Where is God - How Can You Know?
God's Sojourn in the Domain of Time
by Wayne Simpson
Where is God today? Why does He seem to be hidden from the world? Humanity isn't sure that God even exists. Some are quite sure that He doesn't. If He does, then why does evil happen? If God exists, then why doesn't He make it clear to the world? These are questions that everyone ponders at one time or another.
Actually, God addressed this issue in the Bible:
I will forsake them and I will hide my face from them and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them so that they will say in that day "Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us". And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils they have wrought. (Deut. 31:17- 18)
Later, when Judah's idolatry had tested God's patience to the limit, He was ready to leave:
Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people and go from them. (Jer. 9:2)
He spoke of a "lodging place" (Heb. melon - a hotel), just a temporary place to stay, in the wilderness, away from everybody - a sort of hiding place. And that's where He is today. He is not among us in any obvious way that we can see or prove. He has hidden His face. But He will not stay hidden forever. What this article is about is a way that you can tell that God is still here, even though you can't see the obvious, direct evidence.
A different kind of article
Now, this is not the kind of material I usually write. I am usually a very analytical writer, academic, not given to emotionalism and not inclined to relate anything very personal about myself. I don't think of faith as being some sort of testimony meeting. I am more private and reserved and such things just seem too syrupy for me. I am usually turned off by people who are openly religious and are always talking about how God did this or that for them. I think they are just trying to impress or intimidate others, or they are just using God's name to get someone to pay attention to them when they otherwise might not. So I am a little shy about talking about my relationship with God on a personal level because I don't want others to see me in that way. But what I am about to share with you was such a positive experience for me I feel I should share it with others.
I had always felt that God expected me to do my part in life. I thought that if you live the way you should that happiness and prosperity and good health would naturally follow. I always believed that God would intervene for me if I needed it and asked for it. But I thought that we are here to learn the lessons of life and that if God always bailed you out at the first sign of trouble, you wouldn't learn anything from the experience. I didn't think my own personal problems were very important in the grand scheme of things. So I just tried to deal with them on my own. I did not expect I would need any kind of direct one-on-one intervention from God on a personal level. Well, I found out I was being just a little too independent. Here is how it happened.
How I stumbled upon a key
I had operated my own small business for over 20 years. I provided a needed service and was able to grow the business to the point that I made a reasonable living and I had several employees. I enjoyed the work, though as time passed I thought I would like to do something else. But it's not easy to sell a small business. My personal skills were such an integral part of the business, it just didn't seem that it could survive without me. So I continued on. In time though, the marketplace slowly changed and the profitability began to dry up. I began to look for other kinds of business that we could do, but nothing seemed to work out. I eventually began to entertain the possibility that the business could fail. I began to look for a job, but in your 50 somethings jobs get scarce. I sent out several resumes every week - week after week. I was dismayed that I couldn't seem to even get a job interview. I think that employers are fearful of employing someone who has had their own business because they have no one from whom to get references. I searched diligently for over two years, and I could only get a couple of interviews during that time. I was getting pretty discouraged because the business was slowly drying up.
On a personal level, I had tried to steadily increase my understanding of the scriptures. About that time in my personal studies, I began to pay special attention to the meaning and purpose behind the Holy Days, particularly the remarkable events that have occurred on certain of those days in Bible times and in more recent history. I saw how God finished his Creation on the Sabbath that was also the very first day of the year, the Feast of Trumpets. Noah removed the covering from the ark and saw that the flood waters had dried up on the Feast of Trumpets 1656 years later. Abraham, Isaac, and Samuel were either conceived or born on holy days. God broke the back of Israel's slave masters in Egypt on the first Passover. The next day (the first day of unleavened bread - also a Holy Day) they started their flight from Egypt. Eight days later (another Holy Day) they miraculously crossed the Red Sea. It was on the Feast of Weeks that Israel received the revelation at Mt. Sinai. Forty years later, they kept the first Passover at the banks of the Jordan River. Each day of the days of unleavened bread, Israel marched once around the city of Jericho. On the last holy day the walls of the city fell down and the city was conquered. I even noticed that important events in modern times seem to take place in the middle East on Holy Days, most dramatic was the Yom Kippur war in which Israel overcame massive odds to defeat the invading forces.
