3

The following passages seem to support divine hiddenness:

Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. (Isaiah 45:15 ESV)

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (Psalm 13:1-2 ESV)

Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2 ESV)

Yet Romans 1:18-24 argues that God's existence is evident:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

(Romans 1:18-24 ESV)

Question: Is God hidden or not?

7
  • 3
    The question needs further clarification as to what is being asked that is hidden : God's word, God's thoughts, God's purposes, God's activities, God's nature, God's Person, God's relationships ? What are you asking ?
    – Nigel J
    Jul 1 at 15:04
  • God’s person and God’s attributes are not the same thing. From the Tower of Babel when He was rejected by men, He chose to remain hidden. He being the Son, for no one has seen the Father Jul 1 at 15:13
  • 5
    Given the scriptures quoted, the question needs to ask about God's hiddenness being either temporary or permanent. It clearly cannot be an "either", "or" question as it is, the way it's been put. You seem to suppose that a "Yes", or a "No" answer is required. That is far too simplistic.
    – Anne
    Jul 1 at 15:43
  • @wizzwizz4 reread the whole comment section and direct your comment to the person that “extended discussion” hint it’s not me Jul 2 at 20:51
  • 1
    @NihilSineDeo Pointing out that conflation in detail would be an answer. Questions normally indicate or reflect a lack of understanding on the part of whoever's asking them; that's why they're questions.
    – wizzwizz4
    Jul 2 at 21:23

6 Answers 6

5

The apparent conundrum or contradiction is scripture is much broader than the OP documents:

God is Hidden:

  • John 1:18 - No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
  • John 5:37 - You have never heard His voice nor seen His form
  • John 6:46 - No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. (See also Matt 18:10.)
  • 1 John 4:12 - No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us.
  • 1 Tim 6:16 - He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him.
  • Ex 33:20 - But He added, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.”
  • Isa 45:15 - Truly You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.

God Has Been Seen

  • Isa 64:4 - From ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.
  • Job 42:5 - My ears had heard of You [= the LORD, V1], but now my eyes have seen You.
  • Gen 18:1, 10 - Then the LORD appeared to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day, while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. ... Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year, and your wife Sarah will have a son!”
  • Gen 32:30 - So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
  • Ex 3:5, 6 - “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
  • Josh 5:13 - 6:2 - And the LORD said to Joshua, “Behold, I have delivered Jericho into your hand, along with its king and its mighty men of valor.” (V2)
  • Judges 6:14 - The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Am I not sending you?” [See also V16]
  • See also instances of the “Angel of the LORD” clearly being the LORD - Gen 16:7-13, 22:11-17, 32:24-30, 48:16, Ex 3:2-6, 32:34, Num 22:22-35, Josh 5:13-15, Judg 2:1-4, 6:11-23, 13:3-23, Isa 63:9, Dan 3:25, 28, Hos 12:4, 5, Zech 3:1-7, Mal 3:1, Rev 8:3-5, 10:1-10, 18:1, 20:1-4.

How do we resolve this difference?

We note several things about this survey and those quoted by the OP

  1. There is a big difference between physically seeing God and "seeing" as in perceiving something. The reference in Rom 1:18-24 is the latter meaning - people can "see" in the sense of understanding as God reveals Himself to us. Note the text of Rom 1:20 -
  • For from the creation of the world His invisible qualities, both His eternal power and divinity, are clearly seen, being understood by the things made, for them to be without excuse.
  1. Note also the text of two more verses about seeing God. It is our sins that prevent us from seeing God or even understanding God. [In the next point I will cover the work and ministry of Jesus that removes this sin barrier to enable us to commune with God.] However, the gift of the Holy Spirit, God reveals Himself to us:
  • Isa 59:2 - But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.
  • Heb 12:14 - Pursue peace with all, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord
  • John 16:13 - But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
  1. Jesus came as savior to bridge the gap between sinful man and God
  • John 1:18 - No one has ever seen God; but the unique God, the one in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him
  • Rev 22:3, 4 - No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be within the city, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.
  1. Paul makes it clear that ALL people receive some kind of revelation or knowledge about God in Rom 1:18-22 and 2:14-16.
  • Rom 1:18-20 - The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.

