We must live in the Land Without Words.
In our English translations of the Bible, we have this expression: “someone’s word.” It shows up in our phrase, “the Word of God.” Our culture offers no good translation of the Hebrew concept. Indeed, it’s difficult to explain in English because we place boundaries around the meanings of words, something Hebrew language doesn’t do.
As the final installment of this series, I struggle to erase the false boundaries that our world has drawn around all kinds of things that defy explanation. Western Civilization turns a lot of things upside down and inside out. In some ways, it allows glimpses of truth, but not for actual use in shaping our decisions without driving it into some imaginary layer of pure subjective sentiment. There truly is no place in Western thinking for the Spirit Realm; the West blocks out the Spirit Realm as an intrusion, instead of acknowledging it as ultimate reality.
In Hebrew thinking, one’s word is their commitment. What tumbles out of your mouth should first pass through your heart, and as the heart directs, so your mind formulates and expresses. Your breath is your spirit. No, read that again. What comes out of you cannot be separated from your moral character. Only in the curse of the Fall do we recognize that words and actions get separated. We should not celebrate this and enshrine it as a cultural icon, as some fundamental fact of reality the way Western thought does. It’s not that Hebrew people had no concept for lying, but they didn’t rely on mere fact to verify, because fact itself is deceptive. What the West calls “reality” is shadow and mist. Only with an active heart-mind awareness can one discern the meaning and value of words.
This cancerous false image of words and facts as the substance of reality is what traps us and makes genuine faith so very hard. The antidote is a very hard teaching about a world without words. Have you ever tried to think in terms of moral reality and not use words? Yes, I realize the intellect is trapped in facts and words, but can you convince your intellect that the heart does not transmit truth verbally? Moral truth defies description because it is wordless.
For those of us who have gotten used to communing directly with nature, we find there is so very much that simply cannot be captured in words. It’s not as if we can’t indicate something about those interactions using words, but that words could never possibly convey the fullness of what we experience. This is why we make so much of parables and parabolic language. We emphatically deny that literal and propositional statements can mean anything important. This is why we say things that are so assertively shocking. The only way we can jar you out of concrete thinking is to shatter the concrete. Set your mind free to the mystical truth of personal interaction with God in Person. You won’t be able to tell us about that when it really happens, but you can use parables to indicate something we will recognize from our own encounters with God.
So now you recognize that the expression “The Word of God” is just a parable. Depending on the context, maybe I’m indicating the Bible, or maybe something the Bible itself only hints at. If I tell you I have a prophetic message, you realize that the message can’t be taken literally for the most part. Sure, some statements are factual in nature: “God won’t let US military successfully attack Iran.” But I haven’t told you what will happen in concrete terms, only indicated that there is a line drawn in moral space. It indicates you should pray the US never tries it, because it’s no different than making a blood sacrifice to demons. Maybe I should say that God has commissioned a very major angelic power to protect Iran from the US and her various organizations (like NATO) and other instruments of war.
Don’t draw too many “logical” conclusions from that; they’ll miss the point. It’s not that God loves Iran so much — we have much to say of her sins — but that God has set a boundary against the sins of the US. It’s too late to redeem the US, so it’s not as if observing that prophetic injunction will save the country. But we can be sure that if the US tries to attack Iran, it will precipitate an immediate end to US military power.
Do you believe that? I do. And even without that pointed prophetic message, I’m sure your heart would tell you that the US is doomed for all kinds of reasons. And if you pay attention to military news, you probably have heard about all the military boondoggles on which the US has wasted vast amounts of wealth. How do you feel about our future air superiority resting on the winged piece of crap known as the F-35? And our latest high-tech aircraft carrier is not even close to battle ready. Look it up if you need facts, but anyone with moral discernment could have predicted it long ago.
Nor can you mark this down to subjective spite against the US and her military institutions. I wore the uniform, and would give anything to go back and experience that fertile field of ministry. I haven’t forgotten the many dear souls I met there or the opportunities to establish a worthy witness of faith in the eyes of many. Don’t tie your moral thinking to binary choices and linear logic. Moral truth is not confined to such limitations. Turn your brain around and kneel before the superior logic of the heart. The heart knows.
And the heart knows without words.