March 18, 2018 The Power of the Spoken Word

The Power of the Spoken Word

I have sometimes stopped to realize that Earth is a word planet. Hebrews 11.3 tells us the materials and methodology God used in Creation. In Genesis 1.1, God creates the Heavens and the Earth. In Genesis 1.2, God redeems Earth from the “darkness” that had enveloped it (Revelation 12.7-12; Isaiah 14.12-15; John 12.31; implied in 2 Corinthians 4.4-6). That is, God took back the Earth and fashioned it through words to support His image in created mankind (Genesis 1.1-2.8) whom He posted on Earth for His purposes (Ephesians 2.10). We continue, today, to follow God’s example of talking with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3.8-9) to communicate information (Genesis 2.15-17), affirmation (Genesis 2.19-20), and disappointment (Genesis 3.10-11).

Solomon seems to understand that God uses words strategically, as he writes in Ecclesiastes 5.2: “let your words be few”. Perhaps, he was remembering his father, David’s words in Psalm 64.3 about people “who aim bitter words like arrows”. Solomon, also, was remembering that God spoke each intention in Creation only once. Jesus affirms this in Matthew 12.36-37 that everyone will be called to account for every word spoken: “by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned”.

In Moses’ case, he became accountable for the words which he did not speak. Numbers 20.2-13 tells the story about God’s temporal salvation for the thirsty Hebrews in the desert. He would satisfy them with water from a rock! Moses was to “tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water” (verse 8). Speaking to the rock would, said God, “‘uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel’”; that is, teach the people to take God at His word (verse 12). How would telling the rock uphold the holiness of God? Wouldn’t just giving water be sufficient? John MacArthur writes that Moses “failed to take God at his word and thus to treat him as holy to the people” (MacArthur Study Bible Notes; my emphasis and is this part of the definition of “holy”?). Hence, the adage, as revised, becomes: God said it; that settles it; I believe it and will act upon it. If God says to speak, speak! Our responsibility is to carry out to the “jot and tittle” (Matthew 5.18) what God says. This is God’s “grace”, defined as His word and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring it to reality. This honors Him as “holy”. (To illustrate, sometimes Jesus, our example, healed the blind with mud, as in John 9.1-7, and sometimes with spit, as in Mark 7.31-35, but always in the way God instructed Him, as He says in John 5.19-20 {Luke 9.16-17} & 12.49. Jesus used words in each of these, sometimes only words, as in Matthew 12.9-13).

Further, God had told the Hebrew people that He brought them out of Egypt to be God to them (Exodus 6.6-7 fulfilling Genesis 17.7). Consequently, He is worthy of holiness; i.e., let Him fulfill His intentions in His ways. Speaking to the rock would evidence God’s salvation, God’s way. How do 1 Peter 2.9 and Ephesians 2.10 connect our words and deeds to God’s holiness? How is Moses’ story like Luke 10.17 & 19?

MacArthur goes on to explain that “Moses here failed in the same way as Israel had at Kadesh 38 years previously (14:11)” (ibid; the Hebrews had not believed God could take them into the Promised Land; so, God waited 40 years for the disbelieving adults to die; Numbers 32.6-15). And, Moses’ sentence was the same as the grumbling Hebrews: “you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them” (Numbers 20.12). Perhaps, in the heat of the moment, Moses had remembered and, thus, only repeated God’s previous instruction to give the Hebrews water by striking a rock (Exodus 17.6). At that time, striking the rock must have upheld God ‘”as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel’” (Numbers 20.12). Remember that God decides the better protocol for every situation. We must listen carefully and obey diligently. [Another illustration of God choosing an alternative approach the second time is King David fighting against the Philistines (2 Samuel 5.17-25; first, front; second, rear).] We will be accountable for following God as He requires in each unique context. Remember Jesus’ example in John 5.19-20 & 12.49.

Would Moses’ words to the rock have brought water, even though Moses had no earlier experience like that? Of course, for why would God so instruct him? This is just like God’s assurance of our capacity to “understand” Him in Jeremiah 9.23-24. How do we understand God better through His “gift” of our work (Ecclesiastes 5.19-20)? This was Moses’ opportunity. Likewise, it is implied that Cain was to “rule over
[sin]” (Genesis 4.7) by speaking words binding on earth whatever shall have been bound in Heaven” (Matthew 16.19 & 18.18 NASB) because God has given man the command to rule in the earth (Genesis 1.28).

Similarly, was Jesus speaking as God or as man in John 6.63: “‘The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life’”? I believe He was speaking as a man because of His use of “spirit” instead of “Spirit”. This “spirit” was breathed into Adam (Genesis 2.7) and passed from generation to generation by man (Proverbs 23.22a) through woman (Proverbs 23.25b). This is, also, the witness of Elihu in Job 32.8. The Apostle Paul gives some understanding of Jesus’ words being “spirit and life” in Romans 10.9-10, where he writes that our words profess unto salvation what our minds have accepted as truth [John 1.12 and Hebrews 11.1: “Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see” (New English Bible, 1961); Proverbs 23.7a & 4.23 & 10.19].

So, our words are powerful! They can bring water from rock and, even, move mountains (Mark 11.22-24)! Therefore, speak what you want (Matthew 7.7, James 4.7 & 5.14-15). Choose each word wisely, expressing a promise from the Bible. We will be accountable for every word spoken!

Additional points to discuss:

  1. How are Jesus’ words in John 6.63 like God’s in Numbers 6.22-27?
  2. We have the same problem as Moses, as James (1-12) reminds us. What 
powers does James identify in the tongue?
  3. How does he describe a “perfect” person? Why is that act necessary to 
fulfill Paul’s description of a “mature” believer in Ephesians 4.13?
  4. How should Matthew 5.48 and Numbers 23.19 add to our understanding 
of “perfect”?
  5. What from Psalm 103.20 and Hebrews 1.14 makes this important?
  6. Of what caution regarding our speech does Solomon remind us of in
Proverbs 6.16-19? How does this emphasize Jesus’ words in Matthew 12.36-37?
  7. How do Proverbs 13.25 & 20-21 summarize this study?

The Power of the Spoken Word 180318

Praise God!!! Copyright © 2018 by Maurice L. Painter.