Telling the Truth
by: Erin Warren | May 11, 2017
I took some time to breathe and have really been focusing on my heart this last week. I’ve talked to many people recently who say they feel the weight of it all bearing down on them. Life is just too much. Too much pain. Too much loss. Too much unknown. I’ve started keeping a list of encouraging Bible verses in my phone, and as friends walk their own paths through the hard stuff of life, I text them verses that have also helped me in the unexpected journey.
But as I’ve trudged through the thick, oozy mud of life, while focusing on my word for the year: truth, I realize that we often misquote verses out of context as a way to encourage one another. I really wanted to make sure I was encouraging others (and let’s face it: my own heart as well) accurately.
We have to be careful when pulling out a single verse. Context is so important in the Bible. It doesn’t mean you can’t quote a single verse (I just did – oops!), but it means that before we claim it as a promise of God, we need to read the entire chapter to get the right meaning. For example, this often quoted verse in Exodus:
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
This is a great example of why reading across multiple translations is also beneficial. The ESV says “silent” instead of still, and the original Hebrew word used here is charash which means “to be silent, be dumb, be speechless, be deaf.” To fully understand let’s do a little study together and look at a larger section of scripture:
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
10 When Pharaoh drew near, 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. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. – Exodus 14:1-16 (ESV)
So let’s get our bearings here:
First we need to know who the people are: Moses, the Israelites, Pharaoh and his army.
And where are they (hint: verse 1-4): Moses has led the people out of Egypt and told them to camp out by the sea (which sea? The Red Sea). This is a really important point because look what God told Moses to tell the people: “I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” God had Moses tell the Israelites that Pharaoh is coming, but I am going to make sure they know I am Lord.
What happens when the Israelites see Pharaoh’s army approaching? They begin to cry out “We’re gonna DIE!!!! (my interpretation – slightly on the melodramatic side) and then start to blame Moses.
How does Moses respond? Moses remembers that God said He would deliver them, so He says “Be quiet and see how God is going to save you!” Here’s where context makes all the difference in this verse though. Look at how God responds in verse 15:
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.
You see, it was Moses who said “The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent,” not God.
God said MOVE, not just be silent or still.
I’m pretty sure never in a million years did Moses or the Israelites expect God to do what happens next (You can read this in verses 16-30). God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites walked on dry land. They went forward to find deliverance. They didn’t stand still. Exodus 14:14 is not a promise of God, and therefore, we can’t claim it as one.
This is one of the reasons I love seeing our women study God’s Word together in our small group Bible Studies. This weekend, Women’s Ministry will be set up in the Gathering Place with an opportunity for you to connect with our groups, sign up for some upcoming events and I may even have a little surprise for everyone who comes by! I hope to see you there! If you can’t stop by, click here to find out the latest happenings in Women’s Ministry and sign up for our email list.