God’s word will never fail. But our unbelief can prevent its fulfilment in our own lives, while it will be fulfilled in the lives of others.
Concerning His word, God says that which proceeds from His mouth is like the rain that comes down and waters the earth, bringing forth seed to the sower and bread to the eater. (Isaiah 55:10)
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it (THE WORD ITSELF) shall not return unto me void, but it (THE WORD ITSELF) shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
The word of God has power in itself to accomplish the very thing that it speaks of. Take for example, the creation of the world.
6By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth… 9For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. (Psalm 33:6,9)
There was a certain centurion that came to Christ, asking that he would heal his servant. Christ replied that He would come to his house. “Oh no,” replied the centurion, “I am not worthy. But speak the WORD ONLY and my servant shall be healed.” Christ marveled at what He referred to as the centurion’s “great faith”. (Matthew 8:5-10) The centurion knew there was power in the word of God itself, and his dependence was on the word. Christ didn’t need to come and touch his servant. All he had to do was speak the word, and the word ITSELF would heal his servant.
There are many instance in the Scriptures that teach the power of God’s word. One of the most brilliant proofs of this fact is prophecy. Prophecy is a wonderful teacher of the total reliability of God’s word.
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream (Daniel 2). In this dream he saw the succession of kingdoms that would follow his Babylonian empire. Babylon would be succeeded by Media-Persia. Media-Persia would be succeeded by Greece which would in turn be replaced by the empire of Rome. Rome’s power would continue into a phase of human history at the end of the world where there would never be such a powerful dominion as that which had gone before.
Nebuchadnezzar set up a huge golden statue upon the plain of Dura, thinking to defeat the word of God and establish his own eternal kingdom. But his defiance was in vain and at the time appointed, Babylon fell into the hands of the Medes and Persians.
It is exciting to observe the manner of Babylon’s demise. Over 100 years earlier, even before Nebuchadnezzar himself had come on the scene as a mighty conqueror, the name of the man who would conquer Babylon and the way in which he would be victorious had already been given. Sometime during the decade before 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah gave the following:
1Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. 5I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: (Isaiah 45:1-5)
Media-Persia Succeeds Babylon
Babylon was a formidable city. Historical accounts record that the walls were 330ft/100m high, and 60ft/18m thick. The streets were square and many of them ended at the waters of the Euphrates which passed under the walls of the city. At each of the street’s entrance, there were huge brazen gates that would protect the city form any enemy entering in through the river, although it was well-nigh impossible that the river itself could be used to access that part of the city.
In approximately 538 BC, Cyrus launched his campaign against the Babylonian empire. Marching towards the city, he came to the Gyndes, a tributary to the Euphrates river. On approaching the water, one of his white royal horses proudly plunged into the waters thinking to cross them, but was swept away by its current. Enraged, Cyrus vowed that he would punish the river so that a woman could cross it without getting her knees wet. This promise he immediately set his soldiers upon the task of fulfilling and on either side of the river, they dug a total of 360 channels to disperse the flow of the water. The time expended in this exertion took up the remainder of the summer and his army was forced to wait through the winter before embarking once more upon the conquest of Babylon.
Coming into sight of the city and beholding its formidable walls, the recent punishment inflicted on the Gyndes provided an instant solution to his mind. He would divert the waters and hope that they would find entrance to the city through its channels. Following a skirmish with the Babylonians, who retreated inside their walls, thinking that it was impossible that their peace could be disturbed, Cyrus set his armies upon the task of re-channeling the Euphrates. As soon as the waters were chest-high, his men marched up the river and found that two of the brass gates had been carelessly left open. Stealing quietly through the city, they opened the main gates and let their comrades in. And the Median-Persian empire succeeded the Babylonian.
It was God that opened the gates. He had promised to do so over 150 years before! And not only had He said the gates would be open, but He even gave the name of the conqueror himself. The high walls and mighty armies of Babylon were no match for the word of God.
Greece Succeeds Media-Persia
Then the time came for the Media-Persian empire to be succeeded by the Grecians. Alexander the Great crossed into the domains of the Persians with only 30,000 infantry, 4,500 cavalry and enough wealth for just 30 days wages for his men. At the Granicus, he was met by Darius’ army, consisting of over 1000,000 men. He engaged in the conflict, killing 20,000 of Darius’ soldiers and taking 2,000 captive. Of his own troops, Alexander lost 115, and 1,150 were wounded.
Defeated, Darius fled and raised a huge army, consisting of 500,000 men. With less than 40,000 men, Alexander accepted the challenge. The battle was fought on the plains of Issus and a huge proportion of Darius’ army was slain. 100,000 Persians lay dead on the battlefield, while 40,000 were taken captive. Despite the odds, Alexander miraculously lost only 450 men, and 504 were wounded. His victory prize was the entire royal family of Darius.
Although the numbers seemed to be against Alexander, the word of God was not. For it had decreed that Persia would be conquered by Greece and had Darius raised 50 million men, the outcome would still have been the same. No army in this would could prevent the word of God from being fulfilled.
The City of Tyre
One of my favourite prophecies is the prophecy of Ezekiel against the city of Tyre. Chapter 26. The merchants of Tyre have watched the destruction of Jerusalem and thought that they would now benefit from the diversion of trade. God promised to bring many nations against the city; that the walls would be destroyed, the towers broken down and that the dust would be scraped from her and she would be as bare as a rock. (vss 3,4). In verse 12, the promise was that the timber and stones and dust would be laid in the waters. It was not long after the destruction of Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar set his sights on the mighty city of merchants.
The city of Tyre was a formidable fortress, perched on the coast of modern-day Lebanon. It was the home of many merchant vessels which traveled far and wide. When Nebuchadnezzar came up against it, the gates were closed and the siege began. For an incredible 13 years, the city held out against Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Ceaselessly, day and night, his siege engine and battering rams executed their wrath but with little effect. So enduring was the siege that “every head was made bald” by the constant wearing of the helmet, and “every shoulder was peeled” from the ceaseless operation of the battering rams (Ezekiel 29:18). Finally his army broke through. Unfortunately there was nothing of any value inside the city. Half a mile from the shore was a small island and the inhabitants of the city had relocated to this island with their possessions. In disappointed rage, the Babylonian army broke down the walls and towers of the old city. Just as God’s word had said would happen.
Nebuchadnezzar was serving God in his war against Tyre. He was executing the judgment that God had promised and his unwearied efforts did not go unnoticed by Him. God was willing that he still receive his wages.
18Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it: 19Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army. 20I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 29:18-20)
Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt and added its riches to his own possessions because he waged war against the city of Tyre. Had he never persisted in his siege against the city, the land of Egypt would have remained untouched by the Babylonians. It is wonderful to behold the mechanics behind the movement of the nations!
But the judgment against Tyre included that the rocks and timbers and even the dust would be thrown into the waters. This had not yet occurred. The inhabitants of Tyre rested peacefully on their little island, her haughty merchant ships still traveling far and wide and bringing much wealth into the city.
Alexander the Great enters the stage of action. Coming to Tyre, he begins to build a land bridge out to the new city built upon the island. Using the rocks and timbers from the old city, he casts them into the sea. The inhabitants thought their city was impregnable and stood in shock as they beheld his men constructing a mole wide enough to accommodate siege towers and battering rams. Yet they still hoped for the better and hindered much of the progress from the safety of their boats until Alexander gathered his own fleet.
One day, when the bridge was nearing the island, a mighty storm destroyed much of the land bridge. Alexander sought to rebuild it, but the Tyrians saw their opportunity and sent underwater divers to attach hooks to the rocks and trees of the mole, causing it much damage and greatly impeding Alexander’s efforts. They also managed to light fire to the instruments of attack, which then burned to the ground.
Unperturbed, Alexander rebuilt the land bridge, and the siege weapons, using the remainder of the rocks and timbers from the old city, even scraping the dust from the foundation in order to complete the project, which indeed was done and the city was conquered.
This is a fascinating story, because had not the storm and the desperate Tyrians destroyed much of the land bridge, the old city would not have needed to have been scraped bare like a rock. But the storm, the attack, the partial destruction of the bridge, all meant that the word of God was fulfilled to the finest details.
