Read Isaiah 55:10-11 – The Word Goes Forth
In our reading for today, God says that the Word which proceeds from His mouth is like rain and snow which come down from heaven. Before they return to the skies as vapor, they will have accomplished exactly what God intended. Seeds will come forth for the farmer to plant and for new life to grow. And, from the produce of the land, bread will be made to provide food and sustenance. God’s Word, in like manner, goes forth and accomplishes precisely what God intends. This truth was established from the beginning of time. In Genesis 1 we read how God declared His Word, “Let there be light,” and there was light! Each subsequent phase of creation is animated by God speaking forth His intention. Whatever He declares comes to pass!
When we think of the Word going forth, what comes to mind? John 1 connects the sending forth of God’s Word, and the coming of Jesus – “The Word became flesh – v. 14.” In the first five verses we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus, the Word, proceeded from the Father to accomplish precisely what the Father intended. Initially, Jesus, the Divine Logos, was the instrument of creation. “All things were made through Him.” After man’s sin corrupted creation, God sent Jesus to “recreate.” Isaiah 55 tells us that God’s Word does not return void. Before Jesus’ ascension, He accomplished precisely what God intended. With His coming, Jesus provided water to bring forth new life, and bread to sustain life. Read on…
Read Matthew 6:7-15 – The Word is Jesus
In this beautiful passage, Jesus is teaching His followers how to pray. First, our Lord warns us about babbling like the pagans. Who can hear the word “babbling” without thinking of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). In that day, “the whole earth had one language and the same words.” Compare the “word” of man with the Word of God. God’s Word goes forth and doesn’t return without accomplishing its purpose. “Man’s word went forth – to build a tower to reach the heavens.” Where God’s plans were accomplished perfectly, man’s plans came to ruin. God confounded their languages and spread man across the face of the earth. So, Jesus warns us not to rely on the power of “man’s words.” Instead, we are to turn to the One who knows our every need.
Then, Jesus teaches His disciples how they are to pray. “This is how you are to pray, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” God is omnipresent. Why would Jesus teach us to pray that God is in heaven? Well, God is in heaven. To be sure, He is everywhere all at once. However, by recognizing His heavenly dwelling, we lift our eyes off of this mortal coil and focus on the reality of eternity! Second, we are to acknowledge that God’s name is hallowed or holy – that His identity is holy – that He embodies holiness – and that we are to revere Him as holy. From the opening of the model prayer we see the need to begin our prayers with praise. He who is continually worshiped by the angels, arch-angels and saints of all the ages around the throne is most assuredly worthy of our praise! Yet, how often do we immediately inject our “request” list? We would do well to spend some time on our knees before we say “pretty please.”
Then Jesus invites his followers to pray for God’s Kingdom to come in its fullness and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is a recognition of Jesus’ mission to usher in the Kingdom. What was accomplished perfectly by Jesus in His earthly ministry, continues to move toward fulfillment through the ministry of His followers. Jesus said in John 20:21, “…As the Father has sent me, so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit.” In effect, the disciples were now proceeding forth from Jesus, carrying His Word. And, it would not return void!
Then, Jesus teaches them to pray that God would provide this day their daily bread. Any Jewish person would have heard “daily bread,” and thought about manna. Manna, of course, was the miraculous bread God provided daily to sustain Israel during the Exodus. It was believed that the Messiah would bring back the manna when He came. In John 6, Jesus identified Himself as the “true bread that has come down from heaven.” It’s interesting that the Greek word for daily bread, “epiousios” is better translated, “epi” – above, “ousios” – nature – “supernatural.” What God had provided in the Exodus would be eclipsed by the bread offered by Jesus to sustain us. Why, because this bread will be a “communion” with Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:16).
Finally, Jesus taught them to pray about forgiveness. When Peter preached at Pentecost, the people asked what they should do in response. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins…” (Acts 2:38, John 31-8, Romans 6:4). Based on these passages and others, baptism has long been associated with forgiveness and new life.
In the final analysis, what God declared in Isaiah 55:10-11, that His Word would not return void, has came to pass in the person and work of Jesus, who is the Word. Jesus’ coming is like the rain that waters the earth and brings forth new life, and bread that sustains the hungry. Perhaps this is best understood by the image of baptism – as we are buried and raised to a new life…and, as we receive the Bread of life at His Table!
Now, the Word of God goes forth through us and our ministry. As we journey, may we pray as Jesus taught us, and may the Word go out from our mouths and lives – so that others will join us on the journey. If we will share the Word, it will not return void!