Only our God, the LORD, the one true and living God, speaks. The idols and the false gods of the pagans and of the nations cannot speak. Psalm 115 lists a lot of things that idols cannot do, but the ‘cannot’ that heads the list is the ‘cannot’ of speech. “They (the idols) have mouths, but they cannot speak.”
The idols of the nations do not speak because they cannot speak. Not only do they have nothing to say, but they are unable to say anything.
They cannot issue commandments. They cannot say, “Thou shalt not . . .” They cannot declare to their people, “Thou shalt . . .”
They cannot tell their people what they are like. Are they holy? Are they vile? Are they evil? Are they capricious? Are they powerful? No one can ever know because they cannot speak and therefore cannot reveal who they are or what they are like.
They cannot threaten their adversaries and tell those who oppose them of their might.
They cannot warn men and women to repent or to flee from the coming wrath and judgment.
They cannot make any promises to those who worship them nor can they make prophecies of what they are going to do (Isaiah 41:21-24).
They cannot enter into covenants with their people (Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7; Matthew 26:28).
They cannot call the stars by name (Isaiah 40:26).
They cannot declare their love to their people.
They cannot speak blessings.
They cannot call men and women to come to them (Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 55:1-3).
They cannot call the world and the universe into existence.
They cannot speak to any person.
They cannot communicate any ideas.
They cannot express comfort for their people.
This is powerfully important. The Bible opens with God speaking and the voice of the LORD commands the universe into existence (Genesis 1). The gospel of John opens with “in the beginning was the Word . . .” (John 1:1) John describes Jesus Christ as the Word, the “logos,” because Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. Jesus is the eternally existent Word, the Person who manifests the speech of the living God. By contrast, their idols cannot speak, and it is obvious that words have no meaning for idols who cannot use words.
One of the common traits of all mankind is the ability to speak. It is the ability to speak that makes man human. What then are we to make of idols who cannot speak? How are they going to communicate to mankind? The LORD declares that He made man’s mouth and He teaches us what to say (Exodus 4:11-12). God the Holy Spirit gives us the words to say when we are to witness before kings (Matthew 10:20) and the Holy Spirit speaks to God the Father with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26), but their idols cannot speak to anyone at all.
“They have mouths, but they cannot speak.” It is the ultimate mockery. What good is a mute idol to anyone? Their idols cannot promise or threaten. They cannot command or encourage. They cannot warn. They cannot foretell the future and declare what is to come. They cannot claim credit for the great acts of the past. They cannot express love or compassion, wrath or mercy, forgiveness or joy. They simply stand there mute, expressing nothing, saying nothing. Stupid and soundless, they are “like a scarecrow in a cucumber field (Jeremiah 10:5). They can do no harm, nor can they do any good.”
But our God raised His voice and the earth melted (Psalm 46:6). He speaks and the dead come out of the tomb (John 11:43). And one day, an hour will come when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will come forth (John 5:28-29). With His voice the LORD spoke the universe into existence and one day with His voice He will speak the universe out of existence, but forever and ever there will be the sound of ten thousands of ten thousands lifting their voices and crying out to the LORD and to the Lamb, “Holy, holy, holy!” Voices, voices, voices of the redeemed are crying out to the infinitely worthy One.
Meanwhile, their idols stand by: “They have mouths, but they cannot speak.”
Let us join our voices with all the redeemed. SDG rmb 8/10/2016