them, you will not. The initiative is equally divided. It takes two to make a friendship. When it comes to knowing God, the initiative is entirely on His side. If He does not show Himself, there is nothing you can do to unhide Him.
Actually, there is a lot to see of God, but not everyone is able. God does not play favorites, in the same way sunlight does not play favorites. However, sunlight is not reflected as much in a dirty mirror as it is in a clean one. The issue for people is character. Do we have the character to see God? Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8, CSV).
God reveals Himself to those who seek Him with all their heart (Jer. 29:13). Thus, I believe that Jesus’ final command should be our first priority: to make disciples of Jesus.
I’m proud to work alongside our churches and associations to plant disciple-making churches for Jesus. If you’re interested in church planting check out www.oklahomachurchplanting.com.