The Silences

Although the Bible sometimes explains some events in great detail, most of the time it explains events with an amazing small number of words, compared to the volumes that human authors have written in portraying human history. There are some events in the Bible that human authors would have explained in minute detail; yet the Bible has remained silent. The silence is most significant. God has clearly indicated in the contents of the Bible that there is “a time to keep silence and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7). Let us look at some of these examples of the profound silence of the Scriptures.

The Origin Of Cain’s Wife. And Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch (Gen. 4:17). Without any explanation or identification by name or origin, the Bible informs us that Cain had a wife that bore him a son. Down through the ages this has become a source of ridicule by scoffers and unbelievers of the Bible. If Cain were the oldest son of the first man, Adam, where would he find a wife? The Bible simply but majestically states that Eve became the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20) and that Adam begot sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4). We would assume that Cain married one of his sisters, but God never tells us. We learn very early in the Bible that God never attempts to explain that which seems irrational to the unbelieving heart. Faith has no problem resting with the fact that God was able to provide Cain with a wife. What further explanation is needed?

The Origin Of Races. Now the whole earth had one language and one speech And the Lord said, Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth (Gen. 11:1,7,9). In very simple and majestic language the Bible explains the origin of languages and the scattering of them over the face of the earth. But never does the Bible mention, from beginning to end, the origin or even the existence of races on the earth. Racial barriers and racial strife are the product of fallen man. God has never recognized it. In God’s sight all have sinned and all need to be saved from their sin. None is better than the other and nowhere in the Bible can man find any support for racial superiority of one race over another. Thus we learn from this silence that God never contributes to the artificial and hypocritical views of man in regard to his ancestry or genealogy.

The Worldly Training Of Moses. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son Now it came to pass in those days when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren (Ex. 2:10,11). By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter I choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people Of God …. (Heb. 11:24,25). But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel (Acts 7:21-23). Now what is significant about the above verses is the abrupt manner in which God deals with the first forty years of the life of Moses. In a few words, forty years of this man’s life is passed over. He evidently received a thorough training in Egyptian culture, science, technology, and particularly in the language arts and literature. Yet God uses Stephen to give us just a brief note that Moses received this training. There are no details, no lengthy listing of his educational achievements. We would have listed his degrees and made much over his academic achievements. We would have boasted of his oratorical skills and his leadership abilities. Yet it is in these areas that Moses proved to be weak when he came to serve God in the mighty deliverance of His people from Egypt. God was silent about his formal education because it was insignificant when Moses had to face the moral issues of the slavery of God’s people under the tyrannical rule of Pharaoh. The educational background of a man takes a back seat to the spiritual development of a man.

The Private Life Of Christ At Nazareth. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene (Matt. 2:23). So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Lk. 2:39,40). When He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Lk. 2:42,51,52). Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age…. (Lk. 3:23). Only one incident in the childhood of Christ is recorded in the Scriptures as found in the second chapter of Luke when He was twelve years old. For the next eighteen years God is absolutely silent. Yet we receive four accounts from each Gospel of the three years of His public ministry, His death, and His resurrection. Man has tried to insert all kinds of imaginary tales about the early years of Christ prior to His public ministry. “If you want signs and wonders the Apocryphal Books will give you all kinds of things attributed to Him. Uninspired writers have tried to fill the gap by producing imaginary stories of the childhood, and youth, and manhood of Jesus. There are weird myths and we may be sure none of these things is true. Our Lord Jesus lived a normal life as a boy, growing up in a beautiful Jewish home where the Word of God was adored and loved. We would like to know more of those hidden years at Nazareth. We just have enough to let us know that He was a subject Child, and that His heart was always open to the voice of God, His Father.” (H. Ironside)

“With the settlement at Nazareth, our information comes to a sudden stop, and over the rest of the life of Jesus, till His public ministry begins, a thick covering is drawn, which is only lifted once. We should have wished the narrative to continue with the same fulness through the years of His boyhood and youth. In modern biographies there are few parts more interesting than the anecdotes which they furnish of the childhood of their subjects, but it has pleased God, Whose silence is no less wonderful than His words, to keep it shut. It was natural that, where God was silent and curiosity was strong, the fancy of man should attempt to fill up the blank. They make Him a worker of frivolous and useless marvels. They are compilations of worthless and often blasphemous fables.” (J. Stalker)

The Lord Jesus did not come into this world to save us by His life. The purpose of His first advent was to give His life, to die. Because of this the years of His life are passed over quickly and only the immediate years leading up to His death are given to us in detail. As the time drew near for His death, He said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour (Jn. 12:27).” When God writes, He address the issues that are essential for the carrying out of His eternal purposes. He does not concern Himself with frivolous details that are pleasing to the dramatic inventions of man.

The Three Hours Of Darkness On The Cross. Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is translated, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Mark 15:33,34). Those three hours of darkness on the cross were the most mysterious of all God’s silences. Who can possibly understand what took place during those hours? “At twelve o’clock the storm of human scoffing ceases; the cloudless sun suddenly, and from no natural causes, shines not; thick darkness envelopes the scene; and absolute silence takes the place of the noisy babble. What is taking place? Oh, surely, another storm is sweeping with its waves and billows over that holy Head; for at length after three hours, the silence is broken, and a cry pierces the darkness, till it strikes a heaven not opened now, but closed even to Him.” (F.C. Jennings) How could God possibly describe those three hours to a sinful race that neither understands the horror of being forsaken of God nor can possibly feel the intense waves of judgment that God pronounced upon His Son? To those who know that during those silent hours He bore the judgment due to us, our hearts are filled with deep gratitude and we are satisfied to know that we could never understand the enormity or even the manner of His suffering.

In the Holy Scriptures God has told us all that we need to know. There are things we shall never know nor would we be capable of ever knowing, at least until we reach the shores of eternity with God.