"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Bible (Page 1 of 4)

You will “know that I am the Lord”

You will “know that I am the LORD”

The controlling feature of Ezekiel’s life was “the word of the LORD came to me” (forty-nine times in Ezekiel; see previous post here). It speaks of historical encounters. It occurred again and again in specific moments. By each experience, he was immediately constrained and restrained by “the word of the LORD.” It was a past event that of necessity governed and controlled his present and future moments.

But the even more frequently repeated demand that those who hear that word “will know that I am the LORD” (seventy-two times in Ezekiel) speaks of the effect the fulfillment of that word would have on those who heard Ezekiel. Each occurrence of the expression pointed to a future event. When “the word of the LORD” that came to Ezekiel (and which he then obediently spoke) came to pass, then those who heard him would “know that I am the LORD.”

That “the word of the LORD came to me” is a report of a personal encounter. It is a report of revelation given. But “will know that I am the LORD” is a divine guarantee about what will come of that revelation and those to whom it has been given. When God speaks it can’t not happen. When it does, those who heard it will later realize they missed the boat, they should have listened but didn’t.

“The word of the LORD came to me” is the moment for listening. You “will know that I am the LORD” is a moment of reckoning.

When “the word of the LORD came to” Ezekiel, he listened. When he spoke the Lord’s word to the people, they didn’t. Ezekiel already knew the Lord. His listeners didn’t. But their unwillingness to hear did not lessen the effective power of God’s word. It would come to pass and then they would come clearly to know the identity of Him who had spoken through the prophet.

There is no more wonderful moment than when God speaks His Word with Spirit-given illumination and understanding. There is no more dangerous moment than when God speaks His Word. Everything hangs in the balance.

So, again, open your Bible. Bow your head. Ask the Author of this book for light as your read. And then, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7b-8a; Heb. 3:7, 15; 4:7).

The Word of the Lord

“The word of the LORD came to me.”

This expression occurs forty-nine times in Ezekiel. Elsewhere in the Bible it is found ten times in Jeremiah and only three other times. Clearly, Ezekiel’s entire life and existence was bound up under this controlling encounter. This simple, but oft-repeated line, tells us he was a man defined and controlled by revelation (“the word of …”), living under authority (“… of the LORD”), by grace (“… came to me”), and that this was profoundly personal (“… to me”) in its implications.

Revelation – Why did God use words to reveal Himself? Is this why He was so set against “images”? God set Himself before us not primarily through visions and dreams but through words. He did not have to reveal Himself at all. Yet He did. And He chose to do it through words of propositional truth and divinely guaranteed promises. This is one reason for the enduring relevance of Biblical religion. This comes to us while the prophet pronounces woe and doom and judgement over the surrounding nations (Ezek. 25ff; cf. Isaiah 13-23, Jeremiah 46-51). None of those nations exist today. Israel does. Those nations received God’s word of judgment. Israel received God’s promise.

Authority – This is not just any “word,” it is the word “of the LORD.” Yahweh, the self-existing, independent, un-contingent, eternal, covenant-making, covenant-keeping God has spoken. His voice brought into existence everything we know. Now he has addressed “me”! There has never been and never will be words like His. I must listen!

Grace – These words, Ezekiel testifies, “came to me.” They have arrived at my ear by grace, entirely by divine initiative. I did not ask for them. I didn’t seek them. I wasn’t expecting or listening for them. I did not know they existed. I didn’t think of this as a possibility. God took gracious initiative. I was going along, doing my own thing and God interrupted me, broke in on me with His “word.” I am an object of and a debtor to His gracious initiative.

Personal – and all this came “to me.” Not simply to us, but to “me.” I can’t farm out any resulting responsibility, it falls upon me. When “the word of the Lord” comes to you, you are, from that moment and by that “word,” an owned man. You have at that moment lost all personal will. You are a captive. A glad captive but a prisoner, nonetheless. You suddenly stand in light you did not know existed before that moment. You see in a way you never saw before. You have heard and can’t unhear. When “the word of the LORD” comes to you, you are from that moment gripped and held captive to that “the LORD” who has spoken. There exist no chains, shackles, zip-ties, prison walls, or contract that could hold you more securely than this “word.” You are an owned-man.

So, open your Bible. Bow your head. Ask the Author of this book for light as your read. And then, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7b-8a; Heb. 3:7, 15; 4:7).

The Most Certain Thing in the World

“… it is impossible for God to lie …” (Hebrews 6:18)

Contemplate this simple sentence. Dwell on the reality it holds out.

