When the Voices are Silenced

Theater in Ephesus where Paul was admonished to keep quiet. 


Amos 5:13  Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time.


In the middle of these prophetic words we find a sentence that sounds much like a proverb. There is a point and time where the evil of the society becomes so great that there is nothing for the wise person to do, but to keep silent. The only way that justice can be obtained is through bribes and this person has no money (or leverage), therefore, in the face of such evil, it is best to keep silent. 

It’s also believed that the hatred and heavy mob referred to are creating an environment in which such terror reigns that people no longer have the freedom to speak out. They are actually forced to a place of silence. And so the wise, saving their energy for the right time, are silent. 

The laws of the land are entirely upset, there is no place in which to speak. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he puts it this way, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16) The caution from Christ is not to throw your pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6), but to leave in the admonition from the Psalmist, “I am silent; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. “ (Psalms 39:9) There is a time of silence, waiting for the Lord’s deliverance. 

The silence of sound doctrine will lead people to stumble in the darkness because there will no longer be any wholesome counsel. 


Sometimes trying to be a voice of reason in the middle of a battle means that you get shot at from both sides. Maybe that’s where the prophet found himself; in a world that simply would not listen. Clinging to the proverb, he discovered that there was a time when the voices were silenced because they had no power. No one wanted to listen. 

In that space, where no one wants to listen, the follower of Christ is challenged to consider what it means to be faithful. Wisdom does tell us that there are times when speaking will not win the day. Often times, it’s living out the love of Christ, day in and day out, over the long-haul of life that becomes witness to the power and presence of God in this world. The ones who are roughed-up by life, and yet, continue to imitate Christ, are the ones who, with ever-increasing intensity, reflect Jesus. 

Jesus knew when to speak, and when to be silent. There were also times when he was silenced by the crowd and he simply walked away, but his nature, or character, never changed. When the voice of Christ is silenced by the cheering words of the mob, the world will suffer the consequences. “Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time.” (Amos 5:13) 


Lord, there are days when words fail me. In those times when I feel my voice is silenced, may I never stop reflecting you. Amen. 


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