Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Calling Those Things Which Do Not Exist

God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:17)
In this verse, we see how God operates: He calls those things that do not exist as though the did. It is His action that is in view in this passage. Abram's job was simply to believe.

Oops! Did I say Abram? I mean Abraham, for that is what God changed Abram's name to. God called him “Abraham,” which means “Father of Many Nations.” In renaming him “Abraham,” God was calling something that did not yet exist as though it already were.

Now what do you suppose Abram and Sarai began to call him when God renamed him “Father of Many Nations.” They, of course, began to call him Abraham, “Father of Many Nations.” That took an act of faith on their part, and it was also an act of calling. They saw that Abraham was old, and as good as dead, in the child-fathering department, and yet they called, in agreement with the Word of God, for the “Father of Many Nations” to manifest.

God's way is to call things that do not exist as though they already were. We see this reinforced in Hebrews 11:3. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

All that is seen was not made of that which is visible, but that which is invisible — the Word of God. The natural world which we experience by our senses actually has its origin in and is dependent upon the spiritual realm. For God, Who created the heavens and the earth, is Spirit.

Now, in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He did it by His words. “Let there be light ...,” etc. God called for things that did not yet exist as though the already did.

That is how God operates. But how are God's people intended to operate.

Look again at Genesis 1. In verses 26-27 we see that God created man, male and female, in His image. That was a sign of God's authority being delegated to them. That was important because of the mandate God placed on them in the very next verses:

“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing tat moves on the earth.” (v. 28).

In Psalm 8:6, we see that they were given dominion over the works of God's hand and all things were put under his feet (this was restored to fallen humanity in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God who is Man who perfectly fulfills this dominion).

What was Adam to multiply upon the earth? That which he was and possessed: the image of God.

What was Adam to do with the earth as he multiplied: Subdue it and have dominion over it.

How was Adam to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it?

Look in Genesis 2, a close-up account of how God made Adam:

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (v. 7)

Notice that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils — from God’s mouth into Adam’s body. The breathe of a person is that by which one actually utters words. We breathe them out. In 2 Timothy 2:17, Paul says that all Scripture is given “by inspiration of God.” The Greek word for “inspiration” is theoneustos, and literally means “God-breathed.” God breathes out His Word.

So God breathed, with His word-speaking capacity, into man’s nostrils, and man became a “living being.”

There are ancient versions of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Targums. These were translations from Hebrew into its cousin language Aramaic, for there were many Jews who lost the mother tongue in Babylonian captivity. Many Jews in the time of Christ, including Jesus Himself, spoke in Aramaic, and parts of the Hebrew Scriptures were actually written in Aramaic.

There is one such translation, known as the Targum Onkelos, which deals with the events of Genesis 2. And it renders “man became a living being” this way: “And man became a speaking spirit.”

God, who is Spirit and who speaks things into being, breathed His speaking faculty into the nostrils of man, and man became a speaking spirit.

Now, notice a few verse down in Genesis 2, where God gives Adam his first assignment:

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (v. 19)

God, who breathed into Adam’s nostrils, brought them to Adam, who was created in the image of God, given the mandate to subdue and have dominion over the earth, and then watched to see what Adam would call them.

Notice that God did not tell Adam what to call them. He simply let Adam work within the divine mandate and merely observed what Adam called them. Whatever Adam called them, that was its name.

What was Adam doing? He was subduing the earth and having dominion. How was he exercising that dominion? By the words of his mouth. He called the animals something, and whatever he called them, that is what they were. That is, he called things that did not exist (the nature and character of the animals) as though they did. And so they were.

In the Bible, names are significant. They are powerful words that have meaning. They call forth destiny. They establish things in the one being named. God called Abram Abraham, “Father of Many Nations,” and that was Abraham’s destiny. Adam called the animals by certain names, and that is what they were.

Adam and Eve, of course, plunged mankind into sin. But the Lord Jesus Christ came to deliver us from that fallen condition. We can see from how He taught His disciples what some of the ramifications of that redemption are. For example, in Mark 11, when Peter noticed that the fig tree Jesus cursed the day before had now withered, Jesus said,

“Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:22-23)

What was Jesus teaching them? How to exercise dominion with their words.

Now, it is very important to understand that this authority and dominion are only properly exercised within the will and purpose of God, as established by His Word. We are to pray, act and think in Jesus’ name, that is, according to how Jesus Himself would pray, act and think.

We are to call things that are in accordance with the plan and will of God, believing what God has said in His Word and confessing it (that is, agreeing with it).

Having the image of God, the Spirit of God, the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the parameters of the will of God as expressed in the Word of God, we can call things that are not as though they were and expect to see them come to pass.