The Quiet Sensitive God
19th May 2011, hej
1) Hearing God in sound of Silence
People have heard of the God of Israel being described as Jealous, they have read that his voice may thunder, but it seems people may miss that Yahweh Elohim loves quiet in his dwelling.
We are so assaulted by noise, most of us today feel uncomfortable with the sound of silence, and silence has a sound. In the sound of silence we will hear evidence of the wind. The word for wind in Hebrew is ruach. It is the same word for the spirit of Yahweh. To Hebrews the wind was due to the work of energy of Yahweh and they must have known. In silence we can hear the work of the spirit of Yahweh Elohim.
Hearing in the quiet of the day
In the record of the very first interaction of Yahweh Elohim with humans, it was not while they were busy during the day that he came to them, but with the cooling evening breeze, with his ruach.
And they heard the voice of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool-breeze ruach of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God amongst the trees of the garden. (Gen 3:8)
The presence of Yahweh Elohim comes in the quiet of the day. Before dusk, often the wind drops, to a zephyr and the natural world is still, and softer sounds such as the voice of Yahweh Elohim will carry further.
But there is more evidence that Yahweh loves quiet and that he speaks in the quiet. Elihu speaks of at night when the world seems still and everyone is sleeping of feeling the ruarch then silence – then in the silence hearing a voice.
Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
Then a spirit (ruarch) passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence,
and I heard a voice, saying,
Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his messengers he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom. (Job 4:12-21)
We need like Elihu to sit in silence to ponder such a question as Elihu was asked. To consider the excellency in us that goes away and that our houses are only dust.
When Yahweh speaks it is sometimes a Hebrew word 'na'am' which means to whisper, 'n'um' the oracle. The first and most powerful occurrence is when Abraham, in silence on a hill top, in obedience offers Isaac, and is given a great promise.
“By myself have I sworn,” whispered the LORD, “for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: (Genesis 22:16).
When the Israelites murmured, Moses was told to his ear,
“Say unto them, As truly as I live, whispered the LORD, “as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you” (Numbers 14:28)
Balaam uses the word when speaking of his prophecy. Most occurrences of the word are in the prophets. Isaiah uses it to describe how Yahweh makes the great promise to us,
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, whispered the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. (Isaiah 66:22)
Other references give a sense of the intimacy,
“If thou wilt return, O Israel,” whispered the LORD, “return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.” (Jeremiah 4:1)
“And it shall be at that day,” whispered the LORD, “that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.” (Hosea 2:16)
“Therefore say thou unto them, 'Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, whispered the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you', saith the LORD of hosts.”
“I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel?” whispered the LORD. (Amos 2:11)
“I have loved you,” saith the LORD. “Yet ye say, 'Wherein hast thou loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother? whispered the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, (Malachi 1:2)
There is an interesting contrast. The prophets spoke loudly words which were whispered to them.
Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried called out loudly, saying, Thus says the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, whispered the LORD. (Zechariah 1:3-4)
Elijah flees to the silent wilderness, where an angel speaks to him. From there he is strengthened to go to Mt Horeb where, in the quiet after the noise of strong wind and earthquake, he hears a still small voice.
The sense of relationship is very strongly marked in the words of the unnamed man of God to Eli, which it seems in context was witnessed by the child Samuel.
Wherefore the LORD God of Israel whispered, “I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD whispered, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1Samuel 2:30)
Samuel first heard the word of Yahweh in the silent temple at night as he was about to sleep.
2) Quiet Worship
The first item of Yahweh's worship, the altar, was to be of earth or unhewn stones.
An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. (Exodus 20:24-25)
It is very strong language to say that the use of a tool would pollute it. Any tool on stone creates the sharp ringing of noise. An earth altar, or only of stacked unhewn stones is made quietly. It also speaks of an appearance, as to carve the stone is to put human impressions onto it.
Solomon, whose name means peaceful, knew this principle and no sound was heard building the temple. An entire building built in silence!
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building. (1Kings 6:7)
As David set aside metal for joining, logically if no hammer was used, they were pin or peg connections and not modern style nails which are hammered in.
And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails (Hebrew 'pegs') for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight; (1Chron. 22:3)
Interestingly, though Yahweh loves silence, he reserves the right to himself to make a lot of noise,
Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? (Jer. 23:29)
In symbol in our service of Yahweh, we may let Yahweh's words break all the rocks. The implication also is that Yahweh desires the place of worship to be one of a quiet relationship not of thundering judgement.