Consider, then, the absolute surety of God’s Word. If you hold a promise from God you possess the most certain thing on earth. It cannot help but come to pass. Balaam was a false prophet and sell out but he was right when he said, ‘God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19). The “God, who never lies, promised” something to you (Titus 1:2). Whatever may come, “he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). The “character of his purpose” is “unchangeable” (Hebrews 6:17).

Are you among “the heirs of the promise” (Hebrews 6:17a)? Then “be … imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (v.12). Let there be no doubt or wavering. The surety of the promise is not found in earthly circumstances or appearances. It is a matter of faith in one who is unseen, yet utterly reliable. His timing is not ours. It will require “patience.” But time does not diminish certainty, it only heightens desire.

The promise must come to pass for “it is impossible for God to lie.”

The Promise-led Life

“And now, O LORD, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.” (1 Chron. 17:26)

We happen upon David as he prays (vv.16-27) in response to God’s gracious initiative to him (vv.1-15). The Lord had promised to build David a “house” (i.e., a dynasty). In so doing, God promised to put one of David’s sons on his throne and that son would be the one to build Him a “house” (i.e., a temple). We can see, thus, the keyword throughout this chapter is “house.” In response to this divine grace and promise David responded in humble, overwhelmed faith.

Though this is a unique moment in God’s saving plan, David’s response to the Lord illustrates what should be our response to God in His gracious dealings with us through Jesus. He has told us that in Jesus “all the promises of God find their Yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). We too, then, like David, should sit before the Lord (1 Chron. 17:16) amazed by His grace, an open Bible before us, our finger on the promise of God, praying, “O LORD, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”

In this way, by faith, through Christ we claim the gracious promises of God made to us.

Consider more closely David’s response that we might be the more careful to make it our own.

We begin by approaching the “LORD.” The English translation uses all capitals to signal that the original Hebrew text has here God’s personal name, Yahweh. This name was revealed to Moses at the burning bush as he wondered at God’s promise to use him to bring His people out of slavery (Exodus 3:14). It is related to the Hebrew verb “be.” He is the great “I AM.” Wherever we are and whatever we face, God is “I AM.” Not “I was.” Not just “I will be.” “I AM” in this moment with you everything I have ever been or will be. It signals that God is eternal, yes. He is without beginning or end. But it further sets God before us as self-existing, without dependence upon anything beyond Himself. Before anything else was, God was, undiminished and utterly complete. If all else were suddenly vaporized, God would still exist without compromise or need, for His being and existence arise from within Himself and are dependent upon nothing. He comes to us and out of nothing in us but everything within Him, He makes and keeps a covenant of grace with us through His Son. One expression of that grace is the promise upon which you have placed your finger today.

But He is also here designed “God.” The Hebrew here is Elohim. It emphasizes His sovereignty and power. Nothing can oppose what He wills. Nothing can block Him in fulfilling His promises. What God in His grace wills cannot but come to pass!

So with Bible open, your heart bowed before this magnificent God and LORD, your finger on one of His gracious promises in the Bible, you pray: “you have promised this good thing to your servant.” This kind of faith is not presumptuous. It merely follows God’s lead. It is not brash. It honors the God who spoke the promise with every intention of fulfilling it in His children’s lives.

But note the way you designated yourself: “your servant.” Take a moment and reestablish that fact before the Lord in prayer. Take that place at the foot of His throne. Humble yourself.  Wait until you can do so authentically, then tell Him: “I am bowed at your feet, poised to do your will. Whatever, wherever, with whomever, for however long is required. I am ready to do your will, O Lord, but as I am, I have my finger on this, your promise, to me. I hold it up before you. As I rise and go to do your will only to return to bow again at your feet, I do so with the bold expectation that you will uphold your promise, make it my experience, and thus prove your faithfulness.”

These are not magic words. But this is the path to laying hold of and living in the fulfillment of God’s promises to us in the Bible.

Lord, make this promise-led, promise-fed, promise-tread path be our perpetual experience with you in this world. Amen.

Unfolded Words

“The unfolding of your words gives light”

(Psalm 119:130a)

Unfolded words, bearing light,

Held before us in darkest night.

Unseeing eyes can’t find their way,

Until unfolded they break like day.


Holy words, written down,

Breathed out to be our crown.

Spoken now for all to hear,

They offer life, destroy our fear.


Sacred words, spoken out,

Not with scream nor with shout.

Reasoned words, savory as salt,

Tell how to escape our faults.


Wisdom’s words pointing up,

Cool water from His cup.

Prudent words to guide the way,

Of all who come and stay.


Unfolded words, bearing light,

Held before us in darkest night.

Unseeing eyes won’t find their way,

Unless unfolded they break like day.

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