APOSTLE EZEKIEL EMMANUEL DUKE: THE SILENT MOMENT OF GOD - THE BURIAL BEFORE RESURRECTION
Dateline: 29th January 2013 at a special Apostolic and Prophetic Company Fellowship (Acts 4:31) tagged Fresh Experience for Fresh Impact at Holy Ghost Cantonment Exceeding Glory Temple 195 NTA Road, Mgbuoba, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria with Apostle Ezekiel Emmanuel Duke, the founder of the Network came this message and prophetic declaration – “The Silent Moment of God – the Burial before Resurrection”. The Fellowship had in attendance Ministers, Pastors, Apostolic and Prophetic Company of Christian Leaders from different parts of Rivers State, Abia State, Akwa Ibom State, Cross River State, Delta State and Cameroon.
The insight and relevance to my own experience at the meeting occasion the reproduction of this message as a feature for the edification of the Body of Christ. Speaking from 1st Samuel 28:3-19 and Psalms 130, Apostle Duke under strong prophetic anointing said every frontliner go through silent moment of God. When God seems silent what do u do? What does it implies when God is silent? Here’s a Scripture you’ve probably never heard a sermon on! It’s like a screenplay for a movie… Samuel: the first great prophet. Saul: Israel’s first king. At the beginning of his novel Of Human Bondage, Somerset Maugham tells the story of a crippled boy. He is 6 years old and about to go to school for the first time. He’s embarrassed about being crippled. He prays to God a couple weeks before school starts that God would heal him. He prays and prays. The morning of the first day of school comes and he wakes up excited, full of anticipation that this is the day that the miracle will occur. He throws off the bed covers and looks down to see that he is still crippled. And he becomes angry at God for being so silent. And from then on in the novel he turns to things like superstitions, unhealthy relationships, all kinds of bad habits in response to God’s seeming indifference to him and to his prayers.
In my own walk with the Lord, some of the hardest times have been when God seems silent to me. Maybe for you too. By “silence” I don’t mean the inability to hear an audible voice. I don’t think many of us really expect that. By “silence” I mean those times when we can’t seem to feel God’s presence, or have a hard time believing that he’s with us or maybe even cares about us. He doesn’t seem to be answering prayer. And we experience this in a number of different ways: in times of doubt in our faith and we ask God to speak to us in our doubts. Or we’re facing some crisis and feel lonely, and we want God to intervene and he doesn’t. Or sometimes I think we get distracted with all the things going on in our lives, that we wouldn’t know God’s voice even if we heard it, because we have too much going on or other things have won our attention. In all these things, God seems silent. That’s what’s going on in our story from the Old Testament this morning. God seems silent to Saul. And of all the people in the Bible, I think Saul’s story is the saddest, and most tragic because throughout his life God seems especially silent to him. God chooses him to be Israel’s first king—a job he doesn’t want— and at first he’s successful at it, but then he disobeys God, and then God says because of this I no longer want you to be king. He doesn’t reject Saul as a person; he just says I no longer want you to be king. And Saul spends the rest of his life fighting that. Most of 1Samuel tells this story. He tries to kill David, who is next in line to be king; he tries to retain firm control of his throne—and all the while God seems silent to him. What do we do when God seems silent? I think there are some things we can learn from this story.
1. When God seems silent we need to stay faithful to obeying God and not run to something (or someone) else for an answer. Saul does here what I have done, and sometimes still do, and maybe what you do when God seems silent: in one way or another, we give up on God and turn to other things for an answer. In Saul’s case he goes to the occult. I don’t do that personally (that should be a relief to you). But I do other things. We all do. We give up on God and turn to habits, or the latest self-help advice, or Oprah Winfrey, or an unhealthy relationship or an addiction. Or we simply take matters into our own hands and start controlling everything and everyone around us.
These may feel good at the time, and give us an answer of some kind. But they in no way help us hear the voice of God. In times of doubt it’s easy to stop praying, stop reading the Bible, stop coming to worship. The problem then is, it becomes even more difficult to hear the voice of God. Let me be very clear here: I am not saying that if God seems silent to you right now it’s because you’ve sinned. I don’t want to say that. If sin were what caused us to experience the silence of God, then none of us would ever hear God. What I do want to say is this: when God seems silent to us, that is when we are most susceptible to giving up on him and turning to habits or some other unhelpful activity or withdrawing into ourselves—all of which only make things worse. Why does Saul think he’s going to hear the voice of God from a witch? This can only make things worse. We hear God best when we obey him, even in spite of our circumstances. When God seems silent it’s even more important that we continue to worship, continue to be in prayer, continue to obey him, and be patient. And in doing those things we will hear the voice of God again. That’s what David prays in the psalms: Psalm 130, David stays obedient; he keeps praying and waiting.
2. When God seems silent we need to let go of the past, and expect God to speak to us in new ways. Sometimes God seems silent to us because we expect God to speak to us through the same old pattern, same old circumstances, and same people as he has before. That’s Saul’s problem here. Saul is living in the past. God has always spoken through the prophet Samuel before, so Saul just assumes he will continue to speak through the prophet Samuel. But there’s just one problem: Samuel is dead. That’s an impediment! So Saul says to the witch: conjure up Samuel. (friend of ours: went to a psychic: raise my mother. She was unresolved about something and needed her mom’s advice, so she went to a psychic; she was living in the past). Saul is living in the past. Sometimes when God seems silent to us it’s because we’re returning to a dead thing (literally or figuratively speaking), and expecting God to speak to us there again. We do this in a number of ways: For instance we go through a time when we experience a spiritual high on a retreat or some special event. And we have a real and intense encounter with God. And then we try to keep recreating that experience, or we set ourselves up thinking we can only truly experience God in a setting like that. Or the opposite is sometimes true: we go through a crisis and God is very real to us in that crisis. But when things return to normal it doesn’t feel like God is talking any more. Certain people, certain friends, certain church experiences, certain settings or circumstances seem to communicate God better to us, and when these are gone we are tempted to think that God has stopped speaking. May not be true. It may be that God is trying to say a new thing to us in a new way. We limit God when we expect the same patterns to continue forever and ever. God wanted to speak to Saul in a new way, have Saul trust him more. But Saul lived in the past.
