The word of the LORD which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. [Zephaniah 1:1]
Is God silent? I am prompted to ask the question because not too long ago I was speaking to someone who was struggling in their faith in Jesus. They said God had become a rather remote figure in their daily experience because they just don't feel he is there. He does not appeart to speak to their situation or listen to their prayers. He is invisible and silent!
I suspect the person is not alone with those private thoughts, especially when confronted with problems. Andrew Peterson helpfully expresses this frustration in the song "silence of God" :
It's enough to drive a man crazy / It'll break a man's faith / It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane / When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod / And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God
There are many who come before God and their prayers seem to hit a wall of silence! There many people struggling to reconcile the increasing evil in our world with a God who speaks and acts! Many followers of Jesus wrestle with secret doubts.
Has God stopped acting? Has God left us? Why can't I sense God ina direct way? These questions are particurly amplified at difficult juntures in our lives. When we are at the end of our rope, and God is all we can turn to, our doubts become magnified.
When that happens we do well to turn to Zephaniah! He was a servant of God living in times when evil appeared to have a free rein. The reigns of King Mannaseh and King Amon had brought intolerable evil in Israel and Judah. True religion appears to have been evicted from the public square, replaced by idols of every kind.
People needed to hear God again or nothing was going to change. In stepped Zephaniah. His mission was to call people to repentance and faith in the one True God! He opens with a declaration : he has received a message from God! This message is from Yahweh – the personal and sovereign God of Israel!
This is a message from a personal God communicating to ordinary human beings! This God is a person who is present in our world and communicates with His people! Not like the idols we read about. The true God speaks in real time and space! And throughout the Bible we have the very words of God recorded for us to hear and obey! The Bible we hold in our hands contains the very words of God himself – revealed to us!
That Zephanah shares the God's message in difficult times shows that God's voice cannot be quenched even in in the middle of many voices challenging God's authenticity and authority! Even though Judah was a dark place, the voice of God was heard, and soon God enabled Josiah to turn Judah back to true worship! There's no darkness which can quench God's word. God's word is powerful! This gives us hope as we see persecution of Christians on the rise around the world.
Many are searching for the "voice of God". The New Age is after the "God consciousness". Some are searching for gods in the outer cosmos. The Bible says God is speaking! And therefore the Bible is the precious thing we possess. What can be more infinitely valuable than the words of God himself? It should excite us! We should make understanding it, everything! Because God is speaking through it, we must pay careful attention to what is says and obey it.
As Christians we have received not only the written word of God but the Word of God made flesh : Jesus Christ. The write to the Hebrews says :In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets many times and in many different ways. But now in these last days God has spoken to us through his Son. (Hebrews 1:1, 2 NCV).
Jesus the only hope for our world. He is able to transform broken lives, renew socieies and remake cultures. He breaths his resurrection life in spiritually dead people. And all who have encountered him are excited about making Him known! And the surest way to do that is to read our bibles daily and share what it says with others. We must be like John Bunyan of whom Charles Spurgeon said "this man is a living bible, prick him anywhere and his blood is bibline. The very essence of the Bible flows from him". What a legacy Bunyan left! How about you, do you bleed bible?
God is speaking! Are you listening?
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014
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