“Silence Please!”


Often a court official or the chairperson of a gathering, will request “Silence please!” when a judge or magistrate enters a courtroom, or when introducing a special guest or in bringing a gathering to order. 

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Habakkuk 2:20 GNB

‘The LORD is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence.’

Churches Unite for Prayer

There was an occasion during my ministry in Harare, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) that called for silence.

Christians were deeply concerned about the effect the bush war was having upon the economy and safety of the country. At that time Bob Bosworth an itinerant preacher visited our city. He encouraged Christians to devote more time to early morning prayer meetings. After he preached at my own church, the Hatfield Presbyterian Church, we held 5 am prayer meetings in our church hall every morning for a whole week.

A similar meeting was held once a week for all Christians in the Harry Margolis Hall in the centre of Harare (Salisbury at that time). There was an amazing response as hundreds of Christians gathered each week at 5 am. A wonderful uniting of the denominations, everyone there to pray for the Lord to intervene and bring an end to the bloodshed. 

Silence Please!

The coming together of Christians from different persuasions meant that the prayer times became very loud at times. Leaders from the different denominations had a turn in leading the prayer gathering. When it was my turn, I felt that before launching into loud prayers we needed to first focus on the Lord. I quoted Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.” and encouraged folk to be silent and just focus on our gracious and powerful God giving Him honour and glory before presenting our prayer requests. There was an amazing sense of God’s presence amongst us.

  • Do you launch into a prayer list without really getting your focus on our awesome God first?    

It is important that we take time to tune out earthly distractions and endeavour to tune in to the Lord by focussing our thoughts on Him. This may be through a time of praise or listening to music or a time of silence.

The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT- Alfred Brendel Click To Tweet

The LORD is in His Temple

By contrast with the lifeless idols we thought about last week, we worship the living and true God. He does not live in man-made edifices but in His heavenly, holy temple.

Whereas the idols remain silent, the living, sovereign Ruler of the universe calls us at times to be silent before Him. We do this out of respect and awe, after all everything belongs to Him, for He created it and us.

“Lord, You are worthy to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because You created all things, and through Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 LITV)

Corporate Worship blocked

It has been a tradition for us Christians to gather each week in a church for a worship service. Most Christians found themselves at a loss when due to the Coronavirus pandemic governments around the world banned all gatherings, including church services.

Church leaderships found new ways to hold services and minister to their members. Many resorted to holding online services and even Bible Studies. Unfortunately, there were some countries and areas, especially in the poorer parts of town, that did not have the finances to purchase the necessary equipment and their parishioners were deprived of opportunities to meet together as a body.

As I write, in most countries even though churches are open for worship, they remain under strict protocol restrictions of wearing masks,  sanitizing one’s hands upon entering the church and observing social distancing. This doesn’t apply to all countries, and with the COVID-10 pandemic, this could change at any point.

There is one thing that has become certain to us all during this time and that is, nothing is ever certain!

Worship a precious moment

  • What is the main motivation for worshipping God?

‘Oh, thank GOD–he’s so good! His love never runs out.’ (Psalm 107:1 The Message)

God deserves our worship because of His amazing love amongst many other benefits.

In one of his devotions, Max Lucado’s wrote:

‘Worship is when you’re aware that what you’ve been given is far greater than what you can give.

Worship is the awareness that were it not for His touch, you’d still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken. Worship is the “thank you” that refuses to be silenced. 

Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer.’ (In the Eye of the Storm’ – Max Lucado)

Worshipful in Silence?

I am sure that you’ve heard people say ‘I received nothing from that service.’  But is worship really purely about receiving?

If that is true, then it all depends upon the preacher’s message. And the service needs to have as its focus ‘the message’. We should call it a Message Service or a Preacher’s Service.

But we call it a Worship Service. Why?

Surely because the focus is meant to be on the worship of Almighty God. Our purpose for gathering is to express to God the gratitude we feel for His amazing love and provision of salvation from sin.

Max Lucado comments, ‘If worship did nothing for you—it would still be right to do. God warrants our worship.’ (Cure for the Common Life – Max Lucado)

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul has this to say:

‘This is what I mean, my friends. When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching, another a revelation from God.’ (1 Corinthians 14:26 GNB)

These words indicate that true worship is not a one-man or woman show but those gathered participating in one way or another.

