Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Seeking a Silent God

Lord, I need You. My life feels as though it’s in shambles. It seems nothing goes right. I need Your strength and peace right now. Why, Lord, why is this happening? Why me, Lord? Please, Lord, I need You. Where are You? Why don’t you answer me, God?

Have you ever prayed a similar prayer? You’re suffering and praying and nothing! You want relief and you want it now! Where is God’s answer for you?

There was a time God was silent and it took place during four hundred years between the recording of the Old and New Testaments. Major events shaped the world and influenced the New Testament populace. God’s hand or His divine providence remained at work during this Intertestamental Period, paving the way for God’s One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.

Zacharias (Zechariah) and Elizabeth lived during those years. They were an older couple, whose descendants came from the Levitical or priestly line, thus designating Zacharias a priest. 

As most people do, they desired to have children but Elizabeth was barren. Barrenness was a disgrace in Jewish society and a source of shame for Elizabeth. So they prayed and prayed and prayed. Nothing—no baby—no answer. Or so it seemed. 

The one thing the couple did NOT do is give up on God. They loved Him because He first loved them—He didn’t have to give them something in exchange for their love. They dismissed any notion of walking away from Him because of His silence.

Zacharias and Elizabeth may not have heard or even felt Him speaking to their hearts, but they had the written word. Scriptures handed down from generations of God’s people contained God’s promises. Throughout their lives they’d found Him to be true to His Word—they trusted Him. So they prayed and waited. In their waiting they prepared to meet their God by faithfully seeking and clinging to His promises. Even if God didn’t give them a baby, He promised Messiah would come to save them all.

The last word God had spoken to the Israelites was documented in Malachi 3:1, saying, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts (NASB). God’s spoken words were recorded for all to see. Zacharias and Elizabeth chose to believe God would fulfill His promises. They knew Him to be faithful and true. 

One day it happened—the chance of a lifetime. Zacharias was chosen from among thousands of priests throughout the land of Israel to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense in the Holy Place, next to the Holy of Holies. A multitude of people prayed during the hour of the offering of incense. The Sovereign Lord God worked quietly “behind the scenes” placing all the right people in the right locations at the right times. Because He is boundless and has a MUCH broader view than we can even imagine, He knows how to accomplish all the details!

The day Zacharias entered the temple, God broke His silence of four hundred years, while also giving an answer to the couple’s waiting. A representative for God (an angel) spoke to Zacharias, proclaiming Elizabeth would give birth to a son and His name would be John. Hear what the angel said to Zacharias, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:13-17 NASB)     

Can you imagine being the recipient of such news? Zacharias and Elizabeth would have a baby and their son would be the forerunner of the Lord. He would prepare people to meet their Messiah. Together Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed and prepared for the Lord, yet Zacharias wasn’t quite ready for the news of a birth to them in their old age. He questioned the angel about the unbelievable news. Because he doubted the message from the Lord, he was struck mute until the fulfillment of the promise. 

Picture Elizabeth’s surprise when Zacharias returned from the temple, unable to speak while excitedly giving signals to her about the news of their baby. In her sixth month of pregnancy (praise God), Elizabeth received even greater news when her cousin Mary visited, telling of her own pregnancy. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth discerned that the mother of her Lord stood before her. What complete joy from a faithful God!

When Elizabeth finally gave birth, neighbors and relatives came to celebrate. Discussion over the baby’s name was quelled when Zacharias wrote the name John on a tablet. Immediately his silence was broken. How they all rejoiced! God’s silence had been broken, Elizabeth had given birth to a baby boy named John, Zacharias could speak again, and Mary would soon give birth to the Messiah. Who could have imagined such workings of a seemingly silent God! 

Are you waiting on an answer from God? Do you feel as though parts of your life are barren and a disgrace? Are you daily praying for the return of a prodigal? Have your prayers only received silence from God? Do you trust the God of the ages who remains faithful and true? 

God may be silent, but don’t suppose His quietness means absence from your everyday. He is there, watching and waiting, as you continue to seek and prepare to meet Him. Make a point to read His word every day—get to know your Savior Jesus Christ. 

Instead of seeing your situation as a futile disgrace, take delight in the fact that God loves you and desires the very best for your life. Stand firm on His recorded promises as Zacharias and Elizabeth did. Use faith eyes to believe His hand is at work, even in His silence, and prepare to receive good news. Trust Him with your life!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

Thank you, Lord God, for faithfully working out all the details in my life. Even if I only hear silence when I pray, I know you are there. Keep me ever faithful to you! I believe—help my unbelief! In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

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