Words are important, and we must never underestimate their power.
That’s one of the reasons that the Word of God tells us to put on our armor, including the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts (arrows) of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).
The God of Israel is a refuge from words that have been maliciously spoken:
“Keep me safe from the secret purposes of wrongdoers: from the band of the workers of evil; who make their tongue sharp like a sword, and whose arrows are pointed, even bitter words.” (Psalm 64:2–3)
When we use our words to criticize, condemn or run down people, we bring the same judgment upon ourselves (Matthew 7:2).
So many sincere Believers are poor in finances, sick in their body, weak in faith, and just plain miserable because they indulge in speaking unkind, critical, perverse, or malicious words.
For an example of this, we need to look no further than the story of Miriam speaking ill against her brother Moses in Parasha Behaalotecha (Numbers 8:1–12:16).
Because she gossiped and spoke critically of Moses, she was struck with skin disease (tzara’at, which is commonly translated as leprosy).
In Matthew 12:36, Yeshua warned us that we will be judged for every idle word we speak: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
The Prophet Isaiah, like Moses, understood what kind of impact our words can have on our lives and the lives of others.
While seeing a vision of the Lord seated on His throne in the Temple, he cried, “Woe to me! … I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)
Why did Isaiah, the great prophet of God, feel completely undone in God’s presence? What brought on this terrible sense of his own sinfulness in contrast to the holiness of God?
By his own admission, it was because he was a man of unclean lips and he lived among a people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5).
Haftarah Devarim (Prophetic Portion)
“Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean…. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:16, 18)
This week’s Haftarah is one of three called the Haftarot of Rebuke that precede Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting mourning the destruction of both of the Holy Temples, the first by the Babylonians (586 BC) and the second by the Romans (AD 70).
Though separated by hundreds of years, the Temples were both destroyed and Jerusalem conquered on the exact same day.
But why mourn about something that happened so long ago, you might wonder?
One answer is that many horrible things have happened on this day; for instance, World War I began on the 9th (tisha) of the month of Av.
Tisha B’Av and the weeks leading up to it are, therefore, a period of somber reflection and much prayer.
It’s a time for facing the truth about our sins and asking God’s forgiveness.
Many secular Jewish people today don’t realize that Jerusalem was overthrown, the Temples destroyed and the people sent into exile because of God’s judgment of Israel’s sin.
For the nation of Israel, the breakdown of morality was directly responsible for famine, defeat, exile and death. Ultimately, the Babylonians and Romans were only God’s agents in carrying out His judgment.
The prophets tried to warn the people, but they would not repent:
“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” (Isaiah 1:19–20)
Today, there are modern-day prophets also calling for the nation to repent and return to God’s standards of morality and holiness.
If we follow the morality and standards of the world, we are making the very same mistake that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temples on Tisha B’Av.
We must look at the destruction in our lives, assess the damage, and repent of the sins that we have committed.
History has a way of repeating itself within nations and people when we don’t learn the lessons.
As Believers in Yeshua, we no longer belong to ourselves; our bodies are a temple of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Let us, therefore, be sanctified, cleansed and made holy (kadosh) in body, mind and spirit for the coming of Yeshua HaMashiach (the Messiah).