Hide and seek may be the greatest game of all times. It can be played by almost everybody – all ages, regardless of most disabilities can play the game in one form or another. You can have the people hide from each other or hide an object that everyone looks for or even play it while stationary by looking for something hidden in plain view like you might do when riding in a car in the game "I Spy with My Little Eye." The hiding of something in plain view the finding of something right under your own nose is fun and challenging. And the game has been around forever – something that generation upon generation have in common and to which they can relate.
And Hide and Seek also brings up the obvious revelation contained within that rather silly question: Why is it that whenever you are searching for something it always turns up in the last place you look?
So one question that is placed before us by the Lord’s prophet in this morning’s text is this: Why is it that having found God and the hope, peace, joy and life that comes only from Him revealed to us in His Word and that Word made flesh, we keep on looking elsewhere? I cannot think of any other time or instance, whether it be a lively game of hide and seek or in the mundane task of looking for misplaced car keys that anyone is foolish enough to keep on looking after they have found the object of their search.
And yet so much of religion, even Christianity itself, is bent on trying to find and attain what has already been revealed and freely given to us by God through His church – the forgiveness of sins, life, salvation, the kingdom of heaven. All these are yours right where God has hidden them in plain view for you in water and the Word and bread and wine.
So dear people of God, Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. The heavenly game of hide and seek is over. "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free!" When our Lord Jesus Christ cried out on the cross, "It is finished!" salvation was complete. And when the waters of baptism poured over your heads you were found by God and He by you.
And Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Because as the Lord exhorts us:
"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations – a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat; who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!' Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day." (Isa 65:1-5, NIV)
The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God inside of ourselves: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matt 15:19, NIV)
The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God for God in nature: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator__ who is forever praised. Amen." (Rom 1:16-25, NIV)
The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God in our own special thinking: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." (1 Cor 1:17-19, NIV)
The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God or come to Him by our own deeds: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins." (Isa 64:6-7, NIV)
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith__ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph 2:8-9, NIV)
The game of hide and seek for God and His kingdom is over! We can and must stop looking for God as if He is not already here and heaven is something reserved for tomorrow, . . . . or the moment after we die: "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14, NIV)
Yes, dear people of God, seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. . . . "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
Of the thoughts and ways of men, even the men of His chosen nation, the Lord says:
- O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away ... and say to them, "Away with you!" (Isa 30:19-20, NIV)
- But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isa 59:2, NIV)
But in the thoughts and ways of God is life and all that is good, now and forever:
- At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matt 11:25-27, NIV)
- Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matt 16:16-18, NIV)
- "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. (Luke 10:22-23, NIV)
- "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2;16, NIV)
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. And we will join Paul and Peter in the sure and certain confession of the faith:
- I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." Rom 1:16-17
- We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Cor 4:10
- This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Eph 3:6
- He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Pet 1:20-21
- Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Eph 3:8-11
Dearly beloved of God, we can stop looking for God in all the wrong places. For when we find Him in His Son, as we have found Him here today, we find all those other things too — in all their truth and beauty.
In Christ we find true Nature – He created it. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3-4
In Christ we find true Wisdom – "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Prov 9:10
In Christ we truly find Ourselves & Deeds – For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10
In Christ we find true Life – In him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 1:4
In Christ we find we truly always have a wonderful and beautiful tomorrow – "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Eternal life, that’s a whole lot of tomorrows.
Now that you have sought and found Him in His Word -- and even more that He has sought and found you -- what will you do? Keep on looking? Or tell others what you have found and where they too may find it?
The hide and seek game for heaven is over. "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free!"
God grant you the faith, the will, and the voice to call out to your little part of the world at home, work, school, or play that all are out and all are free, that all are welcome to seek the Lord where He may be found, and to call on Him while He is near – in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen