God’s Face in Hiding

seek and find

A guest post by Jerry L. Snow

You hide your face and we are troubled…” (Psalm 104:29).

The writer of Psalms often gets our attention by the figures of speech he employs. In Psalm 104:29 he wrote our verse above.

Consider the sun is always there, but it is not always visible. For years the presence of God was manifest to the children of Israel by a pillar of fire or a cloud. Now they complain His face is hidden.

Here we observe, God does not withdraw His presence as an evidence of His divine sovereignty.

Jeremiah wrote, “He does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33).

Isaiah wrote, “Behold the lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot heart; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

If the consolations of the lord seem “small” to us as Eliphaz suggested to Job (15:11), it very well may be because He is trying to prevent some sin, correct some error, or remind us of some duty we have neglected.

We would do well to remember these words:

The dearest idols I have known,

What e’re that idol be,

Help me to tear it from thy throne,

And worship only Thee

So shall my walk be close with God,

Calm and serene my frame,

So purer light shall mark the road,

That leads me to the Lamb.

Jonah Could Have Been a Mechanic

When dealing with mechanics, I’m not so much a problem solver as I am a problem maker. I can take apart the pieces, but I don’t do so well when the time comes to put the pieces back the same way they were in the beginning.

Are you the same way? Sometimes we can scramble up the pieces in our lives and need extra help putting them back together. For those of us who feel challenged at putting our spiritual lives back together, what help is there from God in His word?

In the book of Jonah, the prophet utters a prayer to God. We read it in Jonah 2:2-9. Here, the reader will learn that spiritual problems can only be solved by spiritual solutions. Consider both the spiritual solutions of man and the spiritual solutions of God.

To begin, Jonah recognized the spiritual solutions of man. In Jonah 2:2 he first calls to the Lord. This is important because it implies that there is a greater, outside power beyond self. Second, he cried for help (2:2). This is important because Jonah states his problems through prayer (2:7). Third, the text shows Jonah looking again to God’s temple (2:4b). This is important as it suggests that Jonah had deviated from following God, and was now making a penitent turn to follow God again. Fourth, Jonah says that he remembered God (2:7), and fifth, Jonah claims that he will sacrifice to God with thanksgiving (2:9). In summary, Jonah reveals that every individual has responsibilities to perform certain actions in order to solve their spiritual problems; these can be summarized into prayer, repentance, sacrifice, and thanksgiving—all towards God.

In addition, Jonah recognized the spiritual solutions of God. First, Jonah notes that God answers prayer after hearing Jonah’s prayer (2:2, 7). This is important because it shows that God does not ignore his faithful children no matter how many times they mess up. Second, God is said to bring man up from the pit (2:6). This is important in that it shows that God answers prayer as He determines best. Finally, and most importantly, Jonah recognizes that part of God’s solution for man’s spiritual problems is salvation. “Salvation is from the Lord” (2:9b).

How would this world change if all people could have their spiritual problems solved? How much different would the condition of the church be were she diligently seek the power of God’s influence? How would your life be affected with conquered spiritual problems?

Jonah was stuck in more than “a rock and a hard place” when he said this prayer. He has revealed that we can all overcome the struggles of our lives, in that God will also safely deliver us to fulfill His purpose. Jonah was a mechanic in that he “fixed” himself by doing his part. As God does His part, let us all pursue Him through prayer, repentance, sacrifice, and thanksgiving in order to work through our problems.

Nathan McVeigh is a Masters level student at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver with six years of humanities and Biblical text emphases. Nathan’s methods have yielded endorsed skills in mission work and Bible study. If you have ever been fearful of your answer to the question “how do I get salvation” and other Bible questions, please visit www.alivewithchrist.com/.

 

Dealing with the “Waste Places” of Our Lives

I don’t know about you, but I am better at taking items apart than I am at putting them back together. I’ve always considered it a gift, though the circumstance is unfortunate when the situation calls for the item to be put back together in one piece as it was originally built.

I’m sure that none of you men have ever dismantled an engine, thinking you could put it back together, and then given up on doing so. I’m sure that none of you mothers have ever run out of baking ingredients after burning a batch of cookies, wishing that you could redo it all. However, how would you comfort someone who has experienced anything similar to what I described? More importantly, how do you restore happiness in peoples’ lives when they are going through deep despair, loneliness, or doubt?

In Isaiah 52:8-10 the writer shows how our spiritual lives can be completely restored, even if little hope seems to remain in getting to our original state. This means that our ‘waste places’ will remain wasted, unless we are restored by God. Isaiah gives three ways in which God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives.

First, God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives by comforting His people (52:9b). Our lives are fraught with battles, with heavy strain pressing down upon us. When we find ourselves empty of all hope, living in dying despair and neglect, God feels pain and sorrow for our predicament. He rebuilds the lives of His children. This shows that God is a personal God who wants to restore the spiritual lives of His people.

