Why does God hide himself? Why hasn’t the all-powerful God of the universe come down and put an end to our unsolvable problems and endless human sufferings?
Forget, for a moment, about what you think is or is not impossible, and imagine yourself to be an enterprising skillful reporter. You are willing to go to incredible lengths to land a top notch story and this time you have really got one.
You, of all people, have somehow been granted an interview with God. Assuming you can find the nerve to speak, what will you ask Him? Surely not doctrinal questions which have little audience appeal and won’t sell copy. No, you would want to give your readers solid answers which have puzzled mankind for ages.
Perhaps you would begin with this question: “Would you please explain why you have the reputation of being a recluse. Why haven’t you come out and revealed yourself and put an end to centuries of religious controversy? You know, some people have facetiously proclaimed you to be on vacation, or even dead! Could you please explain why?
To begin with, He might chide you a little for going to all the trouble of setting up a personal interview when you could have gotten your answers by carefully reading His book. “A good reporter always does his homework. But since you are here anyway, I’ll answer your question,” God replied. “I have not been, nor am I now, as you put it, ‘on vacation’, a recluse, or even dead.” You begin scribbling furiously to catch the words clarifying the history of God’s relationship with man. In the beginning of His relationship with man, your notes read, God like any parent was absorbed in His newly created, family, teaching them, molding their environment, showing them how to live the good life. And, contrary to some popular religious opinions, He was actually very pleased with His creation. In fact, viewing it as a total package, God described it as “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
He tells you about the moment He placed the newly created man and woman in a beautiful garden where they were free to live within the bounds of God’s instructions. One thing was explicitly forbidden to them. They were not to eat of the fruit from a tree symbolically called “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17).
Things went well in the garden for a short period of time, and probably would have indefinitely, if not for the presence of a rebellious spirit being who was named Satan. Satan had previously attempted to overthrow the government of God, but had emerged from the battle second best (Ezk. 28: 12-17). Now, Satan was again mistakenly convinced that he could thwart His plan, God tells you. Satan knew very well that Adam and Eve were created to be free moral agents, that they were able to make their own decisions independent of the will of God, as can all men today. Adam and Eve could choose to disobey God although neither had done so previously. Satan decided to persuade Eve to disobey God by eating of the forbidden fruit. And through Eve, he would get at the man.
Once they had sinned, God explains to you, Adam and Eve tried to escape from Him by hiding behind some trees in the garden (Gen. 3:8), a pathetic gesture at best, buy typical of what mankind has been doing ever since.
You learn that when God later talked to Adam, Adam blamed Eve, and Eve, blamed the serpent – Satan for their sins. But it didn’t matter so much, by then, who was to blame because the mistake had already been made.
“Notice,” interjects God at this point of the interview, “that it wasn’t I who hid from Adam and Eve, as some would tell the story, but they tried to hide from me, because they felt guilty about disobeying!”
Most of the words in the quotation marks of this article are not direct quotes from the Bible, but they are a modern conversational form of the scriptures, not of which are cited.
God then tells you how He sent Adam and Eve out the Garden of Eden to till the ground. Time passed and children were born, among them one named Cain, who has the dubious distinction of being the first recorded murderer. Cain killed his brother Abel out of jealousy because Abel had obtained favor with God (Gen. 4:1-8). Unfortunately, Cain was somewhat of a trend setter. As generations passed and cities were founded, the earth experienced an initial population explosion, and most of these people followed the lawlessness of Cain.
“Because those people ignored what I told their first parents,” explains God, “conditions became worse and worse, rather than improving. Frankly, I didn’t really expect humanity to turn out quite that bad. As I said in my book, ‘the wickedness of man was great in the earth, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’ (Gen. 6:5).
“I might have scratched Project Earth altogether at that point if it had not been for a man named Noah. He wasn’t disobedient to my laws, and consequently, he had not cut himself off from me (Gen. 6:8-9). I decided to spare him, his family (II Peter 2:5), and anyone else who would listen to the warning I gave through him. But, as you may have read, no one else at that time paid any attention. I gave them many years to make a decision one way or the other, but no one individual bothered to acknowledge me. Consequently, everyone on earth except for Noah and his immediate family died in a devastating flood.”
“It didn’t take long for the descendents of Noah to forget about me, even though they themselves were living testimony to my power and mercy. For example, there was the incident of the tower of Babel, It is absolutely clear in my memory,” God remarks.
“Those people at Babel were going the very same way that the people had before the Flood. If I had not confused their language and given them different languages, it would not have been long before men would have progressed to the point where they would have destroyed themselves and that wasn’t in my plan. In spite of the fact that the Flood was recent history to them, men once again chose to ignore me, not vice versa!” (Gen. 11:1-9.)
God tells you that humanity scattered, took longer to progress. Eventually, nations formed from tribes, grew great, and conquered or enslaved others. One case in point, God brings to your attention was the presence of the children of Israel in Egypt.
