This morning the silence in my house is golden. With two demanding dogs, two chatty teenagers, a husband who plans on doing "plumbing work" today, and multiple electronic gadgets that seem to pop on at a moment's notice, silence is rare here, especially during the holidays. So I enjoyed it last night when everyone else was out of the house and I'm soaking it in now while everyone is still asleep.
But silence isn't always a good thing.
After God had warned His people through the prophets for centuries, they still remained independent and defiant. Oh sure, they would return to Him with their heads hung low from time to time, especially when the oppression from their captors became unbearable. But their hearts remained fickle, uncommitted, and cold toward God. Still, God continued to tell His people not only of the impending judgment, but also of a New Covenant that would be ushered in by Jesus the Messiah. He warned them of His wrath while assuring them of His love. That's the kind of God we have...patient, merciful, compassionate.
But while God had spoken passionately to His people for centuries through chosen messengers, there came a day when He chose to speak no more. I can understand that, can't you? I've had round and round discussions with my children where I tried to communicate to them that I was for them, that I knew best (because I really did), that I loved them and therefore must say "no", only to have them continue to go round and round with me, insisting on having things their way. Finally, disappointed that I wasn't getting through, frustrated that they couldn't see how much I loved them, and tired of saying the same things over and over.... I just stopped. Later we might pick up the conversation again or the consequences of our discussion would simply fall into place, but at that moment I had no more to say.
And so God said no more through prophets or messengers. There was a holy silence that echoed through the land. Perhaps the people even enjoyed that silence for a while. Scripture indicates they didn't generally respond all that well to the prophets' messages, so maybe they relished their absence at first.
But I know from experience that eventually that silence grew wearisome and caused an ache in their souls. I know because I've endured the silence from a loved one and longed for it to end. I'm sure you have as well. And God is not just any friend or family member; He is the lover of our souls, the sustainer of the breath we breathe. We need to hear from Him.
I realize yesterday's journey to Bethlehem took us down a strikingly similar route, but I am drawn again today to consider those in our world who have yet to hear about Jesus. For them the world must be one noisy place that echos with the silence of God. Not that He isn't speaking to them through the majesty and wonder of His creation and His involvement in this world, but so many have yet to hear a spoken message about His promise of a Savior and the fulfillment of that pledge. For those who haven't heard the name Jesus, life is very similar to how it must of been during those 400 years between the books of Malachi and the gospels. Aching silence.
Take just a moment. Say that name . "Jesus." Say it again. "Jesus." What a precious name. How many times each week do you read or hear that name (spoken with reverence)? Many, many times I am sure, if you so desire. But there are millions and millions of people in our world, some in our own country, who have never even heard that precious name. They are still living in the silence.
Will you and I help break that deafening silence for them? Will we speak the name that God finally introduced to the world 400 years after He had stopped talking? It's Christmas and our culture, ruled by the prince of darkness, would have us keep silent about the very reason for this remarkable season. Let's not do that. Let's break the silence.
" Jesus. "
Labels: Christmas, Journey to Bethlehem