The Sound of Silence

I recently had a conversation with someone that went something like most of the conversations I have when I encounter new people who think they are “prophets.” They introduce themselves, they are a little all-too-eager for me to tell me what they do and what office they are called to, and they then feel the need to try and give me a “word.” Over many years of discernment and many years of watching a steady decline in the quality of what we consider genuine “word,” I have taken note that there are certain standards that people always say, time and time again. The first is to tell me that I am filled with the Holy Ghost (duh), the second is to tell me how God has “so much ahead for me” in one form or another (duh), and when I don’t respond to that the way they want, I usually throw something in the mix for good measure. Something that states financial concern or other issues, to which the response is always the same: “Money is coming your way. I just heard that.”

Oh you did, did you? What a coincidence!

Sigh.

To me, it’s boring. These so-called prophets and people with prophetic gifts are reading me and my spirit, not telling me what the Spirit has to say. We are so conditioned to watch people and to tell them what we think they want to hear that we have no depth or perception to actually see or say what God wants to say to them. We are in our own way, rejecting the true prophets and entertaining the ones whose messages fill us with false hope and make us want to run around the room. We respond the same way, time and time again, to messages that are vague and misleading and are meant to read us in a clever mind game rather than genuinely discern the heart of God and lead us to a better place.

I remember talking with Apostle Yolanda Greggs some years back about Revelation 8:1, which reads: “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” (GW) This passage, which is often perplexing to scholars, took on a whole new meaning when we started talking about it in terms of prophecy and prophetic time, which equates to approximately 43 years (or thereabouts, as the prophecy says there was silence for about that time). In my commentary, All That Is Seen And Unseen: A Journey Through The Book of Revelation, I talk in depth about the significance of the approximate 43-year period of time (which yes, means all those end-time chasers are wrong on their timelines) whereby heaven is silent, prophecy seems mute, God seems distant, and heaven seems still, watching and waiting for what comes next.

I don’t think it’s foreign to assume that we are, in some semblance, in a period of time that resembles the silence of heaven. In our deeply psychological world, it’s easy to be a deceiver and just as easy to be deceived. We think if we watch people carefully enough, in the same way that psychics do, we can tell someone something completely vague and turn it into a “word from God” as we supplement details and people are able to read our spirits rather than hear from the Holy Spirit. We think being over-eager, personable, extremely interested, and going what appears to be “above and beyond” will substitute for the true Spirit’s move in our lives, replaced instead with a psychological head game.

The problem is that we have gotten so manipulative, so good at this game, heaven has no choice BUT to be silent. God can’t have any part in the means or methods by which people are not discerning Him, but trying to discern His people. It doesn’t mean that God does not speak or has nothing to say, as I will speak on in a moment…but it does mean that the methods by which God’s true people are speaking are not ordinary, nor are they common…nor are many of them even eager to speak.

Disturbed is not my favorite artist, but they hit one out of the ballpark for me with their cover of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. I love how they transformed the song with deep vocals and their stunning black and white music video, making it about more than its original context, which came in the wakeful hours following the shooting of John F. Kennedy in 1963. I believe I have blogged on the song before, about living with those quiet in-between times where God doesn’t seem real vocal and we don’t often have a lot of direction, but in this blog, I’m talking about that reality that sometimes the sound of silence we hear on spiritual matters is because we haven’t attuned ourselves to hear the Word of God in a proper context and with a proper spirituality. We are used to noise in church: loud music, loud drums, lots of enthusiasm and running around wild, and messages that throw us into fits of emotional ecstasy. We cry, we run all over the room, we scream and yell and cheer, only to find ourselves in the same exact situations and places all over again, every time.

till, there are many of us who are dealing with a true and authentic “sound of silence” echoing in our lives, in our quiet time and our situations, as we look down the corridors of our churches and our dream states and see things that just don’t seem to measure up with what people are telling us about God. It begs me to ask the question: are the people who are giving us words really hearing from God, or is it nothing more than what I spoke of earlier, where people are reading our spirits and responding to our behavior, thinking that it is God talking to them? If we look at the Bible, the people of God received many messages from God, and very few of those messages would make any of us fly around the room at warp speed. They were disciplined messages, reprimands for idolatry and injustice, leveling for hypocrisy and practicing false worship, and calls to repent, left, right, and sideways. In the Old Testament, it was usually Israel, God’s own people, who received these messages. Very few people had experiences where they went to heaven seven or eight times per day to come back and report what was going on, and even fewer started conversations with the words, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Amos 3:7-8 (GW)

Certainly, the Almighty Lord doesn’t do anything
unless He first reveals His secret to his servants the prophets.
The lion has roared. Who isn’t afraid?
The Almighty Lord has spoken. Who can keep from prophesying?

Why is this relevant, you ask? Because the people of the Old Testament ALSO thought themselves “spiritual.” The book of Amos proves that there were so many so-called “prophets” running around with messages much like the ones we see today that Amos didn’t even want to be a part of the “school of the prophets.” There was so much corruption and so many false words, Amos couldn’t even bring himself to be a part of the order of his day. In our day and age, we have the opposite issue: people refuse to submit themselves to order and run renegade, each with their false words. They don’t realize that they shouldn’t be so shocked by things and they shouldn’t be so easily rattled, because the point of the prophetic is to be so deeply in the heart of God, that the prophets are able to rightly explain and discern what is going on in the world and provide explanation and hope for God’s people.

Yet I, like so many others, sit at points in my life and hear only a sound of silence when we need to hear a genuine word from the Lord. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t always hear for ourselves. This proves that God’s gifts are genuine and that we aren’t just using them for ourselves. I don’t need to hear I am going to live long, that this is just the beginning (which 20 years in, I don’t think that even makes sense), or that money is coming my way. I need to hear what God has to say to me, in this moment, in this hour, in response to where we are. There are so many things that need explanation, and need mention and notice, so many things we need to be attuned to and need the true prophets to be listening and learning about…and instead we are getting the same crap we’ve been hearing forever.

In the song, The Sound of Silence, there is a particularly interesting line:

And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

In this interim, where we are dealing with the false and the true, sorting out wheat from tares (and, for the record, if the wise and foolish virgins prove anything, at least half of the prophets are tares), in a period of heavenly silence, it’s not that God stops speaking or revealing; it’s that it just comes in different forms and in different ways, with things we’d never consider and from people we don’t consider to be approved. It’s found in subtle ways: in signs that only we will understand, in words from people we barely know and barely would consider, looking for messages in odd places; maybe not even found in church or the pulpit, watching as those words are found in places and people we wouldn’t considered worthy of giving God’s Word. It demands we are more attentive, more careful when we feel that we have a word of knowledge, wisdom, or prophecy for someone, and that maybe even we, ourselves, find a new way to present our message in our era of silence.

Things will one day change; periods of silence do come and go, and seasons do shift. For now, we pray, we believe, and we listen for God’s voice in the midst, in the different and challenging, and in the concepts that change our very perceptions of who we are and what it means to be church.

Oh yeah, and…in the meantime…we wait…in the sound of silence.

© 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.

“The Sound Of Silence”

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

 

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grow
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said “The words of the prophets
Are written on subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence”

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