Where is God? If He exists, why is He so hard to find? This is known as the hiddenness of God. Believers and nonbelievers alike seek signs from God, either for guidance in their lives or for evidence of His existence. Why does He hide Himself from us?
I see you!
Imagine Jesus was knowingly, physically there everywhere you went. Admit it: you’d find it creepy and kind of annoying. Like when you hit your teenage years and you didn’t want anyone knowing you had parents. You wanted to be as far away from them as possible. But imagine they were always there, following you. Watching you. At school, at parties. When you were alone with that certain someone. It would drive you insane!
You would resent them. Hate them. Desire even more strongly to run and hide from them. How much more from an all-present God whom you can’t possibly hide from!
So He hides instead.
Now, God is not a stalker. He doesn’t follow you everywhere you go; He’s already there. As the Psalmist cried, “Where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) God is omnipresent. It is in His very nature to watch over His creation. It’s His, remember?
But God is not just the concerned parent; He’s the perfect parent. He desperately wants you to make the right decisions, not for His sake but for yours. However, He wants you to willingly make the right decision, of your own free will. Not just because He’s watching, but because it’s right. Otherwise our obedience would be fake. We wouldn’t obey him because we love and respect Him; we would obey because we were terrified of the ever-present Almighty.
And even if His existence was painfully obvious, God doesn’t just want us to know He is there. He wants us to love Him. To desire Him. In Jeremiah 29:13, the Lord says to Israel “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” In Matthew 7:7, Jesus taught “Seek and you will find.” Perhaps the great lengths it takes to find a treasure reveals just how much that treasure is worth to us. (See Matthew 13:44-46.) Imagine God as a lover who wants to be wanted, not one who is burdensome and annoying and you can never get away from.
Freedom from God
But what if you truly wanted to be free from God? There are many who don’t just deny His existence; they don’t want Him to exist. God’s hiddenness lets them think and act as if He doesn’t. They are free to live their lives however they wish without His interference. Without a divine security camera constantly over their shoulders. Think about it: if I wanted to be free from my marriage, I could simply leave my wife and never see her again. But what about God? If He didn’t hide, you couldn’t be free from Him. You’d be stuck in a miserable marriage you desperately want out of. God’s hiddenness allows the sinner what he or she wants: freedom from Him.
And for those who ultimately wish to be free from God’s presence, He grants them their desire: He hides from them. Forever.
Sinners in the Presence of a Holy God
Adam and Eve had perfect communion with God in the Garden of Eden. They enjoyed His glorious presence day and night. Then they disobeyed Him and introduced sin into the world. And what did they do next? They hid (Genesis 3:8). That’s the natural reaction of someone wracked with guilt and shame: to run, to hide.
But they couldn’t hide from God. None of us can.
There is no hiding from God. A holy and perfect God. And we sinful humans could not handle being in the presence of such a Being. Think about when Isaiah was brought into God’s throne room and how he completely lost it (Isaiah 6). All he could do was reflect on how unclean and unworthy he was. He was undone. It took an action from one of the seraphim to fix Isaiah up and allow him to think straight again. He had to be made holy to remain sane in the presence of the Most Holy One.
Sin is a feature of this world and a part of our fallen nature. But sin can’t hide from God’s sight. We can’t hide. So He protects us from our own guilt and shame. He keeps us from going insane. How?