My notes from The Gospel Project, session 1: The God who Speaks
Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten – a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope joy, set it free! There were barriers still it is true, but barriers that could in time be swept away.
– Helen Keller, The Story of my Life
A light breaks through.
This moment was a turning point for young Helen Keller, only six at the time, and it released her from the dark silent world of wordless thought that she had lived in since she was 19 months old.
We were made to communicate. When we’re deprived of it, we suffer. Think about the movie Cast Away. Do you remember who became protagonist Chuck Nolan’s closest friend? A volleyball named Wilson. Chuck shared his life with that ball. He had to. Man was not meant to be alone.
The Lord created language and gave us the capacity for it. Have you ever noticed how powerful words are? And the more powerful or significant the speaker, the more powerful the words. For example:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. – Genesis 1:1-3
The God who speaks has authority
re’shiyth ‘elohiym bara’ ‘eth shamayim ‘eth ‘erets
These seven Hebrew words describe the initial creative activity of our Creator God. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. It should be noted that the word elohiym, which we translate as “God” is a plural noun, but the verb bara is singular, and describes creation out of nothing, the kind of creation only God can do.
A plural, singular God. Many scholars believe this is an early Jewish echo of the Trinity. A God who is self-existent in three separate Persons yet one Godhead, who had no need of anything and lives in a perpetual love relationship with the other members of the Trinity chose to bara, to create. And all he had to do was to speak to bring everything we know and all that we don’t know into being.
It was God’s word that created light. The Hebrew literally says “Light be!”, followed by the single word, recognizing the newly sprung, brilliant and glorious creation: “Light!”
Question: In what ways does the impact of a word of encouragement or criticism change depending upon the source?
Compare the impact of these words: “I now pronounce you husband and wife” to “Do you want fries with that?” One is life-changing. The other results in a salty snack.
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. – Psalm 148:3-5
We have a God who speaks with supreme authority. This separates him from all the idols of this world.
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them. – Psalm 115:2-8
What are the implications of this?
Our God speaks, and he speaks with ultimate authority. He speaks through both general revelation (Psalm 19) and special revelation (his word, the Bible).
We should listen.
How does the belief that God speaks affect our day to day lives? I think there are many good answers to this question, but I’m reminded of the moment light and speech broke through for Helen Keller.
Our God who speaks and who loves us brings things out of nothingness, brings light to dark places, brings wisdom and direction and guidance. But most of all, he brings touch and closeness, relationship. The creator of the universe condescends to speak to such as we are.