God Hides Himself
“Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” (Isaiah 45:15)
Why does God hide Himself?
The answer to this question goes to the heart of the entire purpose of our existence in this temporal world with souls hidden in bodies of clay. The Bible tells us, “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” (Romans 8:20) The same Bible informs us that the soul is not to dwell in the body forever, but “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:54) At the resurrection from the dead, the soul of every human being will enter into the eternal world, either to forever be with God or forever not to be. The one is joy unimaginable, while the other is torment beyond comprehension. But what does God hiding Himself have to do with this?
God values voluntary love. He wants us to choose, of our own volition, to serve Him and love Him. To have such voluntary love from His created Adam, it was necessary to not only create him with this ability to choose, but also to continually deal with him in such a way as not to overwhelm and overawe him. It is also necessary to deal with him in such a way as to make him somewhat aware of the existence of his Creator, yet to leave him with apparently reason to doubt. If he voluntarily chose to dig deeper and to pursue stringently into these apparent grounds to doubt, he would find the truth—absolute conviction of what was really so—but it is so designed that he must voluntarily choose to want truth and right in order to find God. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:19-20) It has been made not possible for mankind to find God by wisdom (human reasoning, see verse 21); the door is only open when a man chooses with his heart. Thus God has ordained it. And to ensure that it works this way, “He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.” (Ephesians 1:8) Note the amazing depth of the word abounded; herein is understanding of the mystery of why God lurketh in the shadows, why He hides Himself. It is necessary for the process to work as it should.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:35-38) Yes, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) God has designed for the just to live by his faith. The entire relationship between a man and his God is to work by faith. To strengthen, purify, and to increase this faith is the key to understanding what living for God is all about.
God follows (with infinite wisdom and love) an intricate and delicate balance in how much He reveals Himself and how much He hides Himself. It is commonly misunderstood by those who have little or no faith. Men think God should act in such and such a way; they do not comprehend the profound depths of, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) They do not comprehend why God deals with them as He does. To increasingly comprehend why God deals with us as He does is to have faith—to lay hold on the substance, the evidence of God available to us in the time of our probation.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.*