What do you expect of God in the days to come?
There is a lie, propagated across the world, and even amongst God’s people, that God is austere and distant, hard to find and silent in every meaningful sense. But the Bible tells us an entirely different story with astonishing consistency: ours is a God who makes Himself seen and heard.
He was seen and heard clearly by the first humans, even after the Fall, and has continued to be heard by men and women down through the ages. He’s not vague or confusing in His revelation: the Bible is full of detailed prophecies and divine instructions. God was rarely subtle in His communication in the Old Testament – why would He be? He acted and spoke so as to be seen and heard: a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke; fire and thunder upon a mountain top; words appearing on tablets of stone or on the wall of a Babylonian palace. As the story unfolds we see that God is not slow to intervene in His creation: seas and rivers part, city walls collapse, armies of angels appear to a frightened servant and, even in stories which took place long before Jesus was born, the sick are healed, the dead are raised and slaves and criminals become queens and rulers in foreign lands.
And then He Himself – Jesus, the image of the invisible God, comes. Not just God made visible, but also the most ‘visible’ man who ever lived: He stands so far above all other humans throughout history in terms of influence and renown that it ought to beggar the belief of anyone who stops long enough to notice. The global calendar begins at His birth; year after year His coming and His death are commemorated around the world; most religions lay claim to Him; whole systems of law and justice have been built upon His teachings and more books, films, songs and paintings have been created in His honour than seems reasonable for a carpenter who was arrested, tortured and executed aged just thirty-three some 2,000 years ago. When you step back it’s impossible to miss: God made His Son the focal point of all human history. Jesus is there to be seen and heard.
And today? How much are we, the people of God, expecting Him to be seen and heard in our meetings, our homes, our streets and our cities? This ancient invitation to taste and see that God is good is as powerful today as ever.
Jesus lived, died and rose again to smash every power of sin and death that separates God from His people. When He died, the temple curtain separating us from God’s presence was ripped in half, heralding the end of that divide. Under the old covenant, select men and women were visited and anointed by the Holy Spirit while the masses looked on in amazement, but under this new covenant there are no limitations: the Lord has promised to meet with anyone who calls on His name! He has now made every provision, not just for us to see and hear Him, but for us to know Him as Father, friend and companion in the fullness of love and a living, breathing experience. God is not a tease, neither is He a liar. We are invited to taste and see that He is good.
Which one of us can truly describe the taste of chocolate, fried bacon, soothing honey or freshly brewed coffee? None of us can: we know by experience. In the same way, every report of God is given as an invitation to taste and see that He is good. We are called to see Him, to hear Him and to know Him moment by moment, day by day, year by year. The Bible exhorts us time and time again to seek His face, to listen to Him, to learn the sound of His voice, to know His presence and to experience the great love He has lavished upon us! This is the glorious truth: He is Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’, and He loves you. Right now, whether you know Him or not, He is there, where you are, inviting you to know Him. His eyes are on you and His ears are attentive to your every thought and prayer. He cares for you deeply and knows you better than you know yourself. He wants you to know Him in return. We know this – in truth we know Him – but how little we actually expect to see and hear Him when we gather as Christians! History and the Bible urge us to expect more.
Why waste a moment more? Trust Him again, take Him at His word and call on His name. Could it be that as lockdown has stripped away so many of the familiar trappings of our church structures and rhythms, the number one thing on God’s heart and agenda is not that you find the next great plan or strategy, but rather that you rediscover Him – His nearness, His love, His power and His agenda for these days. Whether you’ve been a believer for a long time or a little, why not take a moment to seek Him right now? As you seek Him, you will find Him; you will be amazed, and as you rest in His presence I have no doubt that you will remember again that our God wants to be seen and heard in this generation like never before.
‘He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”’ Psalm 46:10
‘As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ Acts 4:20
Akhtar loves Jesus and has never got over how good God has been to him! He helps lead the Foundry, a fledgling scattered community of Christians and congregations in London, Edinburgh and beyond. He is married to Marta and they live in SW London with their kids, Joel & Annie, and a menagerie of pets. A former social worker, Akhtar also helps to run Dreams Lab, which exists to help people realise their dreams of business ownership and social transformation.