Your eyes are a powerful part of your body, dear woman. So much of your life is experienced through how you see, but sometimes our mouths can get in the way of this. And that’s why this week, we’re going to be talking about the spiritual discipline of silence as it connects to the health of our eyes.
The Bible knows this is a truth that applies not just physically, but also spiritually.
This is especially true when it comes to God fighting for His people – for Israel, for the Church, for me and for you my sister.
And it’s with that in mind that we’ll be visiting the Exodus story again this week. If you haven’t read or listened to our post on remembrance, you’ll want to do that before reading on, which you can do here – it helps provide context and background for our story today.
So, with the spiritual discipline of silence on our minds, let’s dive into Exodus 14 where we’ll discover what this spiritual discipline has to do with God providing for Israel and fighting their battles.
A Lack of Silence
When life rushes around you, when walls close in on you, when you can only sense the chaos of the world and not the peace of God, what is your response?
If you’re anything like me, you turn to fear. You ask questions of God, spit frustration at others – our mouths open wide in response to the situation at hand.
Last week we saw the beginning of Israel’s story – specifically, their journey to freedom in the Exodus. God has led them to freedom, but freedom to where?
And just as soon as they look to see the desolate desert ahead of them, they turn back and see their captors closing in behind them.
Egypt is rushing toward them, an army closing in, chaos quickly approaching.
Just like you and me, Israel’s first choice is not the discipline of silence.
Their response is fear. And just like you and I do, they open their mouths and cry out to God.
- When you look around at your life, what do you see?
- Do you see the chaos of the world?
- Do you see the consequences of past actions unfolding?
- Maybe you see darkness closing in on you?
- Take a moment and allow yourself to cry out to God with what your eyes see.
Speaking over Silence
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Israel’s cry to God in these verses is not without reason. They spent 430 years enslaved to this cruel army that is now quickly descending upon them.
Exodus 14:10 tells us, “the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.”
Israel’s eyes see the danger coming.
Their eyes perceive the threat of death quickly approaching. So they do the natural thing, they cry out to God.
In Exodus 14:11-12, they tell Moses it would have been better to die as slaves than to die in these conditions. Slavery they knew, bondage was familiar. But death in the wilderness?
Their mouths opened to what their eyes perceived to be a gross injustice.
God brought them to freedom only to let them die.
This is what they see, so this is what they speak. But God is going to teach Israel a very important lesson here, one that concerns the spiritual discipline of silence.
Israel needed to learn this as much as we do sister, so let’s not miss what’s next.
- When, like Israel, have you longed to return to your old life?
Maybe it’s a temptation to return to old habits, or a desire to return to something familiar that’s long gone. Whatever it is, bring it before the Lord in prayer. Ask that He would continue to be your strength as you move forward in His Spirit.
Grace To Be Silent
The grace of the Gospel is found in the spiritual discipline of silence. Moses’ words for Israel display this in Exodus 14:14, where he tells them,
“Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.”
I don’t know about you, but when I read these words from Scripture, they are rest for my soul. Go ahead, read them again.
Moses’ words to Israel’s quick cry of fear are not words of shame, condemnation, or a call to repent. No, here, in this moment of Israel’s story, they are words of grace.
God knows that Israel’s instinctual response to fear is one that has been ingrained in them for hundreds of years. So the words “Don’t be afraid” are a salve to souls who only knew slavery.
But Israel is here, now, in the wilderness, to be souls freed from bondage. Because of this, Moses tells them to stand firm, and what are they to do?
Close their eyes to the danger? Turn their eyes from the Egyptian army?
The Egyptian army they see coming after them will never be seen again.
What must they do for their eyes to witness salvation?
Israel must be silent.
Through their silence, Israel will see God fight their battle.
Through their silence, Israel will see how God provides in the wilderness.
When life gets hard, when we feel darkness closing in on us, we often look to what we can do to conquer and overcome the difficulty. Here, God tells Israel to be silent.
- What areas of your life do you need to silently bring before the Lord?
Think about things where you’ve allowed your opinion to dominate for so long that you’ve lost the ability to hear God’s voice in the situation.
The Power of Silence
So many of us want to know how we can let God fight our battles. We cry out to God day into night, and with no reprieve.
Yes, my dear woman, I’m as familiar with this as you are.
Our eyes are open to the world around us, and what we see offers us no comfort. And so our mouths open.
Anguished cries to God.
Just as Israel let out the deepest, most anguished cry of their souls, we also cry out to God with deep, often justified fear. But again, notice that God doesn’t pour shame upon them for opening their mouths in Exodus 14.
Israel is simply called to close them, just for a moment, as God provides for them in the wilderness.
And the spiritual discipline of silence was, in this moment, Israel’s lesson as much as it is ours.
- What is the lesson from this Bible study on silence?
There is a time to speak and a time to cry out to God. But in the same step, there is a time when we must close our mouths so that our eyes can be open to seeing God’s power on display.
- Have you ever practiced silence before the Lord?
- Did you hear God speak to you in that moment?
- If you didn’t, were you discouraged from ever trying again?
- What might happen if you were silent before God on a regular basis?
Practicing the Silence
Here’s what we’re going to do now – we’re going to put the spiritual discipline of silence into practice.
If you’ve got little kids running around, or are in the middle of a work day, you don’t have to do this right this moment. But before you crawl in bed tonight, I’d encourage you to stop, and practice the silence.
With that, here’s what I want you to do:
- Open your Bible to Psalm 46. With your Bible open in front of you, place your hands with your palms up and lay them on your Bible.
- Close your eyes, and breath in and out before the Lord. Allow your mind to settle, and ask God to clear your head of all distractions as you come before Him.
- Breath in and out again, asking that God would speak into your silence.
- Then, open your eyes, and read through the Psalm.
- Then, read through it again.
This time is not a time to speak your fears, this time is not a time to cry out – it’s simply a time to listen.
And just as Israel needed to see how God would fight their battles through their silence, so we also will discover how God fights our battles as we close our mouths, and open our eyes.
As we come to the end of our time together, journeying through Israel’s story and how we find ourselves in it, my hope and prayer is that opening the Scriptures together has been what Moses’ words to Israel in Exodus 14:14 were – salve that soothes your soul.
You, my sister, can be silent before your God and know that He will fight your battles for you.
You can trust that God is good, God is faithful, and God is working out a way to provide for you in your wilderness. Even when your eyes see danger and death, God is calling you to see His salvation at hand.
But, allowing our eyes to see beyond Egypt descending upon us requires that we quiet our fears for just a moment, and focus our eyes instead on God.
Until next time, let’s not forget these words from Psalm 46:10-11,
“‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.’”
For Bible studies on silence and God fighting your battles check out the posts below: