The Voice of God

Over the last several weeks we looked at the world through the lens of the Church of the Nazarene and how God has used believers all over the world to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of Holiness. He’s inhabited the prayers of his people. 

Prayer is a conversation. Whether written prayers: recited weekly or daily, or the verbal annunciation of what’s in a person’s heart; formed into words to exalt, bless, acknowledge the Greatness of God, or thankfulness for his Grace, our commitment to his work, and our requests for the physical and spiritual needs of this world. Prayer is a powerful gift. Prayer is a conversation. The only issue so far is that in some sense, we have been focusing on one side of the conversation. Our talking. Our requesting. Only focusing on that doesn’t do justice to God’s relationship with mankind. He’s intimate and personal and loving. He’s also instructive, teaching us what he desires, if we would sit still and listen.

[To listen to the Audio Recording of this message, CLICK HERE] Read more of this post by heading to our blog page. https://viroquanaz.home.blog/ ]


In this post, I want to explore several passages between the Old and New Testaments where God clearly spoke. Scripture makes it plain, there’s no denying it happened- we have the record in black and white. 

The first “one” and I use air-quotes when I say “one” because it’s two examples but very much related. These two times God spoke, it was to share something important with those who had “ears to hear.” God spoke up audibly when Jesus was Baptized and when he was Transfigured.

Presentational & Affirmational 

Jesus Baptized – Both Luke 3 and Matthew 3 record this occurrence for us. 

Matthew: 

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Matt 3:16-17 NIV

Luke:

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22 NIV

It’s interesting to note the similarities and differences. The things they have in common: Jesus goes to be baptized, when he comes up the holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form – like a dove was how it was described. Not “A dove came down and that dove was the Holy Spirit” but like a dove. The best description the gospel writers and eye witnesses could give was “like a dove.”

Photo by M Sidharda on Pexels.com

The voice from heaven booms out an Identification of who Jesus is. The son of the voice. And we rightfully and theologically conclude this is the voice of God. This picture is the quintessential New Testament expression of the Trinity, even though we didn’t know to call the 3 in 1 God “Trinity” until much later in history. The scripture clearly shows it here. But that’s a sermon for another day. 

What’s different? Did Matthew and Luke not just copy and paste? No. The difference is who this voice addresses. We get a clue by the words used. In Matthew, the voice of God presents Jesus to the world. “This is my son.” But in Luke’s account, the message received is from Jesus’ perspective. “You are my son.” The message is the same. Jesus is God’s son, but one message is presentational and the other is intimate and affirmational. “He is mine.” You are mine.” Jesus didn’t need to hear these words but God spoke them anyway. 

So at his baptism, God’s voice affirmed, confirmed and presented the one He loves: His son. There was another moment in Jesus’ story where God’s voice came booming into the ears and hearts of mankind. It was when…

Jesus was Transfigured. Matt 17:1-13 Let’s look at the first 5 verses:

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“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” ”

Matt 17:1-5 NIV

Peter, James and John get the blessing of seeing Jesus Transfigured. Bright lights, Clothing color change, and then to see Him conversing with two great heroes of the faith: Moses and Elijah. It’s no wonder that Peter didn’t know what else to do but to suggest they put up some tents, some shelters for the three of them. I’m not sure if Peter was thinking clearly, but he didn’t have time to make camp. A cloud rolled on up on him and the others and enveloped them. I picture thick fog or smoke. Regardless of how it was experienced, a voice boomed in the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Jesus is presented. God’s love for him is affirmed before his followers and God himself commands the disciples to Listen to Jesus. 

You and I might not have a moment in our lives where we are so saturated in the presence that we hear an audible command of God. (I hope we do, by the way.) But be sure, if you are ever so fortunate to hear an audible word from the Lord, Believe it. Follow it. God is Not saying this to puff up Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need it. We need to hear it.

So God speaks intimate, important details. His voice proclaims important things, such as “Here’s my Son. I Love him. Listen to Him.” It’s some general directions in life, but sometimes as we will see in the next passage, God’s Voice will give detailed directions and come from a place very unexpected.

Instructional

Moses – Exodus 3:4-6

In the mundane, God uses the out of place to get our attention

In the mundane, God uses the out of place to get our attention

As things start off in Exodus 3, Moses sees a burning bush. He’s just going about his business, tending to his flock. Then God does something strange and it grabs Moses’ attention. Burning bush that isn’t being consumed. This odd thing draws Moses to itself.

