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Why Does God Seem Hidden From Us?

What if I told you I owned a brand-new Lamborghini and it was sitting in my garage right now? If you knew me you would probably say I couldn’t afford such a high-priced car on a high-school teacher’s salary. Of course, you’d be right. But all you would have to do is call my hand and say, “Show me the Lamborghini.” And if I couldn’t produce the goods, I would be a fraud.

It’s a little different when it comes to producing “the goods” on God. We just can’t pray a prayer or snap our fingers and presto!—God appears and dispels any question about his existence. To be truthful, even that might not persuade some people to believe in him. But the fact is, God in a real sense remains hidden to us as a material being. The Scripture says, “God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” ( John 4:24). And as a spirit, God is invisible to us (see 1 Timothy 1:17). You see, he is on another plane of existence than we humans. We are not meant to see him in all his awesome power and might. He told Moses, “You may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20).

Actually God is hidden from us because he is a perfectly holy God (Isaiah 54:5 and Revelation 4:8) and we as humans are imperfect and unholy (Romans 5:12). We are contaminated with evil, and Scripture says God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong doing” (Habakkuk 1:13 niv).[1]

The spirit form of God is too much for us sinful mortals to stand, and he must remain hidden from us. Yet God wants a relationship with his creation, and he has enabled us to know him through the sacrificial death of Christ, which atones for our sin. Christ’s atoning for sin means that Jesus paid the “wages of sin” for us, which was death, and that he “ransomed” us out of the “prison” of death. (See Romans 6:23 and 1 Peter 1:18-19.) He also reveals himself to us through creation (Romans 1:18-21), our moral consciences (Romans 2:14-15), his Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the church (Ephesians 1:23), history (1 Samuel 17:46-47), and through the indwelling of his Holy Spirit in our lives (Romans 8:9-11). God may be hidden from us in a material, physical sense, but he is very much evident in the life of a child of God, who has been redeemed through Christ.

Of course God revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ when he was here on earth. There are many evidences or proofs we will offer in this book to support an intelligent faith that Jesus in fact was God in the flesh. Jesus and the apostles clearly stated that he was the revelation of God to us. (See John 1:1-14; 14:8-11; Colossians 2:9; and Hebrews 1.) So while God may be hidden to us in the material world, he has still revealed himself to us in a substantial way.

And on one level the hidden aspect of God is not a negative thing. His hiddenness can have a very positive result. He told the children of Israel, “If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you” (  Jeremiah 29:13-14 nlt). Jesus said, “Seek and you will find” (Luke 11:9 niv). As with hidden treasure, God wants us to seek and search and discover all the riches that his relationship with us offers. There is mystery to that which is hidden from us. And that mystery can deepen our desire to know the hidden riches of God.

This chapter originally appeared in 77 FAQs About God and the Bible by Sean McDowell and Josh McDowell (2012). Used by permission from Harvest House Publishers.

[1]  See “What Is God Really Like?” on page 39 and “What Causes People to Sin Today?” on page 54.


It is not a simple idea that we mentally assent to: certainly there may be a conceptual component, but more than that for it to be a belief there is an emotional affirmation with it that goes to the root of our being and how we feel.-J. Kale Flagg

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Sean McDowell is a teacher, author, speaker, husband and father. He is an avid fan of college basketball, ping-pong, and his favorite superhero is the Amazing Spiderman.