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August 28, 2005

Silence. Our modern world is afraid of it. Everywhere we go we hear sound – loud or muted. We walk in malls alive with piped in music or filled with the sounds of people milling about, walking, talking and getting on with the commerce of life. More and more we see people wired with gadgets stuck to their ears. Our homes have TV sets on even when there’s no one watching – we are comforted by sounds that let us know we are not alone – that there is a human being somewhere with which we are connected merely by the presence of sound, or voice, or noise. We have not learned how to deal with being alone in silence. Let me speak this morning about a kind of silence that confuses, baffles, triggers questions, and tries our faith. It is the sound of a silence which causes a man to look at the heavens and makes him wonder, “Is there really someone there who cares?” Let me tell you the stories of several men who experienced this kind of silence – the silence of God. There are times in our walk with God that the heavens are silent, our prayers don’t get answered, and it seems like God is nowhere to be found, or is not interested in us at all. The Lord has put in my heart to speak to you of times like those and to encourage you to pursue Him. There was a time when I was a young Christian that I would question God’s love and commitment to me whenever I don’t get any answers to prayer or when things don’t go the way I dream they would go. I would often give God a blueprint and tell Him, “I want this done, and this, and this.” Those times when God was silent were the times when it seemed like all sense of security and safety was gone and I felt that sense of being abandoned by God.

But when envoys were sent by the rules of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land. and he made treasuries for his silver and gold and for his precious stones. new wine and oil. He succeeded in everything he undertook. spices. He constructed an engineering marvel by building a 322 meter water tunnel that until now is visited by many who go to Israel. Hezekiah was one of the good kings of Judah. His is a success story. 1. He experienced God’s miraculous deliverance of the nation from the invasion led by Sennacherib. God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. 32:20-21 King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. HEZEKIAH 2 Chronicles 32:31 Hezekiah had very great riches and honor. He also made buildings to store the harvest of grain. He restored the priesthood.As someone once said. A. shields and all kinds of valuables. 4. 3. It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. 2 Chron. “These are times that try men’s souls. king of Assyria. 2. And the Lord sent an angel who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in . He became king at the age of 25 and reigned 29 years. and he made stalls for various kinds of cattle and pens for the flocks. He repaired and cleansed the temple of the Lord. 5. He built villages and acquired great numbers of flocks and herds.” And that saying is true. the ministry of the Levites and led the people in repentance before God. for God had given him great riches.

Passing up this God-given opportunity to publish to the up-and-coming world power his reforms and revivals. sent letters and a present to Hezekiah. he was a very successful man. By doing this. There was nothing in his house that Hezekiah did not show them. Then. He experience miraculous deliverance from a terminal illness. God left Hezekiah to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. reprimanded Hezekiah's lack of faith. for they too wanted to defeat Assyria. But Hezekiah. And Hezekiah was attentive to them and showed them all the house of his treasures – the silver and the gold. Babylon would abuse Hezekiah's descendents — and that Hezekiah. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. The test is narrated in 2 Kings 20:12-13 At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan. Their intention was apparently to find out how Hezekiah's God had defeated Assyria. telling him that in generations to come. peace and prosperity would continue — and he didn't care about future generations. Diplomats from Babylon brought from their king a message of congratulations on Hezekiah's recovery from sickness.the camp of the Assyrian king. and he now trusted his military and economic strength. his prayers and the LORD's answers. foreseeing Babylon's rise. took this as a good sign that during his own lifetime. The prophet Isaiah. king of Babylon. he demonstrated that his trust in the LORD had deteriorated. Isaiah 38:1-8 7. having grown selfish. for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. the spices and precious ointment and all his armory – all that was found among his treasures. by his faithless influence on the diplomats. Hezekiah instead showed them his armories and treasuries. As a proof that he was not going to die. God turned back the clock 15 degrees. 6. helped spur their evil cause. Outwardly. .

