"Though art my hiding place; Thou wilt preserve me from trouble. Thou wilt surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm32,7
Many Hiding Places?
The Garden of Eden creation and fall story tells us that if we're hiding from God it's because we have chosen to sin.
This is especially the lesson of Cain (Genesis4,14) who, having been singularly and exceptionally cursed to wander, apparently hid his whole life. But Adam and Eve also hid from God as well.
There are two main trees in Eden, one the 'tree of life' and the other the 'tree of knowledge of good and evil.' (Genesis 2,9).
These are Jesus and Satan (Ezekiel 28,13a: "You used to be a model of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, in the garden of God." cf Branham "An Exposition of the Seven Church ages.' VGR p. 97ff 2013 reprint).
Right there all along.
Close at hand, within shouting distance of us and each other.
When we were kids we all played 'hide and seek' so we know that physical trees are especially good places to hide. When God came looking for Adam and Eve after they "ate" of Satan's tree, Genesis 3,8 tells us that "the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden."
If God was a presence, satan was also a presence, both actually there, but invisible too.
Both places to "hide" so to speak.
We know also from this story, and from being human, that hiding from God is not primarily a physical thing, but a spiritual evasivness which thrives by blaming someone or something else for our sins.
When God confronted Adam, he blamed Eve, and even, indirectly, God himself! "The man said, 'The woman whom you gave me to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and I ate.' " (Genesis3,12)
When it was Eve's turn to explain, she says "The serpent tricked me, and I ate." (3,13)
This is spiritual hiding.
Mother of All The Living
This garden story gets even more interesting.
As God's delegate in the garden, Adam names everything and he gives his wife the honorary title "Eve", which in Hebrew translates as "living," as in "mother of all living" (Genesis3,20). She's mother of both Abel, whose blood still speaks, and also the accursed Cain who still wanders and hides.
Within God's punishment of the serpent (he had to crawl on his belly, v. 14) is God's curious prophecy that as "mother of all living" Eve will have everlasting human offspring (some saved by grace), as will the serpent, Genesis3,15. This is the ongoing story of the wheat and the tares, contending right from the start, and right to the end.
Genesis 3,15 also prophesies that one of Eve's offspring will strike the serpent's head. We Christians interpret Jesus to be Eve's best human offspring, through Mary, and his resurrection as this decisive blow.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we keep in mind that both Adam and Eve tried to find a hiding place for their sin and were unsuccessful.
A King Of Israel Also Tries To Hide
In the Hebrew scriptures there's also the case of King Ahab, King of Israel (874-853 BC), who was up to some no good against the likes of the prophet Elijah and the man of God Naboth.
Like Adam, he tried to hide his own sin behind his wife's sin, which I'm thinking is sort of like hiding behind the wrong tree, way back in Eden.
1Kings16,31ff tells us that Ahab married Jezebel (daughter of the foreign king Ethbaal, the nearby coastal neighbors of Israel to the north, aka "the Sidonians") an event that the bible ties to his service and worship of the native Canaanite procreation god, Baal. Ahab went so far to erect an altar to Baal in the Israelite temple in Samaria.
In marriages sometimes the more virtuous spouse lifts the less virtuous spouse. Praise God. But sometimes the less virtuous, being a stronger personality, or of stronger spiritual convictions, hastens the demise of the spouse with the lesser convictions.
The latter was clearly the case with Ahab and Jezebel.
She took Ahab's disagreements with Elijah and Naboth to new depths of meanness and new heights of arrogance.This was no big deal in that she had groomed four hundred prophets of Baal who 'ate at her table' (1Kings18,15 ate of her "tree" if you will), who ruled with her in Israel.
So, if as the creation-fall story tells us, sin is "hiding" from God and "hiding" in sin (among the trees), and behind the wrong "tree" (tree of life or tree of knowledge of good and evil, Jesus or satan), and behind sinners (Eve gave it to me to eat, or 'the devil made me do it'), we could say that the prophets of Baal and King Ahab "hid" behind this false-hearted queen of Israel.
And of course she was hiding too, behind the kingship office of Israel.