CONCLUSION

God is merciful - He and His unapproachable glory remain hidden for our protection. However, that does not prevent us seeing God's goodness, grace, mercy and love as Rom 1 teaches. We also have the revelation of Jesus:

  • Matt 1:23 - Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means, “The God with us”).
  • John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • John 20:28 - Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

APPENDIX - Divine Hiddenness

In the above, I have refrained from directly commenting on the important question of God's hiddenness as espoused by the likes of Schellenberg because it is not a Biblical argument. However, this "problem" is certainly acknowledged by the Bible writers as documented above.

The core issue is the love relationship - God does not force Himself on anyone but remains intent upon saving all people; but only with each person consent - no one is forced into heaven. This question does not allow enough space to fully develop this them so I leave that for another question.

3

The answer is contained in the question:

your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

In simple terms, if someone continues to deliberately choose to disobey God, God is going to ignore their prayers.

Only when people have realized what was wrong with their decisions (regret), have understood why they were wrong (remorse), and have changed their behaviour and character (repentance), will God listen to them.

2

There is a distinction between having both a cognitive & perceptive knowledge of God through creation (Rom 1:18-32), and God manifesting His presence more fully.

Romans 1:18-24 as you quoted is God making Himself known through His created order, so His invisible attributes manifest in the things that are made, thus making man without excuse for what they perceive in creation.

In other words, creation reflects the handiwork of God.

After mankind understands this they no longer want to see God in it:

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:28‬ ‭

Since people know God exists(Rom 1:21), the passages in Isaiah refer to God concealing Himself more due to people iniquities against Him.

Answer: God has revealed Himself, through creation no doubt…(Psalms 19) but mankind rejects and sins against God so often and so much that God chooses to then obscure Himself more than before.

So mankind walks in darkness, stumbling; yet without excuse before Him.

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:17-19‬ ‭

Psalms 13 that you quoted can refer to when God withdraws Himself(2 Chronicles 32:31) to test us, or if we have unconfessed sin in our lives as believers, (Psalms 66:18).

2

I once went looking for one of the largest trees in the world; a friend had seen it and I was impressed enough to want to see it for myself. I knew enough to start looking in the right area but did not know exactly where it was, and I walked right past it without realizing it....

Eventually I realized my mistake, but I was blown away that I had managed to walk right past one of the largest organisms on earth without realizing it. It blended in so well I saw it, but did not recognize it.

Some are so accustomed to living in an ordered universe that obeys laws, on a life-permitting planet with marvelous natural vistas, among life forms can spawn new life, where love & inspiration & discovery are possible, that they fail to appreciate the wonder of it all. I, for one, am in awe at the majesty of the Creator. But apparently it is possible to see it all without recognizing Him whose handiwork it is.

--

Jesus & Isaiah suggested a distinction between "seeing" and "understanding" (which in Greek can be conveyed by the same word, e.g. ὁράω).

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matthew 13:13)

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not (Isaiah 6:9)

I agree with the argument made in other answers, that sin or disbelief can dull our ability to see spiritual things clearly. Exodus 33:18-23 indicates that in our fallen state we cannot behold all of God's glory. In that sense, God could be said to be "hidden" the way sunglasses deflect a portion of the energy of the sun. We still know its there, but we aren't given more than we can handle.

Additionally, John 17:3 tells me there is more to be perceived than we will take in all at once:

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Clearly, then, there is more we have to learn about God. Perhaps it is hidden, but if so, it's hiding in plain sight. Like a brightly colored painting in a dark room, the problem isn't the painting but the room. The painting will be difficult to understand until we have some illumination.

--

Conclusion

As Paul understood, the evidence of God is everywhere, for those who have eyes to see it.

So that we can not only see but truly comprehend, Jesus taught:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matt. 7:7)


I discuss the "problem" of divine hiddenness more generally, and why God does not simply show Himself to everyone, on my channel here.

1

Question: Is God hidden or not?

