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Jeremiah 51:12-19


"Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; for the LORD has both planned and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon. O you who dwell by many waters, rich in treasures, your end has come; the thread of your life is cut. The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself: Surely I will fill you with men, as many as locusts, and they shall raise the shout of victory over you. "It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish. Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name." (ESV)



Speak, Lord!


26 June 2014

The Word of God is not just a flapping of the lips. The Word of God does not merely set the air to vibrating when it is spoken. No, the Word of God is always performative. It does what it says and it says what it does. Unlike us and our words, the gospel is always promissory. Since God Himself stands behind it, the Word of God is true in the absolute sense. The Word of God does not merely promise a future pay-off, like a bearer bond, but the promise it conveys is given in the speaking. God's speech does the promise. We humans struggle to get our words around this Word. We struggle with the articulation of this, because so much of our speaking betrays the promises in our words. How many promises go unfulfilled by us! "Until death parts us." "I will be faithful to the Word of God, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it." "I will always love you." "If I must die with you, I will not deny you" (Mk 14:31). We can't even make true what has to do with our own performance, promise though we might. Yet God's Word is true in its very speaking, even on the lips of those who can't keep their own promises.


How graciously God deals with us poor sinners! He sets His Word on our lips and even then, even on the lips of sinners, the promise of forgiveness is true. It comes to be when we speak it, because we are speaking not our own wishes, promises, hopes, and dreams, but the living, active Word of God. The full faith and commitment of God Himself delivers the content of the speech. The gospel delivers its full freight on the lips of whomever speaks it. In that sense, it is like a bearer bond, in that whoever holds the bond is able to turn it into currency at any time. Whoever holds the bond is presumed to be the beneficiary, even if the bond is actually stolen. No records are kept of the owner, or the transactions involving ownership of bearer bonds. Whoever physically holds the paper on which the bond is issued owns the instrument. This is the Word of God in hands of sinners. The promise is God's. He hands over the Word to us. We haven't merited it and yet it promises work and become ours in our speaking. Jesus puts this so simply when he tells the disciples: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld" (Jn 20:22-23).


The Word which created light and life (Gn 1), is also the Word that still creates light and life among us in holy absolution. I find it amazing that people so struggle with the Bible's claim that God created the world in six days. What is easier to say, "Let there be light," or to say, "Your sins are forgiven you. Go in peace"? In my opinion, it easier to say, "Let there be light." Creating the universe is easy for God. He didn't need even six days to pull it off; He does it that way to accommodate us. No, the hard thing is forgiveness. Look at the price (Ps 49:7) alone! The God who can't create the universe in six days can certainly not forgive sins nor deliver that forgiveness in mere speech on the lips of the sinners themselves. In that speaking our whole status is changed from miserable rebels to sons and true heirs (Gal 4:5-7). Speak, Lord!


Basil the Great


"'Let there be light' (Gn 1:3). The command was itself an action, and a state of things was brought into being. This state the human mind cannot even imagine a more pleasant one for our enjoyment. It must be well understood that when we speak of the voice, of the word, of the command of God, this divine language does not mean to us merely a sound that escapes from the organs of speech, a collision of air struck by the tongue. It is a simple sign of the will of God, and, if we give it the form of a command, it is only the better to impress the souls whom we instruct."

 Basil of Caesarea, Lectures on the Hexaemeron, 2.7

We praise and thank You, O God, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, that You have enlightened us by revealing the Light that never fades. The daylight which You created for our pleasure has fully satisfied us. Help us to bring Your light into the world by speaking it to sinners who need to be rescued from the darkness of sin and the shadows of death. We praise You and glorify You through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; through Him be glory, honor, and power to You in the Holy Spirit now and always and forever and ever. Amen.


For those who are seeking work, that the Lord would grant them labor in keeping with their vocation 


For the Justices of the Supreme Court, that they would be granted wisdom faithful to the Constitution of the United States


For those who are struggling with besetting sin, especially sexual sins, that the Lord Jesus would grant them mercy and grace to battle against the enticements of the world and fallen human flesh
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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