Having briefly touched on this week’s Torah Portion and how I suspect that Moses would have been heartbroken, I also want to raise an interesting issue around the concept of the Almighty, the King of the Universe ‘hiding’ himself.
Moshe Kempinski in his Torah Portion Podcast points out that the Hebrew in Duet 31:17 literally reads ‘I will hide that I will hide’, where we read in English: “and I will abandon them and hide my face from them.”
Apparently, the Jewish sages understand this to mean that God will hide or turn His face away even when people don’t know that He has!
That is, they may think they are walking in Truth, and with God, when they are NOT!
What a profound and challenging thought!
In a related story that Moshe Kempinski shared in his Torah Podcast, he relates the story of the Rabbi grandson of the great mystical Rabbi Baal Shem Tov. He is sitting outside studying Torah when one of his grandchildren comes crying to him. His grandchild has been playing hide and seek and found the perfect hiding place. The only problem was no-one found him! After the child had been soothed and went off to play, the Rabbi pondered on this. When his wife came out to the verandah where he was sitting, the Rabbi was crying. She asked why. He said, God hides so well, that few try hard enough to find Him!
God WANTS us to find him! We WILL find him when we seek Him with all our heart, mind and soul!”
I had written a blog post (at luke443.blogspot.com.au) some 18 months ago on this concept of ‘The King Who Hides’. It is reposted below:
The King who hides:
I recently heard a good analogy.
A young King saw a beautiful but poor peasant girl and was taken by her grace, her beauty and her joy. He desired to get to know her better and perhaps win her heart. He did not want to command her obedience or to intimidate her, but wanted her to love him for himself.
Yet if he faced her in all his finery and authority and with all his royal assembly and displayed the great breadth and majesty of his Kingdom, he would have little hope of getting to know her on level terms, of getting to develop a mutual and balanced relationship.
He must therefore disguise himself. Not in any dishonest or devious manner, but simply to find a way to let her see the man behind the Kingdom, in the hope that she might connect with his true self, his values, his character and natural beauty.
This is perhaps an analogy for how God interacts with us.
He hides Himself to some degree, He sets a distance between himself and us. Without such disguise, such ‘hiding’, we would be overwhelmed, and our relationship with the Almighty could not develop with the simplicity and normalcy that successful courtship requires.
The Almighty has ‘hidden’ Himself from us to such a degree that he calls on us to seek him and that only by seeking him with all our hearts, minds, strength and soul will we find him.
Consider Proverbs 2:1-5
1. My son, if you will receive my words, and store up my commandments within you;
2 So as to turn your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you call out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures:
5 then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and find the knowledge of God.
We can see here that the Almighty calls us to receive his words and by meditating of his words and commandments we will be obedient to them. We see here that we need to seek with great diligence as God’s treasures are hidden.
Luke 11:9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Also Jeremiah 29:13
And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.
This verse in itself is extremely powerful and I believe sums up the truth that, while God may be hidden, He can be found and we can enter into a relationship with the Creator and King of the Universe. Our King calls for our whole heart.
Are you listening? Are you willing to search for Him and His hidden treasures?
To give a little more of the context of Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart”, we see Jeremiah prophesying about the return from exile in Babylon:
10 “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,
14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
The context then was that the Almighty himself would lead some of the Jewish people to turn back to Him and He would hear them.
The last king of Babylon was Belshazzar. Belshazzar was aware of what the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied at the time when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel:
“And this whole land [of Israel] shall be a ruin, and a waste, and these nations [the tribes of Israel] shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when the seventy years are fulfilled, that I will punish the king of Babylon …” (Jeremiah 25:1112)
Naturally, this is something Belshazzar was worried about and so he kept count. Unfortunately for him he miscalculated by one year. The year 371 BCE arrived, and Belshazzar assuming that the prophecy had not come true, decided that God must have abandoned His people, the Jews and that he will not therefore restore them to Israel as promised in the Jeremiah prophecy. He also, therefore thinks he won’t be punished.
So to celebrate, Belshazzar throws a huge feast and brings out for all to see the Temple vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from Jerusalem. He orders his consorts and concubines to drink from Temple cups and to praise “the gods of gold and silver, copper, iron, wood and stone.” (Daniel 5:1-5)
At that moment, a large unattached hand appears and starts to write on the wall – ‘The writing is on the wall’!
You probably know the rest of the story.
What you may not realize though, is that when given the opportunity to return to Israel, most reject the dream. There were estimated to be around a million Jews living in the Babylonian empire, yet only 42,000 go back ― only about 5% of those that went into exile 70 years earlier go back and the remaining 95% stays put.
The same thing happened in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared. There were about 12 million Jews in the world at that time and only 600,000 or 5% settled the land. The rest, some 95% preferred to stay in exile. This story is, of course, far from complete.
The recent and even more miraculous return (see my article ‘Israel: Return in Belief or Unbelief’ – at www.circumcisedheart.info ), is a more complete, but still on-going, fulfillment of all of Jeremiah’s ‘return’ prophecies.
So now think of the implications! In seeing the fulfillment of these prophecies, can we now identify, who has sought God with all their heart, and who has found, or at least is finding Him?