Loud protests and screams of “unfair” have been made through the centuries when human beings have spied upon other human beings by uncovering what has been said and done in supposedly hidden places. Now a recent issue of Newsweek tells us that there is no hiding place. The article describes advances in technology that make it possible for anyone who has the right equipment to “pick up” all telegrams sent all over the world, all telephone calls sent by micro-wave. Nation can spy upon nation, dictator, upon individuals, as electronic devices “open” telegrams and “listen in” on phone conversations, recording them to be studied at leisure.
Never before have there been such possibilities of discovering the secrets “hidden” in private communication. Electronic “arms” stick up in the desert, square pieces of what to the uneducated eye look like innocent metal shapes, protrude above buildings, directed to catch the information flying through the atmosphere. Codes can be recorded and unscrambled with amazing rapidity. Satellites circle the globe like gigantic brooms, sweeping up all the dusty bits of information! Added to this is a projection of possible future results of research: the “reading” of brain waves. Terrifying is the thought of sinful men controlling machines that in a sense are being improved to control the men!
Place beside all this the recent account of a photographer standing on a balcony in Helsinki, taking pictures with a telescopic lens so powerful that it could record a note written by the President and handed to someone sitting near him at a table. The camera could zoom down and look over the shoulders of men, opening up to the world that which was meant for the eyes of one person across the table! One shudders to think what could take place if all the technological advances were one day placed in the hands of a world dictator.
The Bible makes it clear that there has never been a hiding place from God. Adam and Eve were the first to discover this. “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8). Adam and Eve were soon to find how useless that leafy barrier was. God needs no electronic device to see behind the bushes and trees, no satellite to discover what had been said into phone or teletape. He has always been able to read the brain waves, to see into men’s minds and hearts. David knew this well as he wrote in Psalm 69:5, “O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid from thee.” Every foolish and sinful thought and act has always been known to God. This is made strong and clear to us in Psalm 139:
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
Job 34:21 and 22 underlines what has been given us in Psalms: “For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.”
From Adam and Eve’s time on down through the centuries, no one has been able to hide from God. No one can hide his communications, his acts, or even his thoughts from the living God.
We mustn’t forget that Satan’s temptation to Eve was that if they would eat of the tree, they would become “like gods.” Adam and Eve were tempted to want to be godlike, and the same temptation has driven men through the centuries. Egocentric human beings, self-sufficient human beings, autonomous human beings, rebellious human beings, have always been trying to put themselves at the center of all things. They have tried to “be like gods” in a diverse number of ways. Ezekiel was told by God that Tyrus was trying to sit in the seat of God, to declare that there was no secret that people could hide from him (Ezek 28:1–3). Today men are already “sitting in the seat of God” in peering into men’s secrets and they will be able to do this even more effectively as technology advances.
A warning came to the prince of Tyrus in Ezekiel 28:9—“Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.” The warning is to men who search for power and more power to be able to know all the secrets of other men, and to govern the machines and the men: God is still God! And he alone is God. Even as the magicians of Egypt were able to reproduce some of the miracles that Moses did in God’s power, by the mystical powers Satan had given them, so through the ages, whether by occult powers or by discovering some of the marvels of the universe science has uncovered, men have been able to make a start at doing some of the things God does. But only God is God. Only God is infinite. Only God is unlimited. And only God has power and knowledge that will not “backfire.” Men are often destroyed by their own inventions. The machines come to control the very men who made them. Is there no place to hide from men?
Come to Isaiah 1:10–16. Read it yourself. We are commanded to hear the Word of the Lord. Today we are in a time of Sodom and Gomorrah. Today we have reports in our newspapers of conventions of devil worshipers and occult groups, of members of mystical cults dancing before a huge pre-Columbian statue of the devil. Today this passage applies.
What is God saying? He is sick of sacrifices and offerings. Religious meetings, spiritual happenings, the keeping of holy days—all these things are an abomination. God says, “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” God is declaring that he is not interested in mechanical religion—he will hide his eyes and ears from people’s false worship. Lives lived Sodom and Gomorrah style coupled with outward acts of worship are an abomination to God.
Perfume cannot mask filthy odors. Powder cannot cover up a dirty face. It is an abomination to God when such attempts are made. God has said, “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me.” We cannot hide from God—but he can hide from us.
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil.” This sixteenth verse is a transition in Isaiah 1—letting us know the compassion of this One True Holy God. Unlike men who are preparing to make the world free from any hiding place, this God, perfect in holiness as well as in love, has prepared one hiding place. We will look at that in the second part of this study.
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