Job 12: Why Does God Answer in Silence?

It is pretty evident in Job 12 that he is pretty much sick of being ridiculed by all of his friends.

Job 12:4  I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn.

This verse tells us something important about the nature of prayer that I sometimes think the unbelieving have a very hard time comprehending. Sometimes God does answer with silence.

Job has been trying to live his life the right way, and he has no idea what exactly is going wrong. He doesn’t know why God is allowing all of this to happen to him, and we have not heard God talk to him directly. So far, this book has been a conversation between Job and his friends except for the part in heaven where God and Satan are interacting.

However, it is interesting that Job feels as if he has been answered. There is some reason that he believes that the lack of an answer is an answer in and of itself.

Why does God answer in silence? What could that possibly mean?

I honestly cannot say without a shadow of a doubt because I am not God, but I can give you a few reasons why I might answer in silence if you asked me a question. I am not at all trying to equate myself with God, but here are a few possible reasons I have thought of that apply to me, and I guess possibly could extend to God.

First, it might be possible that it is not time for you to know something. For a kind of laughable example, if you asked me what I bought you for Christmas, I will choose not to answer that question. It is not the right time for you to know what I bought you. Similarly, I could ask God what is going to happen in the future, but there might be a reason I should not know about it.

Second, it might be possible that I want to build your trust. If I tell you to follow me and don’t explain why, I am hoping that your trust in my leadership will be enough for you to want to come with me. Perhaps God is the same way. If it is unknown, we simply need to follow him because we had no idea where we are going on our own. That develops our relationship.

Finally, it might be possible that we may have received an answer that we did not understand. This makes me think about when we simplify stories for young children. They might not have the intellectual capacity to understand a complex story, and if we gave them that story, they would have received an answer but would not understand that as an acceptable response. God works in ways that are above our ways. It is impossible for our finite minds and sense of reality to comprehend the workings of an infinite God. Perhaps we could receive an answer but perceive it as silence because it went right over our heads.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list. However, if you feel that you are not receiving an answer from God, I would encourage you to think about Job and these three examples. A non-answer definitely does not automatically imply that God does not exist.

About Zak Schmoll

Zak Schmoll is the founder of Entering the Public Square, and Managing Editor of An Unexpected Journal. He earned his MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University and is currently a PhD student in Humanities at Faulkner University. His work has been featured on several websites including The Federalist, Public Discourse and the Fourth World Journal.

Posted on October 13, 2013, in Job and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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