Feasting with God #28
God’s Word Provides
Text: Isaiah 55:10-11
10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
As a student in elementary school, I remember learning with awe about the water cycle. The water on the earth—in oceans, rivers, lakes, puddles—evaporates in the heat of the sun, becoming water vapor, which rises up into the sky, and gathers together there in clouds. Then, when the conditions are right, the clouds overflow and burst, raining or snowing onto the earth. Then the cycle repeats itself.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God uses this water cycle as an illustration for the way his Word works. When it rains or snows, the water eventually does evaporate once again, but not without the ground being watered by it. Think of the way the air feels and smells when you go outside after it has rained. Even if the water has already begun to evaporate, you can see the effect. You know the rain has been there.
God’s Word works the same way. He sends it out, and it has an effect, so that those nearby know it has been there. Think of how God created the world: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). God’s Word had an effect. Think of what happened when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. When they told him who they were looking for, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am he [literally: “I AM”].’…When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:5-6). Jesus’ Word had an effect. Think also of when the Roman centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant: Jesus offered to come to the house and heal him there, “But the centurion replied, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matt. 8:8-9). So Jesus said the word, and it was done. His Word had an effect.
That centurion really understood what God’s Word could do, and what God wanted his Word to do. The rain waters the earth, and this may cause flooding and destruction, but its true purpose is “making [the earth] bring forth and sprout, / giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” Rain provides growth, food, and life. In the same way God’s Word provides nourishment and eternal life. When God’s Word is preached, it may sometimes be with the destructive, disciplining hammer of the Law, showing us how we have disobeyed God’s commands, how we have offended him and our fellow men with our thoughts, words, and actions; but what God really intends as the purpose of his Word is that it give us the message of his Son, Jesus, who paid the price for all those sins on the cross, who won for us eternal life. God’s Word gives us faith in that Savior, promises us life in connection with him, and encourages us in that faith and life. This is what God’s Word accomplishes.
Lord God, we thank you that you have sent your Word to teach us your Law, so that we may realize our spiritual thirst, and also to bless us with your Gospel, so that our thirst may be quenched. Lead us always to return to that one sure source of spiritual nourishment, and strengthen our faith through it so that we may come to realize fully the blessings of eternal life, forgiveness, and salvation won for us in your Son. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.