The Ever-Sounding Voice
Then a voice from heaven….The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered.(John 12:28-29)
The universal Voice has ever sounded, and it has often troubled men even when they did not understand the source of their fears. Could it be that this Voice distilling like a living mist upon the hearts of men has been the undiscovered cause of the troubled conscience and the longing for immortality confessed by millions since the dawn of recorded history.
We need not fear to face up to this. The speaking Voice is a fact. How men have reacted to it is for any observer to note.
When God spoke out of heaven to our Lord, self-centered men who heard it explained it by natural causes: they said, “It thundered”(John 12:29). This habit of explaining the Voice by appeals to natural law is at the very root of modern science.
In the living, reaching cosmos there is a mysterious Something, too wonderful, too awful for any mind to understand. The believing man does not claim to understand. He falls to his knees and whispers, “God”.
The man of earth kneels also, but not to worship. He kneels to examine, to search, to find the cause and the how of things.
Just now we happen to be living in a secular age. Our thought habits are those of scientists, not those of of the worshipper. We are more likely to explain than adore. “It thundered,” we exclaim, and go our earthly way.
But still the Voice sounds and searches. The order and life of the world depend upon that Voice, but men are mostly too busy or too stubborn to give attention.
A. W. Tozer
The Bible teaches us that the thoughts and ways of God are beyond human ability and often beyond human comprehension.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts higher than your thoughts. “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth, Making it bear and sprout, And providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; It will not return to Me void (useless, without result), Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
This is the challenge of faith, for faith believes what it cannot explain, trusts what it cannot see, and holds tightly to an intangible source.
The difference between those of faith and those of unbelief lies within each individual.
I’m quite sure that the Magi that followed the star were not the only one who saw it appear. Scholars tell us that they were part of the Babylonian scientific community- astronomers. I’m sure some of the astronomers wrote of the appearance of the star as just another natural birth of a star but the Magi saw it as a sign from heaven so they packed their belongings and went in search of the King.
Though the scribes and religious leaders knew the prophecy of where the Messiah was to be born-Bethlehem- they stayed in Jerusalem, going about their routine of ritual and so missed the coming of Christ. But something in the shepherds on the hillside moved the angels to make the pronouncement to them. May I say that I believe it was their expecting faith.
One has to wonder why Jesus chose the Twelve from all the available candidates. Again I believe there was something in their hearts of belief that captured His attention.
In the story of Samuel who hears the voice of God as a child while living in the house of Eli the priest gives further evidence that it’s not the office one holds but the faith one uses. We have to wonder why God would speak to a child and yet was not speaking to the priest and had not done so for a long time. The Bible says that the Word of God was precious in those days.
“Now the boy Samuel was attending to the service of the Lord under the supervision of Eli. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread.”
1 Samuel 3:1
Could it be that God is speaking but we aren’t listening? Could it be that we are too much like the crowd at Jesus’ baptism who only heard thunder instead of the Voice? We know God spoke for Matthew records His words:
“After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”
Perhaps we are like the servant of Elisha. We need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.
If God is our Heavenly Father, and He is, then why is it such a stretch for us to believe that He wishes to speak to us? Is it so strange that a father would speak to his children? Indeed what would we think of a father who never spoke to them? And if we “being wicked know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will the Father give good gifts to us.” So if we as dads communicate with our children why would we not believe that our Father wishes to do so as well.
So why don’t we simply say as Samuel said, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
I realize it’s often hard to hear the voice of God in the midst of all the clamor of this world. I know that there are many things seeking to hold our attention. For this reason Jesus invites us to go into the secret place, shut the door and have a conversation with Him. My I encourage us to do just that. I believe the results would be astounding and while others may hear thunder we will hear the clear Voice.
Dr. John Thompson