Anyone who studies the languages of the world will tell you that words matter. A lot.
In fact, my wonderful wife, who is a Speech-Language Pathologist by training, talks about how words & language (among other things) are involved in literally “wiring the brains” of babies and toddlers. This wiring impacts us for the rest of our lives. It doesn’t just affect what we think… it affects the way we think, often without us being aware of it.
This is why two different people who speak the same language but who come from different cultural backgrounds can hear the same person say the very same thing, and come away with two completely different understandings about what was meant.
This is a very powerful concept, with far-reaching implications, which is why I was so startled when I recently discovered something I had never learned about the Scriptures:
Ancient Hebrew has no “future” tense.
Now while you’re letting that little tidbit settle in on you for a moment, let’s remember a couple of very interesting things:
- The Hebrew Scriptures have shaped and molded our understanding of the very character & nature of God for centuries.
- How we view those Scriptures (i.e. from a very Western, logical mindset for us English speakers) impacts our understanding of how God interacts with our lives
Now that you’ve had a moment to noodle on this… let’s take all of this a step further.
When God spoke the promises we read in the Old Testament, He didn’t use a future tense. He spoke them as if they had already occurred.
This should come as no surprise to us, really. Since God created both “time” and “space,” He clearly exists without them (“outside” of them, so to speak). Therefore, from His eternal perspective, anything that will happen (to us) has already happened. So it’s a very natural thing that He would speak through a culture that did not use a future tense like we do.
This is a very spiritual idea. Spiritually speaking, if something “will be,” then it, “already is.”
This is an understanding that Robert Young, author of Young’s Literal Translation and Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, brought to bear on his incredibly powerful rendering of Genesis 12:
And Jehovah saith unto Abram, ‘Go for thyself, from thy land, and from thy kindred, and from the house of thy father, unto the land which I shew thee. And I make thee become a great nation, and bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing. And I bless those blessing thee, and him who is disesteeming thee I curse, and blessed in thee have been all families of the ground.’ (Genesis 12:1-3 YLT)
Other English translators have interpolated a future tense for us in order to to help us modern (linear) thinkers make sense out of passages like this one.
But reading it in something closer to its original tense (as rendered by Young) radically changes things. “I make you become a great nation. I bless you. I make your name great. Be a blessing. I bless those blessing you.”
My friend… today it’s time to gain a little perspective. We know that since we are “in Christ,” we have been seated in heavenly places — at the right hand of God — far above principality, power, might & dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world (age), but that which is to come.
It’s time we look at our lives from that point of view. From God’s point of view, you “are blessed,” because you, “have already been blessed.”
Does this mean that the evidence of it has already materialized in our lives? No way.
Does it mean we should fight for it and contend for it to come about? Absolutely.
Just like Abram, whom God renamed “Abraham” (father of many nations), we must accept the Truth of what God has spoken about us, believe it, and speak it. Abraham began declaring himself the father of many nations long before he had any children.
From what I read in Romans 4, it was Abraham’s believing that caused what God had spoken to become a reality. This believing (and speaking) is the pattern God gave us through Abraham for obtaining the promises as described in Hebrews 11.
Friend, what are you looking forward to in your life that you believe God has promised you? Today, it’s time to move it from the future tense in your thinking and speaking. Put it in the past tense where it belongs. It’s already done! Do this and watch what happens in your life!