October 7, 2009

Positive theology: The Creative Word (iii)

I’m making my way into the second month at seminary and I’m glad to be writing this blog entry. It gives me a break from my studies and a chance to give away some of what I’m learning. This entry is called “The Creative Word” because I want to emphasis the creative power of words. I’ll do this from two texts: Genesis 1 and Ezekiel 37.

In Genesis 1:3 we find the power of the spoken word in creation. God opened his mouth and spoke creation into existence (if you have read the Chronicles of Narnia, he sung creation into existence). His voice created the material universe out of nothing, ex nihilo. On the first day: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” I don’t think this is mere poetry, although it surely is poetry. Neither do I think that this theopomorphism should be taken literally to mean that God had a mouth and when he opened it the sound waves made the physical universe. Both of those would take away from the author’s emphasis here. The image is that God used his word to create the universe. The creation account accentuates the power of the spoken word coming from God.

It may have been that this set up precedence in Hebrew thought towards the power of the spoken word. For the sake of brevity, I want to move ahead in the narrative to the time of exile to point out the power of the spoken word in redemption. Although many texts could be utilized for this point, I will focus on one.

In Ezekiel 37, the people of God had been taken away from their land. God had departed and they were taken into exile with little hope. Then, God takes Ezekiel to the valley of dry bones to show him the restoration to come. And this restoration comes through the spoken word—prophecy.

God asks Ezekiel (i.e. son of man) if the dry bones could live. Ezekiel says, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” And God commands him to prophecy to the bones: “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Three times Ezekiel prophecies to the bones (representing Israel) and in his prophecy God promises renewal and new life. They were dead and their branches were blackened, but God spoke through his prophet to give life, to create.

Conclusion: The power of the spoken word takes what was not and makes it as though it were. The power of the spoken word takes what was broken and makes it as though it were not.

This entry serves as background for understanding Jesus’ use of the spoken word. Then, I will close the series showing how important spoken words are for those who are in the Body of Christ.