Words That Control Us 3

We have seen how words impose authority over us, rightly and wrongly.

This article explores the options you have in responding to the words that are projected against you.

It may well be that you are rejecting words you should be heeding.  And it is also possible that you are responding to words that you should be ignoring.

Some Words Stick


The Prophet Jeremiah prophesied to the nation of Judah over two and a half millennia ago, almost 600 years before Christ.  Because he warned that King Nebuchadnezzar would make a second attack on Jerusalem and kill the people his message was rejected.

At one point Jeremiah wrote a lengthy prophecy and sent it to King Jehoiakim.  The king listened as the message was read to him, but then threw the message, page by page, into the fire.

The king and the people rejected the message but they could not change its accuracy.  The message was from God, Himself.  Jeremiah spoke with true, divine jurisdiction.  And so the prophesied destruction came, while Jeremiah was locked in the prison and spared from death.

The Word of God is not a word to be rejected no matter how much we don’t like it.  It is God’s living word and it brings about divine outcomes.  When we receive it in faith it impacts our natural life with divine grace.  If we reject it we will ultimately stand before God to accept the punishment for our rejection of truth.

Just as King Jehoiakim could not destroy the word of God, neither can you.  So making your own god or choosing to believe something that suits your sensibilities will make no difference.

Some Words Crumble

Just as Jeremiah’s words proved to be truly from God, other prophets in his day who opposed him gave empty prophecies.  Grand promises of deliverance were given by those who stood against Jeremiah.  Yet it was Jeremiah’s message that proved true.

And that reminds me of the prophecy given by Elisha when the Syrians surrounded Samaria and the people were starving.  Elisha prophesied that food would be abundant and cheap by the next day.  An attendant of the king scoffed at such a preposterous suggestion, but it came to pass.  The words stood true.

The scoffing of the king’s attendant were the words that crumbled.  In fact he was trampled to death in the stampede of people rushing out to the abandoned enemy camp to grab all the provisions left there.

Various Responses

So far we have seen that words spoken to people can be responded to in a variety of ways.

Words can be respected and obeyed, like the man who pulled his car over at the police officer’s demand and had his car commandeered for the policeman’s purposes.

Words can be rejected and thrown in the fire, as King Jehoiakim did to Jeremiah’s prophecy.

Words can be waited upon, such as the warring tribesmen did when Mary Slessor sent her nonsense message cloth.

Words can be deflected by responding with questions to challenge the jurisdiction of the one asking.

Words can simply be ignored, as many people do who have a copy of the Bible and never read it or attend to what it says.

Return to Sender

John Harris of the People’s United Community in the UK (tpuc.org) recommends that people simply return official documents to the sender.  John initially advocated writing “RTS” on the envelope, but subsequently recommended writing “No Contract. RTS”, or “NCRTS”.

Others suggest returning official letters with a stamp or sticker affixed, so you are not putting your own handwriting on the document.

John Harris points out that if you do not have a contract with these entities and they are trying to impose their will on you, you can simply send their attempts back to them, unfulfilled.

By returning the mail you show that you have not opened or accepted it.  Thus they cannot claim to have some “contract” with you by your acceptance of their documents.

Even if the document appears quite impressive, like Mary Slessor’s wax sealed cloth, it can be sent back without you accepting the imposition of authority by that entity.

Question The Authority

Another approach is to question the asserted authority, to expose its lack of jurisdiction.  This is exemplified in the Roger Elvick questions which he used in court, and which are linked to the Toothpick Story mentioned earlier.

The three questions Roger Elvick used to respond to a judge trying to impose authority over him are:

What is your name?

Do you have a claim against me?

Do you know anyone who does have a claim against me?

The 1215.org site suggests that the judge or official, such as a police officer, will remain silent.  That silence is taken as acquiescence or default agreement and confirms that there is no claim against you.  The site claims, “if somebody fails to respond or is standing mute it literally means you are in control and they are waving their rights.”

So you then discharge the matter.  In court Roger Elvick would say, “I request the order of the court be released unto me immediately.”  When there is no order to be released to you, you say, “It appears as though there is no more public business here. I’m out of here.”

