It is tempting to think of God’s Word as being primarily “THOU SHALT NOTS” – very negative and mostly telling us what not to do. Not only can this be discouraging, but it also tempts us to expect God to always tell us what not to do. And that tempts us to say, “Well, God didn’t say NOT to…” as justification for actions.
In reality, God’s word is primarily positive, inviting us into holiness and sanctification with actions (obedience) that conform to His character and that are good for us. Yes, there are times where God warns us about things that are wrong, but these tend to be areas where we struggle to see them as inconsistent with God’s glory or where we struggle with self-control of our flesh. And sometimes God has to define holiness by saying it is “this not that.” This has an interesting impact on our view of God’s silence.
God generally tells us what is good and right. He sanctifies us, moves us into holiness, with His revealed truth, His word (Jn 17:17). God’s word gives us the ability to “Test all things, hold fast to what is good” (1 Th 5:21). Remaining in His word, doing what He says, is what makes us true disciples of Jesus (Jn 8:31). So, when God is silent, when He doesn’t show us in His word that something is good and right in His sight, we can’t do it. God’s silence means He doesn’t authorize, He doesn’t move us or empower us to do it.
This is what the Hebrew writer was alluding to when he reasoned that if Jesus is a priest, then the Law had to change. It wasn’t that the Old Law forbade it, it was that the Law revealed that priests came from the Jewish family of Levi and “…it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood” (He 7:14). The Law was silent about priests being from the tribe of Judah, but not silent about priests from Levi. It didn’t have to say, “No priests from Judah!” – all it had to do was remain silent about them and that excluded them.
God speaks in a variety of ways in Scripture. Sometimes it is just a statement or command. Sometimes God shows us examples to learn from. And sometimes He clearly implies certain things are His will or that we can choose to do or not do certain things. But when we don’t have any of these things in Scripture – when God is silent – we do not have the power and authority of God to act.
Let’s not try to hear things in God’s silence. Listen to God. Hear His words. Do what He says.