With the Word online Bible study: where is God?

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Isaiah 45.14b-19 (Common English Bible)

“Truly God is with you;
there’s no other, no other God.”
Surely you are a god who hides himself,
Israel’s God and savior.
They will all be shamed and disgraced;
the makers of idols
will end up disgraced together.
Israel has been saved by the LORD
of everlasting salvation.
You won’t be shamed,
and you won’t be disgraced
forever and always.
For this is what the LORD said,
who created the heavens,
who is God,
who formed the earth and made it,
who established it,
who didn’t create it a wasteland
but formed it as a habitation:
I, the LORD, and none other!
I didn’t speak in secret
or in some land of darkness;
I didn’t say to the offspring of Jacob,
“Seek me in chaos.”
I am the LORD,
the one who speaks truth,
who announces what is correct.

What word, phrase, or image stands out to you in this passage? Sit with that for a moment. What does it bring up for you? What questions do you have? What connections do you hear (to other stories, images, art, movies, music…)?

How do you know God? How do you nurture your relationship with God? What kind of God is the God you know?

What do you make of the assertions in this passage–first that God is one who hides himself, and second that God didn’t speak in secret? Which of these is more like your experience?

What do you do when you feel that God is absent or hidden?

How does your head-knowledge that God is always present, that God is a creative force working for good, that God is found everywhere (not only in chaos and not only in calm), change the way you live? The way you think? The way you believe? would other kinds of knowledge (heart or spirit or body knowledge) change that?

God has a habit of revealing Godself to the people–especially to the Israelites. They know God through mighty wonders and deeds, through conversation, and through the creation. Other nations know God through the Israelites and their actions. How does God reveal himself today?

In the inter-testamental period (between the prophets whose writings we have in the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus), many of the Jewish people thought that heaven was sort of shut-up, closed…that God was not speaking or sending prophets or revealing anything new. Knowing that this idea came long after Isaiah, and that people had the opportunity to hear the prophet’s words in the synagogues and Temple…do you hear any of that in this text? Now imagine yourself in the time of Jesus, hearing this passage read. What would you think?

There are subtle hints here of a theme of light and darkness–do you sense that? What light do you see in this darkness?

Do you think God is still revealing things today, still sending prophets, still speaking?

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