Where in the world is God? Doesn’t it seem as though the world has spun out of control, even His control, in this crazy, breakneck 20th century? After all, many Americans have more education, more money, more leisure time than ever before, but correspondingly, there is a vast and astonishing deficit of love, morality, and righteousness. Doesn’t God notice? And if He does, what is He thinking about abortion, about nuclear disarmament, or about "family values?" Is He concerned with pollution, with urban crime, with teenage pregnancy? And why does it seem as if He is silent, as if He has no message for us today?
Over 2,500 years ago, the nation of Northern Israel, with its capital Samaria, was in a similar crisis. Like us, they were a confident, self-centered society. One historian has written, in words that sound eerily contemporary, "Moral standards had crashed, little honesty was left in business, poor people were badly treated, and upper-class indulgence was a byword; but there was a trade boom on, money was flowing into the country, and...they never had it so good. How could anyone be worried in such prosperity?
How indeed? But we are worried; we are not sure that "be happy" is an adequate philosophy for a whole life. Intuitively we know that wealth has not brought wisdom, materialism has not promoted morality, and commercial success has not yielded a clear conscience. We have a deficit—we know it in our deepest being—but we have few answers.
Well, what about God? In our enlightened day, some simply say that there is no God, therefore He cannot by default, care or speak. "Who needs a voice from God?" they say. "Can’t we simply apply our intelligence, our technology, our popular psychology to the future and expect a bright result? A society that can send men to the moon, after all, must be able to find answers to the riddle of life!"
Alternatively, some may feel that God exists, perhaps even cares, but is powerless to affect our modern society. Big-hearted but toothless, He is a fuzzy relic of our father’s religion, not a relevant participant in our lives. Still others suppose that God has the power, but not the will to intervene for our benefit. To them, He is a force to be reckoned with—like gravity or an earthquake—powerful but not personal, loveless and ultimately unlovable.
These philosophies lead to one inescapable end: utter and unrelieved despair. At best, they yield a God with a big heart and no hands; at worst they leave no heart, no hands, no hope. Human life is an accident without meaning, history is a random joke, and there is no future, no hope, no light.
The Christian, on the other hand, asks a different and intriguing question: Is it possible that God has spoken, but we have not listened? A prophet named Amos had a stunning message for the ancient kingdom of Israel: "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord, "when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it" (Amos 8:11 ff.).
Did God have a message for them? Indeed He did! What’s more, He had been speaking to them for centuries. Since the days of Abraham and Moses and David, He had sent a series of instructions, encouragements, and when necessary, warnings. God indeed was speaking—the word of the Lord through Amos is indisputable evidence of that; the danger was that if they continued to refuse to listen, He would speak no more.
The Bible teaches, all true Christians believe, that God is alive, and that He is not silent. It is important, therefore to understand how God has spoken in the past and how He is speaking today. We can explain this with some simple facts from the Bible:
God has spoken generally through creation (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20). God has spoken prophetically through holy men of God (Hebrews 1:1).
God has spoken finally and completely through His own Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:18, Hebrews 1:2).
God is speaking permanently in His written Word, the Bible (1 Peter 1:24-25).
God is speaking universally through the gospel, the good news about salvation and eternal life (Mark 16:15).
The good news is this: In spite of widespread abandonment of God and His Word, God is still speaking! And more than that, God is speaking to you and me!
God’s message to us from the Bible is one of solemn warning and tender love. It is a call, on the one hand, to repent of our sin; on the other, to receive forgiveness of sins. It says that sin pays wages of eternal death; it shouts that Christ offers eternal life in Heaven with Himself. It is a message of the curse we all bear, yet it is a story of a Savior who carried our sins and our curse at the cross!
The message of good news is summed up in the following words from God:
"God commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed" (Acts 17:31).
"God commends [demonstrates] His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 3:8).
"Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).
And so, our restlessness, our emptiness, our longing for a compass in the dark waters of life has but one answer: We need God! We need to hear Him speak. We need to meet His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for sinners on the Cross. We need to rely fully on Him for forgiveness of sins, to trust Him with our lives, our souls, our all. It is only in Christ that the full meaning of life is realized, the full potential of human-hood experienced, and the full joy of eternal life known!
A final warning, echoing the words of Amos, is in order: "Beware lest He speak no more!" Perhaps He has been speaking to us and we have not been listening: "For God does speak now one way, now another though man may not perceive it" (Job 33:14). We must listen today, for God says, "Today, if you hear [my] voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:7).
God’s Word refused is God’s Word lost. "Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).