5. Hebrew Worship: The God Who Sees


Silence is a tough thing to interpret.  People send me emails and don’t get a response back for a week or two.  I occasionally get an apology from them after three days, asking me to ignore their email, sure that the reason I did not respond is because I am mad at them.

The reality is that there could easily be ten other reasons why I am running behind on my emails, and I am not mad at them, just traveling, or teaching or otherwise pursuing more dominant priorities.

I experience the same thing in the wonderful, wacky world of my emails.  I emailed my CPA a month ago about a technical question.  I heard nothing back.  My mind immediately went to the options:  lost email; I am making a nuisance of myself; he is on vacation.

In fact, it got lost in the shuffle, and he responded today telling me how to handle it.  Cool.

The silences of God also get interpreted quickly and often incorrectly.  All too often the devil is there coaching us to see it as a worst case scenario.  Either God doesn’t care, or God is mad at us and is the one who is inflicting pain on us.

Clearly this is not an original problem with us or an original lie from the enemy.  Knowing what their thoughts were, God intentionally initiated the discussion with Moses by dispelling those lies.

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt.  I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians . . .”   Exodus 3:7-8  NIV

I like the sequence of the four verbs.

I have indeed seen . . .

We are hugely accustomed to being overlooked in the bigger scheme of things.  I have had a rough ten days on the road.  At the same time as that, the refugee problem in Europe has escalated.  My pain is so trivial compared to the international crisis caused by the refugees that every single news company in the entire world overlooked me.  I was not seen.  My pain was not newsworthy on the world stage.

As usual.

And with the cosmic complexities before The Almighty on any given day, it is easy to believe that our pain is not visible to Him.

But it is.

I have heard them crying out . . . 

What happened in your childhood when you cried?  Some of you were scooped up and comforted with sincerity.  Some of you were held and comforted mechanically by a parent who wished you would get over yourself.  And some were overtly sent away to do their crying some place where it would not irritate the adults in the household.

For all of those who have been scolded for crying out in their distress, God emphatically included the statement that He heard their distress and was not angry at them for hurting and crying out about their hurt.

I am concerned . . . 

The words for “seen” and “heard” were generic Hebrew words.  Here however, we have a bit of a surprise.  The KJV says, “I know their sorrows;”  The word “know” is our beloved yada which means to experience something.  I know cognitively that my hostess has placed a bottle of mango and maracuja juice in the ‘fridge in my Prophet’s Chamber.  But sometime later today, I will know experimentally what that combination tastes like, since I have often had the two juices separately, but never together.

The Hebrew word translated “sorrows” is used very sparingly in Scripture and refers to the blend of physical and emotional pain that feeds on each other.  Back pain can keep you awake night after night.  Sleep deprivation clouds your mind and adds emotional pain to the physical pain.  And the emotional pain of not being able to function well during the day causes your back pain to become louder.

The combination of these two words says so very much about the nature of God.  In one sense, He never worked in the Egyptian brickyard, never felt the lash from the overseer, never dealt with the futility of life as a permanent slave.  Yet He was so deeply engaged with His people that He felt it all.

I have friends who have family in war torn regions of the Middle East.  While my friends are in the relative safety of the Middle East, they are in close contact with their family there, and through communication, they intimately “experience” the horrors of the war that they are distant from.

This is our God.  He tracks with us so closely that He feels our physical and emotional devastation as though it were His own.

I have come down. . . 

The war cry of the church has been “Come to Jesus.”  While there is something to be said for that theology and the burden on us to respond, the deeper truth is in 1 John 4:19  NIV.   “We love because he first loved us.”

So God came.  He responded.  He acted.  He did not just send an emissary.  He came to intervene on behalf of His people.

Against that backdrop is the long silence of God.  He did not intervene on the first day the Hebrews were enslaved.  And shortly after His intervention began, things got an awful lot worse for them.  In the end, He rescued them and delivered on the promise of some exceptionally productive land.

How do we put the three together?  He ignored them for a looooong painful time.  He came with personal, intimate attention.  He delivered them massively in the end.

