The God Who Speaks … Audibly
From the beginning chapters of Genesis up to the last chapters of Revelation, the Bible is very clear about this specific truth: God speaks. It is not a wild speculation or a theoretical probability but a spiritual truth that the God who created everything speaks and is speaking until now.
While it has been a debate among different Bible teachers about the manner by which God speaks. While everyone agrees that God speaks through the written Word, they differ when it comes to discussing the different means by which God speaks because to do so would mean that God speaks audibly and infallibly through people and different situations even today.
Faithful church leaders and teachers can attest that God speaks to His people. However, the issue lies with the authenticity of what they have heard. Nowadays, it seems that Christians flippantly say that they “heard God speak” to them. At the same time, people on the other side are labeled as spiritually deaf because they could not “hear God”.
To discern whether a voice is God’s voice or not cannot be judged subjectively by experience alone. Rather it must go through the truth of God’s Word. If God has spoken audibly and one denies it, that person commits sins because he accuses God as a liar. In the same way, if God has not spoken audibly and that person claims that He did, he commits the same sin. What matters is we should discern rightfully whether the voice is from God or not.
This truth is consistent from Adam and Eve’s personal encounter with God:
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Many years after the fall, God still continues to speak to His people:
11 And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone.
These are just two of the various accounts in the Bible where God has spoken audibly to people. While it is arguable whether God speaks audibly, it is agreeable that people can hear God. Let us look at some of the verses that showed that God spoke audibly and examine how the divine voice sounds like.
The Sound of God: Thunder
On some occasions in the Bible, God speaks in a thunderous voice. We all know what thunder sounds like. It always makes you pause and makes you shrivel in fear, sometimes in shock. An experience that the Israelites are very familiar with:
18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
In this specific event, God was making a point about the gravity of His commands. He made sure that the Israelites would remember his reply and He did it by sending a thunder. And after many years from the encounter of Moses to the writings of John, we see a similar thunderous voice shaking the heavens:
2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,
Whether it is in the Old or New Testament, the thunderous sound of God’s voice was meant to get everyone’s attention.
The Sound of God: Earthquake
God is known as someone who shakes the world literally and figuratively. Another sound that is familiar to the human ear is the sound of an earthquake or the rumbling of the ground. This divine sound feels like a deep murmur waiting to come out with a loud shout. If the thunderous voice of God was meant to get our attention, the earthquake was meant to announce an important message. Just like how God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel:
12 Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great earthquake: “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from its place!”
This description of an earthquake is consistent with the effect of God’s Word when it is received by anyone who believes: One’s world is shaken and never the same again.
The Sound of God: Whisper
Now there was an account in the Bible where God sort of “spoke” through almost every act of nature: Wind, earthquake and fire. This account is the supernatural story of the prophet Elijah. In a time of distress and despair, Elijah withdrew to a place by himself. Despite the spiritual prowess of a prophet and his ability to hear from God, he still experienced wanting to die because of the hardships he was facing. And it was during this time that God chose to speak in a different way.
When God wanted to get the attention of the Israelites, He spoke in a thunderous voice. When God wanted to make an important announcement, He spoke through an earthquake. But when God wants to comfort a struggling soul, He speaks through a gentle whisper.
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1 Kings 19:11
God truly and wisely speaks to His people. He knows which sound to use in order to send His message in the most effective way. The issue is not whether God is speaking but rather, are we listening when He speaks.
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