God knows that “familiarity,” until we understand what that is, is a very damaging thing to most relationships. Being “familiar” with someone or something, in the negative sense, means to take it for granted. Negative familiarity makes us devalue people and things, wherein we lose what is special about them and then may misuse them or neglect them. Every important relationship must be safeguarded against it. Familiarity, in this sense, leads to broken relationships, hardness of heart, and in the case of marriage, often to divorce.
God is fully aware of this and He guards Himself from allowing us to become “familiar” with Him. He does this by “hiding from us” so that when He does engage us, it becomes very, very special to us. When God shows up, it is “as good as it gets,” and He wants to keep it that way until we are safe in His regular presence from familiarity. Diligence and real hunger for God make it safe to be with Him. One significant meaning of this Scripture tells us: And without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). Some fuller translations use the phrase, “…those who diligently seek Him.” God never wants to cheapen His presence due to our immaturity.
This being true, He also “hides Himself” in His Scriptures. As Christians, all of us have had the experience of reading Bible verses many times before they jump out at us and go “3D”; their deeper meaning and depth makes us stop in our tracks and worship. We usually say, “Why didn’t I see this before?”
You weren’t ready to see it until it was “safe” for you to see it. God protects us from seeing and hearing things we aren’t ready to deal with and might make us discouraged or “familiar” when we can’t walk them out yet.
For me, one of the classic examples of God hiding huge truth in single words or phrases is found in Genesis 10:25: Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. The first time I really “saw” this verse after reading it for years and missing the obvious truth, I almost fainted. Look at this verse with me now again. Do you see what it is saying? Yes, the very face of earth is being changed as the continents are being divided! Are you kidding me? The biggest geological event in human history is happening and God gently slips it by us and waits to see who has eyes to find it! This is the nature of the God who loves us enough to hide until we’re ready to see. This is why Jesus hid from the masses of unprepared people, speaking only to them in parables until they had in fact become “familiarity proofed” as His disciples became.
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has, will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” -Matthew 13:10-17 NIV
The more we truly understand something, the easier it is for us to explain it in simple words or examples. Jesus, of course, is the absolute Master of this skill. His 2,000-year-old parables are still not fully revealed to us yet! He bundled profound truths in the simplest of packages, but when He explained them to those who were ready to see them (His disciples) a child could understand them. We are back again to a God who hides amazing things in simple packages and that is…
THE BOTTOM LINE.
Note: This is an excerpt from Dennis Peacocke’s new book slated to be published in 2017