Friday, 15 May 2009

The Word of the Lord

The phrase is used over 250 times in the scriptures and over 50 times in Jeremiah alone. It is easy to become desensitised to phrases like this but to pause when we read them is very challenging. When God spoke of his own diligence in sending prophets to the nation of Israel he used a lovely Hebrew idiom which is simply 'he rose up early in the morning and...' The picture, apparently, is of a man loading his camel for an early start. Of course God never sleeps but the urgency and the industry of God sending his word is captured just the same. How faithfully he sent those messengers. Some they ignored, some they opposed, some they silenced, but 'the next morning' God just loaded up another 'camel' and sent another word. Sometimes prophetic messages were simply called 'the burden of the Lord'. God solemnly warned the people of Jeremiah's day that a day would come when there would be no 'daily delivery', no burden of the Lord. Jer 23:33. (see the KJV)

When 'the word of the Lord comes' how are we to respond to it? Jeremiah gives two answers to that question in chapter 2.
1. Hear the word of the LORD, Jer 2:4
2. See the word of the LORD Jer 2:31
To hear doesn't just mean to be impacted by the sound waves. It means to 'hearken' or to obey the voice that is heard. God once warned the prophet Ezekiel that the people were just enjoying the sound of his voice. Ezek 33:31-32 This is a lesson we need to learn. At times we find ourselves locked into complex situations and our tendency is to try to 'understand our way out'. At such times we are better advised to 'obey our way out'. God is under no obligation to explain to us how we got where we are but in his faithfulness, if our hearts are open, we will hear 'the word of the Lord' and our obedience will be our deliverance.

What are we to make of this second answer? How are we to 'see word of the Lord'? How do you see a word? Although God is under no obligation to explain anything to us he often does. He seeks to engage our understanding so that we can 'see' what he is saying or doing. Perhaps Isaiah's words are the best known example of this; “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Is 1:18.

There is an old word which has fallen on hard times; it is the word 'condescension'. A modern dictionary definition is sure to give the idea of 'talking down' to someone in a patronising way. (there's another word that has fallen on hard times!) Originally 'condescend' simply meant to 'come down to another's level'. There is a little word in this Isaiah quotation which is astonishing, it is the word 'us'. To use words like 'we' or 'us' there must be some common ground that makes it possible to speak for 'both of us' in the same context. Consider the condescension then of God in 'coming down to our level' and entering into a process where 'he' and 'I' work together in reasoning.

When God condescends to 'get up early in the morning' to burden one of his 'camels' with the word of the Lord he has the right to expect a response. If we 'hear the word of the Lord' and embrace the truth that he has sent the process of 'us reasoning together' can begin. Obedience will lead to understanding and as a wise old man once wrote; Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Prov 4:7

No comments: