Please be sure to read (or at least scroll) all the way down to see important prayer requests and announcements, such as a small-group seminar weekend at our sister church in Orange, and a change to Sunday morning’s hiking destination.
Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
March 8th, 2023
“I put my hand over my mouth.” Job 40:4
There’s a movie from the 90’s that opens with a cacophony of noise as the camera pans across the arc of the earth’s surface. The ruckus is made-up from an assembly of broadcasts all being heard simultaneously. You hear everything from popular songs to radio jingles, news snippets, etc. As the camera zooms out to the rest of our solar system and then milky-way galaxy, the broadcasts get quieter and quieter until the viewer is left with silence as the camera continues to pan outward past various galaxies.
That scene highlights the fact that we are a very noisy planet! I’m sure I needn’t tell you, we’ve got countless radio frequencies, broadcast TV networks, Cable TV stations, Sattelite channels, etc. all going on simultaneously. And many of those technologies are on the way out! Internet radio, streaming channels, and cell-phone conversations and videos are all constantly contributing to the “noise” of our planet.
We’ve always been a noisy species when we get together: even before the invention of electricity a roomful of people would be loud with conversation, and music would be loudly played as people sang and/or danced.
But I’m sure the Bible writers had no idea just how “loud” we would become as a species in the last days. Most if not all of the methods I mentioned a couple paragraphs up would’ve been unimaginable for them!
But I think that makes the “silence” verses all the more important. There are several verses that advocate actual or near silence in God’s presence.
A famous one, of course, is “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I surely hope we as Christians take the time to intentionally do that a bit, but the broader world I fear is getting worse at both halves of those commands!*
Another is the one that describes God communicating in the “still, small voice” to Elijah, after the sources of loud ruckus have passed by (1 Kings 19:12). Many pastors preach (rightly so) that we need to intentionally put away modern-day’s sound clutter in order to have a hope to be sensitive to God’s impressions and leading!
And the highlight verse above impresses me so, because Job & his “friends” have, at this point, spent about 34 chapters talking and talking and going around in circles about suffering and God’s justice and who’s to blame, etc. But when God suddenly shows-up in the whirlwind, saying “Just who are you, Job, to question God?” Job’s words fail him. The larger passage says:
“Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”
And I think that’s a proper place for us to be much of the time before God. Yes, he invites us to speak to him (Praise the Lord! What an invitation!), but human talk, chatter, noise can only happen when we are not in awe. So I pray that sometime this week, you will take the time to do just that: to “Be still and know”, to give time and space for God to talk/give impression via the “still, small voice”, should He choose to. And we all should know that the proper stance before God is mouth-open awe for His beauty, splendor, grandeur, holiness, all of it.
Scripture speaks of a day in which all humanity will stand before God, no matter their station in life, no matter when in history they’ve lived. It’s found in Revelation 20, and is called the “White Throne Judgment”.**
If you would: Get yourself in a quiet, reverent spot, and consider this scene (which we will all experience together in the future, whether good or wicked).
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
This is the last time a portion of humanity will ever stand before God (or do anything), but for the rest of us, we will have an eternity to do so, under much happier circumstances! Actually, its placement in Revelation is after the 1,000-year “millennium” in which the righteous will have already gone to heaven, so should will already be well-familiar with standing before God by then! (I was going to say “used to”, but I don’t think we’ll ever get accustomed to being before God, like it’s not something marvelously special).
So, let’s take advantage now, given that it is such a blessing to know & be able to interact with our loving & magnificent heavenly Father already. What a shame that so many will “be silent” in terror! Contrasted to their awe, may ours be filled with wonder and love.
May God bless you and your families the remainder of this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum
*not that we should be surprised, the Bible predicted increased “running to and fro” in the last days in Daniel 12:4
** the picture at the top of this devotional is from Zion National Park, and is called “The Great White Throne”, in that the explorers who first explored the canyon saw this were awe-struck & reminded of that Biblical scene when they saw it!
*** Man, coincidence or divine appointment? As I’m finishing-up this devotional, a contemporary version of the hymn “Before the Throne of God Above” came on! Here’s a link to the version I was listening to, if you’re interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX-YH8qBbc0