Can you imagine life without words?
Words comprise language. Writing preserves language. Humanly speaking, the earliest known writing dates to about 5500 BC.
God creates with words
As someone who thinks about and writes words all day, it astonishes me that God created language. I have no idea how. I just know He did—because He spoke creation into being.
I don’t know how He did that, either. But think of it: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made … For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:6,9 BSB). That’s mind-blowing enough. But God was just getting started with the power of His words.
God promises that every word He speaks will accomplish His purposes and will succeed in the purpose He intends for it (Isaiah 55:11). BOOM.
We don’t have God’s authority, but He gave us the ability to use words. Words have power. Yet so many of today’s words are being used for harm.
Often the most harmful words aren’t shouted but written.
Words Can Cause Harm
Like the Turkish government’s resolution to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque. That intention became an overt threat in 2017. Today it’s reality. The 1,500-year-old pillar of Christendom, a museum since 1943, will ring with Muslim prayers in less than two weeks.
Few people realize a number Turkish churches have been converted to mosques in recent years—simply by words. Today’s strategic move on Hagia Sophia reflects President Erdogan’s dual religious and political agendas. Despite worldwide outcry, the resolution stands. More onerous than the resolution is what it stands for—because it’s happening in other countries, too. And the one percent of Turkey’s population that are Christians fear for their future.
The minute I read about Hagia Sophia, I gravitated again to Psalm 33: “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever” (Psalm 33: 10-11 NKJV).
With a word, God can thwart every plan of man. Why He doesn’t always do it is a mystery of His sovereign will. His ultimate purpose is to turn the heart of mankind to Him.
Despite so much strife and division occurring today, we seem to be doing everything except turning our hearts to Him.
But … words have power. In a double-edged way.
Proverbs 18:21 (BSB) says “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
Words Can Do Good
In 1839, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote “the pen is mightier than the sword” in his historical play, Cardinal Richelieu. It quickly gained currency and endures as a commonplace phrase.
Words have power to do good. I strive to achieve that in my writing. Equally great good can come from us pouring out our words of confession and intercession to God. Friends, I urge you to do that today.
God, save us from ourselves! We have acted like we are wiser than You and have turned our backs on You. In our pride, we have sinned against You in every possible way. We deserve nothing but Your wrath and justice. God, please forgive us. Break our hearts for the things that break Your heart. Bring our country and this world to its knees to acknowledge Who You are and how much we need You. Open our eyes to our folly and forgive us of our sins. Cleanse our hearts and minds so we may serve You alone. And Lord, let it start with me. Sweep my heart clean so it can be a place of your shalom. Show me how to spread light, love, and peace in this present darkness. May others see a reflection of You when they look at me. Amen.
Like Moses, Jeremiah, and countless others did in the Bible, let us plead our plight, our nation’s plight, and the world’s plight before God. Will you join me?
Then we’ll be able to say:
Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our hearts rejoice in Him,
since we trust in His holy name.
May Your loving devotion rest on us, O Lord,
as we put our hope in You.
(Psalm 33:20-22 BSB)
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A Deeper Dive: more about the history of writing (if you like that kind of trivia)
- Proto-writing (using symbols for words) started between 5500 and 6000 BC.
- The first complete writing system (Mesopotamian cuneiform) appeared around 3500 BC.
- The first alphabet akin to what we know (Phoenician) emerged in 1200 BC.
- The earliest movable-block printing (aka early printing press) harks back to China circa 800 AD.