United Church of God, ia
Portland Oregon/The Dalles Oregon

Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

How Does God Reveal Himself?

If God is real, why doesn't He reveal Himself to us in a manner that should erase any doubt of His existence?

In reality, He has done this many times. Eyewitness accounts of human interaction and conversations with Him have been duly recorded and preserved for us in the Bible. But does such documented testimony satisfy skeptics and scoffers? It never has, and it never will.

If God accepted the challenge of always having to prove His existence, what would it take? Would it have been necessary for Him to personally appear to and perform miracles to every human being ever born? But even that might not be enough to satisfy everyone.

Instead, God long ago decided to provide solid evidence-in the form of His handiwork, human testimony and fulfilled prophecy that He is the living, intelligent Creator of the universe. This evidence is compelling, powerful and reasonable to those with an ear to hear and an eye to see. But everyone has a choice. He can face the evidence, or he can scoff at it.

God's revelation of Himself

Let's examine the record of the Creator God's revelations of Himself to mankind.

God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. During their close relationship with Him, He gave them specific instructions (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:2-3). Yet they chose to disobey and then attempted to hide themselves from Him (Genesis 3:8-10).

Later God took the time to reason with their son Cain about his selfish and unreasonable anger (Genesis 4:5-7). Cain rejected God's advice and murdered his brother Abel (verse 8). Instead of being truly sorry for what he had done, Cain "went out from the presence of the LORD" (verses 9-16).

God talked with faithful Noah (Genesis 6:13). Noah was different from others to whom God appeared. He followed God's instructions (Genesis 7:5). The same was true of Abraham. God personally appeared to Abraham and had conversations with him on several occasions (Genesis 12:1, 7;13:14; 17:1-3).

God's willingness to reveal Himself to Moses and the people of ancient Israel is especially important to understand. "So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11). God attempted to establish a similarly direct relationship with the Israelites. Moses recorded what happened.

"The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain" (Deuteronomy 5:4-5).

They begged for more distance. They didn't even want to hear His voice.

"When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die'" (Exodus 20:18-19, NIV).

God wanted to impress the people with His greatness so they would know His laws should be obeyed. But they perceived Him as a threat. They requested that in the future God reveal Himself to them only through His prophet.

From that time forward God has honored that request. He revealed Himself to ancient Israel through His called and chosen prophets. He sent them to warn His people and encourage them to be faithful to Him. But their messages went unheeded. The people cruelly martyred many of the prophets.

God allows man to choose

It was not God's idea to remove Himself and be seemingly unapproachable. It was mankind's choice.

From the beginning of human existence God has given people freedom of choice. He allows us to choose whether we will believe in Him, accept the knowledge He reveals to us and obey Him-or not.

God didn't force Adam and Eve to follow His instructions. They freely chose not to. Humanity has felt the repercussions of that fateful decision ever since.

Neither did God force ancient Israel to obey Him. He clearly offered the Israelites a choice: "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses," He told them. "Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19, NIV).

With their own ears they had heard God recite the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai. They had witnessed miracle after miracle in their trek out of Egypt. Yet the Israelites quickly forgot that evidence and chose to disregard the way of life and blessings God offered (see also Deuteronomy 31:27).

Mankind has consistently chosen to turn away from God's revelation, preferring the way that ultimately leads to curses and death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Nothing has changed. We are faced with the same two choices: Believe God and obey His laws, or disobey.

Centuries after ancient Israel went astray, God did not force Jesus' countrymen to accept Him as the promised Messiah and Son of God. Even in the face of incredible miracles demonstrating His power, most still didn't believe Him. They repeated the response of their forefathers.

After several years of seeing Christ perform many dramatic miracles, including the feeding of thousands (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:30-38), only 120 people had been sufficiently convicted to form the core of His Church (Acts 1:15)-though He would later add many more.

Another revealing incident was the response to Jesus' raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11). Did the leaders rejoice that Jesus had raised a man to life again? Not at all! They "plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many Of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus" (John 12:10-11).

Refusing to acknowledge that this miraculous resurrection was a sign from God; Christ's enemies determined to destroy the evidence by plotting to murder the innocent Lazarus. Within a few days they did manage to have Jesus of Nazareth executed.

Most people like to think they are open minded, that they wouldn't be antagonistic prejudiced against the truth. Yet some of those same people who knew of Christ's miracles later shouted for His blood. Jesus pointed out that some were so hardened toward God they wouldn't be persuaded even if someone were raised from the dead (Luke 16:31).

Human nature hasn't changed. The same bias and prejudice remain just as deeply entrenched in our modern era. It's not a pretty thought to consider that a significant part of humanity willingly hardens its thinking against God. Yet it happens (2 Peter 3:5). And the reason is simple to explain. The natural human way of thinking is fundamentally hostile toward God (Romans 8:7). Therefore a mind influenced by that attitude is more than eager to find ways of reasoning around evidence for His existence.

Absolute proof of God

Has God ever provided human beings with absolute, indisputable proof of His existence? Will He ever provide such proof in the future? The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes.

At the time God brought ancient Israel out of Egypt, He performed many awesome miracles that demonstrated His existence, power and control over the laws of nature.

"Now the LORD said to Moses, 'Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son's son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD'" (Exodus 10:1-2).

They had their proof, but it quickly faded from their memory.

"They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molded image...They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things..." (Psalm 106:19-22).

Later God gave them proof that he was God through the words of His prophets.

Fulfilled prophecy powerfully demonstrates the reality of God. He proclaimed: ". . . I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done..." (Isaiah 46:9-10). Only God can accurately foretell great calamities, the rise and fall of empires, and even the end of the age-and then bring them to pass...

Bible prophecy is one proof of God that can be easily verified. One of the simplest ways to check its truthfulness is to examine the accuracy of prophecies pertaining to the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. Many centuries before He was born amazing details about those aspects of His life were revealed to the Hebrew prophets. The exactness and precision of those details powerfully confirm both the truth of Bible prophecy and the existence of the One who inspired it.

The already fulfilled prophecies of Daniel are so detailed and specific that the confirmation of their accuracy also provides us with irrefutable proof of God's existence and truthfulness. Although it is beyond the scope of this publication to explain the many precise details of these and other fulfilled prophecies, this information is readily available to you in our free booklet Is the Bible True?

More absolute proof on the way

God has promised that the time is coming-at a time most people don't expect-when the whole world will witness the same type of miraculous evidence of His existence that He displayed in ancient Egypt.

This coming intervention in world affairs will be unmistakable. Every eye will see Jesus Christ when He returns (Revelation 1 :7; compare Matthew 24:27-30), You can read a clear explanation of how God plans to reveal His great power and glory by requesting your free copies of the booklets Are We Living in the Time of the End? and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy.

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