Quick Links Quick Links

Our Hidden God

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

Welcome to this broadcast of Words of Life. My, what a difference it is if our words bring life instead of death or hurt. We are so glad you have tuned in. We hope you will stay tuned as we try to find something about God today.

Here in America we are facing what we refer to as the bowl games when the best football teams meet together in a giant stadium and hundreds of thousands of fans come together to watch them play on the field of battle. Would you use your imaginations with me just a little bit? Imagine if God showed up for one of those bowl games. In front of hundreds of thousands of eye witnesses, millions more watching on TV the replay machines recording his appearance. It would be broadcast over the nightly news. The trumpet would sound. The clouds would roll back and there they would see God on his throne. And he would utter from that throne: I am God and I love you. Believe in me. Oh, then the sky would close and people would do what? I think they would lose interest in the ball game and they would rush to leave to share what they saw. Think of the effect of such a public relations campaign from God. God appearing just one time at the Rose Bowl or some other great such bowl. What would happen? Well, it would leave every Atheist speechless, for he does not believe in God. I guarantee you the next Sunday every church would be filled and it would certainly cause Bible sales and Bible reading to soar. There would be, indeed, a very great interest in the Word of God all of the sudden as we think about that and we would be looking at what the Word of God has to say.

I have had people say to me: You know, it would be so much easier to believe in the Bible back in the times in which Jesus lived and Moses lived. People more or less saw God as he worked in that day and they heard him speak. Well, let me remind you. Even in the Bible people felt his hiddenness. They wondered where he was. Job cried out. Oh, that I knew where to find God, Job 23 and verse three. The great man of faith, David, a man after God’s own heart said this in Psalm 10. Why do you stand so far away and hide yourself in time of trouble? Or Isaiah, chapter 45. You are a God who hides yourself. Think about that. Even those close to Jesus fought with a desire to see God. Remember the words of Philip, Jesus, show us the Father. They wanted to see God.

People speak today of seeing God in nature and surely if we look honestly and seriously and clearly at the great universe and the world around us, even one little flower or one little cell in our bodies, we can see that in those things there is proof of the existence of this great God. Look at nature, someone says. Yet, I would remind you that at best nature can give us only a little picture of what God is like. Nature shows us that he is a God of wisdom and a God of power and that kind of God can be just a little bit scary if you think about it and consider that He is such a great being.

Even in nature God is hidden. Have you ever seen the words made in heaven on a rosebud? Or have you see the words approved by a heavenly inspector in the kangaroo’s pouch? When darkness comes there will be no signs flashing in the sky to say: This day has been directed by God. God remains the invisible. He remains behind the visible. You must be able to see the picture of the necessity of faith in relationship to God.

We do nothing to run the world. We don’t control it one way or the other. We have no effect upon the seasons. They are going to come and go. Day and night, we can’t change any of that. Rain or snow, we have no control. Yet, the operator of this great universe and of our world never shows up to reveal himself. There are chemical reactions, yet they are never seen by the chemist in the laboratory. There is a mathematical order to the universe, but the engineer never steps out to take a bow. And so the great God of nature, the great God of heaven has not stepped out on the cloud to reveal himself

You will remember the Soviet cosmonauts. They looked for God when they went up into the heavens and they came back to report: We did not find God in space. They found no paradise either. They saw no angels. And I believe this is another case of confusing the hiddenness of God with him being non existent. Because we have not seen him, there are those who would say that is proof that, indeed, we have not even the reality of a God.

And yet there are the principles of wind. Have you seen the wind? No, you have seen the effects of the wind. You have seen the trees move or something get knocked over by wind, but you have not seen the wind. Electricity would be another example of that. It is a power that runs through wires and operates various apparatus, but we do not see that power.

And so because God stays out of sight some have tried to say to us that God is not in existence or that God is now dead. And then others keep demanding proof. I have to see to believe, they tell us. Well, the best thing we would think that God could do would be to step out in the open. If he did, would once be enough? How long before some doubt would come back again? What about those who didn’t see what you saw?   Maybe they only saw a replay of that.
You know there are many people today who still do not believe we ever sent a man to the moon. Those videos that we saw, we are told, are just fake. No man has ever been out in space and set foot upon the moon. Yet we have seen the videos of it. What do you think? What about this hidden God? Have you wondered why he is hidden as he seems to be so often? Why should we assume God’s full revelation could be understood by us if he appeared? The fact is our brains cannot comprehend the greatness of a being called Jehovah God, Elohim, the creator of the heavens and the earth. Our greatest minds have been unable to cure the common cold. We haven’t figured out yet how a lightning bug works with that little tail showing so brightly. It was just in the year 1995 that we learned how aspirin works after having it for almost 100 years.

One reason people invent new gods is so that they can understand and explain this God in simple terms. The Bible makes it clear no man has seen God. And because he is such a glorious being, we cannot look upon him and see him in all his glory.

