God Hidden; God Revealed
God Hidden; God Revealed
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The text for this 2nd Midweek Advent service comes from our Old Testament Reading of Job. “The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” Thus far the text.
Look into creation and tell me who God is. Look up into the heavens and explain to me why they work, why they came to be, why they were made. Look up into the sky and tell me why it rains, tell me why snow forms and why it falls, tell me why thunder rattles your windows and lightening streaks across the sky. Look out into the forest and tell me why the tree grows from a seed, why the robin provides for her brood, why the bear hibernates throughout winter. Look out over the ocean and tell me why the tide comes in and goes out, why there are depths that we will never inhabit, why the coral shine in such numerous colors. … Do this, and then we can talk about you playing God.
Provide for me the answers to all of life’s riddles. Go ahead. I will wait. Why does famine cause children to starve? Why does drought allow millions of people to suffer? Why does a new disease pop up seemingly overnight and kill thousands of people before you can even bat an eye? Explain for me why wars happen, why hatred exists, why there is slavery and racism and sexism and homophobia. Speak, if you can, to the purpose of scorching heat and freezing cold; of solar systems and rotating planets; of dying stars and black holes. Tell why the universe is. Where does it begin? Where does it end? … Answer me all of these questions and then I will listen to what you think about God.
And so you go out to find the answers, heck we all do. We search for God out there in His creation. We learn math and science, calculus and physics, to explain it all. We study biology and genetics, chemistry and astronomy, all so that we can understand our world a little bit better, all so that we can have a better understanding of God. And through it all we might be able to understand the where and when and even how, but we will never understand the why. … The more we discover the less we know, the more questions we have, the more mysteries we can’t explain. And God becomes more and more hidden to us; more and more of a conundrum. … But we search all the more, knowing that if we just peak around the right star or lift up the right rock it will all make sense to us; God, in all of His majesty, will be made known. … But He won’t, not there! That is His promise to you.
There is only one thing that you will find if you seek God through His creation: fear. What more could you find? The heavens proclaim the majesty of God, that is true, but it is a majesty that is terrifying. I am but a speck in a world too big to comprehend, created by a God to majestic to fathom. The more I see in creation the more God remains hidden. In all of these things, in all of these ways, God hides Himself away from me, only to terrify me with the pitiful knowledge that I know nothing, am nothing, deserve nothing. … And at the end of the day, if truth be told, a God like this owes me nothing, not even the air I breathe or the life I live. In the next heartbeat I could be dead. And what is that to Him? What explanation does He owe me?
The Hidden God terrifies me, as He should. For to Him I am nothing. He shows nothing of Himself to me in the vastness of His majesty except that I could be squashed like a bug on the bottom of a child’s shoe and even that would be more than I deserve. … So go ahead, think that you have it all figured out. Believe that you have the right to tell God what is fair in your life and what isn’t. Tell Him that you deserve better, that you deserve an explanation, that He must step away from His heavenly kingdom and explain His ways to the likes of you. See how far you get with this Hidden God. If you happen to make it back from your conversation with Him, perhaps then I will listen to you.
But then, amidst all of this hiddenness, a baby miraculously grows inside the belly of a virgin. Then a child is born in a stable to a carpenter dad and disgraced teenage mom. Then laying in a manger shepherds come to bow down Him. Then wise men follow a star to the house where the child lives and lay before Him treasures fit for a king. Then a kid baffles the wisest teachers of the Law in the Temple. Then a man is baptized in the Jordan as the heavens are rendered and the Spirit descends. Then that man is cast out into the wilderness like the Scapegoat that He is. Then He preaches life and salvation and the forgiveness of sins to everyone He encounters. Then He heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, opens the ears of the deaf, and raises the dead. Then He stands before His accusers, knowing that He could have the earth swallow them whole in the blink of an eye, but He stays silent. Then He takes up His cross and stumbles up to the place of the Skull. Then He is crucified, nails and spears pierce Him through. Then He dies, only to burst forth from the grave three days later. Then, there, in the person of Jesus, in that man with the same fleshy hands, the same human face, the same fleshy humanness as you and I, God is revealed.
The fullness of God dwells in the person of Jesus. There is nothing more that needs to be known about God then what is known in that man. You want to know God? You want to know who He is? Look no further than Christ; for in Him all answers are revealed.
Who is God? The One who created you out of nothing with nothing more than His spoken Word. Who is God? The One who became one of you, became one with you, screaming as a baby, skinning His knees as a child, feeling hunger and thirst and happiness and joy and sorrow. Laughing and crying. Laying His head down when tired, waking up with the sun. Who is God? The One who accomplishes everything that you never could, fulfilling the Law in all of its perfection. Who is God? The One who makes you righteous for His sake alone, the One who dies in your place, the One who has His Father turn away from Him as He hangs on a cross so that He may turn His face toward you. Who is God? The One who lets you off scot free, who forgives you all your sins though you didn’t deserve it. Who is God? The One who comes to you even today, this very day, right here in the midst of your sin and pain and anguish, right here, in the midst of all of the fallen hiddenness of creation; He comes in spoken Words, wet foreheads, and a meal that is His own body and blood. … And why? Well, here you finally get the answer to that “why” question that you couldn’t never find from that Hidden God. … Because He loves you.
The Hidden God is the most terrifying God, who brings nothing more than countless questions and demands from you everything. But the Revealed God is the most comforting, merciful, loving, and gracious God, who brings to you nothing less than the Truth of life and forgiveness and demands nothing from you in return.
You can have your sun and stars and moon and planets. You can have your equations and theories and self-made projections. You can have your Hidden God. I will take my Revealed God every day. … In the name of Jesus. Amen.