Source: Silence and Sovereign Sounds
By: Brian G. Chilton | June 25, 2018
During a class on Paul, Dr. Leo Percer noted how people often bombard themselves with noise to keep from hearing the voice of God. As I began thinking about Percer’s statements, I found him to be absolutely right. Some will say, “But if God speaks, everyone will know it.” While that is true to a degree, one must realize that God does not always speak to a person with thunder, lightning, and booms from heaven. More times than not, God speaks to a person in a still, small voice. How ironic! The greatest power in heaven speaks with sweet simplicity. Note three ways how silence helped the prophet Elijah to hear God’s voice more clearly.
Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acknowledgement of the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:9-13). I wish I had the voice of Adrian Rodgers, booming from the depths of a rich, clear, bass voice, a voice that could be heard without a microphone. I am cursed with a soft-spoken voice, one that requires a microphone so that the harder-of-hearing are able to understand what is said. People often associate deep, rich voices with power and authority. While it is true that God sometimes speaks with a thundering voice that roars likened to the voluminous rushing of water down a mighty river (Rev. 1:15), at other times God’s voice is likened to a softly spoken whisper bringing peace and comfort to a troubled soul.
The latter was the case for one prophet named Elijah. Elijah was troubled, as we shall soon see. God directed him to the wilderness, away from the sounds of the city. Elijah was to climb a mountain and wait of God to speak to him. A mighty wind came through, perhaps something comparable to a tornado, but God was not in the wind. Then, an earthquake occurred that shook the feet of the prophet and everything around him, but God was not in the earthquake. A fire then broke out on the mountain, but God was not in the fire. At this point, I think I would second guess whether I should be on the mountain, but not Elijah. He waited for the Lord. Then, God came to Elijah in a soft whisper. Elijah acknowledged the soft-spoken nature of God’s voice.
The trouble with being hyper-busy is that we do not take the time to acknowledge God’s voice. Perhaps that is the reason why some people stay as busy as they do. As Percer said, “When we bombard our lives with noise, we keep ourselves from realizing that Someone else is there.”
Silence Allows Us to Focus our Attention on the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:3-4). Going back to verses 3-4 of the passage, one will note that Elijah was frightened and depressed. Elijah had just victoriously defeated the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. If Las Vegas had existed then, Elijah would have been called a strong underdog. Yet, Elijah was victorious! God has shown his power through the prophet! The false prophets were met with destruction. Elijah had been victorious, but his celebration was short lived. Ahab and Jezebel wanted his head. Elijah had overturned the political focus on Baal. History has taught us that standing opposed to a ruling political power can be hazardous to one’s health.
Elijah was afraid. This prophet who boldly stood in Yahweh’s name was frightened. He was depressed and suicidal. He wanted God to take his life (19:4). Yet, God told him that he needed to go to the mountain where he would meet the prophet. Elijah needed to get away from the sounds of the city and focus his attention not on his fears but on the Sovereign God.
How do we attempt to solve our depression and problems? Some will try to bombard themselves with entertainment, digging one’s nose deeper into the screen of a tablet, a phone, or the television connected to a gaming system. Others try to solve their problems with the bottle. Others still try to solve their issues with the needle or joint. More likely, people will drown themselves in noise and busyness. Yet, the real solution is to take time with God. Take time to be alone with God. You may find that if you take away all the distractions of life that you will hear God most clearly.
Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acceptance to the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:14-18). Elijah heard from God and he had a clear direction on how he must proceed. Elijah was about to anoint future kings and future prophets. Elijah’s fears subsided. He focused on God. He didn’t focus on his problems, on his presuppositions, or on his station in life. He focused on God and accepted what God had him to do.
Silence allows us to put things into proper perspective. We can hear from God and direct our attention to do what God would have us do. When we are immersed with God’s Holy Spirit and directed to a particular task, we may find that we will have clearer direction than we ever could imagine. A pastor friend of mine will take annual hikes on the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has told me numerous times that he has a greater sense of direction from God when he returns.
Let me close with this. In a loud and busy world, it is difficult to settle in with silence. When I was at Liberty University, I took some time to read in the Jerry Falwell Library on campus. The library has three sections: the regular section where people can talk normally, the quiet section where people are allowed to only whisper, and the deep quiet section where no one is allowed to make any noise at all. I chose to read in the deep quiet section. To my surprise, it took me ten to fifteen minutes to be able to focus on the book I was reading because I was not used to that level of silence! Perhaps, we would be much better off if we lived quieter lives—lives not so much that desire to be seen, but to see; lives that desire not so much to speak, but to listen; and lives that no so much desire to be in the limelight, but rather in the background. It is far better to be in shadows of the Sovereign God than in the spotlight of self.
Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.
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