Chances are that you or someone you know has asked the question: “Why hasn’t God revealed himself to me personally?” Another variation is: “If God is real, why won’t he just come down from Heaven and remove all doubts about his existence?” The answer may surprise you because the premise of the question is false. You see, God actually has revealed himself to the world and to you personally. There are several ways he has done this and reasons you may not have recognized the revelation for what it was.
The first and most obvious way that God shows himself is through the world around us – his creation. I doubt anyone has ever put it better than Paul in his letter to the Romans: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).” Anyone who is open-minded toward the possibility of God’s existence cannot help but conclude that he’s there and he cares about every detail of our world and our lives. Much more can be said about this and I would encourage anyone to browse through the “First Days” links on our site to find websites focusing on the topic of creation.
The things we can discover about God through studying his universe fall under what we call general revelation. The more specific way God reveals himself is known as special revelation. This involves direct, detailed communication from God either in personal appearances on earth or through inspired writings collected in the Holy Bible. God has shown up in various forms throughout history:
- In the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8)
- Meeting Abraham at Mamre (Genesis 18:1)
- Wrestling with Jacob (Genesis 32:24-32)
- In the burning bush before Moses (Exodus 3:2)
- As a pillar of fire and a cloud accompanying the Israelites in their journey from Egypt to Israel (Exodus 14:24)
- Giving the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:15-18)
- In the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:10-11)
- Through a donkey speaking to Baalam (Numbers 22:28)
- In the fiery furnace alongside Shadrack, Meshak, and Abednego (Daniel 3:25)
- As a hand writing on the wall for Belshazzar (Daniel 5:5)
- As the Holy Spirit descending like a dove (Matthew 3:16)
- Climatically in the New Testament as the person of Jesus Christ.
The above list is just a brief summary of several times God has chosen to reveal himself to us visibly. One more such appearance to “prove” his existence is not only unnecessary, but it would not be likely to produce any fundamentally different result from the reaction given when Jesus Christ was here on earth. Though he showed himself to be God through many infallible proofs (Acts 1:3), the religious leaders of his time ordered his gruesome torture and death and then persecuted those who chose to believe on him (Acts 7:59, Acts 9:4). For them and many others like them, even a man raised from the dead is not persuasive enough (Luke 16:31).
There are a few reasons for this attitude which we can learn from scriptures inspired by none other than the God that so many are unwilling to accept. The first comes from the latter half of what Paul said in Romans 1:21: “but [they] became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” In fact, Romans 1:21-32 reveals profound truths about our hearts and minds becoming darker and darker as we choose more and more to look upon ourselves and the world instead of God. This is the crux of the matter: God has not chosen to keep himself hidden; we have chosen to hide our own eyes.
More insight can be found in the account of the first people on earth, Adam and Eve. When they first disobeyed God, they were ashamed and attempted to cover themselves up with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). Deep down, we perceive that God is the ultimate judge and we fear the consequence of sin – the consequence of death. People find every excuse to deny this truth in order to escape living with knowledge that God will someday execute his wrath upon the earth.
There may be many other reasons you cannot see God for who he truly is. I want to share with you today that it is never too late and there is profound hope in God’s grace and mercy. The punishment that we deserve has been paid by Jesus’ death on the cross. You need only to repent of your sins and accept this free gift from him. Once you have, the Holy Spirit will begin a work in your life to help you grow and to know God more personally and fully. He is truly a God who wants to be known by us. He is right there in front of us every day in his creation and in his word. Can you see him? Are you at least willing to open your eyes?