Thursday, October 12, 2017

Article: Why Does God Seem Hidden? by Jonathan Morrow

I had the honor and privilege to contribute to the recently updated and revised Apologetics Study Bible for Students.  You can find my article here.

Author and speaker Jonathan Morrow also contributed an article entitled "Why Does God Seem Hidden?"  This is an important topic so I wanted to share Morrow's article here.

Why aren't God's existence and identity more obvious?  Or, as a student once asked, "If God wants people to know he exists, why doesn't he just show up or write his name in the sky or something?"  These are questions about the hiddenness of God.  All struggle with the reality that God seems present and active at certain times but painfully distant and uninvolved at others.  How can this be explained?

First, God is not as hidden as people sometimes believe.  He is all-loving, desires to have a relationship with individuals, and has given humanity plenty of evidence in creation to indicate his existence (Ps 19:1-4; Rm 1:18-20).  People, however, may choose to suppress this evidence (Rm 1:21-25) or else acknowledge it and turn to the true and living God (1 Th 1:9).

Second, human sinfulness has caused a breach in man's relationship with God.  His hiddenness is in part a response to sin, which he finds repulsive.  Isaiah 45:15 speaks frankly about God hiding from his followers: "Yes, you are a God who hides, God of Israel, Savior" (see Ps 10:1; 44:23-24).  God sometimes hides from people because of their disobedience or indifference toward him.  This is a form of judgment (see Is 59:2; Mc 3:4).

Third, people must remember that it is humans who his first.  Genesis illustrates that God's desire from the beginning was to be present with humanity in a life-giving relationship.  But when Adam and Eve turned their backs on God, he sought them out while they were hiding (Gn 3:9-10).  This remains true today.  God sent his Son "to seek and to save the lost" (Lk 19:10).

Fourth, people would be compelled to believe if God suddenly appeared or wrote his name in the sky, as the student suggested.  This forced faith would perhaps destroy the freedom necessary for a genuine loving, voluntary relationship to exist between humanity and its Maker.  God doesn't want people merely to acknowledge intellectually that he exists.  Even demons believe in God, and they shudder rather than love him (Jms 2:19).  What God wants is relationship.  He wants people to choose to become part of his family by faith.

Fifth, at other times God hides for a season so that people will seek him more earnestly.  This is part of how he teaches Christians to live dependent and grateful lives.  There are moments when the pain and loss we feel in life's circumstances make it seem that God is far away or altogether absent.  At such times, we cry out with the psalmist: "Lord, why do you reject me?  Why do you hide your face from me? (Ps 88:14).  Even Jesus experienced an excruciating silence from God on the cross (Mk 15:34).  Ultimately, Jesus is our example for trusting God when the silence is deafening.

We can learn to trust completely without complete understanding.  And we can rest in the promise God has given: "You well seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart" (Jr 29:13; see Jms 4:8).

Courage and Godspeed,

Related Posts

R. Douglas Geivett on the Hiddenness of God

"Mere Christianity" Made Simple

Paul K. Moser on the Existence of God

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