Second, God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives through redemption (52:9). God not only comforts those who are in need of sympathy and empathy, but He has the power to displace difficulties and dangers. God redeems those who are His people (i.e. Israel, in this context). Our spiritual restoration comes from the God who proactively removes us from that which wears us down—according to His timetable.

Third, God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives by baring His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10). When God’s people serve Him, His salvation is extended to His people and everyone else will be able to see His extended power. The passage teaches that God is able and willing to restore our spiritual lives, just as long as we serve Him first.

How would the world change if everyone was restored spiritually by God’s power? How much different would the condition of the church be if she could better share this comfort and redemption with those who need it most? How would your life be affected by a restored spiritual condition?

Isaiah explains that the Lord will go before you (52:12). Isaiah explains that the God of Israel will be your rear guard (52:12). Those who serve God, become a part of His people, and follow His guidances will find spiritual restoration. Purify yourselves, this day, to be spiritually restored, knowing that God has your back.

Has anyone ever asked you, “how do you get saved?” Find out more about this Bible answer, and more, at alivewithchrist.com.

 

What Goes Up Must Come Down

 

I’m seeing a scary parallel in the global society with what is found in Isaiah 47. What do you think?

In Isaiah 47:1-4, you’ll see that God has a plan for the nation of Babylon. This was the nation that had taken the Israelites into captivity, but we ultimately see who is in charge of the situation (47:4). There are four reasons given for why Babylon will fall:

  1. Their lack of mercy (5-6)
  2. Their pride (7-8)
  3. Their trust in wickedness (10)
  4. Their trust in science and sorcery (12-13)

This becomes important for our lives when we realize that any of us could be heavily engaged in any of these. The obvious solution would be to become merciful, humble, righteous, and trust in the divine. To fail to do so, yields destruction (47:15). Ultimately, your direction is left up to you (47:15).

What is your choice? Will you not make the simple switch? Will you not yield to salvation?

 

Patterns from the Passages

 

I noticed a particular pattern today that I want to share with you.

In Isaiah 43-45, the pattern is found in what God is saying to the nation of Israel.

  1. First, God says to Israel, “I will restore you.”
  2. Second, God says to Israel, “I am able to restore you.”
  3. Third, God says to Israel, “I need wholehearted restoration from you.”

In Isaiah 43, notice the following:

  1. “I will restore you” – Verses 1-2, 5-7, 14b
  2. “I am able to restore you” – Verses 3, 11-14a, 15
  3. “I need wholehearted restoration from you” – Verses 22-24

In Isaiah 44, notice the following:

  1. “I will restore you” – Verses 3-4, 21b-22a, 26b-28
  2. “I am able to restore you” – Verses 2a, 6-7, 8b
  3. “I need wholehearted restoration from you” – Verses 9-17 (especially 14, 16-17), 22b

In Isaiah 45, notice the following:

  1. “I will restore you” – Verses 2-3a, 5b
  2. “I am able to restore you” – Verses 5a, 6b, 7b, 8, 11-13, 17-18
  3. “I need wholehearted restoration from you” – Verses 20-22, 25

God is able to restore you, spiritually. He will, if you will do your part. Won’t you make the simple switch? Won’t you be restored by Him today?

 

Why I’m Glad God Ignores Me

Here’s a problem I constantly encounter. There are some days when I just feel that my repeated failures are enough to make me want to stop trying to improve my character. I know I’m not alone because I have heard about some people who will choose not to follow God at all, saying, “God could never forgive my sins.”

This is why I was glad to stumble upon Isaiah 49. Come look for yourself.

When you read the first three verses, you’ll notice 1) that God addresses His servant—Israel (49:3), and 2) that Israel is aware of their God-given mission (49:1).

Next, you’ll see that Israel was fully aware of their past failures and mistakes (49:4a).

However, in spite of these mess-ups, God addresses Israel (49:5-8) to fulfill their mission:

  1. To bring Jacob back to Him / to bring Israel back to Him (49:5)
  2. To restore the preserved ones of Israel (49:6)
  3. To be a light to the nations (49:6)
  4. To bring salvation to the end of the earth (49:6)
  5. To be a covenant of the people (49:8)
  6. To restore the land (49:8)
  7. To make them inherit the desolate heritages (49:8)

God ignores Israel’s fixation on their own failure. In fact, He says, “Shout for joy … For the Lord has comforted His people …” (49:13). How?

  1. He has not forgotten His servant (49:15b)
  2. He has inscribed His servants on the palms of His hands (49:16) [*Note: Does not say, “He has inscribed the names of His servants on the palm of His hand]

Consider a simple switch in one of two ways:

  1. If you are not a Christian, and fear following God because you feel inadequate, no longer doubt. He helps you (49:8).
  2. If you are a Christian, and fear making the same mistakes over and over again, no longer doubtHe helps you (49:8).