What happens when crisis comes? Adversity? Do not most Christians raise in high esteem those "warriors of faith" and "prayer warriors" who CRY OUT TO GOD, to receive God's help. After all, is not Scripture full of such examples: When Israel "cried out unto Jehovah" He delivered them from Egypt, gave them water in the wilderness, delivered them from their enemies. (Ex15:25, Nu20:16, Jdg3:9,etc)
Even David, the one revered as the one "after [God's] own heart" (1Sa13:14, Ac13:22), records in the Psalms how he "cried unto Jehovah" and God "heard" him. (Ps3:4, 77:1) or when somebody cried out for deliverance, God "rescued" them (Ps107:6) There are many passages such as these.
Warfare is horrendous. I've never been in the military, but have seen documentary war footage. Around the time the Lord burdened this topic for this article, the movie about Pearl Harbor and Doolittle's bombing run over Japanese factories was re-run on TV. I had seen it years before, and since nothing else was on worth watching that night, I left the TV on that channel on 'mute', so I would not miss the promised news story later about "Noah's ark", while listening to music on the stereo. I really think that movie is 'worse' seen in 'silent' mode, because a person's senses are focused totally on the visual. When the attack is happening, all the carnage! All the pain and suffering, and accompanying twisted agonizing faces. Faces and eyes of people dying, in terror, without God.
From the other side of that conflict, years ago on public radio I heard a dramatic narrative as though through the eyes of a survivor of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki atomic bombs, speaking of walking around through the rubble and seeing burnt flesh hanging in shreds from faces, the moans and screams of the dying, the dying moaning asking for water, and the carnage of that aftermath. Rather haunting, really!
The day before the Pearl Harbor TV re-run I was reading in the book of Jasher, chs 34-40, regarding how Shechem defiled Dinah. Our Bibles tell us, simply, how Shechem defiled her, and Simeon and Levi went and killed everybody, and then God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and offer sacrifices, and then later he returns. As they are going to Bethel, the Bible only says that the "terror of God was upon the cities all around them", with no more detail than that. (Gen35:5)
If we can trust the Jasher narrative, the reason there was so much "terror" was because of the carnage that Simeon and Levi had wreaked. The surrounding cities were conspiring to get together and attack Jacob and his family, en mass, but they are reasoning amongst themselves: If Simeon and Levi did so much damage, just the two of them, imagine the formidable force when Jacob's entire family and servants would be fighting together, so they decide not to take that chance. But then, when Jacob's family move back from Bethel, a whole host of the surrounding cities, their kings and armies conspire and actually do come against Jacob and his family. Reading through those chapters it sounds as though it was a running battle for quite a few days. Jacob's sons get into some tight squeezes, with Jacob himself doing some precision archery 'sniper' shots, and they continually "cry out to God" for deliverance, and God gives them victory. Eventually, the remaining kings decide they better make peace with Jacob, or face annihilation; which they do, bringing presents and tribute.
In science fiction the Klingons had an expression before going to battle against formidable odds, "This is a good day to die!"
By comparison, perhaps Jacob's sons were 'wimps'? Crying out to God for deliverance? In the ancient Hindu vedas there is a prayer their warriors would cry out, "Indra and Marruts, fight for us!" Before Jacob took his family to Bethel, the discussion of the enemies was of Jacob's 'God'. And when they returned, after Jacob's sons had the victory, it was recognized that Jacob's 'God' was mighty.
Did you notice something specific about the opening passage: "the God of Jacob is our refuge". And what is the context of "be still and know.."?