Conditional Acceptance

Rather than rejecting the attempted assertion of authority, it is suggested that we should accept it, on conditions.  An example of this kind of conditional acceptance is seen in the encounter of Jesus Christ with some religious leaders in his day, 2,000 years ago.

The leaders asked Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things?”  Jesus advised them that he would answer their question if they first answered his.  He then asked if the baptism preached by John the Baptist was from God or from man.

The leaders did not want to answer, as any answer would cause them trouble.  So Jesus also declined to answer their question.  See the historical record at Matthew 21:23-27.

You might respond to a charge sent you by a council or court by saying something like, “I am happy to pay the amount requested upon proof that the claim is lawful.”  This is conditional acceptance of the offer or claim.  But in practice it puts the weight of responsibility onto the other person to prove their right to make any claim.

Asking Questions

In Conditional Acceptance you can see again the merit of asking questions in response to approaches made by others.  The person asking questions is in charge.

Remember the man who was called upon by a policeman to pull his car over.  Rather than object, argue or ignore the policeman, the man simply asked a question: “Is there some problem, officer?”

Think about questions you can ask that do not taunt the other, but put them on notice that you are a sovereign and are not yielding to their demands that your obey them.

However, if the other truly does have authority they have the right to demand a response, as God did when He called out to Adam in the Garden of Eden, and as God did when He challenged Job.

Words That Impose Themselves on You

The next consideration is the impact of words and their magical power to impose themselves and plant thoughts into our hearts and minds.

This is a major aspect of how Words Control Us, and so we will look at that in the next lesson.

Archaeology and Bible History

While archaeology has often verified the historical records provided in the Bible there are also a number of anomalies. So it is important to consider these in preparation for investigation into what archaeology offers.

Specific Focus

The Biblical record does not aim to be a book of world history. It has a very specific focus. It follows a specific history of God’s dealings with mankind, through the descendents of a particular family lineage.

The joke goes that a young man announced to his pastor that he felt called to Israel. When asked why, he explained that, “Every time I open my Bible I find a passage about Israel. So God must be directing me there!”

The greater part of the Bible deals with Israel and the history of the Jewish nation, so what would you expect to find in the Bible?

Because of this specific focus on Israel many other historically significant events are minimised or even ignored altogether. As Dr Clifford Wilson puts it, “Right through the Scriptures individuals and nations are put to one side if their history is not relevant to the Covenant People, Israel.”

Those who are looking for clear historical breadth and detailed time-lines will be frustrated at times. The Bible does not set out to meet man’s agendas, but to serve the purposes of Almighty God, who wrote it.

Compressed Time

Not only is the Bible narrow in its focus, principally watching selected people from the Jewish nation, but it is also selective in its details. At times the Bible skims over centuries of time, yet at other points it bogs down in minute detail. The Bible is not time sensitive nor does it give equal weight to events. God, in His wisdom, has selected certain events for close inspection, while sweeping past decades of time and huge historical landmarks.

The Bible’s tendency to summarise history leads to statements which are true, but which could be seen as naive or uninformed. If the Bible were an historical textbook then omissions would be a serious matter. But the Bible makes not pretensions to be a human historical record. It is God’s Word. God’s chosen messages to us as His creations are packed into an amazing book from antiquity. That book contains rich historical information, but defies those who wish to tie it down to that task.

And He Begat

I am fascinated by an amazing Biblical summary of four thousand years of human history, given to us in the New Testament. The family tree from Abraham to the birth of Christ is given, summarising the entire life achievements of each key individual with the phrase “and he begat” – See Matthew 1:1-16.

It is as if God is denigrating all the personal grandeur of each person in their own time and place, by respecting only that they gave birth to one child in the continuum of God’s family lineage. Then, in Luke 3:23-38 a similar summary lists the family tree from Jesus Christ back to Adam, with the repeated words “which was the son of”, linking each generation. This is an amazing compression of time and detail.

Human History in Verse

In the same spirit of the Bible’s compression of time, consider this verse which I penned back in 2001, as part of a poem for my parents.

What years of vanity and pain,
What lives of joy and peace and gain
Have passed since Adam first saw light
And Eve was his for his delight.
Each generation came and went.
Energies aroused and spent.
Great things were won and then undone.
While others quietly passed on.
God simply summarises that
By writing down “and he begat”.

Divine Perspective

The Bible is an intriguing book too because it is written from God’s perspective, not man’s. Historians, archaeologists and researchers all come to the Bible with certain expectations or hopes. They may then denigrate it because it confuses them at points or fails to meet those hopes.

The Bible, however, was written from God’s point of view, about things of importance in God’s economy. The void in terms of historical information is simply because the omitted events, significant in human reckoning, are of little or no consequence from God’s point of view. Some details are left out altogether, yet man might see those details as of utmost importance. In God’s assessment, for the purposes of the divine revelation He gave to man, they are not as important or may be completely irrelevant.

In the book of the prophet Isaiah the term “my servant” is reserved for references to Israel as God’s chosen nation. But in the book of the prophet Jeremiah the term “my servant” is used to refer to King Nebuchadnezzar in invading Israel and taking it captive.

“Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.” Jeremiah 25:9

From God’s perspective the King of Babylon was His servant.

Archaeological Interface

With these considerations in mind, along with other qualities of the Bible, we can see that archaeology will not always interface seamlessly with the Biblical record. What may seem to be an uneventful time or a short time span in the Biblical account may be a turbulent historical period spanning many years.

Alternatively, events which loom large in the Bible, such as the Ten Plagues on Egypt, may have little historical record. The Egyptians are unlikely to record their humiliation, and the events took place in a relatively short span of time.

From the abundance of archaeological discovery there may only be isolated items which relate directly to the Biblical account. This is not because the Bible is deficient, but because it has a much grander purpose than to record events from antiquity.

Wonderfully, the resounding voice from the stones of time is that of resonance and confirmation that the Bible is a real historical account, rich in detail that affirms first-hand observation by people in the very places being described. So archaeology is the Bible’s friend, even if it only maintains a casual relationship.

I am thankful to Dr Clifford Wilson and his wife Dr Barbara Wilson for their inspiration and guidance in my own exploration of Biblical archaeology. As friend, academic supervisor and mentor, Dr Clifford has keenly encouraged my interest in archaeology, as he has for many others in decades past.
In honour of his on-going work and his world-wide impact I am compiling various posts on archaeology, based on the excellent work of Drs Clifford and Barbara, while adding my own personal style and insights. Drs Clifford and Barbara Wilson are building a website to present their work. You can visit the website at http://www.drcliffordwilson.com

The Measure of a Man

True Manliness empowers men to be Statesmen in the highest court in eternity. Anything less than that is a compromise or abandonment of manhood.

The Bible gives us a comparison between the Divine Statesman, known also as the Great Men, and those who have abandoned their destiny. Let me show you what the Bible says.

Jeremiah’s Insight

The prophet Jeremiah lived in Israel just before Babylon took the nation into captivity. 600 years before Christ, Jeremiah was sent by God to warn the wayward Israelites that they must repent or be removed from the land. The people did not repent and so Jeremiah got to see his warnings come to pass on the nation.

Among the many powerful insights revealed to Jeremiah by the prophetic anointing that was on him, is an insight into the state of manliness. Early in the record of his ministry (the book of Jeremiah) he exposes the spiritual state of the men of the land. In doing so he shows why the land was going to be judged.

Jeremiah 5:1-5

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth; and I will pardon it.

And though they say, The LORD lives; surely they swear falsely.

O LORD, are not your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.

I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.”

Two Kinds of Men

These few verses in Jeremiah 5 describe two kinds of men. One type of man is referred to as “man” and “great men“. The other type of man is described as “poor” and “foolish“.

The first type of man is a Statesman before God. I say that because God was willing to pardon a wicked city if He could just find one such man. True men are able to do business with God about the destiny of whole cities, just as Abraham negotiated with God about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The other men are ignorant and ineffective. Rather than being able to save a city they are the very reason that judgement is coming on the city.

The Measure of a Failed Man

Reviewing Jeremiah’s description in Jeremiah 5:1-5 note several qualities about these failed men.

