People have often told me that I have a distinctly defining voice. Many times, people have identified me by my voice before they see my face. That probably happens to many of us. This has always been a thoughtful thing to me. God has used the voice as a means of recognizing people, including Himself. I believe everyone knows the voice of their mother or some cherished loved one. I can hear my mother’s unique sound in my thoughts as I think of her often, although she passed away quite a few years ago. In a crowd, I could easily identify my children’s voices or their laughter above all others. Why? Because I know them. I know them intimately. I know them by close association and frequency every day over many years of spending time with them.
How about God’s voice? Can we hear Him? How are we able to identify His voice above all the others around us? Is it possible?
John 10 gives us clarity on this matter. Verse 4 tells us that the sheep, or Jesus’ followers, actually know His voice. These followers do not follow strangers. They follow Jesus. But how? A close look at verses 1-3 gives us an idea. Jesus Himself says that he that enters not by the door into the sheepfold but, climbs up another way is a thief or a robber (John 10:1). But the shepherd that comes in by the door is the true shepherd of the sheep (John 10:2). Verse 11 identifies Jesus as the good shepherd who gives His life for His sheep.
A sheepfold in those times was a large, enclosed, or fenced-in area where sheep would usually spend the night. There was one door for them to enter into or leave. A guard would watch over the sheep during the night and protect them. In the morning the shepherd would get up and eventually call his sheep to himself. A sheepfold would generally provide a shelter for many different flocks belonging to various different shepherds, but the sheep distinctively would know the voice of their shepherd. They know his voice.
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus speaks of a special entryway by which we can discern His voice. That door is the door of our hearts that He wants to enter into for a loving, personal relationship. If we hear His voice and open the door of our hearts, He promises that He will come in and will dine with us, and we also with Him. In this way, we have the ability to hear and discern at all times.
You may ask, how do we know His voice in such a noisy world? There are many voices and many distractions. But there must be a way if it is what God requires. There are at least three ways in which the Lord speaks to us today and shows us His will for our lives. The first is through His Word. John 1:1-14 tells us that Jesus is the Word and that the Word was with God from the beginning, “...and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Word became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The scriptures testify of Jesus Christ (John 5:39). The best way to hear God’s voice is to read the Bible, study it, and learn of Him and His character, His precepts, and principles. In that way, we can discern right from wrong and see God’s moving in our lives and in all situations. God’s Word helps us to see if the situations presented before us and the options or opportunities offered to us are in line with the principles of the Word and the character of God. He doesn’t work contrary to His Word, character, or purposes. We need to study God’s Word.
Second, we can hear God’s “voice” through others. Those others may be people or through unusual means as in the case of Balaam. He didn’t follow God’s instructions, so God used a donkey to get the point across to him in Numbers 22:21-35. In 1 Samuel 1:17, God used the priest, Eli, to confirm Hannah’s desire for a baby, and God also used Eli to help the little boy, Samuel, understand and discern the voice of God (1 Samuel 3:1-10).
Thirdly, there are providential manifestations from God which are generally situations where we can clearly discern God’s leading. Elijah had a mountaintop experience in a showdown with the gods of Baal, and fire came down from heaven to manifest God’s will, presence, and might (1 Kings 18:38). Sometimes His voice is not so loud or demonstrative, but manifests itself in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12). The Psalmist reminds us that God says to “...be still and know” that He is God… that He will be exalted among the heathen… that He will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10). He will speak. He will make it known. We just have to know that He is God!
Call to Action
The question is, have we opened our hearts to Jesus? Have we let Him in to dine and eat with us so that He may know us and that we may know Him intimately? Have we been studying His Word to know His character and His will for our lives? And finally, are we looking and listening to identify His providence and allow His still, small voice to speak to our hearts?
Will you join me in praying daily to hear His voice?
All scripture taken from the King James Version.