God is a mystery to mankind. People can’t answer who and what He is. They don’t understand Him or His purpose.
Do you realize that God hides Himself deliberately?
God created us, and He created us for a great purpose, in this life and beyond this life. He knows how we humans can find true happiness in this world. We all want a wonderful life, which only God can provide. Yet He hides Himself from the vast majority of us.
Does that seem logical to you?
Here are a couple of Bible verses to consider. Psalm 104:29 says of God, “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” This verse has some disturbing implications. Do you understand it?
Isaiah 45:15 reads, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” How can God help us by hiding Himself? This same verse says He is “the Saviour”—but how can He save us this way? These are crucial questions.
God has a plan for saving Israel—and the whole world! “But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation …” (verse 17). And hiding Himself is part of that plan.
But the Bible is also clear that God will not hide Himself from this world for much longer. He prophesies that He will send Jesus Christ to Earth soon to reestablish the government of God on Earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5).
But we must understand why God is hiding Himself right now.
‘Angel of Light’
Before God created mankind, He created angels. He sent a leading angel, Lucifer, and one third of the angels to Earth to establish God’s government. But Lucifer rebelled and eventually deceived all the angels under him.
Once that tragedy occurred, God knew that the angels could not be trusted to beautify the whole universe and build it the way God wanted them to. That had been God’s plan for them. The only way to ensure that such a destructive rebellion never happened again was to undertake an even bolder plan. God created human beings for the ultimate purpose of creating more God beings like Himself!
God created human beings not only with the human brain but also the human spirit (e.g. Job 32:8; Zechariah 12:1; 1 Corinthians 2:11). This human spirit is what separates man from animals: It imparts the power of intellect. It empowers us to think and make choices. It also enables our minds to connect with God’s mind when we receive His Holy Spirit. To humans, God gave the potential to receive the power of His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:7-16), which allows Jesus Christ to enter our minds (Philippians 2:5).
God gave the first humans a fundamental choice. They could submit to His authority and accept His definition of good and evil. Or they could decide that they were their own highest authority and define good and evil for themselves. This choice was represented in His offering to them the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9, 16-17).
God wanted Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life, but He did not force them to do so. He allowed them the option of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Even further, He allowed Lucifer, then renamed Satan, to tempt them. Why? Because only when human beings voluntarily reject Satan and submit to God can He build righteous character in them, enabling them to be born into His Family. That is the fundamental reason why God created human beings and how He plans to reproduce Himself!
The first human beings followed Satan instead. Like him, they chose to reject God’s authority and to believe that they knew best.
Satan deceived Eve. The first woman really believed that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was better than the tree of life (Genesis 3:1-6). But Adam was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:13-14). He willfully chose to follow Satan and rebel against God’s explicit instructions. He opened the door to Satan, allowing him to work on his mind and lead him. Satan became Adam’s god. Adam had set the course for himself, for his children and for all of mankind.
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24).
God was disappointed, obviously, yet He allowed this choice, and He continued with His plan, but not the way most people—even most Christians—believe. Notice that God Himself cut off mankind as a whole from the Garden of Eden, from those two trees and from that fundamental choice. He has allowed human history to continue for thousands of years. Yet He has hidden Himself.
God expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and barring them from reentrance was the start of a 6,000-year sentence on mankind. During this time, God would only select a tiny few, including the ancient prophets and then the one true Church (Matthew 16:18).
God hid Himself!
Ever since Adam and Eve, Satan has taken this world captive. Satan possesses real power. He is the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), the master broadcaster of wrong moods, attitudes and impulses. He deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9). He is, in fact, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and has manipulated mankind into obeying him.
This is clear in your Bible. But how many people really believe this or have ever even heard of it?
“The glorious archangel Lucifer, as God originally created him, was the pinnacle of God’s creative power in a single being,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages. “Few today remotely realize the great power, now turned to cunning deception, possessed by Satan. Apparently Adam completely underestimated him.”
Mr. Armstrong grew to understand much more deeply at the end of his life just how totally God had cut mankind off from Himself. This was one of the reasons he wrote Mystery of the Ages.
Lucifer was a bringer of light. Now he is the bringer of indescribably wicked darkness. Human beings think they can recognize good and evil and tell the difference between the two. They cannot! They rely on themselves and think they know the difference between God and Satan. They do not! If you are not actively submitting to God’s authority, you will look at things that are coming from Satan and think they are coming from an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
People today underestimate Satan all the time! He has tremendous power. He has led all humanity in eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which leads to death.
Throughout history, God has called out a tiny minority to choose the tree of life, to preserve the truth, and to prepare for the next stage of His master plan. But even many of those, including 95 percent of true Christians in this end time, have eventually decided to choose good and evil for themselves.