So I was impressed by the clear fact that God seems to prefer to intervene in world affairs on His Holy Days. Of course, in the thinking of traditional Christians, the biblical Sabbath and the Holy Days are ignored, as a relic of the religion which has been superceded. I don't want to get into a debate of that issue here. I don't claim that it is necessary for gentiles to keep Jewish Holy Days, at least not in the manner of the Jews. But what I want to show is that it would be in your best interest to understand them, to take note of their passing, and participate at some level.
For the benefit of those who do not know, I will explain that in the Torah there were certain annual festival days that were outlined in Leviticus 23. They are Passover (Pesah), followed by The Days of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot) as it is often called, The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana), The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). You may recognize these days as the Jewish Holidays that are observed by Jews even today. Now there a few Christian groups who practice these so called Jewish Holy Days, but they are few. I was introduced to the Holy Days in a Christian setting and I had always heard a Christian interpretation of their meanings. Though I am no longer associated with this group, the Holy Days transcended it for me. I had learned a great respect for God's calendar and His Holy days. I am not Jewish either, but I have learned that there is a great deal of wisdom and teaching that can be gained from the Judaism and the Torah that God placed in their charge. I wanted to learn more about it from a Jewish perspective.
A Remarkable Realization
One thing I learned in particular was something quite astonishing about Rosh Hashana (the Feast of Trumpets or the Jewish New Year). The Jews believe that on that day God allocates blessings (and trials) for every person on earth for the coming year. He virtually plans our lives on that day. The next ten days are called the days of awe. A person should do a lot of soul searching and self scrutiny during those times. Next day is Yom Kippur when Jews fast all day and pray for Gods mercy and salvation for another year. So this entire period is a time of introspection and meditation about our lives and our goals and our shortcomings.
As I thought about this I began to understand how fitting that is to the theme of Rosh Hashana. Trumpets is the first day of the New Year (Rosh=head or first and Hashana= the year). In our secular calendars we celebrate New Years day with frivolous talk about New Years resolutions. But it usually is done in jest or humor. Nothing much ever comes of it. But Rosh Hashana is the New Years day of Gods calendar and it is not a day for drunken revelry, but a day for serious self examination. It is truly a time to turn over a new leaf and resolve to become a better person with Gods help.
It makes sense that if God plans the year for us on this day that WE OUGHT TO DO SOME PLANNING OF OUR OWN. I thought "If God was allocating blessings for me on that day, I'd like to have some input into that process."
I put it to the test
That made so much sense that I spent some time leading up to Trumpets in preparation. I made an outline of what I wanted to accomplish personally during the coming year, and I made a list of the areas in which I needed God's help. On Trumpets I spent the day thinking about those things and I spent time in a special prayer concerning the things on my list. I wanted to have some influence on God's plans for me.
Now that turns out to be a very worthwhile excercise. It forces you to evaluate yourself before God. Nothing is hidden, and God won't be impressed by your own (self) righteousness. It forces you to make a plan for your life, and it forces you to acknowledge your shortcomings. And of course, you can petition God for things or circumstances that you really need. Perhaps He will add them to His list if He sees that they are worthwhile.
When I decided to try this I was dealing with the business/job problem that I mentioned earlier. For a couple of weeks I thought about it and I organized a list of things for which I really wanted Gods help. Some of those things were were spiritual, some pertained to health issues, and some pertained to my financial needs. But at the top of my list was the need for a job. So I simply prayed sincerely on that Rosh Hashana that God would provide a job for me and allow me to move on from the business situation that had come to be quite depressing. I said that I seem powerless to make it happen and I really needed His help.
I was also getting to need a newer car. Mine was ten years old and the wheels were about ready to fall off. So I asked God to guide me to the right, affordable car for my circumstances. I was pretty specific about what I was looking for. So, I kept all this in my mind afterward to see what would happen. I waited patiently as days passed. I continued to send out resumes, and look for jobs. Periodically I would also pray to remind God of those specific needs. I doubt that He needed reminding but it served to help me stay focused on this plan I had made for myself. Weeks and months went by and nothing really happened.
And this is what happened
About six months passed without much change. But I wasn't worrying about it. I found that I had confidence that I would get the help I needed at the right time. I just continued doing all I knew to do and continued to send out resumes, and waited for my job to come through -wherever it was.
