“Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior” (Is 45:15).
Heard this verse on my ipod as I listened to Isaiah this morning. Luther loved this verse. He thought about it in two different ways. First, he understood God’s hiddenness be that which God refused to unveil about himself. He thought that much theology was an attempt to probe into the very things that God had hidden. Instead he argued that we should spend all our time and energy probing into the revealed God. In other words, we should pursue a theology that begins with, centers on, and remains in the place where God has most clearly revealed himself. In Luther’s thought the cross was the place where God did just that.
The second way he used this verse and thought about God’s hiddenness is also attached to the cross. He believed that the cross was the place where God simultaneously concealed and revealed himself. The cross conceals God in that it is the last place on the planet we would ever look to find God. To the eyes of natural man God is definitely not found on a tree outside of Jerusalem. You do not look for God on death row—that is simply nonsense. Yet it was this very unexpected place where God most clearly revealed himself. To see this, however, one must be granted spiritual eyes by the Spirit himself. Here then we have the paradox of Luther’s theology: God hides in his own revelation. This is 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 cloaked in a different garb.