By Rev SEIK PITOI
WE concluded the series on the Jewish Fall feasts last week.
We traced through Trumpets to Tabernacles, seeing their significance in Jesus and how they apply to the times we live in today. We finished off with a call to unite in bringing in the final harvest of souls into God’s Kingdom before the final curtain is drawn!
I pointed out that I would bring an interview with a church leader who has a passion for evangelism. Unfortunately, he was not available for comment. Instead, today, I wish to bring another aspect of the decade of “peh” or the mouth, in the Jewish year 5781.
Yes it is a season for declaring and decreeing God’s word to the nation, however, as we will discuss here, there are other aspects of the mouth not often referred to. This is crucial for the testimony of the Church as we deal in the marketplace with unbelievers and those who may not share our Christian beliefs. It has to do with the ‘other’ use of our mouths – speaking the truth!
God is very particular about the mouth. He has quite a lot to say about it in His word. There are many instances in both the Old and New Testaments where He has talked about the use of the mouth/tongue. Apart from taking in food and water, the mouth is used primarily for communication. We use our mouths to speak. In the opening verses of the Bible, we see that God ‘spoke’ the world into existence.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:1-3). Over the chaos and disorder at creation, God’s Spirit and Word worked together to bring life and order. As the Spirit hovered, the Bible says, “and God said”, meaning He spoke. God spoke the order, “let there be light”, and light was. Here is the first recorded use of God’s “mouth”! We see His word has creative power. He spoke the whole creation into existence, except for man whom He “created” in His own image and likeness from the dust of the ground (Gen 1:26-27; 2: 7).
Incidentally, we can see the Triune God at work in creation – the (Holy) Spirit moved, and God (the Father) spoke the Word (Jesus the Son of God, the ‘Word made flesh’ – John 1: 1,14), resulting in creation! We also see Him in our salvation. God speaks light and life into the chaos of our sin-darkened lives through His Spirit and by His word, and we are saved.
But God’s word is not only creative; it also has destructive power! Here are just a couple of examples. He sent His angels to destroy the evil twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah: “’The LORD has sent us to destroy Sodom’… Suddenly the LORD rained burning sulphur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed them and the whole valley, along with all the people there and everything that grew on the land. (Gen 19: 13; 24-25). Psalm 18:12-14 also says, “Hailstones and flashes of fire came from the lightning before him and broke through the dark clouds. Then the LORD thundered from the sky; and the voice of the Most High was heard. He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; with flashes of lightning he sent them running.”
In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matt 10:28). Yes, God speaks life but destroys those who choose to be His enemies. It is indeed “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31)!
What about us? As beings created in His image, we also have the same attributes. We too have creative and destructive power in our mouths. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” James also talks about our tongues being “like fire”, with the potential, if used wrongly, to bring destruction (James 3:5ff).
As we saw previously, this decade of “peh” talks about using our mouths to speak God’s word. Obviously, our first task is to use our mouths to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t all have to be evangelists to do that; just people of God living right before God, attracting the seeker through godly lives.
We also are to prophesy and speak God’s word into our own lives, our families and homes, our communities, and in our nation. We are to use our mouths to speak the truth in love and correct those who are walking astray. We should open our mouths and speak for the voiceless, the minority who are victims at the hands of their abusers. We should speak out for the innocent women being battered and brutalised by their cowardly husbands or partners; we should speak out for innocent victims accused of sorcery, and raise our voices for victims of land grabbing by millionaires who care nothing for the local people.
Beware of hypocrisy
We must speak out against corruption at every level and expose such evils in our society. We must speak out. Let’s get ‘unmasked’ and begin to open our mouths and speak for justice and righteousness to prevail in our nation.
But now, let’s get down to the realities of life, where we live every day. After we’ve done the preaching and religious stuff, we get back to the community, the place of work, school, home etc. How do we relate with those around us? Are we truthful in our dealings with others, reflecting our faith as the people of God? That is an area of concern I have, something that has brought much ridicule to the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Here are a couple of examples:
- A young person told me about a certain boss in his office who is a Christian. He often prays and gives devotion in the office. Yet, he was found to manipulate sales figures to benefit himself. Stealing while praying?
- A church elder who could speak in tongues and was a prayer warrior – yet was caught by his own wife and kids hitting it off with another woman. A shame before his own family.
- A senior pastor who told his young friend to meet him at 10am at a coffee shop. The young man waited for two hours and left. When he told the pastor later, there was no remorse or apology. This happened on three occasions. The young man was dashed. He vowed not to trust that pastor again.
- Some students took time off their busy schedule to meet a senior denominational leader at an agreed upon time. It was to be an honour to meet this person whom they looked up to. Yet, despite giving his assurance, he scooted off few minutes before they arrived leaving no explanation. The arrogance and hypocrisy of this man disappointed these young people!
- A young woman leads the prayer meeting in her compound but she also gossips about everyone she doesn’t like and creates lots of stories, causing problems!
There are many similar stories and we could fill a bookshelf on the hypocrisy of God’s people. But that is not our purpose today. Also, some will say such is to be expected as we are fallen beings, still with the sin nature in us. True, but that does not give us the excuse to be hypocrites and liars at will.
Let’s live and tell the truth
A genuinely saved person has a new nature in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) and is convicted by the Holy Spirit in all he does (John 16:7-8). If he fails to honour his word, he is quick to ask for forgiveness. Failing that, he is probably a religious nut wearing the apparel and doing the rituals, yet with no Christ in him! Moreover by lying, we are also doing the work of the ‘father of lies’, the devil (John 8:44).
In this decade of “peh”, of speaking God’s word to the nation, let’s back that up by being people who tell the truth.
God is only as good as His word; likewise, we as pastors and believers are only as good as ours. If we tell lies and deceive people as the hypocrites do, then we should get out of the ministry.
We do more harm than good to the Body of the Messiah by our hypocritical conduct. It’s not how loud we preach and how fast we run from one crusade to another; it’s about how we treat people, how we show respect to those around us, even those who may not agree with us.
It’s all about telling the truth. Unbelievers in our offices watch us; students watch us, and for men and fathers – our wives and kids watch us too! Let our speech and conduct be “seasoned with salt” (Col 4: 5-6). As people of God, let’s get our walk to line up with our talk to back us up as we work together to bring in the final harvest.
- Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.