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When God Is Silent

“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him…” (Genesis 13:14)

It is an age-old question: Why does God seem to speak to some people, but not to others? Why is it that there are times when we can clearly hear the voice of the Lord speaking to us, and at other times it seems that He remains silent for long periods of time? There are many answers to these questions, more than a few of them are entirely beyond what the Lord has chosen to reveal to us. But as we examine the lives of some of the people we meet in the Bible, we can begin to understand at least one reason why this happens.

In Genesis 13:14, the Lord speaks again to Abraham. This is the first instance that we read of God speaking to Abraham since before his journey into Egypt and back, when he first came to Shechem (Genesis 12:6). We have no record of God appearing to or speaking to Abraham from the time that he first entered into Canaan until now. Why was God silent to him during this time?

First of all, as we saw before, Abraham was out of the will of God during his sojourn in Egypt. We simply cannot have fellowship with the Lord when we are out of His will. We still belong to God, but we cannot enjoy fellowship with Him when we are living outside of His will. Second, the phrase, “After that Lot was separated from him” is very significant. God never instructed Abraham to bring Lot along with him in the first place, but told him to get away from his kindred (Genesis 12:1). It is true that the last time God spoke to him at Shechem, Lot was with him; but now the Lord waits until Abraham fulfills every aspect of His commands before He appears to him again. The first time God told him what He intended to do for Abraham, now He is ready to bring it to pass. Before that could happen, Abraham had to respond to what God had instructed him earlier.

Until we obey what God has already told us to do, we will not likely hear anything else from Him. Until we respond to the last thing that He has said to us, we will not likely hear Him speak to us again. If you have failed to hear the voice of God for a long period of time, ask yourself: did you listen to what He said to you last time He spoke? If not, then He might be waiting for you to respond to that before He tells you anything else. Just as God waited for Abraham to separate himself from Lot before He revealed anything else about Himself to him, He waits for us to obey His previous Words to us before He tells us anything new. Until we do that, then the Lord will remain silent to us.

For those who have yet to put their faith in Jesus Christ, there is but one Message that God has for you:

“He that believeth on [Me] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

Until you respond to that, God has nothing else to say to you. Our access to God, to either speak to Him or hear from Him, is shut up at the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is no other Door through which we may come unto God and there is no other Word that He has for us until we respond to that.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 3, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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4 responses

  1. Loren,

    Yes, I can see what you’re saying and think it is true in many instances with God’s children — especially like at the time when King Saul had God’s Spirit leave him….. But, then I wonder about times when God warned Nebuchadnezzar in a dream….. As far as we know, he was a heathen whom God used to accomplish His purposes…… Then, there was Pilate’s wife, who had a dream about Jesus’ innocence in Matthew 27:19….. She was most likely a Roman like her husband.

    I agree that God will be silent to His children who leave Him first….. But, God also uses His messages to perform His will and warning in many different situations….. There are many passages that tell us that when we turn to God, He will most certainly turn to us in compassion, forgiveness, and love….. And that is probably the way it was in Abraham’s life journey….. In this world, it is absolutely vital that we constantly keep on turning back to our Lord….. We get sidetracked much more easily than we care to think about.

    All of this kind of struggling will be over when we finally reach our heavenly home….. Then we will have the eternal peace of always being near our God and Savior….. Here that’s hard to fully imagine.

    Margaret

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  2. Thanks for sharing your comments, Margaret!

    You are absolutely right, we do have several examples in Scripture of God speaking even to heathens and pagans for the fulfillment of His will. But what is the purpose for which He speaks to them and what is the result in their own lives? Do they come to know Him better? Do they come to trust Him and put their faith in Him? Do they come to a saving knowledge of Who He is?

    Nebuchadnezzar indeed dreamed a dream that came from God Almighty. When Daniel correctly interpreted it, what did Nebuchadnezzar do? He worshiped Daniel (Daniel 2:46)! He recognized that “Daniel’s God” was a superior god and a “Revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47), but he really had no insight into Who God really is. The very next thing we see him doing, in fact, is commanding his people to worship the golden statue (Daniel 3:1-7)! It was not until God caused him to be driven out from his kingdom and to live like a wild animal that Nebuchadnezzar came to understand Who God truly is (Daniel 4:34-37).

    God does speak to even those who do not believe in Him, particularly those in positions of power, for the accomplishing of His Divine purposes. I believe that He does so even today. He communicates with them, even when they fail to recognize His voice, but does this really benefit them personally? Until a person responds to the calling of the Lord Jesus Christ to come to Him, He will not receive any further insight into the nature of God. He will know absolutely nothing about the God of Heaven until he comes to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The Spirit of God has spoken to every single person, believers and unbelievers alike. He has spoken through the Person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2). Whether a person recognizes Him speaking or not, the will of God will still be accomplished. If that means that the Lord causes atheistic world leaders to “dream dreams” and have “visions”, then He certainly may choose to do so. But until they respond to the clear voice of the Lord Jesus Christ calling them unto Himself, then they will receive nothing in their own lives from God, nor will they truly know Him.

    Great observations in your comment, thanks!

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  3. Loren,

    Exactly right on….. God uses people to do His bidding, even though they are unbelievers….. And, there is no evidence we are aware of that any of these unbelievers ever came to accept God as their Savior….. They might have recognized Him as a great power of some sort, but their recognition might have been more influenced by their heathen backgrounds than on the truth.

    It is a most wondrous thing that God speaks to all of us, whether or not we recognize Him….. And, it is also sad that our Lord can speak to people who claim to be Christian, but even they do not recognize Him….. That makes me even think of how Jesus, who is “God with us”, preached to all sorts of people, but many did not believe in Him….. It’s hard to fathom people not believing God when He comes to us in person….. But, it happens all the time.

    Our pride takes hold of us and we refuse to humble ourselves before His almighty power and gentle touch….. And, when God resorts to punishments, people tend to complain and rebel more.

    It’s such a personal one-on-one with God, that it remains a mystery to us….. And that doesn’t matter, because God knows those who are His own….. We can only praise God for His patience and faithfulness when we lack understanding.

    Thank you for the added references….. They are all good things to keep in mind as we marvel over God’s wisdom and power.

    Margaret

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  4. This post sure is thought provoking and one that every single Christian can relate to. I also completely agree with you that when a Christian has sin, it breaks fellowship (not standing). At other times, there may be reasons that have nothing to do with sin. Maybe He wants us to wait on Him. Then there are things that happen that we may not know about even though God is COMPLETELY in control. David had to wait because of the massive fight between the angel and Satan and then the Michael had to show up so the angel could get through. I’m not saying that is happening to us but what I’m saying is that there may be things that we don’t know about. Sometimes He answers a prayer that we would have asked but didn’t even ask for for whatever reason but He answered because it’s in our best interest.

    But certainly disobedience or sin will lead to a break in fellowship and we won’t hear from Him. And maybe He’s waiting for us to finally get into the right position so that He we are in the position to be able to hear from Him. I think many of the silent times, we can figure it out only AFTER that silence is over.

    I read this post a few hours ago and was thinking about it. It’s a great post and sure got me thinking :)

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