3. When God seems silent we need to ask ourselves: is God silent, or do I have a hearing problem? Because sometimes what we really mean when we say that God is silent is that we don’t like what he is saying. In this story of Saul, God is not really silent at all. He has in fact been speaking very clearly for the past 13 chapters. And over and over he has said, “Saul, I don’t want you to be king anymore.” But Saul doesn’t like what he’s hearing. He doesn’t want to hear that from God and it’s certainly not what he expects to hear. So he decides that God must be silent. Often what I mean when I say God is silent is that he isn’t saying what I want him to say. I want this outcome, this experience, this answer. God: I don’t want that for you. Me: that’s not the right answer; you must not be talking. God: really? Maybe the problem is that you need to listen with an open mind and heart.
4. When God seems silent we need to accept as blessing that which he is trying to give us, and not doubt his goodness. Because God doesn’t tell Saul exactly what he wants to hear, Saul assumes that God is mean, or indifferent—which isn’t true at all. God was trying to bless Saul, to give something good to him. Like bathing a baby: screams… from the baby’s perspective, mom or dad seem indifferent to the screams, or even mean. Pleading eyes: “I’m in misery here.” We keep on bathing her. From her perspective we seem silent (we’re not answering her) or even worse. It creates an existential crisis—are these people for me or against me? And all we’re trying to do is get them clean. Which is good! Saul’s problem, his whole life, was that he was never comfortable inside the blessings that God was trying to give him. God wanted Saul to be the first king of Israel; that’s a blessing God wanted him to prepare the way for David; that’s a blessing. God wanted Saul to know him better and that’s a blessing.
God wanted all these things for Saul, but the only thing Saul wanted was to hang on to his leadership and hang on to the past. I wonder what would’ve happened to Saul if he had just accepted what God was trying to do…He wouldn’t have been king any more, but he wouldn’t have been killed the next day in battle either. Maybe he could’ve become the trusted advisor and mentor to David. David certainly seemed to have the humility and even the desire for that. Maybe he could’ve retired and bought a boat and sailed around the Mediterranean. God was trying to give him something good, but from Saul’s perspective he was indifferent and silent. When God seems silent, we need to ask, “Lord, what are you trying to give me?” And try to accept it as a blessing, even if in the moment it hurts, or is confusing. Finally, when God seems silent, I believe it’s because he’s about to do something bigger than we can perceive. From Saul’s perspective, the only thing God is doing is taking his kingdom away. But God is really doing a whole lot more: he’s putting David on the throne, who is going to become Israel’s greatest king, and from him will come a line of kings that will eventually produce the messiah, Jesus Christ. God is doing way more than just taking Saul’s throne away. God is fulfilling his promises to save the world. And if Saul could only have seen that he would have been more at peace.
God was doing something bigger; he wasn’t silent at all. And when we’re struggling with God’s silence, we need to wait patiently for God’s bigger plan. The moment in history when God was most silent, ever, was at the cross. When Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment, God is so silent that not even the son of God can hear his voice. But the reality was that God wasn’t silent at all, was he? The reality was that God was actually thundering out his promises; God was shouting out his redemption of the world; at his most silent moment, God was roaring out his love for you and me. It’s just that no one could perceive it at the time. Only after all was accomplished, was the plan clear. Jesus is the resounding answer to the question, “Is God still speaking to me?” The answer: yes!! When God seems silent it’s because he’s about to do something bigger than we can perceive in the moment. It’s like the end of the Halleluiah chorus—a moment of anxiety, but a moment of anticipation. Imagine hearing that as if for the first time…The silence of God isn’t always silence. It’s a moment of anticipation, telling us God is about to do something bigger than we can perceive. If you’ve never experienced the silence of God, then your God is too small, because he’s never done anything bigger than you can perceive. Does God seem silent to you this morning? It’s because he’s about to do something bigger and greater than we expect. God’s silence is a holy moment of anticipation between the thing he’s done, and the bigger thing he’s about to do in your life. We need to let go of the past, be patient, and keep seeking God because he wants to bless us with something new and wonderful.
Think of it, when God seems silence Job lament in agony and pains when God was silence, but what was the end of it, “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters” (Job 42:12-13). When Jesus Christ experience silent moment of God it was not of sin or demonic activities but a conscious programme of God to transform us, and prepare us for a high placement in destiny. Hence after burial come resurrection of Jesus Christ to a place of honour and glory (Phil. 2:8-11). So is every child of God experiencing the silent of God though the process may be discomforting, wait, hold on to God, He is not silent. God is working out something big and better for you that the force of hell, grave, death even burial of your seemly gifts, talents, hope and previous successes cannot stop you from rising from grave of defeat, lack, poverty, distresses. You will rise. With the kind of testimonies that is coming out of this meeting you can’t afford to miss the next fellowship scheduled for 25th to 27th February 2013 same venue with a lot more packages to empower, equip and refuel to refire not only apostles and prophets but the fivefold ministries. Please be there. Have question you may call: 08033399821 or write a. Stay blessed.
Written By Dr. Lewis Akpogena