The author in Psalms says:
"How long will you hide your face from me?"

Exactly what is happening here?
Two possibilities.

  1. God is preventing people from seeing him - God is hiding.
  2. The author is in a place (sin, stress, other) where he feels like God is hidden from him - God is there but the author is not "seeing" (being aware of God's presence) God.

The individual psalms in the book of Psalms reflects aspects of a relationship with God as experienced by the author. The book has been preserved over the millennia because these songs resonate with God's people in all times and in all places.
This psalm expresses the authors feeling that God has forgotten him and is hidden from him.

I would argue (Romans 1:18-24) that God has revealed himself and is revealing himself and that he does not hide himself from us. Sometimes our rebellion against God prevents us from seeing him. As his people, sometimes we may feel like or think that he has forgotten us.

Let's look at the rest of the Psalm Psalm 13
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

In verses 1 and 2 the author describes his situation.
In verse 2 he says "I wrestle with my thoughts" and "has sorrow in my heart" and feels like his enemies are winning. He is in a bad place

In verses 3 and 4 he looks to God, the source of all truth for clarity

In verses 5 and 6 he trusts in his past experience with God and his current knowledge of God and sings God's praise.

And that really is the point of the psalm. Even when we think God is hiding from us or has forgotten us we know that he is not hiding, We can (and should) trust God and sing his praise.

Looking at the rest of Isaiah 45 - Isaiah is delivering a message from God to his people that God is going to give victory to the pagan Persian king Cyrus so that God's people will be restored from captivity to their home. God is doing this:

6 so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

8 “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.

verse 15 says - Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel.

The idea that God would use a pagan king to restore his people is counter intuitive. It's the kind of control and planning that is hidden or beyond the mind of humans.

One of the key points of the chapter is that the power of God is revealed through this "hidden" plan.

1

Commentators have difficulty with Isa. 45:15, especially in light of Isaiah clear view of God. For example:

        8       “Remember this and stand firm, 
  recall it to mind, you transgressors, 
        9       remember the former things of old; 
              for I am God, and there is no other; 
  I am God, and there is none like me, 
        10       declaring the end from the beginning 
  and from ancient times things not yet done, 
              saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, 
  and I will accomplish all my purpose
               (Isa. 46:8–10, ESV)

Lange explains "God who hides himself" in Isa. 45:15 as a continuation of the quote from nations foreign to Israel.

It seems to me, therefore, that the designation of God as מסתתר suits much better in the mouth of the heathen than of Israel. -- Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Nägelsbach, C. W. E., Lowrie, S. T., & Moore, D. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Isaiah (p. 497). Logos Bible Software.

S. M. Paul takes this a step further and sees the meaning as God being a shelter or hiding place based on the context and the meaning of the now with the same root סֵ֫תֶר.

The nations confess that, contrary to their previous understanding, the God of Israel is a God מסתתר. Although most commentators explain this term as meaning God who conceals Himself (see 54:8), in light of the clause immediately following: “O God of Israel, the Deliverer,” it is more likely that the nations are referring to God as a protector, as one who gives shelter to His followers; ... -- Paul, S. M. (2012). Isaiah 40–66: Translation and Commentary (p. 266). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

However, Psalm 13;1-2 and Isa. 59:1-2 are a little easier to understand. Face פָּנֶה in Herew is used to express presence. These two verses do not say that God is not present, but that his presence is hidden. It is not difficult to see that sin keeps us from acknowledging God's presence.

For example, look at the response to Jesus raising Lasarus:

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. (John 11:45–47, ESV)

Or, the response to the evidence of Jesus' resurrection:

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. (Matt 28:11–15, ESV)

Hear can have different meanings. God "does not hear" does not mean he does not hear the sound. It means God does not listen in the sense of responding positively to our requests. When our requests are contrary God's will, God will respond with his will, which to us seems like not listening.

In Rom. 1:18-24 Paul references "invisible attributes." These attributes can only be seen with a willing spirit. Thus, Jesus' statement:

For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:39–41, ESV)

The account of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9 is also an excellent example of this.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.