The Hidden Language
“When Israel went forth from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people
of strange language, Judah became His sanctuary, Israel, His
dominion” (Ps. 114:1-2).
The Bible tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth, and He did so by speaking: “Let there be,” He said, and it
came into being. Romans 4:17 tells us, “God, who gives life to the
dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” He merely
speaks, and things come into being.
The Hebrew writer says that God spoke of old to the fathers in the
Prophets in many portions and diverse ways, and God in these last
days has “spoken to us in Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).
Our God is a communicator. Everything He conceives in His infinite
mind, He expresses it by speaking – in diverse ways and through
many means. During creation, God’s speaking summed up His good
pleasure at the close of each day, “and it was good.” After man was
created, His voice carried a heightened pleasure, “and it was very
good” (Gen 1:31). God finally has someone who has the potential of
understanding Him and fellowshipping with Him. Now God’s purpose
and desires can be apprehended and appreciated.
When it comes to fellowship, with God or with each other, this is
perhaps the first thing we need to learn, that it has to be conceived
and originated in the mind of Christ – He has to speak. Far too often,
though, our fellowship is a mere echo of our natural or religious mind
Gifted and eloquent men can greatly impact the lives of the ordinary
by their skillful speaking, but unless their messages are conceived in
Christ and refined by the woofs and warps of daily trials, they are
little more than empty chatters.
Fact of the matters is, all God’s people, gifted or not, need to learn
to extract their messages from Christ and allow them to be seasoned
by the tests of daily trials. History shows again and again how the
lack of a direct and first-hand knowledge of and relationship with the
Lord makes way for His precious sheep to stray.
Since our God is a speaking God, it behooves every child of God to
learn His language. A deficiency in communicating with Him brings
serious consequences. Sad to say, most Christians have no problem
learning a new computer language when the job dictates, but few
have any desire to master the language required to communicate with
Him and with each other.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites knew the importance of speaking
a common language. It was the common language that knitted them
together. Every time a foreigner came among them, great care was
exercised to identify him. They knew he was different in the midst of
God’s people. As long as he was identified by a different language,
he was considered a stranger.
When Israel fell into the Egyptian slavery, the Lord put it in their
hearts that God’s people did not belong in a foreign land among a
people of “strange language” (Ps 114:1). It might seem that God had
pity on His people who came under severe persecution and harsh
treatment, therefore wanted to help them get out of slavery. The
truth is, God’s people had forgotten who they were and become too
comfortable among a people of strange language in a land where they
did not belong. They were in danger of losing their own language.
Today, many Jewish people who were scattered in many foreign lands
have indeed lost their own language.
If relieving His people from slavery was all God had in mind, then He
could have removed the offending Pharaoh who enslaved His people,
and installed another who would be kind to His people. Instead, the
Lord went to great length and effort, to the extend of parting the Red
Sea, to extricate the Israelites from the foreign land and people of
strange language so they would realize their true identity as the
people of God.
In fact, there was earlier a friendlier Pharaoh who had provided refuge
for God’s people for a season. God removed him and replaced him
with the offending Pharaoh for the very purpose of stirring His people
to leave the foreign land and people of strange language.
As Ps. 114:1 & 2 suggests, Judah becoming His sanctuary and Israel,
His dominion is predicated upon Israel getting out of Egypt and from
“a people of strange language.” We see God’s house, “sanctuary,”
and God’s kingdom, “dominion” at stake here. Getting out of Egypt
and separating from a people of strange language suddenly took on
greater significance. Shouldn’t Christians, especially those who
desire to be His “sanctuary” and “dominion,” then carefully consider
how we as God’s people learn to speak our common language?
Even a casual reading of the Gospels reveals that the disciples were
always in a fog about what Jesus was saying. They understood the
words (so they thought), but they haven’t got a clue what He was
saying. One has to wonder, as the disciples no doubt did, what kind
of language the Lord was speaking.
Contrary to most seminarians, mastering Hebrew or the Aramaic has
nothing to do with understanding His language. The Lord says, “eyes
have not seen, ears have not heard, nor has it entered the hearts of
men….” It is altogether a new language. This language is not carried
through vocal cords or body-gestures, it is a language of the Spirit
and transmitted through the Spirit alone. It is entirely outside of the
realm of human origin.
Paul says in I Cor. 2:12-14, “Now we have received, not the spirit of
the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the
things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in
words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit,
combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man
does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are
foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are
spiritually appraised.” Right off the bat, Paul takes this language out
of the natural realm into the spiritual.
Years ago, as a youngster in Taiwan, I remember reading an article
written by an American student learning Chinese in Taipei. He
observed that the Western languages were like the branches on a
tree. Though each one was different, they all stemmed from a
common trunk which was Latin, as I recall. Learning a different
Western language was “like a monkey jumping from one branch to
another,” though difficult, not a great deal of skills or efforts was
involved. They all came out of the same “trunk.”
However, learning an Eastern language, he continued, the “monkey”
had to climb down the “Latin Tree” and negotiate a rough terrain,
then climb up a different tree altogether – much efforts and skills
Some Christians might have the same idea about learning the
spiritual language. With a little zeal coupled with knowledge of the
Word and familiarity with spiritual writings, they start swinging from
branch to branch – nothing is impossible with a little effort and
determination. And success at drawing a following is usually
interpreted as proof of “ministry” and blessing from the Lord – at
least for a while.
