"Hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 15:5)
Several years ago when Billy Graham was asked what he thought about the "God is dead" movement he replied, "It can't be true, because I just talked with Him this morning." Indeed, God is very much alive; He still speaks and His voice can be heard.
A Variety of Ways
I. God wants us to be acquainted with His voice, to recognize it when He calls to us. He speaks to us in a variety of ways.
- On occasions He will speak to us audibly so our human ears can hear. Adam heard the voice of God on many occasions, but he will never forget the time when The Voice called him, "Adam, where art thou?" (Gen. 3:8). While Moses tended sheep in the wilderness he heard the voice of God calling him: "Moses...the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Ex. 3:4,5). Exiled on the Isle of Patmos, John said, "I heard a great Voice" (Rev. 1:10); it was Jesus. Paul will never forget the time when a light shone from heaven and a Voice called him: "Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 9:4). There are many other similar incidents recorded in Scripture.
- God's voice speaks to us as we read the Bible. On many an occasion it seems as though the words leap out of its pages and strike our hearts. The written Word is so important it was purposely inscribed so it could be oft repeated to continuously remind us of what God desires to share with us. The Ten commandments is God speaking to His people. "And the Lord said..." (Ex. 20). In the days of King Josiah it was the written Word of God when read to a backslidden Israel, that caused the people to repent and turn from idolatry (2 Kings 23:2).
- God's voice quietly speaks to our hearts. On occasions, God's voice can come like the sound of mighty rushing waters, but when God spoke to Elijah it came as a "still small voice" (1 Kgs. 19:12). He comes gently and kindly to whisper His love and to assure us He is aware of our plight and is at our side. His tenderness in no way diminishes the power and authority of His voice.
- God's voice is heard in our conscience. (Rom. 2:15; Heb. 9:14). Through their conscience -- God spoke to Joseph's brethren -- Gen.42:21; to David -- Ps. 40:12; to Belshazzar -- Dan. 5:6; to the Pharisees -- Jn.8:9).
- God's voice comes to us by His Spirit. Paul and Barnabas were "Sent forth by the Holy Ghost" (Acts 13:4). "The Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them" (vs.2). No doubt this came through prophetic utterance, using the tongue of a believer anointed of God. God also speaks privately to our hearts by His Spirit. "When He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). See also Romans 8:14,16, 26.
- God's voice comes to us at times through visions and dreams. He spoke to King Solomon in a dream saying, "Ask what shall I give thee." (1 Kings 3:5). Egypt's Pharaoh received a dream that was a message from God (Genesis 41:28). God spoke to Cornelius in a vision (Acts 10:3). He also gave Peter a vision that directed him to minister freely to gentiles (Acts 10:10,13,15). God spoke to Paul in a vision, giving him a new direction for ministry (Acts 16:9). Ezekiel heard God in a vision: "The vision which I saw...and beheld the glory of the Lord...and He said unto me..." (Ezek. 43:1-7).
- Nature and all of creation is God's voice speaking to us. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Ps. 19). Nature's amazing panorama is God's way of speaking to people about His power and majesty. (Romans 1:18-20; Ps. 97:6). "He left not Himself without witness" (Acts 14:17). Planets, mountains, rivers, and all living creatures are part of God's voice to us.
- God's voice is heard in our circumstances. The plagues of Egypt spoke to Pharaoh (Ex. 7:16). Israel's captivity was God's voice speaking to them to confess their sin, repent, and return to Him. Israel crossing the Red Sea was God's voice to Israel, to Egypt, and to the world, declaring that He is a Mighty Deliverer and worthy to be praised. We need to recognize God in both our negative and positive circumstances.
- God's voice is clearest -- through His Son Jesus Christ, who is called "The Word." (Jn. 1:1). "God...hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb. 1:1,2). Through Jesus, we can have a clear understanding of God the Father. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." ( Jn.14:9). God reveals Himself through His Son as a kind, generous, patient, forgiving God, and willing to accept us all. "Come unto Me all..."
II. The Purpose of His Voice
- To communicate with us. He reveals Himself as The Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Eternal and Immutable God. His voice teaches us He is loving, generous and gracious.
- To Fellowship with us. "If ye abide in Me I will abide in you." (Jn. 15:4). "I knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20; Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Jn. 1:3).
- To instruct us. Mt. 7:28,29 "the people were astonished at His teaching." His voice will guide us through life. He will show us how to live and make our life meaningful and fulfilling. He will lead us "into all truth." This includes the physical, social, material and spiritual facets of our existence. He wants to be proud of us, so gives us the best of instruction.
- To warn us. His voice warns us of hidden dangers and snares set by the enemy. He advises us of the devil's intent: "Satan desires to have you so he may sift you as wheat" (Lk. 22:31). "Beware of the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). The "devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8).The devil intends to destroy you
- To give us revelation. His voice will show us things to come. He will reveal His will for our lives. He will make known His secrets and His plans to those who live close to Him. (Jn. 16:13).
III. What does He expect from us?
- He expects us to stay in touch. He wants us to listen to Him, to keep our hearts (our spiritual ear) in tune with His voice. "If any man hear my voice...I will come in to him" (Rev. 3:20). "He that hath an ear let him hear..." (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 29). We need to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with His voice, so that another's will not confuse us and lead us astray. (John 10:4, 5, 27).
- He expects us to long for His Voice. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God" (Ps. 42:1). We need to say to Him, "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth" (1 Sam. 3:9). He expects us to meditate on His word: "I will meditate in Thy precepts:" (Ps. 119:15; Josh. 1:8).
- He expects us to heed to His word. "Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only...not a forgetful hearer, but a doer...this man shall be blessed" (James 1:22,25). See Romans 2:13. Moses urged his people to gather together with their children, "That they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord God, and observe all the words of this law" (Deut. 31:12, 13). God's voice will never tell you anything that is contrary to His written Word.
How familiar are we with God's voice?
Desire to hear it! Listen for it. Familiarize yourself with it. Cherish it. Obey it.
Never forget it. And you will Enjoy it through eternity!