Firstly, they live in Deception. They declare right sounding words with their lips, saying “The Lord lives!” But they don’t believe it. They don’t live in the fear of God. So they are making a false statement.

That means they are guilty of Deception (lying to God and others), Self-deception, Hypocrisy, and False Religious Devotion. Failed men can be members of churches and have a high-sounding religious tone. Religion is not the determinant of true manhood, but the “truth” by which the man lives is.

Failed men are also Insensitive to Rebuke. When God corrects them they are Unrepentant, Stubborn and engaged in Wilful rebellion. These men stick with their chosen course of action, even in the face of God’s judgement upon them.

Because they have abandoned truth and rejected correction they are Impoverished, Foolish, Ignorant of God’s Ways and Ignorant of God’s Judgements. They have lost value as people. They have no wisdom to bring to others, and no understanding of what is going on and what to do about it.

What is more, because they have Refused to submit to God, going into rebellion, independence and self-will, they suffer a total loss of authority. They cannot save their city, because they don’t even understand what is really happening to their city, because they are deluded about who and what they are.

Does that sound like many people in western nations today?

Qualities to Reject in Men

While many men are concerned about developing a “six pack” and putting out the right image to those around them, they are distracted from the real qualities that need attention.

The Opposite of true manhood is not weakness, but moral compromise, spiritual blindness, stubbornness and deception. Men can be strong in will and physical power, and use that strength to resist God’s prophets. Because resisting God is moral compromise and the abandonment of their true destiny, their strength of will and body does not make them a man.

Jeremiah says of the foolish and reject men that they have “broken the yoke and burst the bonds” (Jer 5:5). That means they have rebelled against God’s constraints on their life. They reject God’s will for them and they reject God’s moral standards. They are rebels.

Great Men

An Essential quality of true manhood is submission to God. Every other evidence of physical strength, determination of will, etc, is useless, if not godly.

So let’s look at the definition of the great men described by Jeremiah.

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth; and I will pardon it.” Jeremiah 5:1

“I will get me to the great men, and will speak to them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.” Jeremiah 5:5

Great men execute judgement, seek the truth, know God’s ways and know God’s judgements.

Great men are attune to God. Their greatness doesn’t come from popular public acclaim. They don’t need an image consultant or a personal trainer. They don’t need their photo touched up or their PR blurb enhanced by professionals. Their greatness is not conferred upon them by crowds or earthly crowns. Their greatness comes from the Greatest of them all.

Knowing God

Great men Know God. They have the kind of relationship with God that enables them to know what others do not know. How do I know that? Well look at verse 5, “they have known the way of the Lord”. Now look at Romans 11:33.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

You can’t find out God’s ways! So how in the world did these men “know” God’s ways? It could only have come to them by revelation from God. You see, they had that kind of relationship with God. They were attune to God, not their TV set or the popular media. Their truth did not come from the gurus and columnists, or the investigative journalists. Their truth came from God and they humbled themselves enough to admit that they need God’s revelation, not man’s prognostication.

These men also know God’s Judgements, so they live in the “fear of God”. And it is the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.” Psalm 111:10

While the evil, broken men did what they wanted and had only folly and deception, these great men lived in the fear of the Lord and were attentive to His judgements.

Doing the Stuff

And what’s more, the great men did something about what they knew from God. They executed judgement themselves and they sought truth. They did not accept the deception of the failed men who dominated their society. They dug out the truth and made correct assessment of each situation. They were not dependent on their culture, but prepared to live apart from everything the deceived people believed in.

The deceived men were killed or taken captive. The great men, like Jeremiah himself, were set free by those who enslaved others.

Your Mission, Should you Choose to Accept it…

Which category of man do you fit into? Are you a great man? Or are you a fool, living in self-delusion and flowing along with your culture?

Your mission, whether you like it or not, is to fulfil your divine destiny. And that destiny is not to make yourself happy, rich, comfortable, photogenic or independent. That destiny puts you under God’s authority, to fulfil His plans for you and His kingdom.

The payout is that you get to be truly free and you get to stand in God’s throne-room doing business over whole nations. So, it’s worth the effort to become a real man.