And He . so that you may believe. And the journey took two additional days.” Jesus had been speaking of his death but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. he boasted in himself. if you had only been here…” And yet here we see the heart of our Lord upon seeing Mary and Martha’s evident grief. “Therefore when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her weeping. His heart had become proud because of all his achievements and victories. These were Lazarus’ sisters. Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick. if you had been here. B. “Lord. if he sleeps.” His disciples replied. By the time He got there. Lazarus had been dead four days. “Lord. He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. God’s silence and seeming distance exposed the contents of Hezekiah’s heart.” John 11:21. We see both Martha and Mary expressing their disappointment in Jesus’ failure to show up when they needed him. So then he told them plainly. he will get better. 32. Instead of boasting about what God had done. but I am going there to wake him up. …he went on to tell them. 11-15 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. he stayed where he was two more days. they frantically sent word to Jesus that their brother was sick. But let us go to him. Put yourself in Mary and Martha’s shoes. and for your sake I am glad I was not there. LAZARUS John 11:5-6. “Lazarus is dead. Jesus was a frequent visitor at their house. During Lazarus illness. Our Lord’s response: HE WAITED TWO MORE DAYS BEFORE GOING TO THEM.” We see here a man whom the Scriptures very plainly say that Jesus loved. How many times have we ourselves spoken those same words in disappointment over what seems like our Lord’s failure to respond to our cry? “Lord. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. my brother would not have died.Hezekiah failed the test.

come and see. 5. “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made an hedge around him. that there is none like him on the earth. a blameless and upright man.said. experiences that help us understand His ways. and that man was blameless and upright. God is good. 3. nor comprehend the purposes of God for us. He allows us to go through experiences that deepen our relationship with Him. grasp. 1. hundreds of oxen. and one who feared God and shunned evil.” Jesus wept. Does God care? Is He there? Does He know? In His love. “Lord. JOB Lastly. and around all that he has on every side? You . Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz. experiences that end in people giving glory to Him. one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said. experiences that make clear to us the laws of His kingdom. Job was a wealthy man. donkeys and had a very large household composed of servants. He had a happy family. He feared God and would often offer sacrifices to cleanse himself and his family of all sin. 2. “Have you considered my servant Job. C. He was considered one of the greatest people of the East. He is trustworthy. around his household. John11:33-36 Many times we react with deep disappointment because we do not understand. let us walk with a man named Job whose life became a battleground between God and Satan. whose name was Job. “Where have you laid him?” They said to him. God boasted about Job in presence of the angels. 4. “Then the Lord said to Satan. His love for Lazarus was exhibited for all to see. He owned thousands of sheep and camels.

But now stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will surely curse You to your face!” And the Lord said to Satan. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. we hear words spoken in his misery that we sometimes speak. “Behold. And all his children died when the house collapsed upon them from the blows of a mighty wind. and his possessions have increased in the land. blessed be the name of the Lord. This reduced Job to a pitiful figure who sat in the midst of the ashes of his grief. and he fell to the ground and worshiped. In one day. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb. “Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. God took pleasure in Job and continued to boast in him when the angels gathered once more.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. When Satan saw that his strategy to make Job fall did not work.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. Robbers stole his livelihood and killed his servants. Samples: . He lost his livestock. his servants. Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose. scraping at his wounds with a piece of pottery. and shaved his head. He struck Job with boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. and naked shall I return there. and his children. Calamity after calamity struck him. 2:10 Throughout Job’s story.have blessed the work of his hands. Job 1:6-12 Satan asked permission from God to test Job. all that he has is in your power. he once more asked permission from God to test Job. And yet we hear him say. Tragedy came upon this man Job. he lost everything. How did Job respond? He responded in worship. tore his robe. Fire from the sky consumed the sheep and their shepherds. And he said. only do not lay a hand on his person.

God desires truth in the inner being – not only when things are going right but especially when things are going bad. The sense of isolation tempts us to respond according to human wisdom. I would find out what he would answer me.” 30:20 Yes. like an infant who never saw the light of day?” 3:12. “I cry out to you O God but you do not answer.” 10:2 Do we not also ask God. There are times when God’s silence is all we hear.” 21:6 “If only I knew where to find him. “I wish I have never been born? “I will say to God: Do not condemn me. if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.“Why did I not perish at birth and die as I came from the womb?” Or why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child. Can we boast about what God has done in . What then shall we learn from the experiences of these people whom God has set before us as object lessons that we may know what to do during times when God keeps silent? These are instructions in matters of the heart that we need to pay attention to. God’s silence exposes the intents and motives of our hearts. Job cries out. and consider what he would say. but tell me what charged you have against me. The pressure of trying to live according to our own standards or according to the expectations of men can lead us to act in a manner that we will later regret. “What sin have I committed against you that I am suffering this way?” “I am terrified.” 23:4-5 In despair. Hezekiah’s pride and failure to tell the Babylonian ambassadors about God’s miracle and power made him miss an opportunity to tell them about the God who cares enough to deliver men and nations from calamitous events. 1.16 Do we not say when we are in dire trouble.

