How many times have we not heard from agnostics and atheists alike that it’s foolishness to believe in a higher being we cannot see? Many are sitting on the fence in regards to their faith because they feel they haven’t seen enough evidence they feel they can build their belief on.
A young man once wrote to me and said seeing God manifested in some way is all he wanted, some proof of His divinity or existance, then he would become a believer. So why does God «hide» from the naked eye? Why not be visible, Him and His angels and communicate directly to everyone? What is the point of having the spiritual world so hard to see?
I hope this article might help you understand why it has been in both yours and His best interest to keep a low visible profile to accomplish His desire for us.
Adam and Eve
In the beginning, the Lord did not hide from peoples eyes. We can read how He comes for a visit to the Garden of Eden, and walk among the trees in the garden calling for them (Gen 3:8). He was visible to them and would talk to them as we talk to each other.
Notice this one important thing, the fact that he was visible to them didn’t affect their decision to eat of the forbidden tree. They ate, they chose to doubt God and believe the serpent even though they had been warned. The Lord knows that seeing His visible being couldn’t help them from making the wrong decision as people had been given a free will to use to choose. Just because you can see someone doesn’t mean you can’t be lead to doubt them and their goodness.
The Lord visiting them show the loving connection they had with their Maker, they didn’t live under a rule of fear or they would have stayed far away from that tree. They were used to experience love and friendship from their King, which made them less fearful to disobey Him. However even though God ruled by love, He would not view rebellion lightly.
Unfortunately, the first pair of humans chose wrong when God’s enemy put doubt in their mind about God’s honesty.
To claim that seeing Jesus and the heavenly world will change your decision today are somewhat self-deceptive. Did His visual appearance hinder mankind from choosing the wrong path? The answer given us through the records of history is a great «no».
We are told that the Devil was in a very close position in God’s kingdom, even in His presence as a guarding cherub (Eze.28:14). His angels had seen and served the Lord, yet the Devil chose rebellion and a large part of the angels joined him (Rev 12:9).
A great question and doubt directed towards God and His son is why did so many who knew Them go against them? Surely something was wrong with Them, or They must have done something wrong in order for that to happen? This is the reason God had to allow the Devil and the fallen angels to unfold their character so that people and angels could see beyond doubt who was good and who was really in the wrong.
Part of seeing to believe can sometimes involve seeing a process not a moment, seeing a plan unfold over time, seeing conduct performed over time. If God had immediately destroyed the Devil and his followers when they rebelled the question would remain in everyone’s mind, what if God’s accusers were right? So God had no choice for the sake of future peace and harmony than to let the devil and his angels’ develop their scheme. God didn’t want it, He didn’t wish it, but He had to for the sake of the future of the universe. His first wish was for everyone to trust and love Him. If that would not happen, He had to let everyone see for themselves so they could see He was in the right.
If he had destroyed them immediately He could still rule the universe because He is immortal and has all the power. But had he just immediately destroyed his accusers, His children and creation would not serve Him out of love and harmony but out of fear of suffering the same fate as the Devil and the angels that followed him. Doubt would exist in their hearts, fear would cloud their perception of God’s goodness and after a while, a new rebellion would most likely occur. Sin would remain, doubt would remain, the struggle would remain.
There was only one way for God to preserve peace forever, His character had to be clearly understood, His leadership and His identity as the life-giver of all things, and the devil’s character and accusation had to be exposed by his own continues conduct.
The more man on earth turned away from Him and sinned, the less they could stand His appearance. The Lord spoke to man after they had sinned as well, but as time passed He became less visible to them. Humans feared His presence because they did not understand Him and because they were rebellious towards Him. Among many people, His presence would not be welcomed and God respected that. This heart-breaking attempt to have a consensual relation with mankind becomes even more apparent in Jesus own message to the last Christian church:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev.3,20)
Jesus doesn’t force His presence upon them even though they claim to be His church by name, He wants them to invite Him in. The same with His people when Jesus walked the earth as a man. He did not force Himself upon anyone. When a Samaritan village invited Him He went, and when a Samaritan village refused to receive Him later He accepted it and continued His journey. He was rejected by His own people. John writes:
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Joh 1:10 -12)
God wants us to invite Him into our lives because He has no desire to have a forced relationship with us. We can see the same with Israel at Mount Sinai, God asked them to go into the covenant with Him, He asked them to be His people. They accepted and entered the covenant willingly. The gospel works the same way, we have to enter into the covenant with Him willingly to be blessed by it.
