Silence and the Scriptures During the Time of Haggai
Romans 15:4 states, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The apostle Paul in this text, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as all authors of scripture, brings home the point that there is much worth in the examination of the Old Testament writings. Many folks approach the Old Testament with a bit of trepidation because they understand we are under a New Covenant in Christ. However, it must be recalled that all passages in the Old Testament are not specific to the Old Law. There are eternal principles that were established outside of the Law of Moses before, after, and during it. Principles of modesty, marriage, God’s nature, and more reside within the Old Testament scriptures and provide direction for us today.
There are many passages in the Old Testament that provide guidance on how man is to behave when God is silent about something. The following scripture provides a very precise example of Biblical Authority and how it relates to the “Silence of the Scriptures” – Haggai 2:10-13:
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.
In this passage, The prophet Haggai asks the priests if something which was holy comes into contact with something else which was common, will that common item become holy. They priests answer “No”. Yet, there is no passage in scripture that told the priests this. There had been no command of God in regard to this. How did the priests know the answer? The answer resided in the silence. God had never addressed this issue directly. Therefore, the priests could not declare a common item contacting a holy one to become holy.
The second question Haggai asked regarded what would happen when the common came into contact with the unclean. Would it become unclean? The answer given: “Yes”. How did the priests know this answer? God has spoken on the issue, he had not been silent (Num.19:11-22).
The importance Haggai 2:10-13 (and other passages like it), is that when God has been silent on an issue it is prohibitive, it is not permissive. The priests of Haggai’s time knew this. Perhaps when Christians today determine to bring in instruments to worship, praise teams, drama, puppet shows, clapping, swaying, foreign elements to the Lord’s Supper, rummage sales, bake sales, community meals to draw folks to the gospel, and any other number of innovations into the service of God, they will consider that He has been silent regarding permission of these things. God’s silence prohibited action in the time of Haggai and it does so today as well.