About that time the condition of my ten year old car took a turn for the worse. I didn't think it would hold out much longer. One day as I passed a particular car dealership from which I have had good service, I decided to turn in just on the spur of the moment to see what might be available. I felt that the best car for me would be a used car, 2 to 4 years old with low mileage, automatic with electric windows. I always keep my cars for many years, so I wanted a car with the maximum mileage potential for the minimum dollars. Beyond that my mind was open.
As it happened, I parked and started walking around the lot. The first car I walked past attracted my attention, but I continued walking around just to take a general survey of the offerings there. The salesman showed me several cars, trying to get a feel for what I wanted. After a while he took me to that first car that I had looked at. It was five years old, one owner, with only 24,000 miles, automatic with power windows, and because it was five years old the price was right. I was even able to talk to the original owner to get its history. I was really surprised how close it was to my ideal choice. But I'm not one to make hasty decisions, so I went on about my business with the intention of thinking about it for a day or two. By the next day I had made up my mind that this was the right car for me. It might have just been good luck. But the way it happened, how the thought just poped into my mind as I drove by, and it being the first car I looked at, I felt like I had been guided to that particular car. I'm still driving it, by the way. It has proved to be a good choice. One of my Feast of trumpets prayers had been answered in a rather dramatic way, it seemed to me.
But then a truly remarkable thing happened. One item on my list was to be able to self publish a book that I had composed. It was a new edition of a fascinating book of ancient Hebrew history called the Book of Jasher. I had been researching certain episodes contained in the text and I had written eight appendices containing analysis and notes of my research, in addition to the full English text. I also had been writing a number of Bible related articles that I hoped to be able to distribute in some way to others who might be interested. To my surprise, on the eve of the Passover I suddenly had in my grasp the means to do these things.
In my wife's family there was a bedfast older bachelor uncle, who had been left some badly deteriorating church properties by his brother who had died some ten years earlier. The uncle was a simple man with simple needs. The buildings were unsafe and needed to be torn down, and the church organization that he and his brother had built up was now defunct. His simple needs were being met for the most part by social security and family. To have a sudden influx of money would complicate his assistance picture, so he did not want any of the sale proceeds to accrue to him. So he asked me to take over the defunct organization, even though he didn't particularly agree with my views. I could use it to fulfil my goals concerning publishing my writings. So I was able to place the funds in an investment vehicle to generate money to take care of his funeral and burial when the time comes and to provide for some of his incidental needs in the meantime. Beyond that the earnings generated enough income to fund the printing expenses of my book and to fund the website that I now use to distribute my writings. It also provides means for an occasional charitable contribution to someone in need. I have never drawn a salary from it, however.
Before, I had no idea how I could accomplish my publishing goals, but suddenly there was a way and the means to do it. The remarkable thing to me was the timing when the property sale took place. There were actually two pieces of property. The first one sold on the eve of the Passover. We signed a contract for the second on the last day of unleavened bread a few days later. We had been trying to sell these properties for some time. But for them both to be sold during the passover season seemed to me to be a direct answer to my Feast of Trumpets prayer. I began to have a real positive feeling that God was not just answering my prayers but that He was revealing Himself to me in this rather personal way. By that time I was sure that there was something to the notion that we can especially have God's ear on such matters on the Feast of Trumpets. Now answers to prayers can be kind of subjective because those things might have happened anyway. But WHEN THEY HAPPEN ON THE HOLY DAYS you get a clear sense that God is responsible. It seems almost like a proof of God's existence.
Well, my spirits were certainly buoyed by this turn of events, and the significance of what had happened was not lost on me. I made certain to offer prayers of thanksgiving to God during that Passover season for these things. I now had all the more confidence that my Job needs would be met soon, too.
There were beginning to be some promising Job interviews. There were some interesting personal opportunities. And we had recently learned how to invest in the stock market, and though our total investments were small, we were able to post some remarkable percentage gains on several stock sales. But still a job was eluding me.
As the end of the year began to approach, I actually began to get more excited, because I was already convinced that God was going to provide this much needed job. I had an excellent interview with a manufacturer near to my home, about a week before the next Feast of Trumpets. As the week passed I expected everyday to hear from them with a job offer, but it didn't happen. Then finally on the day before Trumpets, I got a call for a second interview from them. I went in that day and had a really good interview, and I thought I would be hired on this last day of the year, but still there was no job offer.
