Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
In our popular culture being “ghosted” means to cut off all communication with someone without explanation. Many people feel they have been ghosted by God. So where is God? Have you looked for him? Why is he hidden from us? If he is sovereign and all powerful and loving, would it not be wise to reveal himself more readily to humanity?
Before we consider why he is hidden, let’s look at what about God is not hidden. Scripture tells us in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” We see evidence of a creator in nature, but looking directly at God is death for sinful mortals.
God says to Moses in Exodus 33:19-20: “‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The Lord.” And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”
God appeared to Adam originally in plain view, but after the fall God appeared in a gentle breeze as though contained in a covering. He was enveloped later in the tabernacle by the mercy seat and in the desert by cloud and fire. Moses called these objects “faces of God,” through which God manifested himself.
Philip said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him: “Even after I have been with you men for such a long time, Philip, have you not come to know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:8-9)
In Torah literature Hester Panim is associated with “The Hidden Face of God” and refers to a time when God would hide his face from us, because humanity turned to other gods and sin. As a result of God not being “among us” as before, God will hide his face. This means that God will make it appear “as if” he does not see his people’s sufferings.
The book of Esther reveals how the hidden God works through history and ordinary events to display his providence. Timothy Keller says of God in the book Esther, “His silence is not absence, his hiddenness is not his abandonment.”
Martin Luther developed this further by indicating that God actually and actively hides. God hides in order not to be found where humans want to find God. Theologian Steven Paulson says Martin Luther believed that as a result of humankind’s sin, God must wear a “mask” in all of his dealings with human beings. Luther believed that only in Christ, and in the forms instituted by him, does God reveal himself to us.