Isaiah 45 — Part 7 — A God That Hides Himself
“Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” Isaiah 45:15
This seems to be an odd statement that God is a God Who hides Himself. It stands in stark contrast to the pagan God’s who are every before men’s eyes, because they fashion them with their own hands. They are all idols. Therefore, they can decide where their gods will be at any time. They can move them about as they please.
But the God of Israel is God and therefore He is not subject to the caprice of men. He is God, Who is present everywhere. Where would God go to hide? Even still, He is the God of Israel the Savior. But what does it mean that God hides Himself?
Job spoke similarly of God when he said:
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:8-10
In another passage Isaiah suggests that God is not immediately self-evident and must be sought.
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near…”Isaiah 55:6
By contrast in the New Testament In Romans 1 we read:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” Romans 1:18-19
There are two ways God hides Himself, one for blessing and peace the other because of disobedience.
For blessing and peace God hides Himself in a cloud. In all of His encounters with Israel when the Tabernacle of Moses was in the wilderness with the Ark of the covenant God appeared before them in a cloud.
“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” Leviticus 16:2
On the other hand, God does hide His face from those who continually rebel against his commandments, particularly His covenant people, because they choose to serve other Gods. The idea is not that God goes somewhere where men cannot find Him, but rather that they are blinded to His presence because they have turned away from Him through disobedience.
“And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.” Deuteronomy 31:18
It is the way of God to appear before men in a cloud where His glory is hidden so that it does not consume those who would look on Him. Even when Moses, desired to see God’s face, God shaded him from seeing His full glory so that he would not die. For no man can look on God’s face and live. [Exodus 18-23] so God hides himself for man’s sake.
And yet, it is said of Moses that he spoke with God face to face.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend...” Exodus 33:11
Jacob also saw God face to face.
“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Genesis 32:30
But, God appears to men in a cloud so that His Glory does not consume them. He spoke to the people from the midst of the cloud that covered the Tabernacle and the mercy seat (the cover over the Ark) as it stood in the Holiest of Holy places in the Tabernacle.
Jesus came to earth to reveal God the Father to all. He was and is the express image of God.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4
And of Himself Jesus said. “I and my Father are one.” John 10:30
“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake." John 14:9-11
He was clearly seen by thousands upon thousands of people and had intimate fellowship and communion with His disciples daily. He was not hidden in a cloud and His earthly presence was no threat to mankind. He had laid aside His Heavenly glory in order to be known, seen, touched and embraced by those He came to save.
He came to be vulnerable to will of men in order to lay down His life for all.
Now after the resurrection and 4o days of appearing to people all over the region of Galilee and Jerusalem, as the disciples were talking with Him, He was taken up into glory in a cloud because in that moment the glory that He knew with the Father before His birth was restored to Him and no mortal man could look upon Him, then face to face and live.
“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” John 17:5
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9
We who are born again and in the process of our transformation to the image of Christ, are seeing God only dimly as through a glass now. His glory is known to us, but not yet fully revealed, because we are not yet ready to comprehend and embrace it. But we will in time to come.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
We will have a share in that glory. Jesus promised it.
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one…” John 17:22
By the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, fulfilling the promises of Jesus, we are becoming like the God who hides Himself. Not that we become God, but rather that we in that time, being of the same substance (glory) as God, can commune with Him in the same way as Jesus His Son, our Lord communes with the Father now and forever.