What remained of the city on the island, which was now connected by the mole to the mainland, suffered the remainder of the fulfilment of the prophecy. “Many” nations would be brought against Tyre. In A.D. 193, it was plundered and burned after many people were put to the sword. Around A.D. 1098, the Egyptians massacred a large number of its inhabitants. In A.D. 1291, the Turks destroyed what remained of the city. For many years, the sites of the old and the new were a home for fisherman and the spreading of their nets.
These wonderful accounts from history demonstrate the power of God’s word. It DOES NOT return unto Him void, but IT, the word itself, shall accomplish the very thing of which God spoke. Mighty armies, strong, formidable walls, cannot prevent its fulfilment.
Can the fulfilment of God’s word depend on us?
So why do we not see the fulfilment of God’s word in our lives as much as we would like to? We may see it working in the lives of those around us, but not always in ours. Why? It is because of our unbelief. Except we believe God’s promise to us and receive it personally, the word cannot work.
Consider the ark of the covenant. There were rings on its side towards the four corners through which would be passed two poles on either side. By these poles, the ark was transported.
The ark was a symbol of God’s presence. Yet, UNLESS they carried the ark and took it with them, God’s presence would not go with them. In a sense, God could not move unless they moved. There was a part that they had to play.
To expound on this thought, recall the story of Elijah on Mt Carmel. The nation was in a desperate state, perishing from three and a half years of drought. The promise was that if they should repent and turn again to God, He would send the rain. They had done this, and now upon the mount, Elijah bows upon his knees confessing the sins of Israel and asking that God would keep His promise. Until the sixth time he prayed, there was no cloud on the horizon. He prayed the seventh, and a small cloud the size of a man’s hand was seen to be the token of rain. God fulfilled His promise, BUT had Elijah ceased to pray the seventh time, the nation would have perished from the drought. The word was there, but it was imperative that Elijah claimed the promise as belonging to the nation, and persisted in that claim until the promise was fulfilled.
God makes many promises, but unless we claim them as our own, and persist that God keeps His word, it will not work in our lives. There is a part we have to play. God cannot move unless we move. God’s word cannot work for us unless we truly believe it and demand its fulfilment. Hebrews 12:1 describes faith as the substance of things hoped for – it is our faith that will produce the tangible results of God’s word, not that there is any merit in faith, but God wants to work in co-operation with us.
Many are waiting for laws to be decreed concerning a certain day of the week. They expect an image to the beast to be made, which will then speak as a dragon. But most do not realise that the image has already been made.
In 1892, at the time of the World Trade Fair in Chicago, the protestant church appealed to the American government to close the Fair on Sundays. When the discussion was held in Congress concerning this matter, all arguments using the U.S. constitution were shut out. Despite petitions signed by large numbers of Americans and the powerful protestations of America’s top religious liberty experts, the final outcome was that Congress decreed that the American government would not put any of its own funds towards the Fair unless it was closed on Sunday. For the first time in history, the government played into the hands of the churches and the image to the beast was erected. (See chapters 2 & 3 of the book, 1893 General Conference Bulletins, by A. T. Jones.)
Many people are waiting for something to happen that has already happened. And because they are not aware of it, they do not pray the prayer,
“It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.” (Psalm 119:136)
But 123 years ago, the law was made void and the American government at the congressional level made a law concerning a religious holy day. Why has not God worked? Because nobody has prayed the prayer. That is why. The promise of God is sure, but it cannot work unless we claim it. But we must be persistent, like the importunate widow who daily came to the judge and demanded a response. God wants to work. He has been waiting all this time to work, but we have not been intelligent about these things and we have not recognised the time in which we are living, and lifted His promise up before Him and demanded that He keep His word.
Shall we do that? With EVERY word that proceeds out of His mouth? If ever we needed the fulfilment of His promises in our lives, it is now. Let us trust Him. His word is sure. Let us yield to that word, and it will work. May it truly be time for the Lord to work in every way in our lives and in this world. Amen.
*Article image is of the colonnade at Al-Mina at the southern part of the city built on the former island of Tyre. SOURCE: Wikipedia