Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.
Isaiah 45:15

In the midst of a chapter in which God is speaking of His Sovereignty - doing all His will, creating peace and making evil, implying the vanity of the clay talking back to the potter - the prophet inserts this statement. God is a God that hides Himself. In the verse immediately prior to this, notable nations are prophesied to come in chains to Israel and say "Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.". Later on, it is said of the one who finds his righteousness and strength "in the Lord" - that "to him will men come.". The chapter sees a great (seeming) dichotomy between what is and what God is declaring. Israel is not in a good way, but what God is declaring is so far from reflecting their current spiritual condition that it is either a lie, a fool's dream or all God's work. There can be no other option. And given what is said throughout the chapter, God is taking all responsibility - even for the righteousness, strength and justification of His people.

Why does Jehovah hide Himself? In the beginning, Adam had to hide himself from God - but this was before he was ejected from the very Presence of the Lord. Once Adam and Eve were driven and protected from it by fiery swords, that separation was permanent to the natural creation. There was no going back. Certainly not by natural means. The way was blocked - and for good reason. If he were to eat of the fruit of the tree of the life, he would live - and the rebellion that brought death and separation from God would have (in some literal way) been immortalized. Death - in some way, then - was a mercy.

Later, we find Israel at the base of Mount Sinai - God having given His commandments to Moses - and their response to all that was going on was another reflection of Adam's separation :

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Exodus 20:18-20

Now (though in veiled form) God was dwelling with the people He had chosen for Himself. Not a great people, but a little people. These were not those who would conquer nations, form dynasties and rule the world - certainly not reckoning according to the natural eye. But again, we find it is God's work that is in view. He was proving HIMSELF through a people considered to be inconsequential in comparison to the surrounding nations. But more pertinent - He had drawn near to people and their natural reaction was to draw away from Him. There was nothing in them that naturally attracted them to God and, in fact, the reverse is true. And so it is with anyone who is not of God. Israel didn't even see Him and they were afraid of approaching Him. They NEEDED a mediator. They didn't WANT to get anywhere close to God.

See now Isaiah - just from a vision of God - being overwhelmed by His holiness and brought to a state of anguish over his uncleanness and that of the people with whom he dwells. Why?

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
Isaiah 6:5

And what is Isaiah's word to the people? God has said it is one that will ultimately result in their hardening their hearts and shutting their ears to the truth. This is not done by deceit, but merely by continuing to proclaim the righteousness of the Lord:

The Lord is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
Isaiah 33:5

Now will I rise, saith the Lord; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.
Isaiah 33:10

Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?

Isaiah 33:13-18

Zion, it is clear, here speaks in spiritual terms as well as physical. God's judgments may come upon Jerusalem and He may preserve the city, but what is this of dwelling in Zion in burning fire? The sinners are afraid...the hypocrites are fearful...they have come to the City of God and found God glorifying Himself to their own torment. Their torment is not His purpose, but they are contrasted directly with the righteous who dwell safely and behold the Lord's beauty. Two different types of men looking on the same God with two different types of responses. The righteous man dwells safely and beholds God's glory and beauty. The sinner dwells in torment and fear. But as we saw in Isaiah 45, the righteous man's righteousness and strength and justification is not in himself, but in God.

God hides Himself in part for our preservation. But that is only part of the story. Those who do have this righteousness of God...those who are in Christ are being fashioned into His image and likeness. This is - and must be - all His work. That this is so should be clear from Isaiah 45. The terms are strong and emphatic that the Lord is working and doing His will. He is making for Himself a people for His glory - calling out a people for His name. And the glimpses we have been afforded of men who saw God should be enough to reason clearly that He hides Himself for - among other things - our preservation. And those in whom He is working, there is being formed a character and likeness which is not their own. They are not fashioning themselves but God is doing it.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Philippians 3:20-21

When we reject evil and cling to good, we may think we are doing the Lord a service, but if we take a look at the bigger picture, it is really Him doing a great work through us. For if it is not His work, then who is the Creator?

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3

When we enter into His presence, if He has done the work then we will remain and glory in Him. If we are not a new Creation in Christ, then all that is done is our own work and we will not be able to stand - nor will we want to be anywhere near Him.

If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

Job 14:14-15