Real People, Real God
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(For those who put their faith in the tangible, the seen, the things they can observe with their senses)
Meet Taliah, a fictional character in the novel. Raised in King Ramesses’ harem to become a tutor to his sons, Taliah is an intellectual woman who is thrust into the Hebrew camp. She’s grown up denying the false gods of Egypt. Why is Miriam’s God any different?
- “I’ve never had such feelings or sensations [from Yahweh]. I suppose I’m not special enough to be chosen.”
- “Why don’t gods speak to everyone? The Egyptian gods only speak with the priests or through Pharaoh himself, who claims to be divine, and El Shaddai only speaks through Miriam. Why is that?”
Other characters had similar difficulty believing in an invisible God:
- “But how do you know He’s near, Ima, if you don’t have dreams or visions to interpret?”
- “How can we common people know any god exists when we don’t feel or see signs of their presence?”
- “How could [Miriam] praise a God she couldn’t see or understand?”
- “El Shaddai had always been Doda’s god, Saba and Savta’s god, but never Eleazar’s god. He was too holy to fathom and too distant to trust…‘If you’re there, Yahweh, prove it to me.’”
- “Who is this Yahweh? What has He ever done for us?”
- “‘Yahweh, if You hear me, know that I will serve You, but I still fear Your vast silence, Your great unknown.’ Was it enough to serve and obey though uncertainties still lingered?”
Each of the quotations above explores a slightly different nuance to the very common barrier:
How can I possibly believe in (or come to know, understand, and relate to) a God I cannot see?
Points to Ponder
- Describe a time when God’s invisibility was a stumbling block to faith for you.
- Read Luke 16:25-31 and Romans 1:19-20. What do these passages tell us about the ways in which God has revealed Himself, or made Himself “seen” to us?
What do you think about Miriam’s words from chapter 35: “Forgive me for being so blind to Your presence?” How can we be “blind” to God’s presence?
- We see this concept again in the last chapter when the Egyptian army is pursuing the frightened Israelites into the Red Sea. Miriam encourages her fellow Israelites to “Look at the walls. Focus on God’s glory,” and those who focus on Yahweh’s deliverance are fortified with courage. Why do you think we don’t see God sometimes? What things do you tend to focus on that might be distracting you from God’s power and presence that is at work right beside you?
- Also in the last chapter, faith is defined as a “battle, its battlefield the mind.” Read Hebrews 11:1. How would you define or describe faith to someone? Is there room for doubt or uncertainty in the “battle” of faith according to your definition of faith?
- In your opinion, what is the difference between conviction and certainty? In your journey of faith, have you ever felt uncertain about God? What made you feel uncertain? What was it that gave you renewed faith, belief, and hope in Him?
- In what ways have you been able to “see” God in the world? In nature? In people? In art? In His Word? In acts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
This Week’s Faith Builders
- Look for God-sightings in your life this week. See the last paragraph above for practical suggestions (I bet you can find at least one instance of God showing up every day, if you look for it!). Write them down.
- Also, make it a goal to tell at least one person about your “God sightings” this week. Even if they don’t understand why you view your incident as “God’s visibility,” just live with the wonder. Miriam says, “Let them wonder – its how faith grows.”
Scriptures to Build On
In the following Scriptures, note new insights prompted by today’s study.
- Luke 16:25-31 – “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish’…And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father to send him to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”
- Romans 1:19-20 – “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
- Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”