art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the
Saviour" (Isa. 45:15).
It is as though the
Prophet was suddenly overawed and struck with amazement
at what he was being made to prophesy! In the midst of
his ministry something of its wonder broke upon himself
and he interjected this ejaculation.
Leaving, for the
present, much of what this might imply as to prophecy as
prediction and its vindication, we will stay with the
exclamation itself. That statement is one in principle
with several instances in the Scriptures. Looking at the
present context we see that it is Israel's release from
captivity, and return to the Land to rebuild Jerusalem
and the Temple, which is contemplated. No doubt there had
been much speculation and discussing as to how the
prophecies of their return would be fulfilled. Seventy
years had been determined and made known as the duration
of their captivity. The Gentile powers were in undoubted
ascendancy and there seemed very little prospect or
possibility of Israel's regaining their national power
and glory amongst the nations. The state of things in
their own country - the destroyed Temple, the burnt city,
the land overrun with wild beasts, the enemy emissaries
installed - and the disintegration among the people
themselves in exile, made the outlook one fraught with
seemingly insuperable problems, and it might well have
led to complete bafflement and even despair.
Then the Prophet is made
to foretell that it would all come about - this
restoration - at the hands or by the will of the Gentile
power itself; that the Sovereign Spirit of God would come
down upon one who - as yet - was not in the position to
do it, and probably whose name was not yet known at all.
Babylon was not yet overthrown: the Babylonian Empire was
not yet destroyed; Daniel's prophecies were not yet
fulfilled. But the one who would do it was mentioned by
name and the details of his conquest are given in this
forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah's prophecies. (Read it
fragment by fragment.) And then, even although this man
would be in ignorance of God, he would be constrained and
compelled by God like an Anointed one to fulfil the
Scriptures, release the people, provide the means, and
generally facilitate the restoration.
As the Prophet sees it
all in his "vision" ("the vision of
Isaiah," 1:1, one vision including
everything) he is overwhelmed with wonder. All the
problems are solved, the questions answered, the
"mountains" levelled! Who would have thought of
that? Who would have dreamed such a thing? Oh, how
deep are God's ways, beneath our imagination, hidden from
our most intense speculations. 'Verily Thou art a God
that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour."
There have been several
other great and outstanding instances of the mystery of
God's ways in fulfilling His major purposes. All the race
had gone from Him and become involved in Godlessness and
idolatry. It was universal. How would God meet His own
need? Well, He moved to put His hand on one man, and out
of that one man He made a nation. In sovereign grace He
made that nation His mystery, His secret, among the
nations. Israel was God's mystery, God's hidden way.
There was always something mysterious about Israel. Paul,
in contemplating this method of God and finding it rise
up with such overwhelming power, did just what Isaiah
did. While writing it down he just interjected a loud and
"O the depth of
the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past
tracing out!" (Rom. 11:33; A.S.V.).
He might well have
added, "Thou art a God that hidest Thyself."
Who would ever have thought of the Incarnation, and that,
not in glory, but in humiliation unto offending every
expectation of man? Who would have thought of the Cross
for God Incarnate as the method and means of solving the
greatest problem ever known in this universe? Who would
have suspected that it was all embodied in that Man of
Nazareth, "the carpenter's son" as they called
Him? There was the greatest mystery of God! Did it work?
Has it proved to be the way, the only way,
and the transcendently successful way?
And what is true as to the
mystery of Israel, and the mystery of Christ, is
also true as to the mystery of the Church. There
is a hiddenness about the true Church. No natural eye can
discern it. No natural mind can explain it. Reduce it to
human sense and description and you have lost it, you
have got hold of the wrong thing. "God's wisdom (is)
in a mystery," says Paul. Try to commend the Church
to the world without faith and you have stripped your
Church of its secret power! Unless men come right up
against inscrutable God Who overwhelms them, that which
claims to be His dwelling-place is an empty shell.
And we would remind you
that what is true in these great epochs of sovereign
progress down the ages, these interventions and advents
in the history of this world's spiritual life, is true in
the life of each one of His true people. Such will be
constantly confronted with the how? of impossible
situations, in order that they may be compelled to
repeated exclamations in the presence of His simple solutions
Thou art a God That hidest Thyself."
in unfathomable mines
treasures up His bright designs,
His sovereign will."
"I will give thee
the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret
places, that thou mayest know that it is I, the Lord, Who
call thee by thy name, even the God of Israel" (Isa.
"A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Mar-Apr 1948, Vol. 26-2.