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No Answer

How do we respond to silence?

Genesis 11:26–12:1 (ESV)

When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

This passage is another example of how genealogies skip generations. If you assume Abram was born when Terah was 70, then he was 135 when Terah died. But note Stephen’s speech in chapter 7 of Acts.

And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living.” — Acts 7:2–4 (ESV)

But Abram was a lot less than 135 when he left Haran.

Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. — Genesis 12:4b (ESV)

While it’s possible that this 60 year discrepancy can be resolved by assuming Abram was not Haran’s first son, inserting an extra generation or two between them makes more sense.

When we pray seeking the Lord’s leading, what should we do if nothing happens? How should we interpret no answer to a prayer like this?

Actually, this is pretty common. God doesn’t always want a big change in plans.

The interpretation depends on what you’re praying about. If you’re asking for guidance on, say, whether to accept a job offer, silence can mean, “You need to make this decision on your own.”

But in a lot of cases, no response just means that everything’s okay. This leads to an important rule—don’t sit idle while you’re waiting for the Lord’s leading.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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