What strikes me about God appearances in the bible is how completely unexpected they are. Very few people in the bible expect God to show up when God does. People are simply going about their day when suddenly – BAM! – a burning bush, angels in the sky, names called out in the night, or something else entirely unforeseen. When God appears it is a total surprise.
There are exceptions, of course. Elijah comes to mind. Elijah was most certainly expecting God to show up when he climbed up mount Sinai (1 Kings 19). Still, God didn’t show up quite the way Elijah had hoped (who wants a “still small voice” when what you are hoping for is thunder?).
Isaiah is another example. He might have been expecting God to show up since Isaiah was likely in the Temple when he received his vision, and the Temple is where God lived (Isaiah 6). Yet, even if God’s appearance was expected, Isaiah became entirely overwhelmed at what he witnessed.
These are a couple of the exceptions. Most often, however, when God appears to people in the bible nobody sees it coming. One reason for this, I think, has to do with the pursuing nature of God. God meets people where they are at, wherever they are at, whether they are looking for God or not.
This Sunday we will continue our sermon series God Sightings as we consider the story of Hagar and her encounter with God in the desert (Genesis 16). Hagar finds herself in a mess. Most of her problems are the result of the wrongdoings of others. Things have spiraled out of control in her life, and she chooses to run away from it all. As Hagar is on the run, suddenly, unexpectedly, God appears to her.
I hope to see you at Emmaus this Sunday!
Grace and peace to you,