As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11.
The dabar. The word of God! It was, of course, the word of God that brought the world and everything within it into being — “And God said …” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14 etc). And not only this world but the entire cosmos. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). But God did not stop speaking once he had finished with creation. “The word of the Lord” comes to Abram (Genesis 15:1). He calls to Moses (Exodus 3:4). And at his word, a people is brought into being; a people who are to carry his presence, show his likeness and be the instrument of his redemption for the rest of fallen humanity.
But they fail. And so, within that people, through one of their daughters, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). That Word, who, in the beginning, was … and was with God … and was God (John 1:1) now walked this very earth he had created, his human body carrying God’s presence, showing God’s likeness and being God’s instrument of redemption in the world, fulfilling the call of the people of Israel. And, as the Word that goes forth from Father’s mouth, Jesus does not return to the Father empty, but accomplishes what the Father desires and achieves the purpose for which the Father sent him.
And, by the Spirit of God, the word continues to come from the mouth of God, to accomplish his purposes and achieve his will. Just as Jesus could utter the word: “Lazarus, come out!” and Lazarus could not but come from the tomb (John 11:43-44) so, by his Spirit, today and every day, “He speaks, and listening to his voice new life the dead receive” (Charles Wesley). His word is still a word of power.
In 1995, at a conference in Harrogate, I was present when Mahesh Chavda (see Marmalade for more) broke off from giving his platform talk to ask if there was anyone present who had an addiction that needed to be broken. I (along with many others) raised my hand. And then Mahesh spoke what can only be described as a “word of the Lord” — “In the name of Jesus, I command these addictions to be broken.” The power hit me like a physical force and pressed me to the floor. It entered me. And about 25 minutes later, when I could get back to my feet, a 37-year, 60-a-day addiction to cigarettes had vanished without a trace, never to return in these 13 years that have followed.
I have been on the receiving end of God’s word many times. I hope to be on the receiving end of it many times more.
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3.10).