So why does the Lord have to cover Himself from our sight? A child knows their parents and they know when they have done something wrong, they will turn their eyes from the eyes of the parent. They wish not to behold the parents face when confronted with their wrongful deed. Now a loving parent doesn’t want the child to continue to look away they might even feel troubled by it, they know their reproof is meant well. They don’t want the child to be afraid but to understand and trust your decision making. So when the child hides from you or refuses to look you in the eye it can cause grief. The parent wishes to reach out to the child and help them see why the wrong act was wrong, that they are still loved but that they need to stop doing the wrongful deed.
It’s the same with God, He desires contact with us to be close to us. But because He is our Creator and life-giver we instantly know what we have done wrong when He approaches and we turn away from His presence.
If God or Jesus was visible to us God knows we might choose to do the right thing, not because we want to or because we agree or out of love but because we are terrified of the punishment or the consequence if we don’t. Just like God didn’t want to rule heaven that way, neither does He wants to rule over mankind that way. Fear of punishment is not considered to be loyalty to God. God wants us to know Him, to understand Him, to love Him and chose the right path because we know it’s right and we want it for ourselves and not because He scared us.
The dilemma He faced in heaven if He had destroyed the devil and the angels following him would be the dilemma among mankind as well if He had chosen to scare people into submission.
People would subdue their feelings and emotions, be suspicious towards God, doubting God’s goodness and fairness while outwardly fearfully doing what He says. This is not the recipe of a happy family. It’s not how God’s kingdom works. It’s not «heaven» or «paradise». Have you seen such a family, where the whole family walks on “needles” because of an authoritative husband/wife? It’s not a happy home. It’s not the home God wants to create for us. He doesn’t desire such a role in our lives.
You have experienced it surely, someone being polite but their whole presence and facial expression tell you they dislike you. Do you want to be around people like that? Do you feel wanted? God doesn’t want a kingdom like that, God is not a psychopath who enjoys afflicting people pain and rule over them to satisfy His desires. God wants to see an expression of love from His children, He wants them to desire His company. He wants them to be happy when they see Him. Imagine beings feeling forced to sing songs of praise to God while their inside is full of contempt towards him? Do you really think that is what God wants?
The only way God can win our love and loyalty is to show us he loves us, that He wishes us well and to educate us on right and wrong, to help us get to know Him better.
And this is why the devils greatest attack against God isn’t to claim He doesn’t exist but to distort the knowledge of who God is and give Him a character that is not His. He wants us to be suspicious toward God, to doubt Him, to fear Him and lastly to hate Him. All the religions presenting us with the Creator is designed to do just that, confuse us and give us a distorted view of God and bind us in fear to that “image of God”. False religion is the devil lying about who God is and his relation to mankind. That is why God despises false religion because they lie about Him and drive people away from the real Him. In mostly all heathen religions God is a sinner, unstable, selfish, sometimes short-tempered psychopath who needs people to flatter him and give him gifts for him not to get angry and punish them.
By allowing the devil to unfold his accusations the devil has by his actions and words proven not to be trusted, to be a liar and a thief with no power to give life to anyone. He proves that he is that person, have that character that he accused God of being, even worse. That his view of God that he had spread around and which caused doubt in the universe was not tied to who God was, but what was inside the devil’s own heart.
Why does the Lord not show Himself now?
The Lord had to withdraw His physical presence here on earth because man could not stand to behold Him. He showed himself through a burning bush, through a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud and in many other ways. He even came as a man, clothed in human flesh.
Some He saw could handle it, He came and met with them face to face, or in visions and dreams.
Another motive to not be visible in our day and age is that this is the best way for God to approach man to discover who will love Him and who won’t. Who can He safely «bring home» to heaven, to offer the “new earth” and who won’t continue the rebellion against God? The moment people start to rebel they look to themselves to decide right and wrong, and as we have seen in the world, it leads to the terrible state the human race is in right now. People lie, steal, murder, deal drugs, destroy other people’s lives, have sex with children – even their own, terrorize, argue over land and property, enslave others, making money off others poverty and all the other things you know to exist today that you can think of. This is the result of man trying to be their own god and make their own rules.
