When Did God Stop Talking To People?

Abraham005God talked with Adam personally and directly. With Eve too. Not just before they sinned, but afterwards when He was handing down their punishment and then when He made garments for them.

He talked to Cain, too—first when he presented an unacceptable sacrifice to God, then after he killed his brother and when He “appointed him a sign so that no one would slay him.” Regardless, Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord.”

God was still talking to other people, though, and after Seth gave birth to his son, “Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” Men began to pray? To ask God for what they needed? Had something changed that required them to ask? Had God initiated the conversation up to this point, but now Humankind felt the need to do so? Why?

In some ways, this is a moot point because we know from Scripture, society moved further and further from God. Eventually Noah alone found favor in God’s sight. He was blameless, righteous, and “walked with God.” I don’t think it’s a stretch to extrapolate from that that God and Noah talked with one another.

Certainly God talked to Noah when He gave Him the explicit instructions involved with building the ark. And bringing in the animals. And his family.

After the flood, God continued to talk with Noah, telling him when to come out onto dry land, giving His promise never to flood the earth and destroy humankind in that way again.

Further, He repeated the first command He’d given to Adam and Eve, this time to Noah and to his sons: Be fruitful and multiply. He also told them the animal kingdom would fear them from that point on, He gave them animals for food, and He prohibited killing humans.

When Noah died, 350 years later, the world was a different place, with various people groups, located in different areas and speaking different languages. Six generations from Noah, the earth was divided, which I take to mean, the continents were formed.

And where was God during this time?

For one, He confused the people’s speech which caused them to develop different languages, and He dispersed them on the earth.

Why would He do that? Apparently because in concert they were acting for themselves and not for God’s glory:

They said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves.

The next interaction between God and humanity that Scripture records is God’s call to Abram, who we know as Abraham:

“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

In all this, I don’t see God pulling back or being silent. In addition, the people who were dispersed throughout the earth were all descendants of Noah’s sons who were party to that covenant God made after the flood.

It seems disparate cultures retain a flood story as part of their mythology, a logical outcome if those three young men passed on to their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren what they’d experienced. And if those great-grandchildren told their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, the story would be preserved in some form or other.

The Biblical account, of course, has the advantage of being inspired by the Holy Spirit.

But here’s my question. What did all these different generations say about God? They told the flood story, but what did they tell their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren about God?

Were they angry with Him for confounding their language and dispersing them throughout the earth? Did they ignore Him so that their iniquities caused a separation between them and their God and their sins hid His face from them so that He did not hear when they called to Him?

Did He do what Romans 1 says—give them over to the lusts of their hearts?

We talk today about general revelation—the evidence of God in what He has made. Paul was clear:

That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

I believe in this general revelation, but what seems abundantly clear to me is that God first gave “special revelation”—His specific disclosure to those who would listen.

Cain didn’t listen, going so far as to leave God’s presence. The people who tried to elevate themselves by building a tower that reached to the heavens apparently didn’t listen to God, so He removed them from His presence.

But Abram, He talked to. Abram heard Him and believed Him and obeyed Him. Makes me think the question is wrong. God never stopped talking to people. Instead, why did people stop listening to God?

Published in: on May 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm  Comments (3)  
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