God's Voice

Has your name ever been called from where you cannot see the caller for the moment, but just by the voice you recognize the person? Have you ever seen a person from far off and known who they are simply by the way they walk or their posture?

When I was growing up, I could tell you without looking, who was walking from one room to the other because of their cadence and who was literally talking behind my back because of their voice. All the times I have been on a team, in a job or part of a church family for an extended period of time - I knew them. Because I shared so much time in my relationships, I could distinguish the many voices in my life from one another – seen or not seen.

That is familiarity based on an established bond. This only comes with time spent with that person. Many instances the time is just the quantity that determines the familiarity of the bond, like going to work everyday therefore knowing your coworkers. Many more instances knowing someone’s voice, cadence, posture and the like come from quality time with that individual.

I have heard many pastors and teachers of the Bible say something like – “I heard God say to me…. Or God said to me….” I desire to interview those people and ask, “Really? You heard God speak? What did He sound like?” I have often pondered – what does the actual voice of God sound like? Many of us have associated The Voice of God with a good baritone or smooth bass voice, compliments of movies and t.v. with James Earl Jones and the like.

In 1 Kings 19:11-13 the voice of the Lord is described as “a still small voice” or “a whisper”
Thunder is often how God’s voice is depicted in the book of Psalms. There are some cute sayings we hear about the thunder in storms. I have heard some say, "That thunder is angels moving my furniture around in Heaven." I have also heard, "That thunder is the angelic host bowling." Whatever cute saying you have heard about the sound of thunder, Scripture equates the sound with God’s Voice leaving the recipient and the reader of God’s Word quite awestruck.

However, before any of us write off or reason away the thunder in Psalms as being poetic because of the nature of this book of the Bible, John 12:29 records –

“The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.”

In other cases, God’s voice is powerful and certainly not quiet. Have you ever heard the crackle and sizzle of lightening bolts as they attempt to find their mark? David says God's voice “strikes with flashes of lightning” (Ps. 29:7).

Have you ever been in the presence of a strong trumpet blast or volley of notes? The writer of Hebrews states God’s voice is like a “trumpet blast” (Hebrews 12:19).

Imagine yourself standing beside Niagara Falls and hearing that constant deafening roar of water. Both Ezekiel 43:2 and Revelation 1:15 attest to His voice like “the roar of rushing waters”.

Have you ever been in a large crowd and just stopped and listened to the murmur of the mob? Daniel had a vision of a mighty man that many believe is of Glorified Christ. In Daniel 10:6 the voice of God is described as “the sound of a multitude”.

In addition to these descriptions, the voice of God has been portrayed in Scripture to the breaking of Cedars (Ps. 29:5), the shaking of the desert (Ps. 29:8), the twisting of the oak (Ps. 29:9), the shattering of Assyria (Isa. 30:31), speaking from a cloud (Matt. 17:5), speaking from out of the fire (Dt. 4:12) and even His voice reaching the dead and they hear Him (John 5:28; John 11). The scale for God’s voice seems to be tipped more to the loud end of the spectrum then that of the whisper mentioned in 1 Kings 19.

However, if you were one of the individuals who lived during the time of Christ you actually got to hear the voice of God in human form. They heard the Word of God, the Logos, made flesh, speak. John says in his gospel – “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. (Jn. 1:1) “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (Jn. 1:14) That which Father God uttered as words now was flesh and speaking Father God’s very words to us.

Now-a-days I do not claim to hear God’s voice as loud noises, storms or even whispers. However, this does not stop me from stepping out on my front porch when a thunderstorm arrives, not only to assess the severity, but to listen to the thunder and watch the lightening and imagine it as God’s voice speaking to me. Remember I’m justified. God replied to David –

“In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.” (Ps. 81:7)

So how can John speak about the sheep listening to Christ’s voice as The Great Shepherd in John 10:27? The actual verse reads, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”

God has a magnificent voice and has used it many times to acquire the attention and obedience of nature and humanity. Where God's voice was unmistakable in the past, His voice is a matter of faith, diligence in His Word and Godly discernment today. Especially since Christ's visitation, God's voice is built on a relationship with Jesus by accepting His sacrifice for our redemption and trusting in His Holy Spirit to guide believers.

For the Christian today, I believe God's Word and His Holy Spirit within the believer are how Christ mainly speaks. Not that God could not audibly, loudly or softly speak His words to the believer, but for all ages future of Christ’s ascension Jesus stated - 
  • "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26). 
God’s communication to the Christian is more of a Holy impression, a Holy inspiration based from and on God’s Word. In Paul's second letter to Timothy, the word theopneustos (theh-op-nyoo-stos) is used meaning God-breathed or inspired to describe all Scripture -
  • "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
This listening to and for God’s voice all begins by following Him or spending time in His Word and manifest presence. The original word used for "know" in John 10:27-28 - "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." - is ginosko, meaning to know absolutely; be sure; to understand in a great variety of applications and with many implications. The word implies an intimate, developing relationship that God knows everything about with the believer's part being to “listen” and “follow”.

God's voice will one day be undeniably unmistakable to all. As Jesus steps down from His throne in Heaven and pierces the thin cloak of invisibility, He will descend with "a loud command" (1 Thess. 4:16). This shout, this resounding utterance, this Voice of Thunder will be enough for all Christians to be transformed or glorified and the dead in Christ will rise first, then the remaining believers will meet them and Christ in the air to go Home.

Meanwhile, God says, if you are part of the family of God, you will want to and need to be listening for God’s impressions, His inspiration and discernments through His Holy Spirit. To help in this effort, remain a man or woman of integrity. Also, continue to pray to Him, allowing for some listening time. Permit the Holy Spirit and Word of God to guide you in all truth because this is God’s Voice.