To re-establish peace on earth man as to subject to God’s righteous rules, to look to His leadership of love to find unity and peace. But if you disagree with what God stands for and His principle you will not be happy in His kingdom.
By staying mostly invisible to the human eye, God and the angels can
observe who are sincere and who isn’t.
Bear in mind that many who claim to be religious and follow God don’t do it because they fear God but they are obedient because they fear family or religious leaders or a religious community and the punishment given from them. They don’t want to be excluded from everyone they love. This isn’t true worship of God, it’s just people claiming to follow God to get benefits in their life and avoid being outcasts. Just because God didn’t force them doesn’t mean someone hasn’t forced others «on God’s behalf» thinking they did God service. In fact, Jesus said this would happen, and that it happened because these religious people, Christians, don’t really know God or Jesus even though they think they do.
« But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.» (Joh 15:21)
«They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.» (Joh_16:2-3).
If God wants to know who knows Him and receives His spirit, who understands Him and love Him for who He is and not because of lies they have been told or scare tactics used, He has to watch mankind from afar.
When Jesus comes back, He will restore our body and mind that has been degenerate and weakened by living in a sin affected world, but we will keep our free will. You will still be you and you always will be.
About the devil, it is written: «Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.» (Ezek. 28:15)
The devil was a perfect creation. But he had a free will, and he used his will against God. We can choose this course after having our flesh restored into perfection. Our free will is always going to be there, our freedom of thought. God has to see who wants to stand for goodness and truth here and now and who chooses his side when learning of the spiritual conflict. God doesn’t want sin to enter His kingdom ever again. Everyone now knows the course of sin and how it develops and what it leads to. There is no need for God to allow it to unfold itself a second time. God has promised to those who will turn to Him and accept His plan of salvation that sin will be no more. He promised that there will be no more tears or hurt (Rev_21:4). He is not going to put us through this conflict a second time.
To keep His promise to us He has to take certain precautions to avoid sin from returning. Not by making those saved humans into robots who cannot think and reason for themselves, but by making sure that those He takes with Him have confidence in His leadership and wants the righteousness that He offers to write upon our hearts (Eze.36:26).
By doing it this way, not showing Himself, God is giving mankind space to show their «real self». God has made it easy for those who love injustice and lawlessness to not choose Him:
«And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.» (2Th 2:10-12).
«God cannot lie» (Tit.1:2) So He is not sending the lies, but He is allowing them to come and unfold by not stopping it.
The words in 2.Thessalonians are strong, but it’s necessary. If the entire invisible world had been visible to us, it could be that many who loved committing sinful acts would not have done it. But they would still have the «sin» in their hearts and felt like the rules of God was a «prison» where they couldn’t unfold their corrupted desires freely.
God can heal these type of wants and desires, you don’t have to be pure and good for God to want you. These sin affected bodies and mind can be cured by His healing hand. He knows how they came into that person’s heart, he knows that the good qualities of the human body have been perverted and how to heal it. He has after all designed us, He knows how it works. God can heal but won’t unless that person themselves want to be healed. God doesn’t want to build a kingdom of force nor does he want to turn mankind into organic robots and nor does He want sin to continue. That leaves the only option left.
Jesus explains in Matthew 5:28 and Matthew 15:11 that sin starts in the heart. To let sinners that don’t wish to turn from their ways or change to «live in suppression» in eternity would be torture for them and a new rebellion against God’s government would be on the horizon.
«Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD» (Isa 26:10).
God calls on all mankind. He didn’t come to save the righteous, but sinners (Luke 5:32). He knew what kinds of sin we had committed when He offered to take our punishment. God is not ignorant of all our selfish disgusting ways. He just loves us in spite of them. The only thing He needs from us is for us to want the change ourselves or there is no point.
If the Lord would show Himself to everyone it wouldn’t necessarily lead everyone on the right path. Just like it didn’t fix things for Satan, the fallen angels, Adam and Eve. Neither did it help the scribes and Pharisees in Christ days, or even the Roman soldiers that saw the resurrection and the angels there, yet still chose to accept the bribe from the Jewish leaders.
Having the heavenly world visible to the human eye would not change anyone’s heart and would just bring out the wrong response in many people.
Notice the verse I just used from 2.Thessalonians. It said: «Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders» What kind of sings and wonders? If we read Matthew 24,5 we see some of it: «For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.» (Mat 24:5)
The devil has no respect for peoples free will, and he has no scruples by winning people to his side by using visuals and fear. This is why he will use appearances of false Christs to fool them. Fool them to do what? To a false gospel and false teaching about God. You remember those Jesus talked of, who would kill and persecute God’s people thinking they did Jesus service right? Who put them up to this? Someone who taught them lies about God, someone who gave them a false gospel and false teaching. About Satan it says: «And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light» (2.Kor.11,14)
Imagine the following: You are uncertain of God’s love for you and at once a beautiful angel of light is before you telling you how much God loves you – and then he teaches you a falsehood. The devil will use these types of methods. It’s written:
«Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. ….Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity» (Matt.7,15-16 & 21-23)
Do you see the point I’m trying to get through? Signs and wonders, angels of light, even someone claiming to be Christ who can lead people in a ditch by these very methods. How hard would it not be if God used the same methods for you to measure truth? But God tells us to not measure by the things seen but by distinguishing those who «work iniquity» from those «that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven». And to distinguish you have to know what God stands for, who He is. According to both the Old and New Testament, God’s law is what determines His will, His character and also what exposes what iniquity is in heavens eyes. And so God does not want us to base our faith on signs and wonders but on His righteousness explained in His law. In knowing Him through His word.
Even when Jesus had risen from the dead He tried to teach two people walking towards Emmaus to base their belief from scripture before seeing Him risen. He didn’t want their faith to be just based on seeing Him risen. (Luke.24,27)
Now that Jesus had in secret taught them the truth about Him they were free to reject it or desire to know more. When they eagerly invited the «stranger» in so they could hear more, Jesus showed Himself to them.
God knew they had chosen to love Him and His word not based on signs and wonders but from how they precipitated to the truth when it came to them plainly, while the truth was still persecuted and hated.
We have another example. Jesus told a parable to prove a point. Jesus tells us about one man that is saved and another that perish. The one who had perished says he wants the one who had died and gone to heaven to return to earth and his resurrection be a sign to the non-believers :
«Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead» (Luk.16,27-31)
Again Christ is emphasizing that He wants people to listen and receive Him by understanding who He is from scripture and to choose Him with their hearts, not because they are pressured by an outer manifestation.
If we receive Him when He comes to us through His word, through the whisper of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the good Lord will reveal Himself to you. If you receive His truth He will manifest Himself in different ways. Because you are His friend and His child, He does not need to hide from you. He might not reveal Himself by showing His face, because of all the deceptions and because you haven’t been tested yet or because you would not be able to endure it. He will, however, show Himself to you by giving you great answers to prayers, through His word and through those miracles He will do for you and in you when needed. You will know He is there, you will see the effect of His presence. First, you have to choose Him, not just His name. As it says in Matthew 7, many will call out «his name» and call Him Lord, but what you need to receive is what is behind the name, His character, and governance.
You can never create a clean heart inside yourself. You cannot change yourself. Don’t think you have to wait with going to God until you have accomplished to become «good» by God’s standard. You will never get there on your own and so if you try that before going to God you will never go to God. All you can do is to receive the gift God offers you, let God clothe you in Christ righteousness as He once clothed Adam and Eve when they were hiding from Him. Come to Him and He will work in you and lead you and create a new heart within you. Your job is to choose Him. It’s your choice and He will not make that decision for you. Once you have chosen Him and given Him your heart, He will start to work miracles.
Why God revealing Himself to you might have the wrong effect.
Israel is an example to us and to many that think it will be easier being a
believer if we could «see Him» manifested. They got to see Him manifested in many different ways. They had Moses as their mediator at Sinai but they desired to hear God speak for themselves. And He decided to do just that, speak to them directly. God didn’t need a mediator, they did. Yehovah spoke aloud with His voice to the whole camp of Israelites at Mount Sinai, but they got terrified when they heard His voice and trembled (Exo.20). They decided they rather hear God’s word spoken through Moses, they asked for a mediator. They had experienced verbal and physical communication with Jehovah, and they heard God’s requirements with their ears. However, It was more than they could handle and so they asked that Moses would mediate the rest of the laws to them. It sounds like God must have been very unloving in His presentations to cause such a reaction but while the people took a step back with terror, Moses just went closer to the source of the voice.
Moses was only a man too. What we see here is the effect of our attitude. Moses loved and knew God, that is why he didn’t react the same way as the majority there. Knowing God made him love the voice and the lessons that came from it. Even when God spoke to him the first time at the burning bush, Moses because of his peace with God was drawn to the sight and the bush. He didn’t run the opposite direction.
So far we see two important things worth noticing: Them hearing God speaking to them directly and them receiving God’s law at the same time. Many refuse to follow God’s word and law in the Bible because God hasn’t spoken to them directly. Do you set that condition to obey God? Let’s say it happened as you desired, that God answered your condition to be obedient to Him. You received a revelation from God, and as you already know with God comes His rules. What would have been the result if you didn’t like God’s rules and got them from Him personally?
We can see the result by observing what happened to the Israelites who got this blessing. It went as bad as it could. Many today called it the religion of legalism. But this expression is very wrongly applied because they didn’t keep God’s law, they broke it. How can they then have practiced legalism? They tried to keep a law they did not wish to keep. They tried to keep laws they didn’t like or love and doing that makes you suppressed by the same law. Yes, it’s possible to become suppressed by God’s law. And suppress others with it.
You become suppressed or a slave of something when you feel forced to do something different than what you want to do.
This is the key to understand some of the difficult questions in the Bible.
Were they able to keep the law? No, they attempted because they felt forced and they didn’t succeed to stay on the right path. It’s a natural consequence. If you are suppressed by something «the balloon» you have blown up will pop sooner or later. Every natural response in your body and mind will fight it. All attempts to be happy in such a situation will fail. God has created us that way, as people with freedom with the ability to think and reason. If we are suppressed or a slave under something or someone, we become unhappy and miserable.
And God’s law can make people just that, unhappy and miserable. You can become legalistic or suppressed by God’s law. So I’m I condemning the law?
Like Paul said: «What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid» (Rom7,7)
«But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully» (1Ti 1:8)
It’s this very debate Paul addresses that have been misunderstood by so many. The idea that Paul talks bad about the law and the need for it because it turned many legalistic and suppressed by it. But that is not what Paul is trying to say.
The covenant made at Sinai is often called «the old covenant». About this covenant, Paul says:
«For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.» (Heb.8,7)
So what was wrong with it? At the same time as Paul explains the nature of the new covenant he explains what was wrong with the old one:
«he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.» (Heb.8,6)
The new covenant would have better promises, but what was so wrong with the promises of the old? Did God give bad promises? Gods enemy wants you to think He did, for that would make God at fault.
The promises that made the old covenant worthless was the promise from the Israelites. They went into the covenant, ratified the covenant upon the promise that they would by an oath, keep God’s law. Yet they ended up braking it in the same way as all the other nations. God had made the covenant with them based on their following words:
«And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.» (Exo 24:3)
To be sure they knew the words they had promised to keep Moses reads them to them again:
«And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient» (Exo 24:7)
Twice they made these promises when the covenant was being confirmed. God even made sure they knew what they were agreeing to before agreeing to it. Yet not long after, when Moses had been gone a while, they hurried to make a golden calf and make it the manifestation of their God. They rather have a manifestation of God after images of a beast. God is greater than man, but man is greater than the beast. Yet they would rather worship a beast than to obey God’s law. Had their promises to God come from their heart?
When we understand the problem with the Old Covenant and how it ended up making them suppressed by the law and the result was rebellion against the law, we can understand why God is talking about new promises in the new covenant. Many misunderstand the old and the new covenant thinking that the problem with the old covenant was the law. If you remove the law you don’t have to be suppressed by it right? Problem solved? This isn’t God’s solution. The law is there for a reason. It’s not the law there was something wrong with, it was man’s attitude towards it. And that attitude made the law a suppressor, a cruel master, a whip.
And so God understands this more than anyone. He understands very well that no one has the power to keep the law, even if they promise to keep it, if they don’t love it. If God’s principles aren’t their own principles they will at one point or another break them. And so God says regarding the new covenant:
«Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more» (Jer.31,31-34; Heb.8)
Gods solution isn’t to abolish the law. Instead of it coming to man in an outward manifestation causing fear in the crowds as it did at Sinai, God wants to write it in our hearts.