Well, the year was coming to a close now, and I didn't have my job. It was Friday and the next day was Trumpets. I was not discouraged though, because I felt it had been a fantastically successful year anyway, because I had come to understand that God was far more interested in me personally than I ever imagined. I felt the job was surely imminent anyway. Since I thought "Surely this company would not call on Saturday", I figured that it would come later on and I was OK with that. But the next morning, on the Feast of Trumpets, exactly one year after I had earnestly petitioned God to provide a job, I had that phone call with a job offer.
I was so excited I couldn't believe it. And it was only partly because of the job offer. What was most exciting was that once again I had clear evidence that God was behind th offer. I might have gotten a job on my own. That part doesn't prove that God did it. But having gotten the job on the Feast of Trumpets, one year to the day after I petitioned God for it, was clearly not a coincidence. Statistically, that's extremely unlikely. And God didn't have to wait for a whole year to do it. I am convinced that He did it to let me know that He was, indeed, very interested in me on a very personal level and there could be no doubt that He had heard and answered. God had once again revealed himself to me in this unique way through His Holy days and He had also shown me in a very personal way that He pays attention when I pray and that the really cares about me as a father. It has given me a new outlook and a new relationship with God.
So I go through this same ritual every Feast of Trumpets now. I always prepare a sort of "life plan" for the coming year. I try to evaluate my life for the good and the bad. I try to be honest with God and myself about my shortcomings. I also review the progress I have made, and I can see progress every year thanks to God's help. I always put the plan in writing so I can check it periodically and so I won't forget the details. Each year there are some things I can check off and some new things I add. It is a time of spiritual cleansing and renewal, just as you should expect that God's New Year's day would be. I have kept Rosh Hashana for years but until now I never actually grasped what it was about.
God was once evident among us
There was a time when God's presence was literally in Jerusalem. The leaders of Israel could make an inquiry of God concerning his counsel on important state decisions, or about questions that were not specifically covered by Torah. And He would literally and directly answer by the Urim and the Thummim. Miraculously, the light from the great minorah would be directed to the High Priest's breastplate to gemstones engraved with the twelve tribes names. Gods answer would be spelled out in this manner. In addition, there were various physical manifestations of God's presence that could be seen by everyone (such as the pillar of fire and the pillar of smoke). There was clear proof of God at that time.
But when Israel and Judah went totally over to idolatry, God allowed them to fall and the temple was destroyed. At that time God's presence departed and went into hiding until the time of restoration. The spirit of prophecy was taken away. Since that time God is mostly hidden from the world. Many people believe in God, but by and large the world doubts His existence, because they cannot see any objective evidence.
Where God can be found
But I am convinced that proof of God can still be found IN THE DOMAIN OF TIME. God reveals Himself on the Holy Days through great deeds, both public and personal, performed for those who believe in Him. BUT THE ONLY WAY THAT YOU CAN RECOGNIZE THIS IS TO UNDERSTAND GOD'S CALENDAR and to know when the Holy Days come around. I think this is an extremely important key.
Now what I have told you is something very personal to me. It's my story but I am not trying to focus on me at all. I am trying to give you this key to seeing for yourself the evidence that God is right here even though He is hidden, and that we can talk to Him, and He is very interested in what we have to say. I believe that anyone can tap into Gods benefits in the same way I have. Now, I'm not saying that gentiles are obligated to keep the Holy days at all. And I am not saying that it is necessary to keep them holy in the manner that the Jews do. What I am saying is that, you can connect with God in a very surprising way if you understand and use the key. So if you observe the Feast of Trumpets but have not thought of it in this way, perhaps you should try this idea. I think it is very much in keeping with the Biblical theme of Trumpets. And if you are one who believes that the Holy Days are of no importance, perhaps you would like to see if God is in them. Try it. Put God to the test.
I am posting this in September 2001. The Feast of Trumpets this year falls on September 18.
(c) Copyright 1999 by Wayne Simpson Distributed by the Biblical Research Foundation 629 Lexington Road, Sapulpa, OK 74066
Reproduction and distribution is permissible provided this copyright notice remains intact in each copy.
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