Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The silent treatment

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Amos 8:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "'Behold the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'that 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 shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.'" Amos 8:11-12

Getting the silent treatment can be devastating. When a person who is a family member or friend refuses to talk to you, it doesn't take a lot of insight to know something is wrong. Such silences  over long periods of time almost ensure a broken relationship, or at least one that needs work.

In Amos 8, God warns that unless Israel changes her ways, she will soon get the silent treatment from Him. Though there were times when Bible characters felt God was silent for no reason they understood (like Job  and David) most of the time God's silences came as a result of sin.

God was silent, for example, when King Saul (who had been rejected as king because of his disobedience and rebellion) sought Him, after the death of Samuel. Saul became so desperate to hear from God, he went to a medium to raise Samuel's spirit so he would inquire of God for him (1 Samuel 28).

The Bible gives reasons why God is silent. He is silent when:
- we accommodate sin in our lives -- we are "cosy with evil" - Message (Psalm 66:18).
- we spurn wisdom and the fear of God (Proverbs 1:25-28).
- we ignore the needs of the poor (Proverbs 21:13)
- we serve other gods (idols) (Isaiah 57:13;  Ezekiel 14:3).
- we refuse to believe (James 1:6-7)
- we ask with selfish motives (James 4:3)

In Amos, God gave the people fair warning. He told them the reasons He would stop responding to them. They did business on the Sabbath, their trade was dishonest, and they continued to oppress the poor.

God's silence is not an end in itself, though. It is one way God uses to get us to come back to Him. Notice how desperate the people are when God is silent: they "run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord." I don't think it's a coincidence that it is a famine that eventually drives the prodigal son back home (Luke 15:14-19).

If God seems uncommunicative, let's search our hearts to see if they hold reasons for God's apparent silence. May that silence drive us back to Him.

PRAYER: Dear God, when You are silent, help me to search my heart. Point out things that offend You. Please speak to me again. Amen.

MORE: "Psalm 13 (How Long O Lord)" by Brian Doerksen

This song reminds us that even Jesus got God's silent treatment (when He became sin for us).

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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