We think God is silent because we fail to see the picture as God sees it. “This sickness will not end in death. Translated: Be filled with joy. God takes a risk when he allows tests and trials to come into our lives. He was buried. He wants to reveal himself to us through experiences that are hard to understand. He has . I have defeated the world for you. Mary and Martha were grieving and were very much disappointed in Him but without that experience they would never have learned the truth of the resurrection. Our present circumstances do not determine our future. No. It is God who determines our future. it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it. I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” Job 13:15 “But he knows the way that I take. His ways are perfect. it is very easy to agree to the slander of the enemy against God’s character. God’s silence seeks to show His greater glory. They turn away. Lazarus died. They get offended. His command: BE OF GOOD CHEER. In this world we shall have tribulation is fair warning from Jesus that things are not going to be easy. through good times and bad times. He wants to teach us.” John 11:4 There is nothing beyond his realm of control. yet will I trust him. God can appear to be very indifferent to our sufferings. Job’s testimony is this: “Though he slay me. Who was this Jesus? Was he a mere man? Lazarus resurrection showed them a different facet of the love of God. I will come forth as gold?” Job 23:10 People do become disappointed with God. Yes. God is in control. Yes.our lives? Can we tell others just how good he is and how he has delivered us from trouble? Or do we take the glory for ourselves and forget that without God we could not have done it? 2. or that Jesus really held power over life and death. in sickness and in health? 3. when he has tested me. God has our instruction in mind. Read the end of the book. Yes. Who is Jesus to you? Have you grown deeper in love with him because you have come to know him through thick and thin. As Jesus said regarding Lazarus’ sickness and death. Can God trust us to trust Him when we can’t understand what he’s doing? During those moments when God has seemed have abandoned us.

In the secret place of His tabernacle he shall hide me. I held him and would not let him go. Matt.” Psalm 27:5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion. God’s silence causes us to hunger for him and to passionately pursue Him. Do we desire the deeper things. and when you have shut your door. “Have you seen the one I love?” Scarcely had I passed by them. 6:6 When you pray. b. God has not planned any defeats for us. go into your room. D. the more precious treasure of loving him and knowing that we are loved by him. pray to your Father who is in the secret place and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. He shall set me high upon a rock. APPLICATION a.ordained victory for the upright. when I found the one I love.” How hungry are we for intimacy with him? Or do we only like him to provide us with “stuff” – material things that will fade and pass away. They are prayers that our hearts whisper and that only God can hear. I sought him but I did not find him. (Share about Andre) There is a kind of prayer which has no words. In time of God’s silence. find the way to the “secret place. in the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love. The watchmen who go about the city found me. As the bride sings in the Song of Solomon 3:1-4 By night in my bed I sought the one I love. “I will rise now. We wait for God to speak in worshipful . They are prayers spoken in silence.” I sought him but did not find him.” I said “and go about in the city. I said. We wait in silence.

2:13 Not only does he promise us that we would overcome. He also gives us the means to do so. c. Phil. HE IS AT WORK IN US TO WILL AND TO DO ACCORDING TO HIS GOOD PLEASURE. He loves us more than we can ever know. His mercies are new every morning. Make a decision to trust God even when you don’t understand. God is always looking to see what’s in our hearts – if we would obey him. God gives provision for us to be able to obey. 082805/mac .expectation. God is good. That is why we are not destroyed. As a child is comforted by the presence of its mother. His very presence in our lives is the assurance that we will be able to do what He requires. The end of it all is worship that honors God and expresses deep confidence that He is trustworthy. so a child of God is comforted by the presence of God. d.