At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
- Ezekiel 3:16-19
“If we would be found really useful and serviceable for our Lord and Master, the ear is to be disciplined. To train the tongue we must begin with the ear. No one is fit to command who has not first learned to obey, and assuredly no one is qualified to teach who has not first of all found pleasure in learning. We must be a disciple and sit at the Master’s feet before we can become as apostle and go forth to speak in the Master’s name. To acquire eloquence we must train the ear, and especially to warn people we must ourselves hear the voice of warning. We must receive the gospel as God’s own Word and go forth to proclaim it as such. Teachers, if they are to have power, must sustain everything with, ‘This is what the Lord God says.’ Believe him, for he cannot lie. We come to tell you of what we ourselves have received on divine authority, and we claim that you receive our testimony, not because it is supported by divine authority and is in fact the echo of the divine Word. Only by this mode of utterance can we hope to succeed. On any other footing we court failure and deserve it. If we would have our ear educated, it must not be only to receive the Word as divine authority but also to know what God’s Word is. Many who are willing to begin winning souls had better first commence learning Christ. We must fill ourselves before we ask to be poured out, else not much will come of our being poured out. We must receive the bread and the fish from the Master, or we will have little to distribute among the crowd. First, we must get to know what we have to say, or else how can we speak for God? Hear the word from God’s mouth, and then deliver it in God’s name.
“Let us study the Bible with diligence. Go to that fountain of truth, and never be satisfied with a secondhand version of it. Search the inspired book and desire to know everything it teaches.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
Maybe the urgency pertains to only watchmen, but I doubt it. If our neighbor is in need of salvation, watching them die and go to Hell is on us.
But how do we know when God is speaking to us? How do we hear God’s voice? I once talked to a person who wanted to home school their children. They felt that they had received a clear message from God to home school. Their pastor counseled them to leave them in public school for a year and closely monitor things. I talked with them about supplementing the children’s education during that year and they claimed they already had. They watched a cartoon movie that is set in the time of the seven plagues of Egypt.
I was unable to even respond to that. They kept upping the number, wanting me to correct them. I finally croaked out that there were ten plagues. Was it Hollywood that got it wrong or did they just not know the basics of one of the more common Bible stories?
The point: If you love Jesus as your all-in-all, you will learn as much about Him as you can learn. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is understanding, so reading and nothing makes sense might just mean that you have not really accepted Jesus into your heart. This is kind of sounding like 1 John, one test of faith after another. But you cannot discern God’s voice unless you know Him and know Him very well.
There cannot be a great oracle with flashing lights to home school coming from God when you cannot distinguish God’s voice from Satan’s voice.
Ezekiel was a priest. He was prepared to serve God before he was selected by God to be a prophet. Then when you get a vision of wheels within wheels and bizarre creatures with human bodies, wings, cow ‘feet,’ and four faces, I think when the Voice begins to speaks, you are going to know what that Voice sounds like.
But without fantastical visions, it is hard, even for those who study their Bible every day. Satan loves messing with the Godly, especially if those Godly people are holding their breath for an oracle rather than studying what the Bible says.
Both yesterday’s post on living the “called” life and today’s quote from Rev. Spurgeon speak of divine authority and knowing the One they are serving. You cannot obtain divine authority by demanding it. You cannot hold your breath until God caves. God has infinite patience, and I now from firsthand experience that when you “need” that “sign,” you could turn blue quickly and God is not going to respond to your demand.
But when God knows that you are ready, because you have surrendered to what He wants rather than what you demand, you will know when it is God speaking, for it will mesh perfectly with what God has already revealed to you from His Word. You can then receive divine authority and only through God Himself.
As Rev. Spurgeon says, we must be filled before we can be poured out.
That reminds me of this past Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. My wife was bleeding out in the emergency room. Blood pressure was thready, but they finally got the cut in the fistula repaired. The problem then was the phlebotomist could not get an IV started. My wife rarely feels the needle prick, but this time, she felt every failed attempt. The veins had simply collapsed to the point that the only needle that was successful was the one used on infants. This made replenishing the blood a slow process, but my wife’s life was saved.
It is kind of the reverse of Spurgeon’s statement. My wife was empty, at least a quart low and probably more, very near the limit. The average person dies when the blood loss is a little over two quarts. The veins in the arm had collapsed, because the body was concentrating on keeping the core (heart, lungs) alive. If she had to be poured out, there was nothing IN to be poured OUT.
If we do not have the Word of God stored within us, we will not have God’s Word to draw strength when we need it. We will not have the right words to say to someone who is in need. And we will have no way of hearing God’s voice and distinguishing His voice from Satan’s voice. He must be filled, before we can pour the slightest thing out.
Rev. Spurgeon says that our ear must be disciplined. It is disciplined by studying and knowing what God says, by filling our mind which then filters what the ear hears.
And it boggles my mind that so many in the church pews, that seem to have loving hearts, do not take the time to study the Word of the God of Love. How can they even know anything about Love without knowing the author of it?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.