December 14, 2015
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When God is Silent

By Dr. Dan Reinhardt

You’ve been praying earnestly about something … but there’s no answer.

You believe God promised you something … but it’s not happening.

You’ve exercised faith, acted in hope … but it’s not working out.

The silence of God puts a tension into one’s confidence in God. Thoughts cross your mind …

… Does God care?

… Does prayer make any difference?

… Maybe I’m alone.

The Christmas story speaks to this very issue.

Israel had promises from God that the Messiah was coming. The promises had been repeated over and over again through Israel’s history … but he had not come. Thousands of years of waiting. “How long, Lord? How long?” was a phrase oft repeated in Israel’s prayer book, the Psalms.

Psalm 13:2 might well put your feelings into a prayer, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

Advent sermons will often refer to the “400 years of silence” between Malachi and Matthew. Nothing from God for centuries. Actually, that’s not correct. True, we have no Scripture in our Protestant canon for those 400 years, but God was not inactive. The clue is given to us in Galatians 4:4, “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.”

There are two Greek words for “time.”

  • Chronos, which is sequential time, from which we get our 7010101-close-up-clockword chronology. Something you can measure on a clock or calendar.
  • Kairos, which means the right or opportune moment, a moment of indefinite time when chronos seems irrelevant, in which everything happens.

 

The “time” in Galatians 4:4 is chronos. Frankly, when I looked up the Greek on this verse, I was expecting Kairos – that defining moment when Jesus was born. But Paul was thinking about the chronology, this agonizing long wait and seeming “silence” of God.

When the right sequence of events had happened, at just the right chronology, God sent his Son.

This use of chronos time invites us to look back into the chronology of events to see what God was doing. Upon closer inspection we find that silence does not mean inactivity.

We can see God used three people groups to prepare the world to receive His Son:

  • The Jews. God used this people to proclaim two truths: torah-for-papers-1024x612
    • One God. In a world where everyone believed in many gods, Israel proclaimed, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
    • A Deliverer is coming, a Messiah. God would send this One who will make all the difference for the world.

 

  • The Greeks.This people group brought two major elements doric to the world:
    • A new way of thinking. The pursuit of Ultimate Truth; breaking out of Old World thinking by asking good questions, looking for new answers.
    • A universal language. When Alexander the Great conquered the entire known world in 12 years, he brought Greek as the common trade and learning language. For the first time since Babel, the world had a common language. Not long after, the Jews translated their Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. Now, for the first time ever, the Torah could be read by the entire world.

 

  • The Romans.They took over the world from the Greeks. RomansThey were not inventors of new things, but created structures and institutions around existing concepts. (In fact our parliamentary system has its roots in Roman structures.) There were two elements of Roman rule that transformed the world:
    • Pax Romana. Roman peace. Not that everything was naturally peaceful; no, Rome ruled the world with an iron fist and insisted on no rebellion or unrest anywhere. This brought about a most unusual experience on our planet – 200 years of no wars.
    • Roman road system. They built incredibly good roads all through the known world, some of which are still in use today. Roman citizens could travel the world – no passports required. Roman patrols kept the roads free of bandits.


When the right sequence of events had happened, at just the right chronology, God sent his Son.

His coming was truly a Kairos moment, a time when suddenly everything was happening. Angels, miraculous conception, more angels, signs in the stars, gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh — God entering the human experience. Wow!

At just the right time … the world was uniquely ready to receive the Son, and to disseminate that Good News to the entire world.

So … when God seems silent in your life, it does not mean he is inactive. He is waiting for just the right sequence of events, just the right circumstances to bring about his Kairos answer. Faith is trusting … in the silence.

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