When I think about God speaking, words from an old familiar song come to mind. “He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing. And the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing. And He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” (In The Garden by C.Austin Miles)
When God speaks there are many different responses, some with consequences. The Bible is full of examples of God speaking. Right from the beginning to the end, we have recorded instances of God speaking. He spoke this world and all of creation into existence. He said, “Let there be -,” and there was! He made the first man & woman, breathing His very Life into them and His first words to them were blessing.
But people did not always choose to listen. Adam & Eve did not want to listen to God’s words and their disobedience resulted in a curse instead of blessing. Now, instead of knowing only love, they felt fear and when they heard God walking in the garden, they hid from Him. God knew where they were but He called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Adam needed to admit where he was and what he had done.
As time went on, God spoke in various ways, to many different kinds of people, who were in all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes He spoke through dreams or visions. In Job 33:14-16 Elihu says to Job, “-God speaks once or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleeps falls on men while they slumber in their beds. Then He opens the ears of man and seals their instruction,”
When Abraham was seventy five years old, God spoke to him and said, “Leave your country and go to a place I will show you,” and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Although he made a lot of mistakes along the way, he was known as a man of great faith and as the friend of God. As we read about his life we see that God constantly spoke with him.
When the people refused to hear God’s voice, He would speak to the prophets or the leaders, who would then tell the people what God said. Moses was one leader who talked with God , “face to face just as a man speaks to his friend.” (Ex. 33:11) After spending a long time with God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil because the people could not stand to look at the glow on his face.
God’s ways of speaking were not always the same. In 1 Kings 19 we have the account of God speaking to Elijah at a time when he was very discouraged. After God had given him a great victory, he suddenly became frightened of a woman’s threat. Jezebel sent word to him that she was going to kill him. In fear, he ran for his life into the wilderness, sat down under a tree and said, “Oh Lord, take my life!”
After sleeping , he was awakened by an angel who gave him food & drink that sustained him for the next forty days and nights. When he came to Mount Horeb he stopped at a cave. He heard God asking him a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”His answer was, “I have been very zealous for you. … All the other prophets have been killed, I’m the only one left and they are trying to kill me.”
The Lord instructed him to stand at a certain place on the mountain. Then the Lord passed by with a mighty show of force. First, a great, strong wind tearing up the mountain and breaking the rocks into pieces. But the Lord was not in the wind! After the wind, an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally there came a sound of gentle blowing.
When Elijah heard that, he wrapped his face in his mantle and stood in the entrance of the cave. The voice of the Lord came again, asking the same question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah gave the same reply, ending with “I’m the only one left and my life is being sought.” God then gave him instructions to return and choose certain people as leaders. He says, “I have 7,000 other faithful people.”
Elijah listened to God’s voice and obeyed His instructions. He was a great prophet who was known for his amazing faith with which he performed miracles. He is one example of a man who wanted to hear from God and was blessed because of it. Of course there are also examples of people who did not want to listen to God and ended up with unwanted consequences.
When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn the people that he was going to deal with them about their wickedness, he did not want do it, so he got on a boat headed in the opposite direction. He told the seamen that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord. God sent a terrible storm which threatened their lives. At his request they threw Jonah overboard and the sea was calm.
The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow him. In his distress he called out to God to rescue him. After three days in the belly of the fish he had a change of mind and was ready to listen to God. The Lord commanded the fish and it vomited him out. I imagine the fish was just as glad to get rid of Jonah as Jonah was to leave! In His patience, God spoke to Jonah a second time.
God wanted him to go to Nineveh and warn the people that the judgement of God was about to fall on them if they didn’t repent and mend their wicked ways. The people believed the message and the king, the nobles and ordinary people fasted and prayed and turned to God. But Jonah was angry because God showed compassion, forgave the people and did not bring the calamity he promised.
God speaks today! Above the tumult of war threats, nations rising against nations, kidnappings by Boko Haran and murderings by ISIS, God is speaking! Above tornadoes, earthquakes, drought and changing weather patterns, God is speaking! Many people do not want to hear God’s voice. They believe they have a right to live their life as they wish without any interference from God. They don’t fear Him!
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Verses 20-29″Wisdom shouts in the street…..because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof, I will laugh at your calamity….they will call on me , but I will not answer….because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
God is speaking! He is calling out a people for Himself to have a relationship with Him. Hebrews 1:1 – 2 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” He sent His Son, Jesus to bring us into fellowship with the Father.
God speaks to the whole world generally to return to Him but He also speaks to each individual person, calling them to walk with Him. I can tune Him out or I can make time to listen. Each day as I spend time in fellowship with Him through His Word and in prayer I get His perspective on everything around me and I can face whatever comes my way, with confidence that He is there.
When God speaks my best response is a listening ear. “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.” (In The Garden by C. Austin Miles)