The Bare Soul - June 26, 2011
The Power of Silence

The following is the message text and audio recording of a sermon titled "Pursuing Peace" delivered to the homeless
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on June 23, 2011.

The Power of Silence - June 23, 2011

Exodus 14:14 - The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.

Anyone who has watched a crime drama, either in a movie or on a television program, is familiar with "the right to be silent" when law enforcement has arrested a suspect. The Miranda Rule was developed from a 1966 Supreme Court ruling to protect the individual's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The High Court recognized that every one detained on United States soil, whether citizen or not, was afforded the right to not speak until they were duly represented by legal counsel. However, one could arbitrarily waive those rights by speaking to an arresting officer. In those cases, anything they say could be used against them when their day in court arrived. Lawyers work hard to throw out testimonies or confessions offered before their clients are duly represented. In most cases, silence by the defendant is a place of strength and an unalienable right under the constitution. It should not be lightly disposed of, but recognized as possibly the greatest power those arrested may possess. While most arrests are warranted, there are always those instances where they are not. This might be something as simple as a driving infraction (legally, in all 50 states, when one is pulled over they are technically under arrest until released by the officer). Or, it could be something much more heinous where there is a mistaken identity or a misunderstanding that seems to make someone culpable, but indeed is not the case. With the advent of DNA testing, more and more cases are being exonerated in the courts due to wrong or erroneous evidence. It is one thing to suffer through injustice, denying that a person is responsible. It is quite another to remain quiet in the midst of a prejudiced circumstance.

The children of Israel were in a situation where they had been locked away, or incarcerated if you will, for nearly 400 years. They had not been silent, but had cried out to the Lord, and He heard their voice (Exodus 3:7). Then, along came the man, Moses, whom God had raised up to bring His people out of bondage. He promised the Hebrews freedom and a return to the land of their ancestors. Through the first twelve chapters of the book of Exodus we see the Lord acting strongly on behalf of His people, finally garnering their release from a hard-hearted Pharaoh. However, the situation turned diametrically for Israel once the Egyptians regretted their decision to "let God's people go." Once the pursuit was on by Pharaoh's forces, the children of Israel were terrified. Moses calmed this vast crowd by stating not to fear and to know that ... The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. (Exodus 14:14) Their crying out to God for generations had finally come to a climax, but now God was saying, "It's time to be quiet and see My deliverance!" The wisdom to know when to speak and voice their complaint and to stand and see the salvation of God was now being manifested in their own sight. The day of their redemption had come and all they needed to do was shut their mouth in the midst of the injustice that was seeking to devour them.

So, how do we know when to be silent or when to complain to God? The children of Israel sought to learn that lesson for the next 40 years after He destroyed Pharaoh and his armies. Their wandering aimlessly through the deserts of the Sinai was a testimony of their foolishness. It spoke loudly about their lack of understanding regarding when and when not to cry out. Others in scripture give us a glimpse into this struggle between knowing when to speak up to God and when to sit silently and wait. Through all of Job's struggles and complaints, it did not change the verdict against himself or his friends. We are shown in the beginning of the book and finally at the end how God was working in the background, accomplishing His purposes. Being privy to God's dealings helps the reader understand the Lord's workings in the case of Job. But what of others? David, we are shown throughout the Psalms, offers complaints and entreaties continually for God's deliverance (see Psalm 31, Psalm 55, and Psalm 64 for just a few examples). However, his son Solomon gave us these words in Ecclesiastes 3:7, telling us there is a "... time to be silent and a time to speak." Jeremiah the prophet on the other hand reminds us that it is good that a man wait silently for the salvation of the LORD (Lamentations 3:26).

While there seem to be conflicting accounts in scripture regarding whether to wait on the Lord's salvation silently or to cry out for it incessantly, I believe there is a guiding principle to lead us through this seeming dilemma. Some of the best advice when knowing when to act or simply to do nothing is "... If in doubt, DON'T!" Paul tells us to allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). Is there turmoil in your heart regarding a seeming injustice that has been dealt to you? Then take it to the Lord in prayer. His promise is that He will give you peace beyond comprehension, if we will but ask. Do you feel that you've done all that you can and you now possess God's peace even though you might be wrongly accused? Then stand and see the salvation of God. Stand resolutely, yet silently, and wait for God's vindication for it will come. With David, we will be able to say: Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14) Once we have gained our position in Christ's peace, there is nothing that can defraud us if we will but wait silently for the inevitable victory. Praise God for His victory as we wait upon the Lord!

Heavenly Father, we rejoice in the wisdom to know when to speak up and when to shut up. The victory is ours if we will but listen to You rather than to continually listen to the noise of others and of this world. Grant us ears to hear, that we might find that place of peace and rejoice in the silence of your deliverance. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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