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Why Does God Hide Himself?

Have you ever wondered why God hides Himself? No, I'm not implying that He is somehow absent from the world, or that He has turned a blind eye to us and our prayers. He most certainly still answers prayers, moves on our behalf, and even performs miracles. What I mean is, have you ever wondered why there isn't a "smoking gun" when it comes to proving God's existence?

For instance, we can't take those who doubt God's existence somewhere to meet with Him face to face. We can't present them with some sort of physical evidence that will convince everyone of God's existence once and for all. And there is no testimony great enough, or persuasive enough, to convince everyone that God really does exist, let alone that our God is God.

That's not to say there is no proof of God's existence -- I firmly believe there is. In fact, I believe there is a great deal of it. However, we know we must exercise some faith if we are to believe in God. (Galatians 2:20, Romans 1:17, Ephesians 3:16-17, John 20:29) And it's this need for faith that has come under much scrutiny, particularly by those who don't believe in God.

Ask anyone and we'll find that most of us don't understand why God would hide Himself, especially if He wants us to believe in Him. In our human thinking, it makes more sense for God to simply reveal Himself, answering the question of His existence once and for all. After all, God is surely powerful enough to give us something, anything, that would convince us that He is real. Then, everyone would know, and everyone would believe... yet He doesn't do this.

God's existence is something that has been pondered many times over throughout all of history. Nevertheless, explanations of why He hides Himself are few and fleeting. We Christians usually rely heavily on the "mysteriousness of God" angle, while those who don't believe in God often present this as proof that He isn't real. But, I believe there is a better explanation.

It should come as no surprise to us that God does things by design -- He is the Creator, after all. (Genesis 1:1) God does nothing haphazardly or without thinking. He always has a plan, He always has a purpose, and He always has a reason for doing what He does. So it's no accident that God chooses to hide Himself just enough for there to be a question as to His existence, only to reveal Himself at key moments, and at necessary levels, when He deems it appropriate.

But, let's consider for a moment that God decides to do what some of us have challenged Him to do since the first doubter appeared on earth -- that being, prove His existence. And let's say, to do so, God opens a window in the sky allowing all of us on earth to see directly into heaven. Through this window we can see angels going about God's business, we can see loved ones who have passed on waving to us, and we can sense the peace and joy that exists in Heaven. We can even see God Himself sitting on His throne before a sea of glass. (Revelation 4:6)

Now let's say God also opens up a hole in the ground -- a hole that allows us to peer into the very depths of hell. Not that hell resides at the center of the earth, of course, but still, just go with me on this. Through this hole we can see the rotting, twisted figures of demons, we can see people screaming and writhing in unimaginable agony, and we can sense the despair and hopelessness that permeates every square inch of this place. Not only that, but we can also see a great lake of fire in the middle of it all. (Revelation 20:10)

No, I'm not trying to scare anyone straight, I'm simply painting a picture.

With these things being revealed, all doubt of God's existence, Satan's existence, heaven and hell's existence, as well as any doubt of Jesus being our one and only savior, completely vanish from the earth. These things are so apparent that no one can doubt them any longer, and everyone on earth is keenly aware that they have a choice to make.

So let me ask you, after seeing these things, how many people do you think would choose to go to heaven? My guess is, it would probably be pretty close to 100%, wouldn't you agree?

Now let me ask you, of those who chose to go to heaven, how many do you think did so primarily to escape the horrors of hell? 10%? 50%? Even 90%?

One last question... can you see an issue with this?

In our eyes, God revealing Himself might seem like the perfect solution. For many of us, salvation is the main goal -- which is, of course, understandable. It's what a lot of us focus on since we have been commissioned to preach the gospel to the world. So, having undeniable proof of God's existence would make doing so much easier. (Matthew 28:16-20) However, there is a bit more to this picture than salvation alone.

The fact is, if it were God's purpose to get everyone saved without regard to any other conditions, then He would simply do so. Regardless of what some may think, we are mere clay in His hands. He knows exactly what buttons to press to get us to do whatever it is He knows is best. So if He wanted us all to be saved, without regard to any other conditions, we would be. But God wants more than this alone.