This becomes especially clear in the case of Naboth of Jezreel who had a vineyard close by the palace of Ahab in Samaria (1Kings21,1ff). Ahab implored Naboth to sell him his ancestral vineyard so he could grow vegetables close to his palace. This is not an altogether strange request. He would have likely paid top dollar if Naboth agreed.
But since King Ahab has no legal claim to the land, he appears resigned to accept Naboth's refusal, with not much more than some grumbling and sulking and a missed meal.
But not his spouse.
She insults her spouse about his fairness: "Some king of Israel you make! Get up, eat and take heart; I myself shall get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." v. 7
So she hires two witnesses to publicly set Naboth up in a place of public prominance, all to denounce him for cursing God and the king (vv8-10). Once this is done he is stoned to death by the same crowd she had gathered to praise him.
Why God Allows The Spectacle of Invisible Evil To Become Visible
If we fast forward to Revelation 17,3, there's another "woman," an invisible one, of a like and strong personality. "She" is on a wild beast, an instrument of both wordly humanity and Satan's fury. She's found "hiding" in the home of evil and wild beasts, the wilderness. Only the angels, John the Revelator, and folks with eyes to "see", have recognized "her."
She has already, or will come up, and become visible, in the last days from another hiding place, "the abyss," Revelation 17,8 and Revelation 11,7.
She is a type of inhuman, invisible mother figure, having given birth over time to various evils, taking her strength from her beastly environs.
But she has no power to lift those around her: "no power from the wilderness can raise a man up." (Psalm75,6) Only bring them down.
She is a worldwide religious force that is against the God of Israel, the nation of Israel, and against God's soon to be born final people (Revelation12,1ff). She is a force that knows no denominational barriers, and is both an old and new Babylon, and a false Zion.
So Revelation 18,4 says "Come out my people, away from her so you do not share in her crimes and have the same plagues to bear."
Why would God allow such evil to infiltrate the entire Christian church?
Why did he allow Satan in the garden?
Why did he allow Eve to bear Cain?
Hard questions, but the word says "come out of her" because this "woman" is not a valid hiding place for sinners, just as Adam and Eve, had no valid place to hide in the garden from God after they sinned.
Our only valid hiding place is Jesus! Psalm32,7; Psalm27,5; Colossians3,3
Here's another question that both believers and skeptics of the word might ask: Why would God allow John the Revelator or anyone then or now to "see" this evil spectacle of Revelation 17?
As a warning to those of us still seeking a bible based salvation:
"He took me in spirit to a desert, and there I saw a woman riding a scarlet beast which had seven heads and ten horns and had blesphemous titles written all over it." (Revelation 17,3)
Likewise the satan-based evil of the Kingdom of Tyre, had to be revealed as a warning and protection to and of God's first people, Ezekiel 28,17-19:
"Your heart has grown proud because of your beauty, your wisdom has been corrupted by your splendor. I have thrown you to the ground; I have made you a spectacle for kings. 18 By the immense number of your crimes, by the dishonesty of your trading, you have defiled your sanctuary. So I have brought fire out of you [an unholy fire that devours rather than cleanses] to devour you; I have reduced you to ashes on the ground before the eyes of all who saw you. 19 Of all the nations, all who know you are stunned at your fate. You are an object of terror; gone forever."
One Loose End
There's a loose end here (at least one).
We know Eve and then Adam "ate" of the fruit of Satan's tree, but the reward of Revelation 2,7 suggests that no one has eaten of the tree of life yet:
"He who is victorious I will give the right to eat from the tree of life that stands in the garden of God." This makes bible sense. Adam and Eve were in no need of the fruit of Jesus before they sinned. And after they sinned, only the blood of Calvary and the gospel would save them (1Peter4,19-20).
Likewise Revelation22,19 warns that if anyone adds or subtracts from the words of Revelation, he will lose his or her part in the tree of life and the new Jerusalem. Jesus wants to feed us the fruit of Himself, who is eternal life, after we choose him, after we have stopped running and hiding behind anything or anyone evil, after we have been gracefully washed by our personal faith, and his unchanging gospel word, and his everflowing Spiritual blood (John19,34).
Peace and Gospel Salvation to All, In Jesus NAME.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...