Summary: We enjoy "Silent Night" at Christmas, but what if every night is silent? How do we endure quiet seasons of life when nothing is stirring . . . even God?
Pt. 1 – Silent Treatment
Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round your virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep heavenly peace,
Sleep heavenly peace!
Silent night, Holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories streams from heaven above
Heavenly hosts sing Allelujah
Christ the savior is born,
Christ the savior is born
Silent Night although one of the most popular (top 100) Christmas Songs of all time I am not sure it is really very accurate. Silent Night wasn't silent. Don't stylize the moment with white Christmas or holly hanging over a trough. Think about it only in the natural . . . sheep, cows, stable, full city, and on top of all that labor with no meds, and a baby. It wasn't silent in the natural. It wasn't silent in the supernatural. In fact, because it was the night that the savior of all mankind was being birthed into skin and as John would declare was "moving into our neighborhood, it was in fact one of, if not the loudest nights in history. No, this night was not silent. What was silent was the silence that took place before that night.
Text: For our Scripture reading this morning I want you to turn with me to the page between the Old Testament and New Testament. I want you to read with me what it says. NOTHING!!! There is no text. In fact, what we are actually hearing when you read the account of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, with their various levels of detail, is not about a silent night rather it is the account of God breaking of silence. You are stepping into the story after 400 years of constant, consistent and deafening silence. Think about that . . . 4 centuries . . . no Word . . . no divine interruption . . . no prophet . . . no "Thus sayeth the Lord" . . . nothing. God holds the record for any quiet game ever played. He is hands down undisputed, unchallenged King of the Silent Treatment!
Is it ironic to anyone else that the most powerful voice in the universe also seems to be the quietest and the hardest to hear?
God silence. We have glamorized and romanticized that night as a silent night. We love to sing about it and think about it in this manner! However, my problem is that when dealing with God it seems that one silent night often turns into silent nights (plural). And rather than entering an account of the interruption of silence for many of us we find ourselves not in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John with God visible and audible all over the place but instead we find ourselves the recipients of a silent treatment. We try to listen. We try to hear. We pray longer. We beg for an answer. We ask others to pray. And silence wraps around us until we fear that God is not only silent He is gone.
Anyone been seeking God for an answer and a response only to hear nothing for weeks now . . . months now . . . years now . . . even decades now? Silent nights!
So what must we know about this silent, hard to hear, God? What do we do when we can't hear?
1. Don't Confuse God's Silence with Absence.
For some reason it seems to me that we trust our ears more than we trust our eyes. So when we don't hear Him . . . regardless of what we see that should more than sufficiently reveal His presence . . . the silence drives us to assume that He is gone. And not only is He gone He doesn't care. The danger is that when He goes silent for any length of time our lack of hearing causes us to attempt to fill His role. So We try to silence the silence with a substitute. If we don't hear God, which means He is gone, we listen to Uncle So and So, we consult counselor negative pants, and anyone else that is loud. That is what Saul did remember? He couldn't hear God so instead of trusting God's presence in His silence Saul runs to a witch for a word. Some of you run into some witches with words too!
Go back before the 400 year silence and what you discover is that right before He falls silent God speaks clearly about His love for His people! Look in:
A Message. God’s Word to Israel through Malachi: God said, “I love you.”You replied, “Really? How have you loved us?”“Look at history” this is God’s answer. “Look at how differently I’ve treated you, Jacob, from Esau: I loved Jacob and hated Esau. I reduced pretentious Esau to a molehill, turned his whole country into a ghost town.” When Edom Esau said, “We’ve been knocked down, but we’ll get up and start over, good as new,” God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “Just try it and see how far you get. When I knock you down, you stay down. People will take one look at you and say, ‘Land of Evil!’ and ‘the God-cursed tribe!’ “Yes, take a good look. Then you’ll see how faithfully I’ve loved you and you’ll want even more, saying, ‘May God be even greater, beyond the borders of Israel!’