Minus salutations and so on.
About three years ago, I became interested to learn why God hides himself, and specifically why at some times more than others. Like the particulars of Hell, there’s very little discussion of this in the Bible, it’s just treated as a rule of the game that everybody is aware of and deals with. I read Michael C. Rea’s book on the subject and have been mentally cataloging Bible passages that yield any insight on the question. This effort isn’t driven by doubts on my part, it’s more like truth-seeking as an expression of faith (Dutton and Woodley refer to it as neo-Thomism). I expect that if I’m capable of finding the answer, it will be a good one.
My experience of asking people about it is they’re generally incompetent to look at it directly. Their answers fall into three categories:
- “I see God all the time and If you were a REAL Christian in the REAL church you would too.”
- Anti-God faggotry.
- I don’t know and between Twitter and porn I’ve lost the ability to read.
The most important Bible passage I’ve run across so far is at the beginning of 1 Samuel, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” This at least proves the existence of times when God is more hidden than other times. It’s generally not a passage that the One True Church crowd is able to come to terms with.
Related meme for your enjoyment:
Other Bible passages are only interesting in that they show the characteristics of God’s hiddenness by contrast. For example, before the Pentecost the Holy Spirit was not present in the church. And there are other passages that explain it’s often a matter of purity. E.g. Moses is allowed to see God’s back but not his face, and people are generally instructed to take off their shoes on “holy ground.” Isaiah has coal touched to his lips to purify him so he can be allowed in God’s presence.
These examples temporarily led me to think that possibly God is hidden because he can only reveal himself insofar as we’re pure. On the other hand, Israel isn’t noted as being particularly wicked at the time Samuel was called as a prophet. And this idea also clashes with the “grace of God” theme of the Bible, where none deserve his presence. But the physical purity aspect by itself is pretty compelling. It may be something as simple as being relatively inoffensive, if not exactly innocent. I.e. God may show himself more often to people who disgust him less. But then you can find counterexamples to that too, particularly in the ministry of Jesus. The Old Testament Law said a woman on her period was unclean, but a woman with a chronic bleeding problem touched Jesus personally. Many such cases.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the explanation is far more human than we’d expect. I.e. As a matter of having personality and emotions, sometimes God is feeling it and sometimes he isn’t. It may be due to something like metaphysical duties. “I must withdraw my hand from Israel during this time because they broke the covenant and I said I would.” Again, we see a personal/emotional element because he often attenuates the punishment out of mercy. Still, ascribing hiddenness to God’s whimsy is the most handwavy explanation possible, and not satisfactory. A broader explanation of “for reasons beyond our worldly understanding” is at least emotionally satisfying. On the other hand, it’s a non-answer.