God saw that this is where the problem was, that it wasn’t accepted into the hearts. God’s law was not a desire, it wasn’t something they loved and kept because they loved God and His principles.
The law was not part of their nature, it was not a natural part of them. It was a whip on the outside in conflict with their wants and desires. An unwanted guideline.
The law had become something «outside» trying to control them. However, if something is in our hearts, it’s ours. If it is a command from the outside it makes us into unhappy slaves. But at the beginning of creation, God’s laws were a part of human nature, human instincts, and human desire. After sin when man started distancing themselves from God, human nature grew new wants and desires.
God’s goal was, therefore, to write it in our hearts, meaning to restore it in us. The solution to the problem of disobedience was to again make the law part of human nature. Something we want for ourselves, something we desire to be apart of, a desire for righteousness. To create the opposite effect of what took place at Sinai. If anyone wanted to make them or try to force them to break God’s law they would feel subdued and they would fight against it. That they could not break God’s laws without at the same time breaking their hearts. God wouldn’t be the suppressor, the enemy and his rules would be.
The first Christians did experience this kind of love for the truth. They saw in Christ the love of God, the reason God asks of us the things He asks. They loved God’s righteousness more than the sinful ways of the world. They, like Moses, drew closer to God when they heard Him speak.
They, unlike many in the old covenant, didn’t have false legalistic righteousness, an outward religion, but inner peace and joy when following God. Thousands were martyred, some at the Colosseum in Rome and killed by lions because they refused to give up their obedience to God.
Some were said to stand singing songs of praise while being murdered. What a completely different attitude than those Israelites that had felt suppressed and forced to follow God’s standard. And we should mention brave faithful in the Old Testament as well, Daniel and his friends, Jeremiah and many others who stood by God as the law was written in their hearts. They were living in the spirit of the New Covenant. Daniel felt more free cast into the lions den then he would have subjecting to the idolatrous law of the King. This is what God desires from us, that His law is freedom to us.
How many countries doesn’t celebrate their national day on the day they got their own laws? Having your own laws are considered independence. So it is when the believer goes from the law of sin, the world of Satan to the law of God. Is supposed to be a feast and a celebration, a sign that we are members of the greatest Kingdom of all times, God’s kingdom.
The first Christians felt suppressed when they were told to take part in the sinful ways of the world. What to the world was a lust was not lust to them. They didn’t want it, they didn’t desire it. And the world just could not comprehend how they didn’t have the same desires as they did. Because they personally felt giving up on these desires would be loss of freedom for them, but they didn’t understand the opposite was the case for these believers.
Because of these Christians attitude and stubbornness with being loyal to God, many got respect for them and Christianity. Many of those watching the killings turned themselves to God with both heart and mind. They were in danger of being killed if they converted but they wanted to be on God’s side so bad that they just could not stay away. Cost what it may.
Do you see the contrast between the mindset of those not keeping their promises in the Old covenant and those relying on Christ promise to change their hearts in the New Covenant?
When Israel at one time felt suppressed by legalism the first Christians felt suppressed if they had to do as the Romans said. When the Romans told them to view the emperor as their God and thereby break the first commandment in God’s law, the law of God wasn’t a whip on the outside, it wasn’t a letter on a table of stone that they feared. For them, it was a natural protest from the heart. The thought of giving a man the honor that only befell God felt to them as if someone asked them to let another man sleep with their wife. It was repulsive and they had a natural response to it. They, unlike Israel at Sinai, had no desire to build a golden calf. Because they loved God why would they turn to something downgrading and pathetic? They felt they had something greater and more valuable. Thus God had written His law in their hearts, they were living the new covenant.
Today, although living in the era of the promises of the new covenant, many religious and Christians continue in the Old Covenant by their way of practicing their faith. They try to follow the path while their heart is somewhere else, failing to be faithful, feeling suppressed and ending up bitter at God. Christ words to His followers become harsh and difficult. They rather not read about it. They keep their Bibles closed. They don’t want to hear or see Christ manifested through the word any more than Israel wanted to hear God preach His law at Sinai. Just like the Pharisees didn’t like being in Christ presence at the same time as they claimed to worship God, these don’t like reading God’s word yet claim to love God. “Give us a mediator” they say, “give us teachers and preachers that will tell us lies! But don’t let us read Christ words in scripture, because He tells us to be even more righteous than the legalistic Pharisees.”
The next question we need to ask is: Do we misunderstand what freedom is?
Freedom is to most people to be able to do that which our heart desire. And it’s true, but perhaps freedom is a little bit more than that. We humans often think that freedom is an immediate action, but freedom is also found in the result of the action, the consequence of our action. True freedom is to be able to make a decision where we follow our heart and at the same time know that the consequence of that action also is freedom.
To make some easily understandable examples:
What the heart desires + Action + Good consequence = Happiness and freedom.
What many don’t understand:
What the heart desires + Action + Bad consequence = Depression and bad emotions. (Not freedom in the long run).
Here is the Israelite example:
Do something the heart doesn’t desire + Forced action + bad consequence = depression and a feeling of loss of personal liberty which again leads to rebellion.
The first example is the one we need. We forget often to incorporate the consequence as part of the full picture. This is why the earth is crumbling before our very eyes, both nature, and mankind. We forget to think beyond our actions. More than ever we live in the present and we don’t consider the future.
Firstly God made laws for our own sake so that we could avoid the consequences that would give us pain and so that the consequences of our actions wouldn’t afflict others pain. One man’s expression of freedom can at the same time take away another mans freedom. This can be seen most easily when we see theft, rape, murder, bullying, slander and other obvious harmful acts. God commandments are meant to help us, not to subdue us.
It’s like smoking. We can desire it, want the freedom to do it, yet the result can be very harmful to us. In the end, it can lead to loss of freedom. How?
The hearts desires cigarettes + Action (you smoke) + Bad consequence (health problems) = Physical loss of liberty.
On the top chart of causes of death in the western world we see diseases caused by choices we have made. What we chose to eat and do with our bodies. When the body fails and we are dependent on medicine to stay alive while we are limited from doing those things we now desire to do, it’s not perceived as freedom. Our body has taken our freedom from us. And so the action that felt like freedom lead to the loss of freedom.
Man often wants to follow lust wherever it takes them and then they close their eyes to the consequences that might come. You feel lucky you got a girl with you home after a night out, that she slept with you? Something to brag about? But that same girl might have suffered depression from being used, she might adopt to herself the worth you gave her. It’s important to see the full picture. What will it do to your children if you leave your husband for another man? How is everyone in the family affected by your action? That new person in the church that you talk badly about, do you know how it will affect them, do you know their background? If they are strong enough to handle it?
God sees the full picture of all our actions. He see the chain and aftermath of what we do and say. He sees how one person can trigger the next and how they all fall like a long line of dominos. The weakest fall first. God does not like the «cry from Sodom». The pain and hurt that sin has caused among man, it pains Him to see His creation self destruct. This is why He asks to help us, why He offers to re-create His good principles inside us, why He wants to give us a new chance.
He could have just abandoned this planet that rebelled against Him and waited for it to self destruct. He didn’t. When Adam and Eve had sinned He didn’t leave in anger leaving them scared and helpless. Because of their sin the glory that had covered them was gone and they felt naked. It says:
«Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them» (Gen 3:21)
God was grieved by their decision. On their behalf. But also because He knew that mankind, His creation, His children slowly would leave Him and hide from Him not wanting to see Him just as Adam and Eve had after they sinned. Adam had used his nakedness as an excuse to hide from God:
«And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself» (Gen 3:10)
God didn’t want Adam to hide. God Himself made clothes for them to wear, taking away Adams excuse to stay away. He had a plan to save them, but they needed to stay close to Him.
Mankind has because of the devils lies and false religious preachers, a completely wrong understanding of God and His laws. When they read they only see a long line of demands which we think are going to make us unhappy. It’s the opposite. He asks us earnestly for our sake to listen to Him so that we can have a happy ending, not just momentary pleasure-seeking.
People today have trained their bodies to desire things that leads to misery and death. Where is the freedom in death?
God says: Fear not, I can create a new heart within you! I can help you want to do that which can give you a happy ending.
