The Mouth of the Lord Has Spoken It

Every year around Christmas I enjoy hearing Handel’s Messiah. Last Christmas our family had the privilege of hearing the Christmas portion of this glorious work at the Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The parish was established in 1674 and the current building was completed in 1715. The exterior is original and the interior was restored to its original look when Colonial Williamsburg began its restoration in the 1930’s. The church’s choir and orchestra did a masterful job, and it was wonderful to hear it in such a historic setting. As significant as was the setting and the experience, it was one phrase of the performance that for me was truly significant.

The Messiah consists of scripture compiled by Charles Jennens. George Frederick Handel took that text and composed the oratorio in 24 days. One of my favorite pieces in The Messiah is the fourth song, “And the Glory of the Lord.” I love the music, the harmonies, and the grandeur of the song, but that is not my main reason for my preference for this piece. The song is based on Isaiah 40:5.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5 KJV)

The last phrase is what I love, “for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” It emphasizes the power and certainty of God’s spoken word. We can be sure “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh will see it together,” because God said so. Our words many times are empty because we do not always have the will or the power to bring to pass what we have spoken. Not so with God’s words. As a matter of fact, nothing happens apart from God’s spoken word.

Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:8-11 ESV)

God says he “declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.” Not only did God speak (and thereby ordain) all things, he did this long ago. God is not making things up as he goes along. What he says today through Scripture is what he spoke before the foundation of the world.

Also, God’s voice is active. His words and his actions are always in agreement. God spoke and there was light (Genesis 1:3). He spoke all of creation into being. As Tim Keller says, “What God’s voice does, God does.”[1] Only God has the power and will to bring to pass what he speaks, and he promises to do that.

“For 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, so 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. (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Our guarantees can be empty, but God always speaks a sure word.

For those of us that belong to Christ this should bring us great comfort. God has promised in his written word that “those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30), and the Word that became flesh said “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). However, just as sure as is his word of salvation, so is his word of judgment.

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (2 Peter 3:1-7 ESV)

Do not be a mocker or scoffer of God’s word. The living Word that brings salvation also brings judgment, “for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

[1] Timothy Keller, Prayer, (New York, NY: Dutton, 2014), 52.

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