We don’t put it all together in a way that makes sense.

At least I don’t.

The silences of God are too complex for me to resolve.  All through Scripture I see long delays in His answering, followed by spectacular intervention.  I don’t know where to put that.  We so easily default to “If you love me you will respond quickly.”

Because I can’t resolve the conundrum in my limited human mind, I have to choose which direction to go:  God cares.  God doesn’t care.

I choose to refuse to look at the silences of God in my life and focus instead on the myriad times that He saw, He heard, He cared and He came.

Join me in such a celebration.

5. Hebrew Worship: The God Who Sees

Copyright September 2015 by Arthur Burk

From the Prophet’s Chamber

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for giving me permission to be real.

    Even on my worst day without an answer, I have to stand and declare that God is still God!! He is still good, kind and loving. He is merciful, He is just. He is full of peace, and patience. He catches my tears when I weep. He is still the God who sits on the throne of Heaven and the throne of my heart.His character never changes.
    Even when I cry out in the dark wanting to be heard and comforted by His voice or His touch. But I am left grasping for something that seems unobtainable. I still have to believe that He is moved by the affliction of my heart. When I can’t trace His hand on this part of my journey, I have to trust His heart. His heart is good!

    Joyce

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  2. says

    In God’s Time. How often have I heard that phrase, said that phrase? Sometimes with hope, sometimes with frustration, and yet how can I complain? Miracle after miracle, so often unlooked for, so often unexpected after so long a wait. Thank you for speaking into this reality today. It reminds me of all the things I still wait for, and realize again that I do not understand God’s Time. And yet He is the God who sees, the God who answers. I choose to wait in hope.

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    • Jerri Langlais says

      I choose to just keep asking, looking at Him, weeping when I get terribly frustrated, and crying out. Then I journal. Then I remember the Scripture about those who are blessed believing in faith without having seen. I don’t think there is any other choices for me. Either He is there listening and answering in His perfect timing, or not.

      What has He said to me off and on? It comes down to a trust issue, between Him and me. And then I have to trust that He said it and I didn’t just make it up in my own mind and write it down in my journal.

      One thing I do talk to Him about alot is my appreciation for the wisdom you share, Arthur, how blessed I am to listen to your prayers on our behalf, and wish that I could understand more of what you say about the wisdom He shares. Sometimes I just get lost in the words. But I believe in faith the prayers and their effect.

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      • Rene says

        I am not good with words With other things iam but not words. I am soblessed to be able to follow yr blog and marvel in your insights and words. Thank you for sharing with us and i am glad that you now only do it three times a week. It gives me timeto park and digest. What landed so hugely was your description of the end times being on social media. Youdid not mention how those who know the scriptures will befilled with anticipation At this moment i am just putting up camp and parking there. And you dont need to reply. Your time can be used more wisely. I Thank god for you calling us your tribe. It feels good.

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  3. Elsabe says

    This is totally of the chart here. I NEED HELP!! I have been reading your material for the past 5 years as i have been struggling with DID myself. It helped a lot as i went through my healing process.

    I still have a block in my head. The front part. There are times that i can short pieces from the Bible, but most of the time i can’t. I have this block and nothing read registers in my brain. Its been for a while like this. I’ve been crying my heart out before God. Please help me!!!

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    • says

      To SLG Team: Let’s crowd source this request from Elsabe. Can some people reach out to her and experiment with the tools you have received over the years?

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      • Anonymous says

        Just an idea. It worked for me. I wanted to read my Bible end to end this year. Tried all kinds of approaches. Stuck! No progress!
        Then Arthur suggested listening to great chunks of an audio Bible. Awake, sleeping, whatever. Anything to imbibe the Word. I used ‘Bible Is’ from Faith Comes By Hearing. A dramatized Bible.

        And I experienced Breakthrough!

        So I’m not stressing about hearing and understanding each word. I just swallow it whole. It’s wonderful.

        I hope it helps you too!
        Love Jane

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