“But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”
“Back of the sound broods the silence, back of the gift stands the giving; ”
By Reverend Ray
What an instrument is this that the greatest awe expressed for the Majestic Sovereign of the Universe should strike the note of silver silence upon her frames. Habakkuk wrote with irony as he looked about this bedraggled group of rebellious jews who had not discarded the robes of their heathen worship. In his inquiry, he asks, what is the profit in this worship of idols which can not speak, but sit in silence like a stone. The injunction is that silence should be what resonates from their mouths before the Almighty God who is in His holy temple.
With what mass and volume does silence rise above the clang and noise of life. Nothing shatters the cacophony that fills the air of worship today as does silence. The great fear that haunts me is that we have lost the pristine beauty of the worship of God because we have lost the art of silence. Silence lifts the mundane to the sacred hush of His presence. Nothing raises the fool to the height of genius like silence. It was the powerful sweep of silence from the people on the walls of Jerusalem that mocked the arrogance of a Rab-shakeh who dared to defy a Holy God. It was in the silent stillness of a winter night upon the undulating hills beyond the walls of Bethlehem that the voices of the angels of God heralded glory to Him in the Highest. It was the solemn hush before the birth of the Christ child that drew the whole universe to its knees before her Creator. It was this same silence that visited the puppet court of the high priest and Pilot’s halls not in defiance of their authority, but a surrendered acknowledgment of the Father’s greater authority.
We know little or nothing of the sublime majesty and divine elegance that drapes the atmosphere of this day when Christ was born precisely because we no longer possess the awareness to precede the jubilation and glory that a Savior has been born with the reverential awe of silence before a Holy God! What I am pleading for in this rambling discourse is for a choir of saints to strike the note of holy hush upon the strings of their hearts and to then broadcast it above the cacophonous world so that its melodious sound melts all of life into harmony with it. If Christianity shall ever again take back the meaning of Christmas from the grip of materialism and greed it shall come when we take to heart the words of Habakkuk; “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him!”
Lest we fall prey to a culture that has epitomized the words of G. K. Chesterton; “The danger when man stops believing in God is not that he will believe in nothing, but that he will believe in anything,” my appeal is not that of scandalous silence of inner reflection or a meditation on the harmony of forces. The silence that I am calling for bends its knees and lifts its heart in hallowed reverence to the only true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is this silence that is called forth across the fields of time from the pen of Habakkuk to settle on the parchment of Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth; “Thanks be unto God for the unspeakable gift.” (II Cor. 9:15) Paul’s meditation upon the Christ thrust his soul into ennobled silence that proclaimed a loftiness and grandeur that is beyond the minds and lips of mortal man. Indeed Paul was begging the universe to find words that could rise to the height of excellence to God that would compare to the magnanimous glory of reverential silence, yet she could only bow her head in utter dismay. No words, no gestures of celebration, no music or choruses of praise reach the pinnacle of exaltation that God the Father is worthy of. Thus what higher exultant can man offer to his God than to heed the injunction of Habakkuk; “…let all the earth be silent before Him.”