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Breaking the Silence Between us and God

It is sometimes said that silence is golden. I guess it depends. Total lack of sound can be a welcome retreat from a world (or home) crowded with voices. If it lasts perhaps an hour, maybe an evening, maybe a weekend. Then yes, it can be something precious. But we all know the other painful side of silence in our ordinary lives. The cold war in a marriage, in a friendship, in a relationship of any sort. How do you know things are not right? Silence.

Beyond Ordinary Silence

Solitary confinement leaves you with nothing but your own voice – the punishment of silence. Then of course, there is death – the anguish of emptiness where once there was a voice. This is the dark side silence in our own ordinary lives. But there is a black hole of silence towards which all the other kinds are travelling; if you like, the home of silence. The silence of God.

There is a black hole of silence towards which all the other kinds are travelling: the silence of God.

The Silence of God in 1 Samuel

And that’s where our chapter begins. In 1 Samuel 3:1 we are told “the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” In other words God was silent. Remember, in those days there was no King. And even the priesthood under Eli had become totally corrupt. So God was going to judge Eli and his household. And that judgement began with silence.

That’s where our story begins. Thank God, praise God, it’s not where it ends. It begins in judgement but it ends in grace. It begins in silence, it ends with the word of the LORD. It is, if you like, a story of breaking the silence.

God Breaks His Silence

In 1 Samuel 3:4 “the LORD called to Samuel.” Even though in verse 7 we find that Samuel in fact did not know the Lord at that time God calls to him. And so 1 Sam 3:7 is the Gospel of God’s grace in seed form.

Finally verse 21 describes the return of word of the LORD to Israel through Samuel. And so we have moved from “The word of the LORD was rare” verse 1 to “The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to Samuel” verse 7. To “The LORD revealed himself to Samuel by the word of the LORD” verse 21. We’ve moved from silence through the call of the prophet to the Word of the LORD.

Words of Terror and Wonder

For Phineas and Hophni the word of God was one of terror because they had turned their backs on his sacrifice for atonement. It’s a word of Terror for us, if we do the same. There is a strong warning for us in the book of Hebrews. It says that if you reject Jesus, there is no other sacrifice for sin. There is only the fearful expectation of judgement.

There is a strong warning for us in the book of Hebrews. It says that if you reject Jesus, there is no other sacrifice for sin. There is only the fearful expectation of judgement.

If you reject God’s sacrifice of atonement there is nothing else. There is no other way back, only silence. That is a word of Terror for us especially during the days in which we are currently living –  just like it was for the House of Eli. But for Israel at large, there was a word of Wonder because God made a way to keep speaking. He made a way through his prophet Samuel. And that opened the way to say the thing he really wanted to say centuries later.

Hebrews 1:1 says “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” prophets like Samuel. “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” You see God speaks fully and finally through his Son. God says all he wants to say to us in Jesus. And Jesus is a word of Wonder in the first place, because he’s a word of Truth.

Speaking the Truth

In a world increasingly devoted to no such thing as truth, Jesus says, “I am the Truth!” He doesn’t say I am the truth for me. He doesn’t say I am the truth for some who may want to follow me in your own private lives. He says “I am the Truth!” It’s an absolute claim and it stands in total defiance to the spirit of our age. But the spirit of our age is not right – and we don’t have to play by those rules. We can’t. It’s not loving – people need to know the Truth, now more than ever, because the Truth will set them free.

God speaks His objective Truth through his created world, through his word – the Bible – and finally, fully, through his Son

God speaks His objective Truth through his created world, through his word – the Bible – and finally, fully, through his Son – the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross Jesus chose to take the word of Terror directed at the sinner. To take the deafening silence of God due to all of us – to take it all on himself. And so we hear him crying out in anguish: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” He bore the Terror of God-forsaken silence in our place.

 

Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Date Preached: 29 March 2020

Location: Christ Church Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

 

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