“I would believe in your God, if only He would show His face.” I remember speaking to an atheist friend of mine who, to put it lightly, is obviously and outspokenly skeptical that any deity exists at all. As far as he is concerned, there is no evidence that speaks in God’s favor and there is insurmountable evidence that opposes the idea that God might exist. Those of you who are reading this and have been saved by God, please take a moment and pray for this friend, for I hope that he comes to know Christ as we have.

The more I think about this question, the more I wonder: why does God, whom I know and who knows me, not simply open up the heavens and allow the people of the earth to see His glory? Why does He waste His time wooing people: revealing Himself through people and through His creation? It seems as though God has placed a veil upon us so that we can only see His shadow, and in this dark world His shadow is not easily discernible!

As human kind, we wrestle with the question of God’s existence and we are forced to wonder which worldview is correct about the identity of God (or the gods). My question is: why does God hide?

Is it the case that God hides Himself so that people are free to either accept or deny Him? While there are many who would make this type of argument, I am not convinced. For if I am unaware of God’s existence, how can I possibly accept Him in any way? It seems that if God truly wanted me to have a choice, He would stand in front of me and ask me whether or not I would like to accept Him.

Is it the case that God desires each one to discover Him by way of evidence? The atheist friend I referred to above insists that there is no evidence in support of the idea that God truly exists. If there were, he claims that he would be a believer. The same is true about Neil Tyson, who actually claims agnosticism. There are even those, like Richard Dawkins, who make the argument that there is actually evidence against God. Here I might say this about evidence: that evidence, in most cases, might be used to argue in favor of any position. For instance, Biological variations within species have been observed and are evidence of something. Either there is progressive change within a species, better equipping certain species for survival; or there is regressive change within species as a result of the Fall described in scripture. There is yet a third option that both types of changes are happening within species. This does not, however, either prove or disprove the development of new information within species. Proof, even by the standards of science, must be observed either naturally or experimentally (and the experiment must be replicable). This means that neither Darwinism nor punctuated equilibriunism is fact because it cannot have been observed or tested experimentally. In fact, all of the evolutionary experiments I am aware of seem to indicate that information is lost or replicated in the process of evolution, not gained. Evidentialism has its shortfalls and does not itself indicate that proof is necessary for justified belief. We might even argue, according to the evidence presented above, that basing belief in empirical evidence is a practice that is just as faith based as the practice of basing belief on the testimony of others (which is what Christianity does). I do not believe that God desires each one to ‘discover’ Him in this way.

Instead, it is much more plausible to believe that, if there is a God (and I believe that there is), that God would reveal Himself. God, being the creator, would not be bound by nature and, therefore, could not be discovered simply by the observation of nature (even though some things about God might be known by the observation of what He was made). There is no evidence, aside from God, that can reveal God. Proof of God is only found in God. So again I ask the question: why does God hide?

The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying:

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom

of our Lord and of His Messiah,

and He will reign forever and ever!

The 24 elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, saying:

We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty,

who is and who was,

because You have taken Your great power

and have begun to reign.

The nations were angry,

but Your wrath has come.

The time has come

for the dead to be judged

and to give the reward

to Your servants the prophets,

to the saints, and to those who fear Your name,

both small and great,

and the time has come to destroy

those who destroy the earth.

God’s sanctuary in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His sanctuary. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings of thunder, an earthquake, and severe hail[1]

The seven trumpets

            Remember that the church in John’s day was in the midst of great persecution. It may be the case that it could not see God or feel His presence. When John was writing the book of Revelation, he certainly had this in mind, for it was because of the great persecution that he was exiled to Patmos.

Trumpets blared over the sounds of crowds and armies to announce the coming of a king or emperor and these seven trumpet blasts were no different. God is coming, He will reveal Himself fully and He will be hailed in by these seven trumpets.

  • The first trumpet: hail and fire mixed with blood; 1/3 of the earth is burned.
  • The second: 1/3 of everything in and on the sea is destroyed.
  • The third: 1/3 of the world’s drinking water becomes bitter and poisonous.
  • The fourth: The sun, moon and stars lose 1/3 of their light.
  • The fifth: The pit is opened and locusts torment those who have not believed in Christ.
  • The sixth: 1/3 of mankind is killed by fire, smoke and sulfur.