When God hides Himself -- when He takes away the certainty of His existence -- this leaves us with a choice to make. That choice being, are we going to choose to believe in God and follow Him, or are we going to go in another direction? As a result of this uncertainty, what is in our heart will come out. If it's in our heart to gravitate towards God, then we are naturally going to do so when He calls. If it's in our heart to move away from God, then we will naturally do that as well.

However, if God were to reveal Himself, making it absolutely certain to everyone that we are going to one of two places when we die, then in many people's eyes the choice would change. It would no longer be about whether we want to serve God or not, instead it would be about what kind of afterlife do we want.

Now, I know there are some who will think this would be okay, but it's not. We, in our human thinking, tend to believe that if only we can convince people of God's existence, then they would be saved, but this isn't so. Salvation is more than just acknowledging His existence.

In reality, the question of God's existence is a mechanism geared to separate those who want to be with God from those who don't. In a way, it removes the threat of being separated from God, allowing us to make a more honest choice according to what is in our heart. It isn't the only mechanism that does this, but it plays a large role in doing so.

Of course, as I noted previously, we think differently than God. We have a tendency to want to get everyone saved no matter what -- and that's okay, that's the level at which we should be operating. But God wants to sort out those who want to be with Him from those who don't. That's His job, not ours, and this is one thing He has employed in order to do so.

Yes, of course, it's God's earnest and heartfelt desire that everyone receive salvation through Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:9) He doesn't want a single one of us to be separated from Him for all eternity, but He also doesn't want false conversions. He doesn't want people to come to Him just to escape hell, or for the benefits of going to heaven. He wants people who love Him, who want to be with Him, and who want to live as He does, not just those who want to obtain the things He offers. (Matthew 6:33)

So if God opened up a hole for us to peer into the depths of hell, it would scare every one of us straight, without exception. But then what? Can you imagine a heaven filled with people who don't actually want to be with God? I can only guess as to what might happen, but I would think some level of conflict would occur, which would detract from heaven being heaven.

We in our humanness tend to think that experiencing the greatness of heaven would change anyone's heart, but that's not necessarily so. It didn't change Lucifer's heart, neither did it change the rebellious angels hearts. They all basked in God's glory and beheld the greatness of all of heaven, yet they desired what was within their hearts, and that is what they chose. So too would it be with us if God acted to get us all saved without regard to any other condition.

This world is, in part, a sorting ground. Here, those who desire God and His ways are separated from those who do not, and God's requirement of faith plays a major role in this. So unlike what some may believe, He's not playing games with us, nor does He have some sort of malevolent intent -- quite the opposite in fact. He's actually giving us our best opportunity to see that His way is best, without being the big, scary, wrathful God who forces us to make certain decisions, as some like to portray Him.

Let me say one last thing before I end this message.

As we know, there are those who like to challenge Christians. Not everyone who doesn't believe in God does this, so let's be careful to not paint them all with the same brush. Still, there are some who like to use this very attribute of God against us, challenging us to produce some sort of proof of His existence, and sometimes reveling in our inability to do so.

For any of you who may have been subjected to such demands, don't ever feel as though you have to prove God's existence to anyone, even if someone challenges you to do so. The fact is, we were never given the tools to prove His existence to whomever challenges us. It's not something God expects of us, so don't take the weight of that on your shoulders.

Remember, even when Jesus walked the earth and did many miracles in the presence of many, there were still those who doubted. This should tell us that even proof isn't always enough to get people to believe. The fact is, people are going to go where their heart leads them.

So, by all means, tell them about the good news of Jesus Christ. Tell them about what God has done for you, and why you believe in Him. But don't feel like you have to prove God's existence to anyone, because you don't. Just be a witness for Him, and display the heart of the Father to all people. The rest is up to them.

If you liked this message, then I'd like to ask you to please consider contributing to the work God has called me to do by giving a financial gift. Your support is vital in helping the message of "Freedom in Christ" go forth, bringing liberty to all. (Galatians 5:1) The Lord has made us to lean upon one another, and in doing so, together we are strengthened. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) So take all that I have freely offered, but then, consider giving back, as this is what the Lord would have us do. Click the "Gifts" link at the top of this page to find out how you can help.

May God bless you richly!

Mark Moyers

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