Let me ask you as God asked Job. Can you measure the sky with a yardstick? We keep finding yet mega miles out in space that we never knew were there. A yardstick would take an awfully long time to begin to measure it.
Do you suppose that you can shake hands with the creator of the universe? He did not need my help or yours or Job’s to create this beautiful world in which we live. My friends, the fact is our mind is simply not made to fit the dimensions of God. He is beyond our capacity, beyond our thinking. It takes faith to believe in him. And so God’s hiddenness protects our limited minds.

As we go out into space further and further, as we go under the depths of the sea, we discover how frail we are against the elements. We cannot exist in space without special suits in order to breathe and we cannot go under the sea without a special diving apparatus. How fortunate that you and I live in a guarded universe where the atmospheric shield protects us, is around us and a proper dimension and a proportion of oxygen and all the things we need to breathe are all around us as God intended.

Think about it. If the power in one tiny atom could bring the devastation of the atomic bomb, how can we stand in the presence of the God who created that one little atom with all of its power? When angels appeared to people in the Bible great fear fell upon them as they received the message of God. If mere angels bring fear, if they terrify us, what do you think we would do if Jehovah God appeared?

And so the hiddenness of God may very well be another protective shield that God built into his creation to separate us from something we could not possibly stand or bear even as we cannot bear outer space without a space suit or the depths of the ocean without a diving helmet. And so the hiddenness of God we simply cannot comprehend, understand, or take it into our feeble minds.

But this helps build our faith and our strength. Suppose you broke both of your legs? I have known of cases where that has happened. You are repaired in the hospital and you come home and are waited on for everything that you need because your legs have to heal and you have to stay in bed a long time. You are carried from room to room and you don’t even have to stretch to reach anything. It is right there at your bedside. What if you never quit doing that? Suppose you decided: Oh, I just like lying here in the bed doing nothing. What would happen? Muscles would atrophy. They would dry up. They would become useless. You would not be able to ever walk again even if you wanted to.
And so I believe that if God fulfills and reveals himself fully to us, if he shows himself to do everything for us, we could not grow in faith. We will never know real victory against evil, spiritual development would be less than that which God desires. We need to think about growing in our faith towards this invisible God. God chose to reveal himself by sending his Son Jesus. What we call Christmas is the time of the year when we celebrate his birth. Even there God followed the strategy of hiding himself. Would you look for God in a stable? Would you look for God in a hay trough? Would you look for God on a criminal’s cross? Would you look for him in a little city called Nazareth? Would you look for him in a carpenter’s shop?

 

Many people have missed God because they looked for royal robes. They looked for one coming in great power and great glory and he revealed himself in the only way we could see him and understand him. He became a man.   Would you think about that as you go through the coming year?
And so it is today. We look for God through the giant telescope or we look for him in that powerful microscope that magnifies the little things of this great creation. And we do not see him there. Oh, his footprints are there. He has been there. You can be sure of that. But our motives are wrong. Our faith is imperfect. We are looking for God in the wrong place and for the wrong thing. 2000 years ago, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, this great God sent his son Jesus to reveal himself to us. Jesus was the very fullness of God. And so he works the same way today. He hides his awesome power and glory. We cannot stand it any more than someone could stand an atomic explosion. Yet he reveals himself through human lives, through those who are his followers, to those and through those who are Christians, who Jesus said are like a city set on a hill, who Jesus said are to be seen.

Listen to the words of the writer Paul in the book of Ephesians chapter three. Beginning there with verse eight he gives these words: Unto me who am less than the least of all saints was this grace given so that I might preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make all men see. Paul said God had sent him to show something, to make men see the dispensation of a mystery. For ages it has been hidden in God who created all things to the intent that now it might be known through the church the manifold wisdom of God according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him. Wherefore Paul asks that you may not faint in my tribulations for you which are for your glory.

Scattered throughout this passage in the third chapter Paul gives an appeal for people to turn to God and to trust him. He says in the 16th verse that God would grant you according to the riches of his glory that you be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man. Oh, how we need that. And then the 17th verse he wants Christ to dwell in their hearts by faith so that they are rooted and grounded in love. And verse 19 that they would be able to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge and filled to the fullness of God. You want to see God? You want to see him at work? Then see him at work in those who call themselves Christian.

In the closing verses of that passage of Scripture, Ephesians three, these words: Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. There is a power that works in the Christian that guarantees the revelation of God to those around.

The poet has written these words with which we close this morning.

A lamp once hung in an ancient town at the corner of a street.

There the wind was keen and the way was dark and the rain would often beat.

All night long its light would shine to guide the traveler’s feet.

Well, the lamp was rough and plain and old and the storm had beaten it sore.

It was not a thing one would care to show what e’er had been before.

But no one thought what the lantern was, was the light that within it bore.

The lamp is a text for young and old who seek in a world of pride

To shine for their Lord and to show him forth and never their light to hide.

You are the lantern, a thing of naught, but Christ is the light inside.

My friends, he can burn in you by faith if you will receive him and have an obedient faith that brings you to the water of baptism that you can be buried for the remission of your sins, raised to walk in a newness of life.

 

Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.




Leave a Reply

If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8