After these, there is a brief interlude before the seventh trumpet where we read of John eating a little scroll that turns sour in his stomach and of the two witnesses on the earth during this time.[2] At the blast of the seventh trumpet, God is praised and His presence revealed before the entire earth.

What full revelation requires

            In scripture, we are told of a time when God will be fully recognized. With each trumpet that announces God’s coming, God’s just wrath against sin intensifies. I want to think about this well. If the God of the Bible is the true God (and I believe that He is):

  1. When God is fully revealed, He must be revealed in His entirety
  2. Both God’s just nature and His mercy are part of who He is
  3. Because of God’s just nature, He must condemn sinfulness
  4. Thus, if God is fully revealed, both His wrath and His love are fully revealed
    1. Those who do not believe when God is fully revealed will be on the receiving end of God’s direct and full wrath because God is just and people are sinful.
    2. Those who do believe when God is fully revealed will be on the receiving end of God’s direct and full love because God is merciful.

So, I might agree with the atheist or the agnostic when the claim is made that God has not “shown His face” or “revealed Himself fully”. In fact, I believe it to be good for the sake of those who do not believe, for those who do not believe would be on the receiving end of God’s full and direct wrath.

The question remains: how can I know that God exists and that I, being a Christian, have believed in God for who He is?

 

Has God revealed Himself?

Though God has not revealed Himself fully and directly (at least since the Fall), it stands to reason that He, because of His love and mercy, would provide a way by which people could know Him. Here are some of the ways that God has revealed Himself to us.

  1. Testimony of believers: Those who believe in God share stories of what God has done. While there are some stories that are fabricated (as there are with any worldview-including naturalism), many are not. If nothing else, the vast testimony of people would suggest that there is at least something more than what we see in nature.
  2. Testimony of history: We are justified in our belief of history because of what has been recorded about the events that have come to pass. In many cases, there is no empirical evidence (other than writings that have been discovered) and history certainly cannot be observed or tested in order that truth be discovered. There is no evidence to suggest, or that could even be interpreted to suggest that Biblical testimony is not based on an oral history that dates to the very creation of humankind. If Biblical testimony is disregarded as historical account, then there is no historical account present today that can be trusted.[3]
  3. Testimony of the disciples: Furthermore, if scripture can be trusted as a history, then it can be trusted regarding the life of Jesus Christ. God revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ and Christ was certainly the messiah (he fulfilled nearly every necessary prophesy in His time and will surely fulfill them all by the end of this time).

Considering all of this, one is more justified believing in God as identified in the Bible than believing in a god identified by any other source, simply because the Bible is affirmed as history.

God has revealed Himself, even if He does currently stand behind a veil. While I cannot “prove” His existence empirically, I believe He has revealed Himself sufficiently for people to recognize Him as God and for people to trust in Him.

Conclusion

Just as I cannot prove empirically that my grandfather (whom I love) ever lived, neither can I prove empirically that God (whom I love) exists. My grandfather was known because I saw him and talked with him before he died. God is known as He reveals Himself, even if that revelation is currently like light through a lampshade. There will be a day when God is fully revealed, along with both His wrath and His love. The dead will be judged, the destroyers will be destroyed and the saints will receive a reward. The saints are those who love God and who believe in the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Thought experiment outline

  • Amelia Earhart or Alexander the Great

o   Did she/he exist?

o   What kind of person was she/he?

o   Where is the proof?

  • President Barack Obama

o   Does he exist?

o   Can we prove his existence?

  • Only by meeting him and this does not prove his existence to others.
  • God

o   Does He exist?

o   Can we prove His existence?

  • No, but:
  • We have record of what God has done
  • We see God’s creation
  • We even have relationships with God now
  • There is a great testimony about God
  • The origin of belief in God cannot be traced

[1] Revelation 11:15-19

[2] There is much speculation about who these witnesses will be when the time comes. Because of the ‘lampstand’ imagery that is attributed to the two witnesses, my opinion is that the two witnesses are the Jewish and Gentile churches who are sealed by God at this point.

[3] My purpose here is not to provide evidence, and I am not giving evidence for the sake of the readers’ time, but would encourage anyone who is interested to research it. There is very good reason for any person to regard all of the Bible as being historically accurate.

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