The Silence of God (7-23-17)

As I journey down the stream of my consciousness, I arrive to a somber memory involving my late, beautiful mother. The recollected image flashing in my mind’s eye is dominated by her motherly reaction more than the details of the actual event itself. Undeniably, this reaction on her behalf was not an unrighteous one since its memory reignites those feelings of guilt, shame, and sorrow upon my inner man. I stare at the screen of my memory bank and watch as her anger, laced with disappointment, is vividly displayed by her silence. A silence that spoke more loudly and penetrated more deeply than any verbal reprimand, that I am sure I preferred. The first thing that her silence shouts out to me is that whatever offense I had committed, sadly I had already done so multiple times. It also reveals to me how cruel and burdensome my obstinacy was for my mother’s heart to bear. However, because of the sting I feel in my consciousness as a result of her silent treatment, I am able to learn of the powerful influence this wise method of discipline has had in my growth as a person. I know this to be true since “he who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding” (Proverbs 15:32). Verily, it is a blessing to reveal that this shameful memory of my forcing her to execute this method of punishment was enough for me to realize that a change was absolutely necessary if I did not want to “despise” my soul. The inspired writer to the Hebrews inquires, “we have had human fathers, who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live” (Hebrews 12:9)? This question posed by the scribe is irrefutably rhetorical and the purpose is to awaken and stimulate our moral conscience. Indeed, listening to and obeying the instructions of our earthly parents benefits us greatly, but it is unwise to ignore that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1a). For this reason, God consistently manifests Himself as the Father. Hence the important lesson provided by Solomon to his son, “do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12). Let us recall that the purpose of discipline is for gaining understanding and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Understanding that God disciplines man like a father to a son, sheds light on His love for His creation. However, this manifestation also teaches us that God, too, will hurt when man rebels against Him through disobedience. The inspired Moses validates this truth in his retelling of the events leading to the Great Flood. Moses writes that “the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6). Returning our minds to the image of a parent allows our understanding to broaden in the significance of God being “sorry.” Moses himself provides the answer of what this phrase means by stating that man’s sinful living made God grieve in His heart, like a parent who laments his child’s poor choices. The knowledge a parent has of where those choices lead, stirs compassion and pity especially if the son obstinately refuses to listen to any council. This is the same portrait Moses illustrates of Jehovah God. Although God’s compassion and lament for His creation choosing to live in sin is displayed with this anthropopathy (the application of human feelings to something that is not human), His righteousness is also made evident by His decision to punish man with destruction (Genesis 6:7-8). This exhibits that His love as a Father can also be observed in His decision of reproving His children’s wicked actions. Therefore it should come as no surprise that God, too, will use His silence as a form of discipline upon His creation. The prophet Jeremiah is ordered by Jehovah, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will no hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them” (Jeremiah 14:11-12). Israel’s repeated sin provoked God’s wrath to be manifested in such a severe way. The people of God had fallen prey to the false idea that His wrath could be appeased by offering him animals in sacrifices as gifts to Him. They had deceived themselves to believe that Jehovah God could be bought with their vain offerings. Because this was so, the Lord made it abundantly clear to His children that He wanted them to “bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me…they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:13-15). Sadly, God’s promise was fulfilled because the people did not cease to sin. God allowed the northern kingdom of Israel to be taken captive by Assyria, and the southern kingdom of Judah to be taken captive by Babylon. David’s inspired words were proven true when he declared, “they cried out, but there was none to save; even to the Lord, but He did not answer them” in reference to his enemies that God had handed over to his hand (Psalm 18:41). The king wrote this Psalm to show how “with a blameless man You will show Yourself pure; and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd” (Psalm 18:26). Even though he was Jehovah’s chosen king, he was not exempt from this danger. David declares that “He delivered me because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me” (Psalm 18:19b-20). Irrefutably, learning that the Father answered to the call of his faithful servant David and remained silent when the devious children of Israel called, is wise not to ignore or forget. This displays His nature as a righteous and loving Father toward His creation. It is a lethal error to mistake the silence of God for tolerance or acceptance of our sin. Holy Writ instead encourages us to keep in mind that as a Father, His silence is to remind us that “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Genesis 6:3). Our Father does not want the death of the sinner because this causes grief to His heart. Instead, He zealously exhorts us to be holy for “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

Comments are closed