Where’s your passage?

In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?” (2Sam 7:7)

Do you understand what this verse is saying? David had come up with what appeared to be a good idea to build a permanent temple out of cedar. The prophet Nathan agreed that this indeed appeared to be a good idea, even telling him that the LORD agreed that it was a good idea.

Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee” (2Sam 7:3).

So, here we have this mighty king, a man after God’s own heart, with what appeared to be a good idea, to build God a permanent dwelling place. Reasoning thusly, “I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (2Sam 7:2).

We also have a prophet of God in agreement with the King, even asserting that God is also in agreement. However,

…God DID NOT agree that it was a good idea for David to build Him a house of cedar. The way He says it to them is very interesting. He doesn’t say, “No, do not build me a house of Cedar.” Neither does He say, “I didn’t want you to do that, but since you’re very sincere, go ahead anyway.” Some will argue this same way, “where does it say He forbids it?” They also say, “We don’t have a command, but God will accept it because it’s from the sincerity of our heart.”

Here’s how God answers David. “In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?

In effect, God asks, “Where is your scripture for your good idea?”

When I ask this question of folks, they respond with some version that they don’t need a scripture. “Look at the results,” they say. “Look at how much good we’ve done.” If 2Samuel 7:7 did not exist, I may have to agree with them. But it does exist, and there are other such passages.

Look at this example in Acts 15. “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment” (Act 15:24).

Here we see the same type of discussion. The converted Jews had the “good idea” that gentiles must become circumcised, and keep the Law of Moses to become Christians. The problem with that “good idea” was that there was no command for it. Both David, and the Christian Jews of the 1st century had come up with “good ideas” from the SILENCE of God. James points out to them that the SILENCE of God prohibits action, not allow it.

Another example in Hebrews says, “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood” (Heb 7:14).

The SILENCE on a matter prohibited an action. In this case, the LORD had commanded that the Priests under the Law of Moses were to be taken from the tribe of Levi (Ex 28:1-4). Since Jesus was to be a Priest and a King (Heb 5:6), He could not hold that position, for the Law Prohibited it, and Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, something the Law spoke nothing concerning priesthood. Thus, the Law was changed because Christ is both Priest and King (Heb 7:12-13).

From these passages we learn that silence prohibits. When we receive a specific command from God, it prohibits any alteration, addition, or abatement. From these examples we learn 6 things when God is SILENT on a matter.

We are limited to what has been revealed in SCRIPTURE. This is how God communicates to us, through His divine written word (Deut 29:29).

We learn that without a command, there can be no INFERENCES, necessary or otherwise. God’s silence does not IMPLY His permission, it prohibits it.

In Hebrews we learn that we are under the will and testament of Christ. In the LAWS of Contracts & Wills, we are LIMITED to what it says, not given permission by what it does not say (cf. Heb 9:15-17). Think about how difficult it would be to defend a Will if we could change it based on things that are not in it. Could I claim a right to Bill Gates’ will, though I’m not in it? He didn’t say not to include me.

This brings us to the fourth point. If Silence doesn’t limit, then it creates a condition where EVERYTHING is permitted. All we would have to do is say, “God never said I can’t, so I’m going to do it.” It would lead to chaos and confusion. Oh wait, that’s exactly what we see in the denomination realm (cf. 1Cor 14:33).

The reality is, and we understand in other areas, that Silence is NO PERMISSION at all. For example, if you were to order a pepperoni pizza, what does your silence about smoked oysters say? (smoked oysters were a common ingredient in Fairbanks, AK back when I worked in a pizza joint in high school). You would never accept a pizza with smoked oysters when you ordered a pepperoni pizza. Your specific statement and your silence prohibit additional toppings.

Which brings me to the fifth point. We are limited in action when we have a “THUS SAITH THE LORD.” When God specifies something, He need not list all the aberrations. Specific is terrific. We know what He wants. There is another form of His command called Generic commands, in which He gives us liberty to take action He hasn’t specified, but that’s for another article. When we have a specific “Thus saith the LORD” we are limited to the specific statements and commands and cannot alter, add, nor abate His command. Silence prohibits.


“Is it less dishonest to do what is wrong because it is not expressly prohibited by written law? Let us hope our moral principles are not yet in that stage of degeneracy.”

— Thomas Jefferson

Spencer is an evangelist for the church of Christ on Franklin & Juniper in Borger Texas.

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