Motivation for Worship

When speaking to the woman of Sychar Jesus indicated that true worship is not focused on a place. (John 4:20-24)

True worship depends upon a person—the person of the Holy Spirit.

‘But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.” (John 4:23,24 Contemporary English Version)

As you come to the end of this study, ask the Holy Spirit now to teach you how to truly focus your worship on the the Father through the Son.

If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.

Why silence in the face of evil, God?

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Habakkuk 1:13 NIrV

“Your eyes are too pure to look at what is evil. You can’t put up with the wrong things people do. So why do you put up with those who can’t be trusted? The evil Babylonians swallow up those who are more godly than themselves. So why are you silent?”

Silence why?

As we see in verse 13 of chapter 1, the silence of God in the face of wickedness continues to puzzle Habakkuk.

  • How do you react to the widespread violence, hatred, persecution, oppression and corruption reported in the media?
  • Is there a particular news item in recent days that has caused you to feel like Habakkuk? “You can’t put up with the wrong things people do,…so why are you silent?”
  • What’s your take on why the Lord does not punish the wrongdoers?

In verses 1:13 to 2:1 Habakkuk reveals his surprise at God”s intentions.

Puzzling over Silence

Habakkuk reveals his faith and trust in God when he says, “Holy LORD God, mighty rock, you are eternal, and we are safe from death” (1:12), yet He is nevertheless puzzled. God is holy, pure and righteous, so surely he cannot use such wicked people as the Babylonians! 

The prophet questions the wisdom of God in overlooking the Babylonian (Chaldean) sins, and punishing His own people, Judah. In Habakkuk’s eyes they were, by comparison, far less sinful. Wouldn’t the use of the Babylonians bring dishonour upon God’s holy name?

  • What are the things we do as a nation which bring dishonour to God’s holy name?
  • How about in your own life?

An appeal in the silence

In the remainder of this chapter, Habakkuk goes on to again ask God not to overlook the Babylonian sinfulness but instead to judge them (Verses 13-17).

  • Is there anyone in your life who deliberately makes your life difficult because you are a Christian?
  • Why do you think does God allow …fill in the blank…to make life difficult for you?

Scripture shows us that God, for reasons often difficult to understand, often allows Satan and his minions to persecute His children.

Job in the Old Testament (or the first testament as our pastor suggested last Sunday) demonstrates this truth (Job 1:6-12). “The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:12 NIV) God’s permissive will enabled Satan to launch a full-scale attack on Job.

And in the New (or second) Testament Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31,32 NIV).  We know that Peter did fail—in a way he would never thought possible—when he denied his Lord three times. But, praise God, his restoration came alongside the Sea of Galilee after Jesus resurrection  (John 21:15-17)

Silence is golden

Job and Peter are by no means the exceptions. Jesus said, “Satan has asked to sift all of you.” That’s what our adversary seeks to do with all of us who follow Jesus. But notice, he needs God’s permission first. Although God gives the forces of evil a certain degree of leeway in making life difficult for us, if Satan wants to really turn up the heat, he needs to ask God first!

First, Satan has to seek God’s permission. Secondly, God may, and sometimes does, grant that permission. I wonder how often God refuses? That’s an encouraging thought.

The Bible teaches that we all get tested so that we can be ‘sifted’ of things that are detrimental to our witness for Christ. This is God’s way of refining us, like gold is refined (1 Peter 1:6,7 NIV). Job also proclaimed, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23;10 NIV).

Silence is temporary

Although God may allow Satan to sew his seeds of wickedness for a while, or even unleash a wholesale attack, He remains holy, and does not approve of wickedness. He has promised us that by faith we will overcome our enemy. That’s a thought to latch onto when things are tough.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

1 John 4:4 NIV “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”.

Dwight D Eisenhower made a clever statement:

There is no victory at bargain basement prices. Dwight D Eisenhower Click To Tweet

Please join me in prayer.

Loving Heavenly Father thank you for the reminder that times of trial and persecution are allowed by You to put my faith to the test and sift me. Thank you too for the promise that in times of temptation you provide a way out so that I may overcome. Holy Spirit please help me to rely more on You so that I don’t lose my faith in Christ but instead overcome the powers of darkness. I pray these things in Jesus’ glorious name. Amen.


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.