My devotional has been leading readers through the book of Exodus the past few months, teaching about the Mosaic Law, how it applied to the culture of the day, and how it can apply to us today. For me, the thing that had stood out is that God actually spoke to Moses and the people. He spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden. Audibly spoke to them. The Creator God had conversations with His creation – this has me in awe! How many of us today yearn to hear the voice of God, long for His answer to a prayer, or His guidance through a challenge?
The Israelites were afraid of that voice. The power of it came with thunder, lightning and smoke that literally had them trembling as God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. They were so afraid that they asked Moses not to have God speak to them. Exodus 20:18-19 describe it this way, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” In the next verse Moses tells them not to be afraid, that God wants them to know and fear him so they will remember not to sin. I’ve been meditating and praying on this passage for several days. “Do not have God speak to us or we will die.” What a difference from how many believers feel today! True believers seek His voice, need His voice.
I think it’s important to understand Moses’ response to them too. “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” Don’t be afraid, but fear God. This may seem like a contradiction, but I feel like it’s more of a misunderstanding of the translation of “fear God.” I think of how a child is not afraid of their parents, but understands the consequences of disobeying their instruction.
The Creator God is the father of all mankind, and He gave guidance and rules through the scriptures for us, His children, to follow. With that guidance He also gave consequences. If we don’t follow His rules, we will die. The death that He speaks of is not our human body ceasing to function. It is the death of our souls – if we don’t listen and obey, we will not have eternal life with God after our human life ends. For me, that’s what it’s all about! That is the prize that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Philippians, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
For many centuries only a few chosen people heard God’s voice; after Moses he spoke to the people through the prophets and judges. Those men and women listened to God and wrote down what He told them, and those writings have been preserved for us to read today – the Bible is God’s message to the world.
It’s important that we understand the Gospel in order to understand how to hear God’s voice. It’s simple, really. God created all things. He sent His son, Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus was crucified, died, and rose again in triumph over death – the death caused by our sin, the sin that separated us from eternal life with God. After this He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts and guide us until we are with Him in heaven.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit a helper, the Spirit of Truth, and said if we love Him and keep His commandments, He would dwell within us. (John 14:15-17) Ezekiel prophesied about the Spirit, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ez 36:26-17)
If we believe Jesus and follow Him, He places the Spirit in us so we are never alone. To keep His commandments, we must bind them on our fingers and write them on the tablet of our hearts. (Proverbs 7:3) In order to write the commandments on our hearts we must read the Bible daily and learn what God has shared about Himself.
In John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” We know His voice, deep in the secret places of our hearts He speaks to us, if we listen carefully and faithfully.
“Heavenly Father, teach us to hear your voice. Open our hearts to your instruction. Fill us with the Holy Spirit and guide us each day as we strive to follow your commandments. Teach us to follow you. Show us your glory and fill us with an unquenchable desire to know and read your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.