- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2005

The following are excerpts from a sermon by pastor Doug Ellis yesterday at the Orchard church.

What I find intriguing about Ezekiel is that through his life we can learn some things about God and understand God a little better. And if we know God better, our daily interaction with Him will grow in its vibrancy and significance.

Christians love to tell the stories of the wonderful ways in which God has spoken. A more reserved Christian might speak of impressions that are received through the reading of Scripture or a C.S. Lewis book; a more charismatic Christian might talk about leadings, visions, dreams, prophetic utterances and the ever-popular “still, small voice” like that which Elijah heard in 1 Kings 19:12.

We talk and talk and talk about God’s talking. Most of us really need to hear the words of the Lord. Silence from God, on the other hand, is not something that we talk much about.

Just as God is described as speaking, he is also sometimes described as silent or at least not very talkative. For example, when Samuel is called to the Lord’s service, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Samuel 3:1)

Through silence, you will find that God is actually leading us. Sometimes we end up in spiritual conditions where speech from God is just not absorbed, and God uses other means to reach us, such as silence.

Ezekiel’s first drama can be found in Ezekiel 3:24-27.

Normally, the prophets of God are out among the people, speaking as situations arise and pronouncing God’s messages to the people, but in this case a recognized prophet of God was to be bound by the people and sequestered in his home (Ezekiel 2:5). Not just for an afternoon event, but this drama will last for 7 years. You can discover the elapsed time by comparing Ezekiel 1:1-3 with 33:21-23.

Why would God be silent — similar mentions of silence are noted in Amos 8:11-12 and 1 Samuel 3:1? Why would He have Ezekiel do such a drama? After all, it clearly says that the people are rebellious (Ezekiel 3:26). Don’t they need God more than ever?

But Scripture also says that the people are also not listening to God because they are obstinate and stubborn (Ezekiel 2:4). So with this silence, the people of God are beginning to notice a disruption of pattern.

The silence of God can be as loud as His visions. We speak frequently about the times when God communicates, but what might it mean whenever He is silent? We learn that at times when God is silent, it is because we have not been listening to the clear messages that He has been delivering all along. But, God doesn’t say that we cannot find His Word … we can come to Him in order to now clearly understand how we are failing Him.

God’s silence should never be interpreted as abandonment, and neither should the instances when our securities are destroyed. That is not God’s objective with you. God speaks to this situation in Ezekiel 14:1-5.

What a great lesson for us today. We may not have huge armies that come and overrun our cities, famine and widespread disease. But we have things that cause great fear in our lives, and things that cause great chaos in our lives. And when these episodes of chaos come before us, we may be tempted to begin to apply religious activity and rely upon the familiar in an attempt to make it through the crisis.

But God simply says: “Turn to Me, and I will see you through this. Open your mind to the possibility that I can do greater things than you have ever experienced before — I can circumvent the rules of the world so that you will witness great and miraculous things. And I will be with you, holding you through this risky moment.”

Those of you who know Christ as your Lord already appreciate this understanding of God. You understand the resurrection, and you understand the power of God. For most of us, we approached Christ saying: “There’s nothing left that can help … I need to trust in You.” And a whole new life is the result.

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