He Isn’t In Your Face
But God Is Close
People often complain that God is neither visibly present nor audibly perceived and they are correct on both counts. I have never seen Him with the naked eye nor heard His voice and I’m okay with that. I’m a little unbelieving when others say they have. It’s a little scary.
That, however, doesn’t mean that God is distant or uninvolved or uncommunicative. He made extensive efforts to communicate with us, not just on the odd occasion, but throughout history. In fact, one New Testament writer captured the full extent of God’s effort to communicate in one very brief statement:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)”
In other words, God has spoken to us consistently over a long period of time (most of human history) and has used a variety of methods to do so. He didn’t sit idly by, watching while history and the people in it stumbled along.
The book from which that quote was taken was written to the Hebrews, (hence the name) and they, more than any others, were very familiar with the Bible record. They knew what God had done in the past and could appreciate the writer’s meaning. But, unless a person is familiar with Bible history they cannot know the full impact of this statement. Therefore, please consider the following ways in which God communicated with humans in history past:
- God spoke audibly to Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham and others. He even spoke audibly during the life of Jesus.
- He physically appeared to Abraham, Joshua and Gideon in the Old Testament and He appeared after the resurrection to the Apostles in the New.
- He used dreams to communicate with Jacob and his son Joseph.
- He used visions to reveal future world events to Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah and the Apostle John.
- He made His will known to Moses, the Israelites and even to the Egyptians using miraculous signs and wonders during the Exodus.
- God also used angels as messengers to Abraham, Daniel, Zacharias and Mary.
- In addition, and amazingly, He spoke convincingly to Elijah using a still small voice.
Obviously, God’s methods were not limited. He used a variety of ways to communicate. You could say that God is a Master Communicator. He has no limitations and occasionally used a combination of several methods at the same time.
But, of all the means God has used to communicate with us the most significant was Jesus Whom the Bible refers to as Immanuel, “God with us,” and we refer to as “the incarnate.”
Jesus didn’t just appear out of nowhere and then fade. He wasn’t a vision or dream. He became human in the same way we become human and lived among us, as one of us. This was a time consuming and inconvenient method of communication for Him. God, Whose existence was not restricted by time, was subjected to a time intensive process. It involved more than a memo, text or meeting over coffee. It took a life time to get His message across.
Jesus’ coming into the world was powerfully miraculous but extremely low key. His birth alone was miraculous on many levels. He was born to a virgin, yes, but this fact pales in significance to the many other miraculous aspects of the incarnation.
The miracle of the virgin birth has less to do with the unusual way in which conception occurred and more to do with the fact that God, Who is limitless and immeasurable, was confined to a human biological process and reduced to a human state.
Jesus transitioned from a holy environment to one that was corrupt, from eternity into time and He put aside invincibility to take on human frailty. He went from being the “all powerful” to dwelling among the lowest of the low and very few people were aware of it when it happened. The event was not accompanied by fanfare. That alone was a miracle. This transformation was more incredible than even the camel passing through the eye of the needle.
And why did God go to so much trouble? To make it easy for us relate to Him.
Jesus was not trying to be sensational or to show His power. He came into the world in a very human way and He was born into the lowest levels of society because He wanted to be accessible and approachable. He was communicating with us in a way we could understand, appearing to us physically and speaking to us audibly, the very thing people ask for. He downplayed the miraculous and became agreeably mundane.
This approach had a very different affect to what He had done before. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush it mystified him. When He appeared to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai it frightened them. When Jesus took on human form the apprehension was removed. People were drawn to Him and they listened to what He taught. He touched them and they were healed. They felt free to ask their questions.
Note: For those who doubt the virgin birth there were at least two other people “born” in an unusual manner, the first human father, Adam, and the first human mother, Eve. The coming into existence of these two people is far more unusual than the virgin birth of Jesus. Neither of them had mother or father. Prove that didn’t happen before questioning the birth of Jesus.
The point is, God has used many diverse ways to communicate with humanity and His efforts cover a span of time from creation to the death of the last Apostle. Following that, He made sure it was all recorded in the Bible for every other generation.
God has never personally come to my door, called me on the phone or shown Himself to me in any other normal, usual way but He has made Himself knowable to anyone who makes an effort to find Him.
As it stands now God is not far from any one of us and He has arranged circumstances to make it possible for any person to seek Him and find Him (Acts 17:27). The same book which made reference to the various times and ways in which God has attempted to communicate with us also said…
…He that comes to God (attempting to find Him) must believe that He exists, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
God, like any other person, wants to be sought. He encourages us to make the effort and is accessible to anyone who does. He is represented as waiting patiently to hear our response. In fact, the Bible says…
Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
God is equal and findable to every person and He’s done plenty to demonstrate that. Should we expect Him to do anything more until we do something next?