the·ol·o·gy noun : the study of God
We study God through His Word each Thursday on the blog. Our goal is to present the truth of God in a way you can digest and apply. This week we’ll look at how we hear the voice of God.
A talking donkey
A burning bush
A quiet wind
A voice from heaven
A big book
A sheep fleece
A pillar of fire
A cloud of smoke
What do these things have in common?
They were each used as a mouthpiece of God, a tool through which He chose to speak to His people.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard the voice of God thunder from a burning bush. I am the proud owner of one ornery donkey named Bart, but I’ve never heard God’s voice boom through his bridle. I’ve never had a conversation with God in the same way I could talk to you if we were grabbing coffee together right now. (Caramel latte extra whip here, please!)
I believe that God still speaks to His people, but how does He do it?
If I want to hear the voice of God (I do! Don’t you?), where should I be listening?
Jesus put it this way:
"When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers" (John 10:4–5, emphasis added).
Just like a herd of sheep that follow the shepherd wherever he leads because they have learned to recognize the sound of his voice, we can become confident and obedient followers of Christ because when we hear Him speak, we know it’s Him. In other words, part of knowing God is knowing how to recognize His voice.
So how exactly does God speak? Here are four ways you can hear the voice of God.
God speaks through creation.
Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the gory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 8:1 says, "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens."
No one can ever say they’ve never heard of God, because He chooses to let creation speak to us about what kind of God He is.
A beautiful sunset is God’s way of saying to us, "I am majestic!" A towering mountain peak or the waves crashing on a beach of sand are how He tells us about His magnificence. God has a message He wants to say to us about his glory and majesty. Creation is the billboard through which He speaks about these things.
That’s why Paul said, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).
Creation is God’s first missionary. No one can ever say they’ve never heard of God, because He chooses to let creation speak to us about what kind of God He is.
This can get a little trippy. Creation itself is not God. We do not worship trees or flowers or birds. And creation itself does not speak on behalf of God. It doesn’t work like in Lord of the Rings, where the trees audibly speak as God’s messengers.
It’s more simple than that. God speaks to us about His character through the majesty of creation.
God speaks through our conscience.
Do you remember Jiminy Cricket? He was the adorable little cricket in a top hat who served as Pinocchio’s conscience in the iconic Disney movie Pinocchio.
We seem to live in an era that thinks Jiminy Cricket is dead. While the culture says that anything goes and that individuals are free to determine their own version of right and wrong, the Bible teaches a different truth.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Rom. 2:14–15, emphasis added).
God wrote His law onto our hearts so that each of us would know right from wrong. That’s why as children, we knew we shouldn’t lie, steal, or punch even if our parents had not taught us that specific lesson yet. God speaks to us about who He is and how He wants us to live through our conscience. (Wouldn’t it be nice if we each had our own top hat-wearing cricket to help translate?)
God speaks to us through Jesus.
We don’t have to guess about who God is or how He wants us to live. He told us clearly and then took the time to write it down.
Have you ever wondered why we no longer have prophets like they did in the Old Testament, who relayed a specific message from the Lord? (Think Jonah’s message to Nineveh or Moses’ message to Pharaoh.)
Hebrews 1:1–2 gives us a very specific answer:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
When we study Jesus’ sermons and teachings, we are hearing from God. If you want to hear from God, study the words of Jesus.
A great place to start is the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5–7.
God speaks to us through His Word.
We don’t have to guess about who God is or how He wants us to live. He told us clearly and then took the time to write it down. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Bible is a living book—that’s because it was inspired by and points to a living God.
You don’t have to strain your ear and try to imagine the voice of God on the wind. You don’t have to wonder if you’re hearing your thoughts or God speaking in your head. God speaks to you through His Word. Studying the Bible is how you learn to recognize His voice.
Next week we will look at four more ways that God speaks to His people. Until then, I’d love to hear from you. Do you feel like you have ever heard God speak? How do you recognize the voice of God?
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