When we think of Israel and warfare, we tend to think of Moses and Joshua, and then Gideon, Sampson, David, etc. But that which we have come to expect of God's workings on behalf of His people began even with Jacob. Well, and... let's not forget how Abraham with 318 rescued Lot and the inhabitants of Sodom from overwhelming forces of multiple kings and their armies. (Gen14)
We often tend to think of the old-time saints as being "spiritual giants" -because- they would "cry out to God". But let us consider that they were not 'giants' at all, but rather, frail scared fearful people just like we are. The fact that they were "crying out", instead of functioning in the 'quiet' confidence of God and His "hosts", indicates that they were frail people "with feelings like ours" (Ja5:17)
As Israel is leaving Egypt, and Pharaoh's army is closing in behind them, "Moses said to the people, Do not be afraid. Take your stand, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall not see again forever." (Ex14:13)
There was another occasion after Israel had been a nation for some time when the enemies surrounded them, God gives them a message, "You shall not fight in this battle. Station yourselves, stand your ground and see the salvation of Jehovah for you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out before them, for Jehovah is with you." (2Ch20:17) And when they go to see what God has done, their enemies had already killed each other.
Elisha's servant sees the enemies surrounding the city and is dismayed, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" and Elisha prays to God, "Jehovah, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. And Jehovah opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2Ki6:15-17) The "hosts" of Jehovah.
David could say, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over." (Ps23:5) He didn't get himself in a 'pickle' with Goliath (why did that just remind me of Veggie Tales?!!), and then cry out in dismay, "God, help me!" because he was attempting in his own strength. But no, rather: he went into that battle with God's confidence, "Jehovah, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine... You are coming to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I am coming to you in the name of Jehovah of Hosts, the God of the ranks of Israel, whom you have reproached... then all this assembly shall know that Jehovah does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is Jehovah’s, and He has given you into our hands." (1Sa17:37,45,47)
It's one thing to CRY OUT to God. But 'why' are we crying out? Do we not have God's peace within us? Do we not 'follow' God, or are we busy running our own lives; and then when we've been wandering away from God, and suddenly find ourselves 'in-a-pickle' is it: "God, heeeelp!"?
Just because somebody is "crying out to God" doesn't mean they are a spiritual Christian 'giant' in fellowship with God. They may have been running away from God, and like Jonah, from the stomach of the fish, are "crying out to God" in their "distress" out of the "belly of sheol" where they have been "cast off from God's sight" (Jon2:2,4) due to their rebellion.
Why were Jacob's sons needing to cry out to God so much? Well, when they went to Bethel, Jacob had to chide them all to put away their idols. (Gen35:2) Reuben slept with one of Jacob's wives (Gen35:22) Judah committed incest with Tamar. (Gen38) Later on they would sell Joseph into slavery and lie to Jacob about it. In spite of all that God did for Jacob, he was always whining about this and that. And who knows what else that is not recorded? They might have been God's people, but their hearts were not fully right with Him. They were not like David, fully "after God's own heart"
The exhortation to "Be still and know" is given in the context of the topic of -warfare-. To know 'what'? That God is God. That "God is our refuge and strength" and a help in times of trouble. And if you will read that entire chapter, it speaks of global calamities and catastrophes from astronomical events, as well as world-wars. Even in the midst of the greatest turmoil that might occur on earth, the exhortation is, "Be still and know that I am God!" Something the nations have usually figured out when they pick fights with Israel, if Israel is not in rebellion against God, they find out who Israel's God is.
For the Believer who is in right fellowship with God, there is no need to "cry out", because there is full understanding that, "before they call, I will answer" (Is65:24) If God has His eye on the little sparrow that falls, does He not have our needs in hand, "O you of little faith"? (Mt10:29,6:30b)
Is that all? If we are busy yapping off at the mouth, we cannot see and hear God. When a person spends their time engaged in interruptive dialogue, they are usually not hearing what the other is saying. If we are busy "crying out" to God, how can we possibly -hear- Him?
Elijah finds himself running for his life, and through the ruckus of wind, fire and earthquake he was by himself, alone. But God was found in the "whisper of a small voice" (1Ki19:12)
Do you want to hear God's voice? Simple. Make sure there are no "iniquities...and sins" making a separation in fellowship. (Is59:1-2) If we are living a life with the heart attitude: "Search me, O Mighty God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and find out if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way eternal" (Ps139:23-24); we then fully embrace...
"Be still, and know that I am God!"