God informed Moses that He has His secrets:
· “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
Although, He has secrets, He reveals to us what we need to know in order to follow Him. What does He not reveal to us? His inner core - His face. Moses needed a revelation from God, but He informed Moses that His Self-disclosure would be limited:
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But, he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:18-20)
The face reveals who we are more clearly than any other body part. Of course, God is Spirit and doesn't have a physical face. Instead, He revealed to Moses that there were deep things that He wouldn't reveal about Himself.
Why not? There are things that are just too personal to share with those who will not understand and will look at us as if we are crazy.
God revealed Himself to Abraham, and it just went over his head:
· After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” (Genesis 15:1)
However, the fact that God HIMSELF was Abraham's "very great reward" seemed to find little place in Abraham's thinking:
· But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” (Genesis 15:2-3)
Abraham's concerns were more practical and this-worldly. Am I just reading this interpretation into Scripture? Was Abraham really so oblivious to God's disclosure? I think so! It seems that God had been most secretive about the extent of His mercy.
Instead, He terrified Israel by His Presence, even by the place where Israel would meet Him and find mercy. The High Priest could only enter once a year. Even then, he was required to make elaborate preparations, lest he be struck dead.
When he did enter, he had to enter with billows of smoke, lest he see the one object that would bring his death. It was an object that was also covered by the wings of two cherubim standing over the Ark of the Covenant. However, this wasn't the dangerous object. Instead, it was the "histerion," the mercy-seat covering the Ark.
How strange! Why would God want to hide the mercy-seat, the object that represented the cross (Rom. 3:25)? Well, this is precisely what He did:
· “Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and CONCEALED me in his quiver.” (Isaiah 49:1-2)
When I became a supervisor, I had naively thought that if I would be transparent about my intentions to be caring and scrupulously just, they would reciprocate. However, they mistook my kindness for weakness and took advantage. In conclusion, I had to bring disciplinary charges against them. Consequently, the hated me, and I hated them.
There are disclosures which will not profit us. But hasn't God revealed His hidden secrets to us in the New Testament? Yes (2 Cor. 2:8-10), but we still don't get it:
· “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that SURPASSES knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
I think that we still fail to understand the extent of God graciousness to us, but there will come a time when we will know as we are known (1 John 3:2):
· “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
For now, we cannot tolerate such an infusion of light. We remain as a child attempting to fully understand the Book of Revelation. It’s somewhat learning geometry. Before we can even think about learning this discipline, we have to master the ABCs of addition and subtraction. It’s the same way with learning the Bible and theology.
I had had an incredible encounter with God while lying in a pool of blood after a chainsaw injury. I was ecstatic in the presence of this God who I didn’t know, but I was sure that He would take care of me. I knew that He loved me and was omnipotent. Therefore, when my surgeon told me that I would have to exercise my severed wrist in order to regain motion, I just “knew” that because this God is omnipotent, I would not have to follow these instructions. My theology had not caught up with my experience. No wonder God must hide Himself.