But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it. — Jeremiah 20:9 (NASB)
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. — 1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)
[A] bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight. Listen to him!” Matthew 17:5 (NET)
What does that mean to you? Does He speak to us? If so, in what way?
It’s easy to pass this question off by saying, “Well, back in the Bible days, maybe He talked to man, but that was then; this is now.”
Why wouldn’t He speak to us now?
THE BIBLE GIVES US TWO DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS of God speaking to man. The first is Jeremiah. He was called the “weeping prophet” because he was so distressed by the increasingly bad news God called him to deliver to the Jewish people because of their unfaithfulness.
But whenever he tried to silence God’s voice, the Lord became more insistent, and our reluctant prophet felt a “burning fire” in his bones.
Elijah was another prophet of very high esteem. In fact, the Jewish Passover ceremony references his predicted return — an event Christians believe was fulfilled with the testimony of John the Baptist. In this account in 1 Kings, Elijah is hiding from the Jews because he fears they will kill him as they have the other prophets.
While God spoke to Jeremiah in the fire, the Bible is clear that He did not speak to Elijah in the same manner. “The Lord was not in the fire,” Scriptures tell us. But God did speak to Elijah, “in a still small voice.”
The “still small voice” comes from the King James Version. Other translations call it a “gentle whisper” (NLT), “low whisper” (ESV), or “soft whisper” (HCSB).
So, which is it: a burning fire in our bones that’s impossible to ignore or a small, soft, gentle whisper almost beyond our hearing?
IN MATTHEW’S ACCOUNT of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Lord is direct in telling us to pay attention to His voice.
When Jesus took his three closest disciples up a mountain and was transfigured in heavenly aura before them, along with Elijah and Moses, the gospel writer Matthew tells us a bright cloud overshadowed the three men — Jesus and Elijah and Moses — and then, from out of the cloud, Almighty God Himself proclaimed of Jesus, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight.”
Then, unmistakably and most assuredly for us to take account of, He said, “Listen to him!” Matthew 17:5 (NET)
There’s no ambiguity there, is there? No wiggle room, no way to spin this event into a mere suggestion or wise saying. No, this was from the Creator himself. “Listen to him — my Son.”
With this moment on the mountain, we can be sure that God still speaks to us — and that He most assuredly wants us to listen. Listen, understand, take in, and obey.
THE LORD HAS MORE WAYS to speak to mankind in modern days. There are more sophisticated communications devices, and, through advanced transportation modes, our globe is smaller than the ancient world.
We have Holy Writ translated into numerous English translations, plus translations into most of the world’s languages. Bible translators say Scripture has been made available in more than 2,500 languages, with another 1,500 or so, mostly minor languages or dialects, without a translation.
Add to that the numerous videos, podcasts, online sermons and commentaries, plus Christian fellowship, and God finds many willing avenues to talk with us.
Perhaps no method is more intense or meaningful than our quiet devotion time, where we open our hearts and minds through prayer, then spend quality time reading a current and easy-to-follow translation of the Bible, followed by meditation on what we just read, and closing prayer.
We’re reminded in the book of James, a short how-to primer written by one of Jesus’ half-brothers, that we can ask God for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)
When Solomon asked God for wisdom, we’re told in 1 Kings 5:12 (NIV): The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him.”
WE CAN BE SURE THAT GOD STILL SPEAKS to His people. Let’s just take two verses from the Bible — one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament — to make the point clear.
In Genesis 1:27 (NIV), we’re told that God created us in His image: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Then, in John 3:16 (NIV), we’re told that God loved these humans created in His image so much that, well, He was willing to let His own Son die on the Cross to pay for our sins and reconcile us to Him: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
With all that was at stake, God creating us in His own image and God giving us His Son to reclaim us as His children when we went astray, how could we possibly assume that He has stopped talking to us?
IF WE DON’T HEAR HIS VOICE, then we should ask ourselves this question: Have we stopped listening?
The psalmist answers that question this way: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)
PRAYER: Our most heavenly Father, pour your love on us. Shower us with Your goodness, and speak to us. Whether You whisper at some times that we must pause to listen, or you set our very bones on fire with Your strong voice, show us that You haven’t stopped loving us, that You are with us, that You are calling us to follow You. Father, we ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen