Thus saith the LORD
Children learn that phrase very quickly. A sibling tells them to set the table. What happens next depends entirely on the source of the command. If the reply comes: “Thus saith mum!” things might just get moving.
Hundreds of times the bible contains this phrase: “Thus saith the LORD.” Even when it’s the LORD who is speaking, He continually reminds His people that these aren’t any old words, they are His words carrying His authority and power.
This is not a mere assertion of power. “The LORD” is His covenant name. It reminds the people of His promises of faithful love. It’s like a husband saying to His wife, “This is me talking here – the one who loves you. You can trust me.”
From the very beginning, life came through the Word of the LORD. The Spirit hovered over the waters (Genesis 1:2). And it’s the Spirit (or Breath, which is the same word in Hebrew) that carries the Word. So through the Spirit and by the Word, God brings life. That was true in creation. But it’s equally true in salvation. And the most striking image of this truth comes in the book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was exiled along with the people of God in Babylon. He had witnessed the spiritual death of the nation, estranged from their land and estranged from their God. But in chapter 37 he gets a vision of how spiritual life can be breathed again into a people who are dead in transgressions and sins.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
Ezekiel must have thought that Israel was too far gone to ever see spiritual renewal. Yet the LORD showed him the truth: they were much worse than he thought – dead. Yet through the Spirit (or Breath), and by the Word, life could be breathed into the most moribund people.
What hope is there for our nations today? None. Not from a human perspective anyway. People cannot come to spiritual life any more than corpses can assemble themselves for battle! Yet there is almighty power in the word. As we testify to Jesus by the Spirit, God can breathe life into people, to bring them out of spiritual death and put His Spirit in them.
Do we undersand the power that we unleash when we speak of Jesus? It might feel weak and foolish to tell about our Lord, about His cross, about His work in our lives, to mention the Scriptures, to name His name. But resurrection is contained in our cruciform words.
So then – don’t be afraid to say “Thus saith the LORD.”