Cut Off From God
If Adam had resisted Satan, he would have replaced Satan on Earth’s throne. But he failed.
Adam and Eve decided to determine for themselves what is good and what is evil, which only results in self-righteousness. They rejected God’s definition of good and evil. That is the meaning of the tree they chose. God calls human righteousness filthy rags! (Isaiah 64:6). It is worthless!
Those called out of this world today have God’s government restored in the Church. Christ will return to restore God’s government over the entire Earth. God’s people today must build God’s character to be able to help Christ establish the Kingdom of God, rule in the World Tomorrow, and finish creating the whole universe. All this is part of God’s master plan!
But we must change. Adam and Eve refused to change, so God drove them out. If those of us called out of the world now decide, after a lifetime of chances, not to change and obey God, then God will blot us out of the book of life (Revelation 20:15).
For the rest of mankind, their opportunity to choose life is yet in the future, but the process will be the same. They will not be cut off from God for much longer. Hebrews 9:27 shows that the hope of mankind is not for them to be saved before they die, but in the resurrection. They are not being judged by God yet! But because they have rejected Him, He hides Himself.
Right now, God is reproducing Himself only among true Christians. He has called this tiny minority out of the world prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to do His work and deliver His warning message to the world. But His plan is not just for this tiny minority. It is a plan for all human beings who have ever lived. God is re-creating Himself in man! That is the ultimate feat! It ought to stagger our minds!
God’s Master Plan
The two symbolic trees in the Garden of Eden are highly significant to us today. These trees explain the very foundation of this world, which has always been a mystery to mankind. People can laugh and scoff at the two trees as a childish way to explain the Bible, but this is so profound that almost no one understands it. It is the very depth of God!
What happened to Adam and Eve is now happening to the whole world. God has allowed mankind to work things out their own way. He has observed humans continually choose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is really the tree of death. It symbolizes eternal death for us—if we don’t learn some lessons. This is something to beware of in this pulsating, evil, twisted world.
We are nearing the end of 6,000 years of human history. It is as if the movie were almost over. We can’t understand what is going on unless we go back to the beginning and understand the premise and what has happened since. We must go back to the two trees and beyond to grasp why the world is the way it is. Study the origins. Start the movie from the beginning.
From our very first parents, human beings have been learning the hard way that going our own way brings suffering and death. The firstborn son of the first humans murdered his own brother! (Genesis 4:8). Cain killed Abel at the very beginning. We have suffered strife, violence and murder, and we have failed to understand our purpose, or potential, from the beginning.
The first family on Earth was taught directly by God. He didn’t hide His face from them! He taught them how to live a joyful, happy, abundant, prosperous life. They could have grown in godly character to the point that they would be born into God’s Family! But they rejected Him, and their descendants killed each other, including the prophets God sent through the ages to warn them and teach them. Human beings are in love with Satan’s attitude. They keep trusting in themselves, no matter how horrible the results are from this fundamentally wrong choice. They are self-reliant and self-willed. They worship Satan without realizing it!
God’s Mind in Us
Sin makes God turn His face from mankind. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 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 59:1-2).
The world doesn’t want God. They don’t seek Him. They might think they do, but they really don’t know or understand Him at all.
God has not given up on man. His hiding Himself is part of His master plan. So was the sending of a God Being to become a man. Jesus Christ came to Earth not only to pay the death penalty for our sins if we will repent, believe God and obey His law, but also to do what Adam failed to do and what Lucifer failed to do before him. Jesus Christ submitted perfectly to the will of His Father and relied totally on Him! He finished His Father’s work.
When Christ returns, He will at last reveal the Father to mankind as a whole. He came to Earth the first time to declare the Father (John 1:18). Why? Because no one knows the Father!
There are two Gods at this time, called God and the Word in John 1:1. They use the power of the Holy Spirit to build character in human beings. The Word, or Spokesman, became Christ. God is now the Father; Christ is the Son. God is a Family! And they want to bring us into their Family through the resurrection.
All mankind is about to know the one true God. Notice the positive ending: “[B]ut I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 39:28-29).
God has hidden Himself to allow mankind to experience the results of our choices. He has hidden Himself to teach us a powerful lesson. He has hidden Himself because He has a plan for all human beings, living and dead. Soon He will reveal Himself! Jesus Christ is about to return to Earth to rule the Earth and to do what Adam and Lucifer failed to do. He will compel everyone to submit to the Father, as He Himself does. Everyone will have the opportunity to humble themselves before God and receive His Holy Spirit. They will have the chance to develop the very mind of God. God will accomplish His master plan. God will reproduce Himself and bring billions of human beings into His Family!
God is hiding Himself today for the purpose of accomplishing His master plan.