Why was Israel so important? You wonder inwardly, but before you can verbalize the question, God answers, which unnerves you more than a little, so that you almost miss His explanation. You quickly note: God chose the descendants of the patriarch Israel with a special purpose in mind, to use them as an example for all other nations of the earth. In fact, at that time, God had not chosen to reveal Himself in the same way to any other nations, although He would do so in the future. But at that time, Israel was enslaved by a prosperous and powerful Pharaoh, so God sent a specially chosen man named Moses to liberate them. Judging from their reactions, however, they didn’t really want to leave Egypt all that much.
Why not? You wonder, this time aloud. “They,” replies God, “preferred to stay in Egypt rather than face the rigors of the desert and rely on me for protection. I demonstrated my power to the Israelites time after time when I delivered them from bondage. But no sooner had I miraculously parted the waters of the Red Sea and saved them from the Egyptian army, than they wanted to go back!” (Ex. 16:3.)
You venture a comment. “I’ve always been under the impression Sir, that you were, well, a little hard on these people out in the desert, I mean, they were only human!”
Sighing gently, and with a slight smile, God answers, “Please, when you get home, won’t you take the time to read my book, carefully?”
Your face burning, you assume note taking as He continues to answer your original question, which is taking longer than you expected. In the desert, you learn, the Israelites complained to Moses, and also, about Moses. It was just one thing after another, first complaints about no food, and then no water.
“When they asked for food, I supplied something special for them called manna,” explained God, “but some didn’t gather it when they were told to, and consequently, broke the Sabbath, which was designed to give them a much-need weekly rest (Ex. 16:27-28). Once again I was merciful. Even so, when they needed water, they somehow forgot the previous miracles and got so upset that they tried to blame Moses for their troubles and almost stoned him. I supplied the water anyway” (Ex. 17:1-6).
Comments God, “After all the miracles I had performed for their benefit, you would assume, wouldn’t you, that those people would have realized that I was indeed leading them by day and night? And they really should have been convinced that I was going to supply every need they had and that I was merciful, patient and more than willing to put up with their inadequacies and weaknesses. But no, even after all that, they still asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
God continues with His absorbing narrative and comes to a turning point in history. “At Mt. Sinai,” God relates, “all Israel had a chance to see my power firsthand and the glory of my presence with them in the wilderness. Yet, would you believe it, after I delivered the Law to them with thundering, lightning, the noise of a great trumpet, and the smoking mountain, a suitably impressive event, the people said they couldn’t take it!
“They called for Moses to speak to them,” adds God, “being afraid that if I spoke with them any more, they would die (Ex. 20:19). Yet even with the memory of my presence so fresh in their minds, they somehow conveniently forgot about me, again. Moses was not in the camp, so those Israelites, the people of whom I had most clearly revealed myself, made an idol to worship and held an orgy (Ex. 32:1-6). I set them straight on the matter, but they still wanted to go back to Egypt, and follow that whole wretched pagan way of life I had helped them escape (Num. 14:4).
Years later, Israel demanded a human king, so I gave them Saul. I comforted my prophet at that time, Samuel, by explaining to him that the people had not rejected him as their ruler, but that in demanding a human king, they were rejecting me and my rulership over them. It was the same old story.”(I Sam. 8:7).
You pause in your note taking and remember the story of Saul well enough from childhood to realize that he was a loser. He, too, ultimately rejected God, and David was anointed king in his place. David was truly unusual, a man after God’s own heart – but his son and successor, Solomon, eventually veered away from God’s way, even though he knew better (I Kings 11:1-11). After Solomon’s death, the nation never again wholeheartedly followed God’s laws.
You recall that ancient Israel rejected the prophets God sent, killing them rather than heeding their messages. Tradition even says that Isaiah was sawn in half on king Manasseh’s orders. Jeremiah would have probably been killed on several occasions if God had not directly intervened. Yet God did not stop revealing Himself, His plan and His purpose through the prophets, even though no one wanted to listen. In fact, many of their messages were recorded in the Bible for later generations and are especially applicable today.
“I stopped revealing myself through the prophets,” said God, “and came to earth in person to live as a human being almost two thousand years ago.” This simple statement hits you like a ton of bricks. You almost drop your pen as you stutter a few clumsy comments: “Wait a minute, if I properly understand what you are saying, then you must be I mean, I thought you were.”
“Yes, you’re right,” He smiles, a little amused at your consternation. “I am the one you know as Jesus Christ, but I am also the one you think of as ‘the angry God’ of the Old Testament. Since the beginning, I have been with the One you know as ‘the Father.’ I am the Word or Spokesman for Him, the one who did the actual work of creating the world, working together with my Father according to His plans. I became His son about 2,000 years ago by being born of Him and a human mother. I told you all about that in John 1:1-3 and Eph. 3:9.
“I was the one who walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. I was the one who was with the Israelites in the Sinai wilderness, working miracles on their behalf. I was their Rock, as you can see in I Cor. 10:4. I am the one to whom Abraham paid one tenth of his income. That’s mentioned in Heb. 7:1-3.”
“I now occupy the position of ‘High Priest,’ having qualified for that job through my perfect life on earth as a human being. I am now, of course, spirit, but having once been human, I am personally acquainted with human feelings and drives and can intercede with my Father on behalf of men, whenever they pray to Him. That information is found in Heb. 4:14-16.
“If you want to talk with my Father, you can do so at any time through prayer, and you should do so often, but if you want an interview with Him, you’ll have to wait for a little more than a thousand years. Then He, also, will be available for direct comment when He moves His headquarters, the New Jerusalem described in Rev. 21:1-3 to the new earth.”
This information has crumbled some of your lifetime concepts about God – but there will be plenty of time later to think these things over. Right now, God – Jesus Christ -- as you have discovered, is continuing to explain how it was when He fully revealed himself to man around two thousand years ago.
“I frankly don’t know how much more openely I could have been with everyone, how much more I could have revealed myself to a doubting humanity. I pulled no punches in telling the religious leaders of the day where they were wrong. I worked miracles through my Father’s power, healing the sick, even raising the dead. I revealed to those who would listen the plan we have had in mind for humanity all along, that all mankind can eventually become part of God’s Family, can literally become ‘sons of God’ (John 1:12). My life, death and resurrection are revealed in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Yet, even if you haven’t read those books, you have undoubtedly heard what happened.”
You are quite familiar with that story about how mankind was responsible for crucifying Him. He explained that his death and resurrection were, of course, an integral part of an overall plan to bring mankind to salvation and that they also illustrated the fact that even when a member of the family of God appeared in person, mankind, as a whole, rejected everything He stood for, didn’t want to listen, and eventually, brutally murdered Him. Instead of rejoicing because of the truth that was revealed, man’s attitude was and always has been “get lost God,” an attitude encouraged and reinforced by the spiritual influences of Satan and his demons.
“After my resurrection, the Church of God of whom I am the Head, imbued with the Holy Spirit, started out to spread the good news of our plan for humanity throughout the world. Yet, even before the original apostles died, men began, with a great deal of help from Satan, to systematically counterfeit my truths, to go right back to the same types of paganism found in ancient Babylon and Egypt. Much of this paganism was dressed up to look ‘Christian’ and eventually constituted much of the beliefs of the leading church bodies of the world, but it simply was not the truth.
“Read my book for yourself if you don’t believe this. How many so-called ‘Christian’ churches do you find literally taking their beliefs from it, explaining about my coming government, helping people to come out of sin, which is the violation of my law (which was established for their own good), and teaching people to observe my Sabbath and my Holydays? How many preach the simple fact stressed over and over again throughout the New Testament that I am going to return again to the earth? No, even after I completely revealed myself, ‘came out of hiding’ if you please, humanity once again reenacted that old familiar story. My church was persecuted and had to flee; the truth became hidden from the majority of people and was known only to a persecuted few whom I preserved to do my work.
“I do want to make clear one thing I have mentioned before. Yes, all this time that man has been rejecting me and saying ‘where is God,’ I could have been forcing humanity to obey me. But I haven’t because I created man with a mind capable of making decisions. Men are not just automated extensions of what you would probably call my ego. I have given man a chance to do things his way, and if you’ll notice how things have been going, man’s way has just not been working well at all.
“Because of this, when I return to the earth, and my return is the focal point of a great many Old and New Testament scriptures, then there is really going to be no question as to which way of living makes for genuine happiness and which way leads to chaos and destruction. Man’s history has made that clear.”
But now comes information which you know the readers will want: God offers a much stronger, real and personal proof that He is alive, that He is personally concerned with humanity today, concerned enough to save man from self-destruction. He tells about His Holy Spirit.
“The sick, emotionally based ‘spirit’ manifestations that are so highly touted by certain religious groups are not at all the fruits of the Holy Spirit,” explains Jesus. “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power and love, and especially a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).
“How can we get it?” is the next question which springs instantly to your lips.
“The requirements are very basic. First, you must completely quit rejecting me and my way of life. The person who does not wholeheartedly attempt to live by every word in my book has been rejecting me, whether consciously or not, even so-called religious people. Second, you must be baptized, which symbolically pictures death, burial and a resurrection to a new kind of life. Rising out of the water from baptism is the prelude to a person’s becoming a new man. Look up Acts 2:38 and Romans 6:4 for that. The requirements are that simple.
“Once you have received the Holy Spirit and continue to live by my laws, then you will have a living, personal, day-to-day proof that I am still alive and that my Father is answering your prayers. You will clearly see that it has been man who has rejected me all along, rather than me rejecting man. You will have proof that I am not dead, that I am not hiding nor ever have been, that I am not ‘on vacation.’