SILENCE BEFORE GOD - The Warrior's Journey®


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“There Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” (Matthew 17:2-3)


Anyone who visits our home will immediately be struck with its predominant characteristic – clutter. There is no place on table tops, dressers, night stands, or shelves that is not occupied by knickknacks, figurines, pictures, books, sleeping cats, etc. This becomes a constant irritant whenever I have something fragile in my hand that demands a better and safer place than on the floor. For every spot is already taken. There’s no room for something more important.

Keep this in mind as I ask the following question. Why don’t we have any record of the words from the heavenly conversation between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah? Words were spoken. Luke tells us that they spoke of Jesus’ “exodus” or departure which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Their discussion would have revealed a ton of theology, if only it was recorded. But it’s nowhere to be found in the Gospels. Why?

The easy answer is to say that God, in His sovereignty only placed in Scripture those words which He willed to be there. And this is correct. There were other times when God forbid biblical writers from recording the words they heard in heaven. For example, Paul heard words in heaven that he was not permitted to share with us (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). And then there was John, who was forbidden to write the words which “the Seven Thunders” spoke, but was told to “seal them up” (Revelation 10:3-4).

But these were the exceptions, not the rule. For the most part, when God carried someone up to heaven (or brought heaven down, as with Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-24), it was to show and tell them something to relay to the rest of His people.

I suspect the reason we don’t have the Transfiguration’s heavenly conversation recorded is twofold. First, Peter, James, and John were busy doing what they typically did while Jesus was praying. They were sleeping, and only woke up halfway into the Transfiguration (Luke 9:32). The second reason was that Peter, instead of being silent before God, felt an uncontrollable urge to talk. And instead of getting access to Christ’s amazing conversation with Moses and Elijah, all we have is Peter’s outrageous suggestion. “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If You wish, I will build three tabernacles – one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4).

To emphasize the unimportance of Peter’s words, Luke tells us, “he did not know what he was saying” (Luke 9:33). Mark adds, He did not know what to say, they were so frightened” (Mark 9:6). Therefore, the Gospels make it clear. When Peter was frightened and neither had anything to say nor knew what he was talking about, he filled the air with his words. That’s why we don’t have a record of the words between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.

This is further substantiated by God the Father’s rebuke to Peter. “This is My beloved Son, in who I am well-pleased. Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5). Maybe it’s a good thing that Jesus gave His “Revelation” to John and not to Peter. John was a better listener.

God, in His sovereignty, allowed Peter to shroud a heavenly conversation with his foolish words as a lesson to us. Silence before God is both required and purposeful. It gives God a chance to speak and us a chance to listen.

You may have seen or heard this “object lesson”?  It’s been used by leaders to demonstration how you can always fit more into your schedule. To illustrate this point, a person takes a bucket and fills it with rocks. Then they say, “The bucket is filled, right?”  Everyone agrees.

But then the demonstrator takes a container of small pebbles and pour them into the bucket, to fill all the spaces between the rocks. Then, he repeats the words, “The bucket is filled, right?”  Most everyone agrees. But then the demonstrator continues by pouring sand into the bucket, until it fills every nook and cranny.

I’ve heard people use this illustration to prove that we can always squeeze more into our schedule than we think. It’s all a matter of better time management.

But a far better application for this illustration is this: Keep our priorities right. Put the big things (the rocks) in first, not the tiny things (the grains of sand). Otherwise, if you reverse the process when filling the bucket, you won’t have room for anything bigger than a grain of sand. The sand will leave no room for the bigger rocks. In other words, the bigger things must take priority over the small. When we plan the tasks of the day, first put in the biggest and most important tasks – like listening to God through prayer and meditation on His word. Otherwise, we will fill our day with the frivolous and have no room for the profound.

Peter filled the conversation on the Holy Mountain with his own silly recommendations. He would have done better to say nothing and just listen. Our silence before God makes room for Him to speak and us to listen. It prevents the worthless from crowding out the priceless.

“The LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).


PRAYER:  Dear Father in heaven, please help me learn that what You have to say to me is infinitely more important than what I have to say to You. Help me to store up Your holy word in my mind to leave less room for my chronic worries nor for the devil’s dark thoughts. Help me to always give Jesus first place in my time and my mind. In His most holy name, Amen.

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