There are mighty comma wars in our house. My husband Alan and I are constantly discussing the proper use of commas. I like to use them to help us pause and take a breath during my writings. I’m not sure how he wants to use them, but I know he likes a lot of them as everything I write comes back with a multitude of commas added to it. (If you have a problem with my use of commas talk to Alan, I just bow to his authority!)
Did you know that Old Testament Hebrew had no punctuation in it? There is nary a comma in the text. This has given translators a real challenge. The discovery of certain scrolls have helped with the translations of words since some scrolls show more clearly the picture characters of the Hebrew language (the jots and tittles), but there has been no help with the punctuation aspect.
As a result of my complaining about the comma wars, my son and I started discussing Is. 59:19 where it is often quoted that the enemy comes in “like a flood.” We started looking at various translations and found that the KJ, NKJ, and Amp. translate this verse meaning that the enemy came in like a flood with a comma after flood. Then the next clause was that the Lord would lift up a standard against him (the enemy). The NAS, NIV, and NLT all translate the same verse as if when the enemy came in (comma) like a flood the Lord would raise up a standard. It was as if it was the Lord that came in as a flood. Well, to be truthful, that’s not really the case as none of these three translations mention the enemy at all, but they all do speak of the Lord as coming in as a flood or a rushing stream!
I guess that with all of this, I’m, trying to say it is important to know more than one scripture and it is often helpful to read it in more than one translation to get the color and full context around the words being translated. I also think it is very important for us to find out if the verse we are staking our faith upon is repeated in a similar way elsewhere in the Bible. Should I worry about the enemy coming in like a flood and overwhelming me, or should I firmly believe that, no matter how the enemy comes in, my God is able to be powerfully victorious?
When the enemy comes in, whether it’s like a puddle that gets your feet wet or a raging flood that threatens you drowning and losing your life, I advise you to hold up the standard of faith that says God is always victorious, and, therefore, so will you be as long as you hold onto Him. I see this in the story of the Israelites with their back to the sea and the Pharaoh’s army rushing upon them. Ex. 14:13-14 says, “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Sometimes you need to just stand still.
Other times we are called to fight to take the land just like Joshua and David. We need to remember that there will be some battles we won’t win, but the Lord has promised the ultimate war victory. It is important, though, to first go before the Lord and ask for directions. There are several times in scripture where leaders got ahead of God and thought that they knew who God wanted defeated and how. Many were greatly surprised to find that, by not asking God’s advice for the battle plan, the result was death and devastation to God’s people instead of the enemy. God expects us to ask Him about any of our plans if we want Him to be a part of them. Don’t just think you have God’s blessing because you’ve done it successfully this way before and you assume God will make you the victor once again. God is a creative god with plans that we don’t expect, such as making the sun stand still (Josh. 10:12-13) or marching an invisible army of angels through the tree tops (2 Sam. 5:24) to help you win the battle. The only blessed victory over the enemy is one that is God-led and completely victorious. A partial victory is not a victory but a stalemate.
If we can lift our faith to believe God when He says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned: the flames will not set you ablaze, For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior,” we can trust Him to be victorious in our situation. Even in times when the floods and fires come we need to stay so strong in our faith that we can be victorious even when it doesn’t look like it. The three men in the furnace had to walk in the fiery furnace to experience the fourth man, Daniel spent time in the lion’s den before he saw the miracle, Joseph was falsely imprisoned for years before he could see God’s plan of salvation, and Abraham just about lost hope for a son and then had to be willing to sacrifice him. There will always be trials, there will always be an enemy, but there will also always be God. In the end my sisters and brothers, God wins whether He takes us to it or through it or protects us from it. In the end God wins and, as his redeemed children, so do we!
With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Ps. 60:12, 108:13) “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 15:57)