……..” and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the pieces the rocks before the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:”
1 Kings 19: 11 KJV
There is a sense in our time to associate the voice of God with something strong, powerful, and forceful. Healing Evangelists and Miracle Preachers have demonstrated this power in their preachings. The Gospel is a Gospel of power they preach. Modern Preachers and Teachers of God’s Word in our times have projected God to represent strength, power, and force. So many Christians have felt powerless amid life challenges and buy into God’s image. As a child, the image of God as a big sovereign father that can fight bullies in school was a very appealing image of God to me. I have grown, but so have my bullies; they’ve grown and changed names into bills, job security, healthy relationships, etc.
I do not in any way undermine the greatness of our God. NEVER! The scriptures speak of His greatness and sovereign power, and I believe that strongly. My concern is how this imagery affects our spiritual “ears” listening capacity to God and in discerning voice. Imagery affects imagination and listening ability. I cannot, for example, expect a coarse voice from a baby or a baby’s voice from a grown-up man. God is not man. This is a fact we must never lose sight of. We tend to incline our hearts to believe God cannot speak using simple things. The voice of God must be associated with a powerful prophetic voice, a special dream or vision, a thunderous voice, or something special and powerful.
The Jews could not imagine the all-powerful God in a carpenter’s first son. How possible? This is blasphemy for them! The God they worship cannot be simple and share this weak body with them! Alas! They were wrong! When He appeared to Jacob and wrestled with him, He appeared as a simple man. When he appeared to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom, He appeared as a simple passerby along with others to whom Abraham could show hospitality. He is great, and his ways are full of wisdom. Simplistic ways are not less powerful, but human nature abhors simplicity. Advertisers know the psychology of the fallen man. Simple things must look special to create value in the eyes of a fallen man. We need to think the way God wants us to think of Him to listen to Him effectively.
The first lesson in our study today is that God can use the simple things in life to speak to us. As simple as a child’s play, God can use games to convey thoughts to our minds and communicate his ultimate will to us. This process God uses to communicate to us differs from the flow of our thoughts. It is different from the seeming flow of thoughts that brings inspiration to artists. The voice of God carries a uniqueness we will look at in this study.
The distinctive uniqueness of God’s voice is known as we consistently develop the spiritual “ear” to listen to Him. This is what Elijah knew; he would never miss the voice of God. He knows what it is. He knows what it sounds like; Elijah can discern the voice of God. He knew God was not in the noise and earthquakes. Our concern in this study is how we, like Elijah, can develop this special spiritual ability to discern God’s voice in a noisy world.
The world we live in is full of noise. The noises sometimes can be very disturbing, and to quiet the noise and listen to God can sometimes be very challenging. There is a need to create our silent space to listen to God. This is God’s method. He speaks to us in a silent space where we can meet him. Moses had to leave the multitudes and climb Mount Sinai to meet God. Speaking of Jesus Christ, this is seen as the scriptures bear witness. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” Luke 5: 16 NIV. The word “often” suggests it was his customary practice. Jesus had to create a silent space. A solitude space. This space gives us the quietness to reflect and listen. No wonder Jesus recommends, “But when pray, go into your room, close the door…..” Matthew 6: 6 NIV. By “close the door,” He means to create a silent space void of distractions.
When we create a silent space often to listen to God, we are maturing daily in discerning his voice. The story of Ahab and the prophets with the lying spirit explains this further. In the story in the Bible, Zedekiah, son of Kenaanah, slapped another prophet Micaiah for suggesting he was giving a misleading prophecy to King Ahab. The story is in 1 Kings 22: 24. Zedekiah believed he was discerning enough to hear God and know his voice. He believed he could not mislead the king with his prophecy. Prophet Micaiah knew where all the prophets in Israel had missed it. When Zedekiah asked, “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked. 1 Kings 22: 24 NIV. In other words, Zedekiah was asking Prophet Micaiah, when was it in my prophetic ministry that I lost the voice of God as his spirit left me to speak to you? How dare you! Listen to the reply Prophet Micaiah gave him “Micaiah replied, You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room” 1 Kings 22: 25 NIV.
Prophet Micaiah gave him the spiritual diagnosis of why he could not discern the voice of God. The day prophet Zedekiah finds his solitary place in the inner room is when he will know that God and his spirit have left him. The price of not discerning God’s voice is heavy. Imagine how those prophets with a lying spirit had misled King Ahab and led to his death. How sad. If we must grow in maturing in discerning God’s voice, we must consistently grow in developing a silent space where we can hear God.
This study is not to give quick answers as there are none on the subject of spiritual discernment. It is a systematic study on how we can grow in developing spirit discernment in hearing God. In our next study, we will build and explain in practical terms our paths to maturing in spiritual discernment.