Saturday, July 02, 2011

God is Not Silent

I’ve been pondering on something recently. I hear people talking about what to do when God is silent. The more I’ve thought on this, the more I am convinced that God is NOT silent. Hebrews 1:1 makes it clear that God has spoken: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Notice, in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. We, the redeemed of the Lord who are saved by the blood of Christ Jesus, are not left scrambling in the dark to hear our God. We have His word. There have been times in history when the common people did not have the word of God readily available, and probably would have been unable to read it if it were, and had to trust what the priests told them about it. We are not in that situation. We have God’s word and can read it and study it and hear from Him what His will is if we but have ears to hear, eyes to see, hearts to accept it.

I have heard people take the prophecy from Amos 8:11 which says, “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declared the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land - not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” They take this passage and apply it to what they see happening in our churches today. They say we are in a famine of hearing the word of the Lord when they perceive things as going badly in the church. I am not sure this is a good understanding of this verse. This was fulfilled when the people of Israel were scattered - first by captivity by the Assyrians (the Northern Kingdom) and then by the Babylonians later (the Southern Kingdom). This was in judgment for their national sin of not worshiping God wholeheartedly and repeatedly bowing before the idolatry of the surrounding nations. Following the last of the prophets, God was silent for hundreds of years until He broke that silence when He Himself, Immanuel - God With Us, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ came and made the final sacrifice that would redeem His people to Himself.

I believe a more appropriate reading of what we see in American Christianity is not a ‘silence’ from God, but more what Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 3:1-7: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” and 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” I believe the reason it seems so hard to find good, solid Bible teaching in so many of our ‘evangelical’ churches anymore isn’t because “God is silent,” but because so many of us do not want to hear what He says, so we refuse to listen. Blunt, but there you have it. Too many people in our churches today are willfully ignorant of God’s word, spending more energy reading what other writers/teachers/bloggers/speakers/etc. are saying about the Bible and too little energy being like the Bereans and doing the hard work of digging in and searching the scriptures to see if what their itching ears are hearing is true.

So, what does someone mean when they say that God is silent to them today? I think we err, and err gravely when we equate a dryness or a lack of feeling or hurt feelings that seem very justified or a sense that someone has wronged us and we don’t seem to see justice in that with a silence on God’s part. I think we all face those dry times or times when we just don’t understand things that happen in life. It is in those times we must allow the dryness to drive us to His word and hang on and persevere through until we can find His joy, trusting in His absolute sovereignty and promise that He is working all things for His glory and to conform us to the image of Christ. He is faithful! He will complete what He has begun in us. We are too prone to seek after an emotional experience to confirm that God is speaking to us. We are too prone to look inward and get too self-focused. Just because I feel dry does not mean God is not speaking. Look at Elijah (1 Kings 19). He was feeling dry, alone, mistreated.....and God let him know that he was mistaken. There were yet 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Elijah was feeling dejected and depressed, but he was wrong in his estimation of the situation. We can struggle in just the same way. Feelings are real, but they are not always a true barometer of the big picture. We err when we think that God is silent because we do not ‘feel’ Him speaking to us. If you think about it, it is arrogant to think that we are owed some explanation for every perceived hurt or suffering we face.

So, no. God is not silent. When we are feeling hurt, or dry, or alone, or rejected, or depressed, or just distant....persevere! Get into the Word. Pray for wisdom to understand it. Keep on pressing on because Christ Jesus has made us His own! Pray for wisdom to reject lies and be girded and guided in the truth, and stand firm. Remember that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood. (Read and re-read Ephesians 6:10-18. Get that into your thinking daily.) God is faithful! Do NOT trust the feelings that lie and say He is silent. Do NOT focus on seeking after emotional confirmation always. God has spoken. Listen! Heed His word. The emotions may follow, but stand firm, beloved!

1 comment:

Kay said...

I love this post! : ) This is a big thing that I learned along the way. I've heard "God is always speaking" (Henry Blackaby..if I remember correctly...among others) and yet my experience wasn't matching up. So I had to decide how I was going to measure the truth. Against my experience or against the truth of God's word which says that His sheep will be able to hear His voice? I finally realized that the problem is always with me and that when God is silent, there is a problem in MY camp, not His because He is not silent.