The God Who Hides
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Yet no one calls on your name
or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
and turned us over to our sins.
One of the most perplexing things that ever happens to anyone is when God hides His face and becomes absent. The great theologian Karl Barth described how even a pastor or student of scripture can possess all manner of knowledge but still ‘lose the scent’ of God’s presence and the whole enterprise of studying God becomes empty and fruitless.The most precious thing that we have or lose is the presence of God Himself.
At the end of this chapter (64:11-12) Isaiah says:
The holy and beautiful Temple
where our ancestors praised you
has been burned down,
and all the things of beauty are destroyed.
After all this, Lord, must you still refuse to help us?
Will you continue to be silent and punish us?
God’s answer is in the following chapter (65:1):
The Lord says,
“I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help.
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me.
I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’
to a nation that did not call on my name.
It’s one thing to openly turn from God and pursue idols. But that’s not generally what we do today. We find more subtle ways to reject God.
I remember having conversations with a former missionary and Bible translator who had become disillusioned and angry and posted a 50 page diary of his descent into secularism on an atheist website. It was a heartbreaking experience. He was very, very bitter.
As we talked, I found that he was simply unable to see certain things, even though they were right in front of his face. In his own way he was experiencing what Isaiah writes about – the God who hides.
As I talked to him I became personally convinced that he was searching for his preconceived notions about what God should be, and he wasn’t open to changing those notions. Ironically, most of those notions had come from the church.
Are we worshiping our *idea* of God instead of God Himself? If we are, the real God may hide His face. Or we can turn to God with the knowledge and confession that our conceptions of Him are not the same as the real Him, and open our hands and our hearts to the sometimes jarring discoveries we make about Who He really is.
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