THE VOICE OF THE LORD Andy Hollifield 12-22-16
As I was writing yesterday, I began to think about the numerous times in the scripture that God spoke audibly to man. I have never heard the Lord speak audibly to me but he has spoken a lot of times so clear that it might as well have been audible. Audible means capable of being heard. He has spoken loud enough to be heard but not “out loud”. I have heard the Lord speak to me regarding a message as soon as I stepped into the pulpit. Monday night, he spoke to me as I was praying after I had read my opening text, and told me to preach from another scripture I had read Monday morning that he had nudged me on as I read it. I can take you pretty close to a spot in the road on Hwy 221 North in Marion, NC where I had been forced to leave the road in a truck to keep from having a head on collision. After I left the road standing on the brakes, the empty straight truck started to flip over and the Lord said “Turn the wheel and get off of the brake”. When I did that, the truck sat back down on the ground and I grabbed a lower gear, drove on through the field and pulled back up on the highway without even stopping to the amazement of several drivers that had stopped to see a truck wreck. I could tell several instances in my career and my life where God spoke and told me what I needed to do. After that afternoon in Marion, I have always been convinced that God is the ultimate truck driver.
As I began to look at scripture, you only have to look to Genesis 1:26 where God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;…” Who was “us”? God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. God had already spoken creation into existence but only man was formed by his hand and in his image. After creating man and woman, we find that Adam feared when he heard God’s voice in the garden. This was his second response after sin. The first had been shame when he realized he and his wife were naked. The voice of the Lord will definitely bring fear upon us when we know that we have done wrong. As I began to read further I found that God’s voice also brought judgement. He not only judged Adam and Eve but also the serpent. Throughout the Old Testament, blessings were promised to those that hearkened to His voice and curses and destruction for those that refused to obey.
The Psalmist wrote that the voice of the Lord moved waters, thundered, is powerful, is full of majesty, divideth the flames of fire, shaketh the wilderness, and causeth the hinds to calve. God’s voice brought comfort to a very distressed maid named Hagar in Genesis. In Exodus, it again brought comfort to Moses as he watched a bush burning but not being consumed and heard the Lord call to him out of the midst of it. His voice again brought fear and also comfort multiple times to the children of Israel in the wilderness. His voice gave courage to Gideon to fight, Joshua to lead, Elijah to come out of hiding, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, and Ezekiel to prophesy. It also gave courage to King Saul to prophesy and to lead and later to David to do the same. It gave courage to the prophet Nathan to tell King David “Thou art the man” and pronounce judgement from God. Forty-eight times the phrase “The voice of the Lord” is used and that includes only once in the New Testament (Acts 7:31) referring back to Moses. I thought of all the times that the voice of the Lord must have brought courage and comfort to his children. No doubt during the great flood Noah was encouraged by the voice of the Lord as well as his presence. If you notice in Noah’s story, God commanded him to “come” into the ark, not to go into it. That can only mean that God was already inside. I think also of Jacob’s flight from Esau and that first night when the Lord spoke to him in a dream. Young and afraid and riddled with guilt but no remorse and the thought that God would speak comfort to him much less make the promises he gave him that night was hard to comprehend. I think also of Joseph after being sold into bondage by his brothers. Alone in a strange land, separated from his father, lied on by Potiphar’s wife, forgotten in the prison by men he thought were his friends, how many times must the Lord have spoken sweet peace to his soul in the dark of the midnight. What about Solomon who upon hearing the voice of the Lord and the Lord offering him anything he asked, he only asked for wisdom to lead God’s people.
On over in the New Testament we find blind Bartimaeus upon hearing that it was Jesus passing by began to call out to him for mercy. Imagine his relief when the same crowd that had tried to quiet him down came and said “Be of good comfort, He calleth for thee.” What a comfort when He calls for you. The Song of Solomon says that the bride longed for the sound of her beloved’s voice. Her response was much like I imagine Bartimaeus must have felt. Just like a momma’s voice to a child having a nightmare, so is His voice to those that love Him. Imagine the man at the pool of Bethesda when Jesus explained that his 38 year infirmity would now be over if he believed and obeyed. What about Mary and Martha, after the disappointment of Jesus not getting there before Lazarus died. Imagine their hearts beating with anticipation as he uttered the words “Lazurus, come forth”. I think of the disciples on a boat in the midst of the lake when a great storm arose. After being afraid of what they thought was a spirit, to hear Him call out over the roar of the waves, “Fear not , it is I”. How many times in my storms have I longed and ached to hear those words from him. I also think of the joy in the heart of the thief beside Him as he heard Jesus say, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.(Luke 23:43)” Also the heartbreak of the disciples and other believers as he uttered his last statement, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” and then he died (Luke 23:46). In Luke 24:36, imagine the fear and then the elation they must have felt when he appeared in the room with them and said “Peace be unto you” and then proved himself to be alive by eating. The voice they thought was silenced forever at Calvary was now speaking “peace” to their troubled souls. A few days later as he spoke to the multitude just prior to his ascension, imagine if you will how they must have felt when he left the promise that he would return to take them with him.
Books and songs and poems have been written and movies made and dramas performed but nothing can even come close to the sweet peace that comes with the sound of his voice. As we rush through the next three days, slow down and listen and I believe if you desire it, you will hear the sweet, sweet, sound of his voice speaking sweet nothings to the ears of your soul. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!