Summary: Our faith is grounded in the historical person of Jesus Christ – He who united the divine and human, being truly God and truly man - And therefore the only one worthy of our allegiance and our worship
Each of the past several Novembers have set aside one Sunday where I was pastoring as a day of prayer for persecuted church. (Info on persecution around the world). This is a message to persecuted church. Situation to those to whom the “exhortation” originally addressed: second generation believers (won to Lord by those who had seen him).
Had been exposed to persecution:
looting of property -
even though had not yet been called on to die for their faith.
They were becoming frightened. Scared stiff. Risk was great. Some had begun to avoid contact with outsiders. Some had even withdrawn from the worship meetings altogether. The author feared there might be those who, if arrested, would publicly deny Christ to escape prison or death.
Spiritual progress at a standstill - danger of slipping backwards.
These persecuted, frightened believers were asking some hard questions:
did God know what was going on?
Did he care?
Only God could protect them - but where was he?
Why wasn’t he answering their prayers?
Why was he silent?
The letter arrived. Word was sent out. They gathered. And the reader began, bringing them face to face with words that would bring them encouragement in the midst of their troubles. Read Verses 1-4
God has spoken
Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, while listening to Stravinksy, had a vision. It was of a 19th century cathedral. In the vision Bergman wandered through the building, and finally came before a picture of Christ. Realizing it’s importance, Bergman said, speak to me! I will not leave this cathedral until you speak to me!
But of course the picture did not speak. That year he produced The Silence - a film about characters who despair of ever finding God.
If God had remained silent, we would be in a terrible darkness, desperate and without hope! But God has spoken - he has given us words of life, bathing us in the light of the revelation of himself, his ways, his love, his care! Words of life!
Bergman’s problem was that he was looking at the wrong picture. He needed to look into the Scripture, for there we discover the massive eloquence of God.
I. OUR GOD IS NOT SILENT (vs. 1)
God has spoken: In times past in a variety of ways:
More in view here than general revelation - through seeing the stars and considering the order of the universe. Talking about “special revelation.” Such things as:
Dreams and visions,
messengers human and messengers angelic,
thunder and lightning and a still small voice,
even through bushes that talked and donkeys that balked!
“Many times” = “many parts/portions.” OT = 39 books divided into various parts: law, history, poetry, prophecy.
In all of them, we see God is speaking! He is not silent, withdrawn, non-communicative. His desire and purpose is to communicate with us. He wants to connect with us!
God is not an idea to be thought about, or an experience to be sought - he is a person to be known. It is possible to know him, because he has spoken!
Isaiah 45:19 (LB) God says, “I publicly proclaim bold promises; I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner so that no on e can know what I mean.”
NIV: “I have not spoken in secret . . . I have not said . . . ‘seek me in vain’.”
And he has spoken in many portions, in many ways. If God had only spoken in one portion, in one way, and we couldn’t get it - we’d be very frustrated. But God has spoken in so many ways!
So if you have trouble grasping God’s words in Deuteronomy, you may hear him clearly in Psalms. If you don’t see the point clearly in Micah, you may still be moved by the message of Jonah.
If you don’t get the strange visions in Ezekiel and Daniel, you may be sustained by reading about Job’s faith is spite of his sufferings.
If the history of Israel confuses you, the practical points of living in Proverbs may make a lot of sense.
A portion that leaves you cold one day may excite you and move you on another day - as your situation continually changes.
The point is this: God has provided a lot of possibilities in the Old Testament for you to hear him. He is not withdrawn. He is not silent. He has spoken.
And now, the “new and improved” version has arrived! The old way God spoke was through prophets - now he has spoken in his Son!
Now not just communication in words, through messenger, but in person!
E.g.: Connie and I recently separated – for four and a half weeks, then for another three weeks – during that time eagerly checked the mailboxes for cards and letters. Also talked frequently on the phone. GOOD – but SUPERIOR is when we were reunited, can talk in person!