Instead of you learning about His law and promising Him you will keep it only to fail Him, God wants to exchange your promise with His own. Give Him your heart and He will do a miracle in it. He will fill it with love and His spirit, and the result is that the law will no longer be something pointing at you from the outside demanding obedience.
If Christ is in you, His law is in you too.
«And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments» (1Jn.2:3)
The New Covenant is all about God’s solution to the problem of sin. How to pay for your past transgressions (by the blood of Christ) and how to create in you a new heart (God’s promise to those who receive His son) .
Jesus said both are necessary.
«Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit» (Joh.3,4-8)
Now, do you see why God says what He says here:
«Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.» (Eze 36:25-28)
If you understand God solution for His people it should not be hard to understand how little fruitful it is to God if you try and keep His law if it’s not in your heart. Because God knows the consequence of such a path:
Doing something your heart doesn’t want + Action + Bad consequence = Depression and a feeling of loss of liberty and finally rebellion.
God is not interested in you taking this path. Nor does He ask it of you. God knows it has no good fruit. I believe God allows many to leave Him, even though it grieves Him so that they won’t get stuck in wrong attitude which again will represent Him falsely and scare people from turning to God.
Would you want to follow God’s law if you saw someone unhappy keeping it out of obligation? You would probably run the other way?
God waits for the right moment, He never stops calling for His children. At the same time, He wants loyalty based on the right motives. And if it’s not there He will wait until you are ready to ask for that which He so desires to give you. A new heart. A heart that longs for Him and His righteousness.
God longs to work miracles in our hearts but often not even Christians pray for it. They will rather accept their failings then grow and become better human beings. They see virtue in continue being a sinner rather being clothed in Christ righteousness. As if God was pleased in keeping them slaves to their sins. God can create new wants and desires inside us and He asks us to ask Him to do it. What an opportunity to be free?
«And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.» (Joh 8:32-36)
The earth rebelled against God but God will not stay away. He wants to help us. He wants to heal, but He will do nothing against our consent. Our free will to accept Him or refuse Him will be respected. He just wants us to make the right decision for our own sake. All the laws He has made, He made because He can see the beginning till the end. He knows the consequence of every wrongful action. We must understand His motives behind His laws and recognize the motives as good.
God’s law is not in itself the matter of conflict, but if the law is in our hearts or a pointing finger on the outside. This is the major difference between the Old and the New covenant, and of course that the New Covenant had Jesus whom all the symbols from the Old Testament pointed to. The rituals replaced with that which the rituals had pointed to, Christ plan of salvation.
The good news found in the New Covenant is that we need not have any quality or start point other than praying God to implement the new covenant in our hearts by the blood of Christ.
Of such God can invite to His kingdom in heaven in the new earth. God has no plans on building hospitals in heaven or even prisons. If our hearts are re-created after His image He can safely bring mankind into His kingdom. With love and eagerness, Jesus said:
«Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Joh 14:1-3).
You want to see your Lord and Savior face to face? So does He, He wants to show Himself to you so you can see Him. He loves you. On the new earth it says God wants to dell among us.
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3)
But if you demand to continue doing that which harms you and others, and even would harm the heavenly world, He cannot invite you. He needs to ensure freedom and safety to everyone else.
Right now He is not so fixated on everything that is wrong with you. That is not the problem, He has brought provision for your sins to be blotted out. His concern is that you won’t allow Him to help you change, He knows what you can become with His help. Let Me create a new heart in you, He says. Because you need it to be part of His kingdom.
Do you think that you would convert if you saw Him spiritually manifest Himself, or angels? Jesus says no, His kingdom has to start within you to have the desired effect.
«And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you» (Luk 17:20-21)
The devil is angry:
«Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time» (Rev.12,12)
Don’t trust manifestations of Christs, «dead relatives» or dead martyrs and «saints», not even an angel of light unless it’s preaching you that God’s kingdom has to start within you.
The devil doesn’t care about your heart, he just wants submission. By the fruit, Jesus said, shall you know them. If it’s the fruit of lawlessness and iniquity or the fruit of a heart that follow God’s command.
«And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.» (Rev 12:17)
«For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect» (Mar_13:22).
Don’t place conditions to believe that might prove harmful to you, let God do it His way. And then one day, you will see your Redeemer face to face, and you will know Him.