Be quiet!” “Stop talking!” Or even more brusque, “Shut up!” We hardly think of these as kind words when we are on the receiving end. They suggest that our thoughts and opinions are of little value. The truth is, in certain circumstances, our opinions are not of much value. There are times when, grappling with issues and searching for answers, we are confronted by the greatness of God. Bowing in awe, we can only shut our mouths and submit. The cacophonic din of our words falls to the ground as meaningless and trite. We must be silent and allow God to speak.
On four significant occasions, this word, “hush,” was addressed to the nation. It may be translated, “Hold your peace,” or “Be silent,” but it is the same word in the original.
Silent Awe before the God Who Restores in His Grace (Neh 8:10-11)
These words uttered by the Levites were addressed to a people who were weeping over their failures. The reading of the Word of God and the recognition of years of failure moved the people to tears. To repentant hearts, Nehemiah, Ezra, and others responded with the message of a God Who found joy in His restored people. They were to be silent and to joy in the grace of God. When God works in grace, we can only bow in silent, adoring worship.
Silent Awe before the God Who Reigns in His Greatness (Hab 2:20)
Habakkuk was struggling with the ways of God. He was a man who was wrestling with the “why” of life. As he mounted his watchtower and waited and watched for God to answer, he learned that the just were to live by his faith. His conclusion amidst the perplexities which assaulted his mind was simple: “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence (hush) before Him.”
We do not have the answers for the trials which assault others or that we face. But faith takes into the dark what it has learned of God in the light, and silently waits for Him.
Silent Awe before the God Who Rises up in His Government (Zeph 1:7)
Zephaniah prophesied in the days of Josiah. Was it early in Josiah’s reign, before the heady days of revival? Or was it during the revival to show its superficial nature? If predating the revival, it is encouraging to think that his message brought about repentance. He tells a people in their wickedness to keep silent before the God Who is rising up in moral government against their evil.
Their wickedness was patent; mouths were shut; no defense was possible.
Silent Awe before the God Who Resides in His Glory (Zech 2:13)
To a feeble and reproached remnant, facing the malice of the foe, Zechariah brought words of comfort and encouragement. They were to cease from worrying. They were reminded of the assurance of God’s purposes (v4), protection (vv8-9) , presence (v10), and pleasure in them (vv10-11).
May an appreciation for the greatness of God bow our hearts in silent awe and worship. He is matchless in His grace, unrivaled in His greatness, righteous in His government, and peerless in His glory.