Hearing God’s Voice

The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so.  Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread.  And the angel of the Lord disappeared.  When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old.  Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.  Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

  • Judges 6:20-26

“One day I was on a tour bus and I got back to the bus early.  I was alone, so I took the opportunity to pray, ‘Lord, I really want to share my faith with someone.  If this is the right time, just give me a sign.’

“At that point, this huge guy entered the bus.  He was six foot… and a bunch.  He was wearing a hand-tailored suit, a silk shirt, a string tie with a turquoise stone on it as big as baby’s fist.  His belt buckle was sterling silver, the size of a dinner plate.  He had a wide-brimmed cowboy and ostrich-skin cowboy boots.  He sat in the seat next to me and he started to cry.  I looked around.  The bus was empty except for me, and he sat right next to me!

“The man wasn’t crying; he was sobbing, ‘I have everything I always wanted, but my life is empty.  If I could just talk to God.  If I could just talk to someone who knows God.’  He turned to me, ‘Do you know God?!’

“I looked down to see if my shoes were tied. Yikes, I was wearing loafers.  Oh, no, a penny is missing!  No!  I was praying, ‘Lord, is this a sign?  … Lord, if this is a sign, turn the bus driver into an armadillo.’

“That was Ken Davis’ story, sort of.  If I had said that prayer, asking for a sign, I would have asked for an aardvark, instead of an armadillo.  I always had a thing for aardvarks growing up.  Any animal that insists that its name starts with two ‘A’s’ just to be first in the alphabet  That’s an animal with a great deal of self-respect.  You gotta hand it to the aardvark, but if God had ever granted that request, I would have never known.  I don’t even know what an aardvark looks like!”

  • My version of a Ken Davis presentation, Super Sheep (loosely translated)

Recently, there was a discussion regarding listening to God’s Voice.  It was postulated that the Bible was the only source of ‘hearing’ God’s Voice, and we should be skeptical, wary, and even avoid listening to anyone who says that he hears God’s Voice.  This intimates that all who ‘hear’ God’s Voice are charlatans and heretics.

I prayed for all those who hear God’s Voice to not listen to such nonsense.  God does speak to us.

The following is a false statement – so, don’t worry. “Good evening, everyone.  My ‘name’ is Hat Rack.  I am a charlatan and heretic.”

NO!!!  I am not. I hear God speaking to me, every day.  I am not a great oracle, prophet, or writer of inspired, God-breathed Scripture, but I hear God as He guides me each day. Every pastor who was called to ministry, over so many centuries, has heard God’s call and answered it by entering the ministry.  As another blog writer recently wrote, or maybe it was a theologian in a book I read, “Most people who say they hear God’s Voice, do not hear an audible voice.  They might hear a voice in their head, but most of the time, it is a notion, a thought that enters their mind and is persistent.  It usually arises as a result of prayer – an immediate answer to prayer.”  (Does this not sound like a conversation between two people who love each other – God and the person praying? Indeed, the result of a relationship.)  Whoever wrote this loose quote (note the lack of bold and italics), the author uses of the word “most.”  It means that all three mechanisms may have been in play when the Saints of old talked to God, and these three mechanisms are still available today.  Our problem is that we have lost the skill of active listening.

Samuel heard God speak, audibly.  In 1 Samuel 3, Samuel runs to Eli to see what he wants.  He goes to Eli three times before Eli realizes that it is God speaking to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:8).

My wife has heard an audible voice in the past, but not recently.  I have heard of others who have heard an audible voice.  When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I cannot remember 50 years ago to confirm whether God spoke to me with an audible voice or a voice inside my head.  On this occasion, it wasn’t a notion or a persistent thought.  It was God saying, “That’s what I’ve been waiting on (or for?).”

In my testimony last Thursday, I mentioned other times that God spoke to me.  In practically every one of these times of hearing God’s Voice, it was a notion or persistent thought.  I have that often while in prayer and Bible study. When God encouraged me to start the blog, it was four thoughts that would appear randomly, interrupting what I was thinking about.  “Give it away.  Go where they are.  They are on the internet.  Write a blog.”

