Many people today claim to hear or speak words that come from God. From those who hear God speaking to them in a “still, small voice” to the preachers on TV claiming to have a new revelation from God. A friend of mine has recently given me a copy of a new book called “The Little Blood Soaked Book” that has been printed in South Africa. The author claims God took her into the Garden of Eden and revealed to her a new message for the world. How do we hear God’s words?, is a very relevant question.
In Joshua ch 3 Israel is gathered on the banks of the River Jordan and Joshua says something very interesting:
And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” (Joshua 3:9)
Think about the profound words we’ve just read. Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.”
The God who created and sustains the entire universe is not silent, he speaks. And Joshua was going to tell the Israelites the very words of God. How did the Israelites hear God’s words?
Joshua said, “COME and LISTEN”. And then who spoke? V10 interestingly starts, “And JOSHUA said”.
God speaks through what he has spoken
The Israelites didn’t hear God’s voice, but as they listened to Joshua’s voice they heard God’s words.
This is so crucial: we have the same astounding privilege of hearing God’s words today. How does God speak to his people? In the same way. Through God’s appointed spokespeople. Yet, I’m not God’s appointed spokesman, nor are any modern-day authors or preachers. The Bible was written by those appointed by God. So as we COME together as God’s people and HEAR the Bible explained, where hear the words of God.
Still, small voice
How does God speak to his people? Through audible voices? No. Through what he has already spoken; for us it is the Bible.
God does not speak through a still, small voice or visions or dreams or self-appointed preachers on TV who claim to have a new message from God. God does not speak through children claiming to go to heaven. God speaks through what he has spoken, the Bible; this is why 2 Timothy 2: 16-17 says:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Joshua preached and told the Israelites what God had spoken to him. Nowadays, as the preacher explains the Bible faithfully*, we hear the voice of God. We hear the words of the preacher, but at the same time, we hear the word of God**. This is what Paul meant when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 2:13:
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
If all this is true, there are at least two obvious implications:
- Make sure you are part of a church where passages in the Bible are being explained. A random verse here and there used as a springboard for the preacher’s own thoughts does not count.
- Make sure you listen well to the sermon. Make notes if possible. Meditate on the sermon passage in your own devotional time. Ask God to help you to believe the Bible’s promises and obey it’s commands.
* The Bible is God’s Word to us. You can read the bible for yourself – as you must and should; but God has ordained that the preaching of his Word is a particularly effectual means of grace for converting non-Christians and growing Christians.
** This assumes, of course, that the preacher has prepared well so that he is able to explain the meaning of the biblical passage; not just sharing his opinions about the passage.