Sebastian Bourdon, Burning Bush, Wikimedia Commons
Have you ever wondered why God doesn't talk to us today the way He talked to Noah, Abraham, and Moses? Sometimes it can seem like He's ignoring us. Why is He being silent when we need Him so much? In our family devotion today we imagined what it would be like if we had a burning bush in the back yard that we could consult whenever we needed guidance or encouragement.
But could it be that in not continuing to reveal Himself to us as He did to our forebears in the Bible, and in not revealing Himself to us in new and different ways after revealing Himself to us through His Son, He is protecting us? Can you imagine if God were running around the world today, talking to this person and that person, appearing on top of a skyscraper here and a mountain there? How confusing it would be as we tried to sort it all out. Who really talked to God? Who is just saying he did? Whom should we trust? Whom should we ignore? There are enough false teachers as it is. Can you imagine how many more there would be claiming direct revelation if God had the habit of dropping in on people today?
I have sometimes felt like maybe the Deists had the right idea--that God the watchmaker designed and wound up the world but is just now watching and waiting while it runs itself down. Why is He so silent? Doesn't He care?
Yes. He cares. And certainly God can do what He wants and at any moment He could decide to show up in your living room or mine and engage us in conversation. But what more can He say than He's already said? What more do we need Him to say? In today's Treasury of Daily Prayer, there is this comfort from Martin Chemnitz:
"At one time God revealed His Word by various ways and means. For sometimes, appearing Himself to the holy fathers, He spoke in their presence, sometimes through prophets inspired and moved by His Spirit; finally He spoke to mankind through His Son and the apostles. . . . But He gave us neither command nor promise to expect that kind of inspirations or revelations. Yet for the sake of posterity He saw to it that this Word of His, first revealed by preaching and confirmed by subsequent miracles, was later put into writing by faithful witnesses. And to that very same Word, comprehended in the prophetic and apostolic writings, He bound His church, so that whenever we want to know or show that a teaching is God's Word, this should be our axiom: Thus it is written; thus Scripture speaks and testifies."
We don't need our own personal burning bush. We already have one in a God who has fully revealed Himself to us through His Son, and who continues to do so today. In His Word and Sacrament we need not wonder if it's really God coming to us or someone just pretending to speak for God. We need not try to sift through all the noise to locate the truth. Instead, we can rest in the security of what God has already promised and not worry that He's ever going to change, add to, or subtract from that promise. In a world in which information is the new currency and there are many and varied voices continually coming at us from all directions, our God is "silent" not because He doesn't care about us, but because He does.