To be honest with you, I was like Gideon.  Is this real?  I did not read blogs, only having read one for a short time, liking the author, Ben Witherington III.  The idea of a “blog” was the furthest thing from my mind.  The “it” was my writing.  The “they” has never been defined.  Maybe I will meet “they” in Heaven.

But let’s look at the Scripture.  The story of Gideon becoming convinced that it is really God that he’s talking to takes the entire chapter of Judges 3.  An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon under a tree (Judges 6:11).  The angel calls Gideon a ‘mighty warrior,’ but Gideon argues that he is the least of the least, totally dismissing the notion (Judges 6:15).

Now we get to the quoted Scripture above.  The angel takes Gideon’s offering and performs a miracle.  Then the angel disappears.  I say ‘angel’ in that the Scripture identifies him as an angel, but Gideon calls him, “Lord,” and the angel does not correct him.  When I first entered the Army, promoted to First Lieutenant before I was in a line unit, my platoon sergeant was considerably older.  Growing up, I was taught to call my elders, “Sir.”  I slipped once, and the sergeant was none too quick to correct me.  “Sir!  Do not call me ‘Sir.’  I WORK for a living!”  He remained “sergeant” from then on, but he became one of my best friends.  Yet, the angel accepts “Lord.”  It makes you wonder.

Then, God speaks to Gideon in verse 23.  There is no indication of any ‘appearance.’  The text never says if this is audible, inside Gideon’s head, or a notion or persistent thought.  In Acts 9:7, those with Saul heard ‘the sound’ (Note: Sound, not conversation) but saw nothing.  It was Saul (later Paul) who saw Jesus and heard His voice. (Audible, in Saul’s head, or a notion? I tend to think audible in this case.)  We do not get any hint from eyewitnesses in Judges 6.  In Gideon’s first case of following orders, Gideon destroys the pagan alter and an Asherah pole, but he went at night – too frightened to boldly follow God’s orders with witnesses nearby.

When God speaks again, Gideon asks for an armadillo, changes his mind to an aardvark…  No, he asked for a fleece on the threshing floor to contain all the dew (Judges 6:36-38).  Then, he asked for the ground to be wet and the fleece to be dry the next day (Judges 6:39-40).

We hear Ken Davis’ story about asking for the bus driver to be turned into an armadillo and we laugh.  Had not God presented someone to witness to when the large man entered the bus?  Was it not a sign when the guy sat down on an empty bus right next to Ken Davis?  When the man cried, was that not a sign?  When the man asked a direct question whether Ken Davis knew God, was that not a sign?

Let’s be honest.  We’ve laughed at Gideon’s lack of faith in Judges 6, and we never see it in ourselves.

In Judges 7, Gideon’s army is reduced from a nice sized group of men down to 300, armed with jars, trumpets, and torches.  But this is a different guy, right?  This isn’t the guy that saw an angel produce fire out of stone and then disappear, hear voices and think it a trick, and then ask for two miracles to be performed on two consecutive days.  It can’t be.

But aren’t we the same?  As I said in my presentation, after telling the Davis joke above, a friend talked about how the bus driver could surely turn into any animal and it would be a sign.  I replied, “There were all these tangible signs, yet, my friend, you deprive me of my aardvark?”

In Revelation 22:18-19, God says to the Apostle John that anyone who adds to or takes away from these scrolls of prophecy, the plagues will be heaped upon him.  People have interpreted this to mean that there will no longer be any God-breathed scripture written.  It might simply mean that the warning was meant for the book of Revelation alone.  But to deny any further revelation from God, not even on a personal level as guidance through life? (notice lower case revelation.)

But regardless of the interpretation, these verses say nothing of God speaking to us and being silent forever.  What His Voice says will never contradict Scripture.  We must study God’s word in order to recognize His Voice.

Jesus promised that we would always have the Holy Spirit as our Guide and Counselor.  I don’t think that the Holy Spirit is like the old Native American guide in the cowboy movies of old. The guide sniffs the ground, grunts, and points.  God talks to us.  We must listen and heed His guidance.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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