Working through a preaching series on the minor prophets, again and again I come across a phrase, “The word of the Lord that came to…”
That phrase appears more than twenty times in the minor prophets (at least 10 of those are in Zechariah alone!):
- “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri” (Hosea 1:1)
- “The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1)
- “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai” (Jonah 1:1)
- “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” (Jonah 3:1)
- “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth” (Micah 1:1)
- “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi” (Zephaniah 1:1)
- “the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel” (Haggai 1:1)
- “the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai” (Haggai 2:10)
- “The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time” (Haggai 2:20)
- “the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo” (Zechariah 1:1)
- “Then the word of the Lord came to me” (Zechariah 4:8; 6:9)
- “The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi” (Malachi 1:1)
Many times the word was unexpected, but it was always clear.
We see this throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, in characters like Noah, Moses, Hannah, David, Mary, Zechariah, Peter, and Paul. Again and again, we see these people having encounters with God that are clear, in which God clearly speaks to them and they are truly hearing from God.
This raises several questions for us about what it means to hear from God. Over the course of the next week on my blog, I want to wrestle with a few of those questions as a way to engaging more deeply with God in a lively, dynamic relationship of faith. Here is the first question I want us to wrestle with today:
Can we hear God like the prophets and these many other characters in Scripture? To put it another way: does God still speak to His people today as He did in Scripture?
This question immediately raises two more:
- If no, why not?
- If yes, how can we experience it?
So, let me do my best to walk through some answers to this question a little bit at a time.
Some would answer that question with a resounding “NO.”
- No, God does not speak to us and we cannot hear Him today like the prophets and others in the Bible
- The biblical characters are unique in a way that we are not
- They received special revelation so that we don’t need to
- The Bible is sufficient – it is enough – and we shouldn’t look for some additional revelation from God
But, I think that the answer to that question is YES.
- Yes, God does speak to us and we can hear Him today in ways that are similar to the prophets and others in the Bible
- The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is to a God who speaks
- In fact, what sets the God of the Bible apart from other purported gods is that our God speaks, uniquely in words
- Genesis – “And God said…” – God creates with words
- Exodus – Sinai covenant and the Ten Commandments – God guides with words
- Prophets – “The word of the Lord that came to…” – God corrects with words
- Jesus – “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14) – God is the Word
- The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that God speaks and Hs people listen
- Jesus Himself said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. ” (John 10:27, NRSV).
- That is also true in the history of God’s people after the time of the Bible– the pervasive testimony of Christians in history is that God speaks to His people
- Augustine hears God speaking to Him through Scripture and the song of a child
- Teresa of Avila, a 16th century nun, speaks of hearing God and receiving visions from him
- Brother Lawrence, a 17th century French monk, speaks of developing a conversational relationship with God in the midst of his mundane duties, like washing dishes
- In more modern times, 20th century English evangelical writer Joyce Huggett tells of hearing the voice of God
- John Piper, a renowned conservative evangelical preacher and author, tells of clearly hearing the voice of God on March 19, 2007, in a way that changed his life.
Again, our first question was “does God still speak to His people today as He did in Scripture?” The testimony of Scripture itself and the history of God’s people over time and in various places is affirmative. Our God is a God who speaks, and we, His people, can hear His voice.
This, of course, raises the question: what does it mean to “hear God,” and to that question we will turn tomorrow.
 Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, VIII.29.
 Teresa of Avila, Autobiography and The Interior Castle.
 Brother Lawrence
 Joyce Huggett, The Joy of Listening to God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986).
 John Piper, “The Morning I Heard the Voice of God,” March 21, 2007; https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-morning-i-heard-the-voice-of-god.