4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. 

Exodus 3:4-6 NIV

In the everyday occurrences of life, God breaks in and grabs our attention. Why might he need to do this? Perhaps we will miss it otherwise. Have you ever come to church or sat down to do your personal bible study time, but you are so distracted with other things – Responsibilities, worries, entertainment, etc… that you are just counting the minutes until Sunday Service is done or you finish your bible study? You can get back to doing what your brain and maybe your heart would rather be doing? (I’m not asking for hands to be raised or for the altars to be lined with people repenting on this…but I can tell you this – I struggle with this and always have.)

Perhaps, you and I aren’t fully engaged in hearing from God at that time. Sometimes it takes a burning bush to draw us into the place where God can speak and be heard by us.

What is the message God has for Moses? 

Here’s the Mission

He tells Moses his plan to free the Israelites from Slavery. They do a little Q&A, God explaining and preparing for any of Moses’ “But God…what about?” The Mission is presented.

Here’s the Details

Though he doesn’t flesh out everything that will happen (or we would be reading the story of the Exodus twice over) God gives clear directions to Moses on what to say and how to be in certain situations. Here’s some of the details:

The Lord’s Name – The I AM. This will clarify to the Israelites that I sent you.

  • God will Strike the Egyptians with his wonders.
  • Egyptians will be favorable to the Israelites when they eventually leave.

In Chapter 4, God continues to quell Moses’ doubts. Show them the sign – toss your staff down. (Excuse me Lord? Toss my staff? Am I having a temper tantrum?) Moses does it…then sees the point. Transfigured the staff into a snake…then back again. Amazing! 

He gives him more proof – makes and cures leprosy by His command and obedience to it (again…a sermon for another day!) Then another sign -the Nile being turned into blood.

There are more details. More “But God, I don’t think I’m the best man for the job.” But God says, “I’m sending you anyway.”

The passage shows us When the voice of God speaks, he can give DETAILS. He can give the answers. 

For us, and I know I reflect it from the pulpit quite often: Much of prayer is ASKING. I am glad our God is a God who HEARS and in his time, as he sees fit…he ANSWERS our questions.

Moses had this burning bush moment. God drew him in and prepared him for the next steps in his journey. For Elijah, God wanted to say something so very important but sometimes it’s the smallest things that can get our attention.

Elijah – 1 Kings 19:11-18

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

So God wasn’t in the big, powerful destructive forces presented to Elijah. He was in a gentle whisper. Sometimes, if we quiet ourselves, we can hear his voice…but we’ve got to break away from the noise. Let’s continue on with the passage…

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

So once again, directions from the Voice of God. Go back. Get Back to work. You are NOT ALONE. Are you hearing this message today from God? Elijah did that day.

There are MANY other examples of God breaking into the creation he made, communicating with the people he formed in his image, but the last one we’re going to talk about stands out to me today. It’s Paul’s Damascus road conversion experience.

Paul – Saul on the road to Damascus Acts 9:3-19

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

Acts 9:3-9 NIV

Jesus makes his point very clear to Saul.

I AM Jesus.

That’s the info Saul asked for. And for the info he didn’t? “Go into the city.” And God provided for Saul in the form of another believer who also heard His voice.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 

Acts 9:10-12 NIV

Ananias questions, but eventually does as the Lord instructed him. Both men heard from God. Both men obeyed the voice. Their paths converged and Paul began to reach the Jews…and eventually the Gentile world.

Conclusion

The Voice of God. It is real. It can be audible. God speaks up and proclaims, instructs, affirms, guides, and calls for obedience.

Where in your life do you want to hear from God? 

  • Is your environment conducive to listening?
  • Is your heart open to be touched?
  • Are you willing to obey what he tells you or do you listen, knowing you’ll resist his plans?
  • Do you believe he won’t answer when you call?

I want to challenge you. Take some time to reflect on these questions. Listen to the following song. If you’d like a prayer journaling prompt, when presenting this message, I provided the following document. On the left side of the page, are your thoughts and questions and concerns. Address them “Dear God” or. On the right is space for you to write out what God might be saying to you about those things. Address them from God to you: “My dear child…” Fill in the spaces with the promises of scripture. The words God speaks to you over the topics on the left.


3 thoughts on “The Voice of God

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