The Temple Quiet
This principle of silence is none more strikingly put,
But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habbakuk 2:20)
Reverence and awe often go with silence, as in awe people are often dumfounded. In ancient times of respect awestruck people would automatically bow. Moses though granted great privilege, as no other than our Lord has been granted, when faced with the Glory of Yahweh Elohim
Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. (Exodus 34:8)
In the silence of awe there comes learnt and right words of praise in unity,
And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (2Ch 7:3)
In the silence of the vision when Ezekiel sees the Glory, he heard wonderful things,
Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory. And the sound of the cherubims' wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh. (Ezekiel 10:4-5)
The sound of wings beating the air can only be heard in the quiet. The whole temple in the vision was quiet, so quiet the wings could be heard 'even to the outer court'. Each wing type in creation has its own sound, with the wings of one type of dove famously making a distinctive bell-like sound.
The Temple in reality was a very quiet place, but not totally silent. There was designed into the temple the sound of little gold bells to mark every movement of the high priest,
And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not. (Exodus. 28:33-35)
The bells were needed because the Glory that dwelt there, the Glory that Moses saw the hind parts of, is too strong for flesh to survive its rays, so it needs to be enfolded in cloud. If the people were outside too, in the silence of respect, they would hear the high priest as he made the offering on their behalf. If they were noisy they would not hear it. Think of it: a city in silence on the Day of Atonement, and the people hearing the faint sound of gold tinkling bells.
Such a scene occurred also when Zacharias heard the angel speak of the birth of John the Baptist when in the temple,
And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. (Luke 1:21-22)
With silence, there is miracle.
3) Silence in our Lives
Zacharias could not speak. But also sometimes it is wise not to speak.
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. (Amos 5:13)
When the fools and wicked rule they create disturbance and only enforce quiet by oppression and no room for the wise voice to be heard.
The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. (Isaiah 14:5-7)
In the future, Yahweh breaks the evil, and not only may the prudent speak but then they sing – with joy!
Jeremiah spoke in an evil time. He tried to keep silence but could not,
Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. (Jeremiah 20:9)
Others also were quiet, including the Seraiah. But Seraiah was sent to speak.
The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince. So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, even all these words that are written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words; Then shalt thou say, O LORD, thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 51:59-64)
The word for 'quiet' implies, peaceful, still, or a prince of consolation. Seraiah was not silent, but quiet. Seraiah speaks in the quiet the words delivered to Jeremiah. He read aloud the words, or caused Jeremiah's words to be heard in Babylon. The people would have had to be quiet to hear the words read by Seraiah
The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. (Ecc 9:17)
Waiting in silence
There may have been more such as Seraiah waiting in quiet in an evil age,
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. (Lamentations 3:24-28)
This is Jeremiah. This is also the Lord Y'shua who did not answer back his evil accusers. It does not mean that they do not speak out. Both did speak out, and both suffered for it. It means that they do not force their point politically and push their weight about in the streets, rather that they wait for Yahweh's time. The time when Yahweh will work and produce peace,
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; (Isaiah 32:17-18)
Jerusalem the antithesis of peace, being subject to war, shall then be peaceful as the name means,
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. (Isaiah 33:20)
Building a quiet temple in our lives
Just as Solomon built a quiet temple so are we to do, in analogy, in our lives. We are building a spiritual temple (Ephesians 2:21). It appears that it is not easy to be quiet, but that we might need to study the word of God to do so,
And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. (1Thess. 4:10-12)
It might not be easy also to have a peaceable life as a ruler in authority may hinder it.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (1Timothy 2:1-3)
The implication is that by the peace in our lives given rulers ought not be taken for granted. In a Greek culture where women could dominate, Paul gives the women advice that they seek quiet.
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (1Peter 3:1-4)
The word for quiet, according to Strong's, seems to be from 'steadfast' and means 'still'. This is not just advice to women, as the meek and steadfast spirit belongs to the King who is to come. Peter might be remembering what Y'shua said to the disciples when speaking after another meek man, John the Baptist was put in prison,
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
Quiet Rest is Not Now
For the moment the earth is noisy before Yahweh. For many long years Yahweh has kept silence and not spoken except in the still quiet of the printed word, as he said, “not by power and not by might, but by my spirit” (Zech. 4:6) but,
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. (Psalm 50:3).
But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou should take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hate instruction, and cast my words behind thee. When thou saw a thief, then thou consented with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou give thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frames deceit. Thou sit and speak against thy brother; thou slander thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done,
and I kept silence;
thou thought that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offerers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:16-23)
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