I too, have done my share of swinging, much to my own shame.
However, learning the spiritual language of God, it is not only
difficult, it is down right impossible! The flesh has to be subdued and
yielded to the spirit before spiritual alphabets can even be
enunciated. No child of God who circumvents the lessons of the cross
ever mastered this language. No such person exists in Church
History. The unbroken self life will always get in the way of knowing
Christ and knowing each other. Every time.
Church History is full of zealous and gifted brothers who rose up with
strong burden to serve God and His people. Many thought highly of
themselves and demanded recognition and submission from others.
Predictably, each case ended either in dismal failure or apostasy.
Recently, it came to our attention that a group of Christians led by a
zealous preacher went around different churches proclaiming
impending flood of biblical proportions for the Houston-Galveston
area. These self-proclaimed “prophets” demanded repentance and
acceptance to their messages. One innocent and zealous brother
from a local assembly unfortunately fell for their deception and began
following this group. A few months and many false “prophecies”
later, this brother was nearly ruined in his pursuit.
He is now receiving treatment in an institution.
On the other hand, Church History also presents brothers and sisters
who, having been dealt with, learned the lessons of the cross. They
emit heavenly fragrance of Christ-like lowliness and grace. Their
messages, having been refined by fire, convey Christ in simplicity.
It is not a matter of preparing a message for an audience as much as
being prepared to become a message for an audience. The other
day, a fellow Christian at work forwarded a canned prayer with this
statement at the end: “Be careful how you live, you may be the only
Bible someone will ever read.” Nothing can be truer than this. We
can recite the Word, teach and preach the Word, but at the end of
the day, it is whether we have allowed the Word to reconstitute our
inner being and influence the way we live that either confirms the
Word or betrays the Word.
The Hebrews writer had this to say about Abel: “He being dead, yet
he still speaks” (Heb. 11:4b). Surely, Abel speaks to us today from
the godly way that he lived about five thousand years ago, give or
take a few. Surely, his inner being must have yielded to the Lord and
allowed Him to be filled in order for Abel to become a message that
still “speaks” today.
Preparing the Word for a Sunday sermon carries no lasting spiritual
value unless the speaker has allowed the Word to prepare and
reconstitute him to become a message first.
Without exception, every godly character in the Bible has at some
point in time learned to yield to the hand of the Lord. Prophets are
not born, they are burnished in the crucible of life. Their messages
are not well-crafted manuscripts designed to stir the soul and produce
maximum impact, they are the result of having been reduced, cut
down, made low, zeroed out.
When Moses, a mighty and eloquent prince, was brought to the point
of speech impediment at the back side of the desert tending his
father-in-law’s sheep, God began to put words back into his mouth.
This is how spiritual language of God is learned. And there is no
exception to this rule – certainly no shortcut.
It is a hidden language. It is hidden from the wisdom of the world.
It is hidden from seminaries. It is revealed to the most unlikely
prospects – the simple and the lowly. The Psalmist declared, “From
the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established
strength” (Ps. 8:2).
What do the infants and nursing babes have that we don’t? In one
word – simplicity. It is our complexity that hinders the formation of
our spiritual language. Only the Lord who sees the heart can peel
away our layers upon layers of complexity and create simplicity in us.
Paul rebuked the Corinthians for the discord and division among the
saints: “I have been informed concerning you my brethren by Chloe’s
people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that
each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of
Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not
crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
(I Cor. 1:11-13).
Interestingly, the remedy Paul offered to treat the malady of
Christian division was for them to all “speak the same language” (vs
Certain Christian teachers are quick to use verse 10 (“speak the same
language”) to bolster their claim for having cured the disease of
Christian division. This verse is also used to silence any one who
dare to speak differently.
Sadly, seizing upon mere superficial letters of the Word, they
managed to butcher the Word. Shallowly interpreting the Word, they
artificially and arbitrarily enforce speaking the same words. The only
oneness they claim to have achieved by “speaking the same
language” and walking in lock-steps is merely another division to
imprison God’s precious children.
An outwardly enforced common language will only result in another
"strange language." O, how God’s people should fear and tremble for
creating and enforcing a strange language that is not the language of
the Spirit! The presence of the Lord will surely depart from a people
of strange language.
In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the Spirit of God is urgently searching
and calling for anyone who “has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is
saying to the churches.” The seven churches lack nothing in terms of
accomplishments, knowledge, labors and deeds. But the Spirit of God
is steadily calling out, “he who has an ear, let him hear; he who has
an ear, let him hear….”
Could it be that the Lord is calling us to return to simplicity, like
babes and suckling?
Finally, Ps. 114:1-2 give a hint of the kingdom to come, “When Israel
went forth from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange
language, Judah became His sanctuary, Israel, His dominion.”
Sanctuary and dominion point to the kingdom, the fulfillment of God’s
eternal purpose. Jesus said to His disciples who were quarreling
about ranking in the kingdom, “Truly I say to you, unless you are
converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom
of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
Just imagine the puzzled look on the disciples’ faces. What’s He
talking about? Become like children?
Yep, it’s a hidden language.
The Closed Door
Gateway to Spiritual Fullness