Sometimes skeptics, atheists and even well-meaning Christians say, “why doesn’t God show Himself so that we would have evidence of His existence?” Or, “it’s not fair of God to show Himself to a few faithful people in history but not me so that I could have faith/stronger faith.” Would that REALLY work the way that people think it would? The Bible teaches that the Old Testament was written for our learning (Romans 15:4).
So what actually happens when God speaks directly and shows Himself to mankind?
- Cain. Cain was the first generation after Adam and Eve. His grandfather was God, so to speak. He knew how his parents had a relationship with God, he knew how they ruined the good thing they had because they didn’t obey God, and he knew they walked and talked directly with God. Yet when Cain and his brother Able made sacrifices he chose to offer things that God was not pleased with. God talked to Cain directly but instead of deciding to plead God Cain decided to give in to jealousy and killed his brother. Why? God talked directly to him! He knew the punishment that his parents bore! And yet he decided not to obey the Creator. Obviously having a conversation with God Himself wasn’t enough to make him faithful.
- Solomon. His father David was a man after God’s own heart and knew how God had talked with his father, protected his father and punished his father. God talked directly to Solomon and blessed him with wisdom and riches and yet Solomon’s heart was turned away from God by his selfishness. In the end, Solomon was so unfaithful that he set up altars to foreign gods.
- Jeroboam. When Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne of Israel he told the people that he would tax them more severely than his father did. The people rebelled and eventually made Jeroboam son of Nebat the king of Israel (the northern ten tribes that don’t include the capital of Jerusalem). God spoke to Jeroboam and promised this new leader that if he would be faithful he would be blessed. You might think that would be enough to make you a life-long believer. Despite God conversing with Jeroboam, he feared losing power more than he feared God and he built altars for new gods and made the people worship them instead of worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem. Israel was never the same. They too decided to betray God.
There are countless examples like this in the Old Testament that show how God dealt directly with mankind and they still chose self over faith. Even the entire nation of Israel – millions of people – saw the plagues or Egypt, witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, saw the pillar of cloud and fire that went before them, tasted the miracles of mana and quail, and felt the earth open up to consume the rebellious Kora. Yet they were so hard-hearted and unfaithful that they were not allowed to enter the promised land. Masses of people witnessed God first hand and it didn’t matter!
One day Jesus was talking and the Pharisees were listening, sneering at Jesus because they loved their power and their money more than God (Luke 16:14). Jesus told them a parable about a rich man who died and was sent to a place of suffering. In this parable the rich man begged for a dead man to rise from the dead to warn his living brothers of their wicked ways because it was only after death that he understood the consequences of his priorities. The answer came back, “They have Moses and the prophets. They should listen to them.” But the rich man begged, “but they will believe if someone comes back from the dead!” On the surface that sounds like a powerful argument! Again, the answer came back, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, then neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.”
(Luke 16:31). That’s exactly what happened. Jesus rose from the dead and the people still refused to believe. Even the leaders who believed in Jesus were not willing to admit it because they didn’t want to lose their earthly, temporal positions in this life.
If miracles happened right now, if God showed Himself to mankind, or if He spoke directly to you perhaps you would believe. Even if you did believe, that doesn’t mean you would obey. Just look at Cain, Solomon, and Jeroboam. The most significant decision is not to choose between faith and evidence but between the stubbornness of selfishness the meekness of submission. The thought of submitting their will to a greater Authority is what keeps people from believing more than a lack of “evidence.” For most people, that’s probably an unconscious act. So decide now to submit, believe AND obey by the time Jesus comes back because by then it will be too late.