The History of God in His Union With Man, by Witness Lee


God is also seen as the God of silence to Abraham. This was due to the fact that Abraham listened to his wife Sarah and married Hagar to get a son by the exercise of his flesh when he was eighty-six years old (Gen. 16:1-4, 15-16). That offended God to the uttermost. Then God became silent to Abraham for thirteen years, until he became ninety-nine years old, and God appeared to him again (Gen. 17:1).

After Abraham was called out of Haran and went into Canaan, "Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said, Unto your seed will I give this land" (Gen. 12:7). This word spoken to Abraham was God’s promise to him, indicating that God would give a seed to him to inherit the land of Canaan as his possession.

When Abraham’s nephew Lot was separated from him, leaving him lonely with no heir to inherit his possession, God said to him, "All the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever. And I will make your seed as the dust of the earth" (Gen. 13:15-16). This was to repeat the promise to Abraham in 12:7, with a strong confirmation of God’s unchangeable promise to make his seed as numerous as the dust of the earth.

When Abraham was afraid that the four kings might come to seek vengeance, after he had recovered his nephew Lot and his family from the four capturing kings, at this point in Genesis 15 God spoke to Abraham in a vision. God promised him that his seed would be as many as the stars in heaven (v. 5), and made a covenant with him. In Genesis 12 God spoke a word as a promise to Abraham. In Genesis 13 God repeated that promise and confirmed it. In Genesis 15 God made a covenant with Abraham (vv. 8-12, 18) to reconfirm that promise.

In spite of God’s repeated promise and His confirming covenant, in Genesis 16 Abraham’s wife proposed that he take Hagar her maid to bear a child for her (vv. 1-3). Abraham took, by exercising his flesh, Hagar and she bore a son by the name of Ishmael. This was a real offense to God! And God became silent to Abraham for that long time of thirteen years.

(The History of God in His Union With Man, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)