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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being

By Horatius Bonar

      "God said." -- Genesis 1:3

      THIS chapter, in many places, prefixes the name of God to what is said or done, that there may be no mistake as to the speaker or doer, and that God himself may be prominently presented to us in his divine personality. We read, "God created"; "God made"; "God saw"; "God divided"; "God called"; "God set"; "God blessed"; "God formed"; "God planted"; "God took"; "God commanded." But the most frequent word here is, "God SAID." As it is elsewhere written, "He spake and it was done"; "he commanded the light to shine out of darkness"; "the worlds were framed by the word of God"; "upholding all things by the word of his power."

      God's "word" is then the one medium or link between Him and creation. Creation is in one sense immediate,--the result of direct power; in another, it is mediate, as accomplished by the intervention of speech. How far this mode of statement is a condescension to man's weakness, we will not say; but the frequency with which it is repeated, shews what stress God lays on it. There was evidently an intervention of something corresponding to human speech, if, indeed, the actual words were not spoken just as they are set down. Between the "nothing" and the "something,"--non-existence and creation,--there intervenes only the word; but after that many other agencies come in, animate or inanimate,--second causes, natural laws and processes,--devolving the great original fiat; for it is only as in connection with it that these laws and processes have any power at all. The power or energy of the original "word" still lasts, still vibrates through the universe, still keeps creation in motion, still preserves the sequences and orderliness of all created things above and beneath.

      He is the sovereign Speaker and the sovereign Worker. All are under his authority. He saith to this creature, Go, and it goeth; and to another, Come, and it cometh. He sits on his throne commanding the universe.

      It is that same word that is still acting; as efficacious, as potent as at the first. Why does yon sun still move and shine? Not merely because of a word spoken some thousands of years since; but because that word is operative and energetic still. We read the original "God said" in every revolution; in every sunrise and sunset. "By the same word are these things kept in store." Vitality, growth, beauty, fruitfulness, are indications, not of a past power, but of a present energy; a continuation of the original impulse, or rather of the very same original impulse still prolonged and working. "My Father worketh hitherto."

      When the Son of God was here, it was thus he acted in doing His miracles. He spake and it was done: "Lazarus, come forth"; "Young man, arise"; "Damsel, arise"; "Be opened." It was a word that was still the medium. And in His case we see the fitness; for He was "the Word." But there is the same fitness in the first creation, for He was Himself the Creator. It was He who spoke the creating word at first. His words are the words of authority and power.

      This God (and this Son of God) speaks to us still. He does not keep silence though our outer ears hear no sound.

      1. He speaks to us in Creation. This earth and these heavens are the echo of his voice. God speaks to us in each part of his handiwork. It is not "nature's voice" as men speak. It is the true, authentic voice of God. He speaks each day to us, and is never silent. As He spake at first, and the universe heard his voice, so he speaks to us now. Shall we hear or not?

      2. He speaks to us in the Word itself. This Book embodies His words. Creation is the visible embodiment of His power and wisdom; it is the result of His words. His power came forth in speech as a channel or medium. This book of His is, in a different way, the effect of His speaking. It is his written wisdom and power. There is His voice to us. The thunder and tempest are his loud voice of grandeur; the sunshine and the gentle breeze His still small voice; but deeper, clearer, keener, softer, yet more penetrating than all these, is His word. Men speak of the Bible being the thoughts of God, but not His words. As if you could speak of a certain piece of music apart from the notes which compose it, or of the sea apart from the drops which make it up; as if you might say that creation embodied the general purpose of God, but not any minute or special designs. That Book is what it is because it contains the words of God. To our outer ear God speaks to us; and through our outer ear to our inner man. For it is through the word, and in connection with it, that God communicates with us. That word quickens: "Thy word hath quickened me." That word produces faith: "Faith cometh by hearing." That word strengthens, comforts, heals, nourishes, revives. It gets into contact with each part of our souls, and works its own work here. And it does this because it is divine. No human words could be trusted to work the work in a human soul so unrestrictedly. It is not eloquence, nor poetry, nor argument; but something more than all these together; something peculiar and indescribable, which man could not have formed, and which he cannot understand, that makes it so suitable for the soul of a foolish and sinful man.

      3. He speaks to us in Providences. Let us listen reverently to everything that happens, and we shall recognise a divine voice, and divine words in all. No providence is dumb. No sorrow, no joy, no sickness, no recovery, no calamity, public or private, is dumb. "God said" sounds out from them all. By them God is pursuing us at every step, and all the day stretching out his hands to a disobedient and gainsaying race. How articulate, how eloquent are the daily events of the commonest life on earth. Yet we close our ears! Day unto day utters speech, yet we will neither interpret nor hearken!

      4. He speaks to us by His Sabbaths. I mention this especially because of its connection with the creation-scene. Each Sabbath is to us a silver trumpet speaking direct from God. It gives no uncertain sound. It speaks of grace, and love, and rest. It is God's weekly invitation to the weary. He who would take from us our Sabbaths would silence the voice of God.

      Thus it is that God speaks to us. Yet deeper than all these there is a divine and irresistible voice speaking to our inner man. Not separate from the word, yet still distinct,--the direct, sovereign, almighty voice of God by which the new creation is formed. Hence it is that out of many hearing the same sermon, or reading the same Bible, some believe, and some believe not. As in the old creation, so in the new, it is God that is the speaker and the worker. "Behold, I make all things new." The new creating words come from His lips to souls dead in sin.

      What noble and mighty things are words! Through them we wield the mind of our fellow men. We cannot operate on dead matter through them, as God can, but on living souls we can. What a responsibility on us for our words! What a danger and sin in idle or evil words. Let our words be ever true and holy.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae


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