How do we hear from God, or more specifically, how do we “hear” God? There are many accounts in the bible that start off by saying “Then God told Moses” or “Then God said to Abraham” or “Then God told Joshua.” What did it sound like when God was talking to these patriarchs of the bible? Was there a big, booming voice that said “THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME?” Well, that’s the Hollywood version, but, like anything else, we can’t really trust the accuracy of Hollywood.
There are times in God’s Word that it seems pretty clear that God was speaking with an audible voice, I’m thinking particularly of Moses at the burning bush, but apart from accounts such as the Garden of Eden where God was actually walking with Adam and Eve, those times are few and far between. In fact, you can probably count on one hand the times in God’s Word that God most certainly spoke with an audible voice. There are many instances that we can make that assumption but to say with certainty that He often spoke with an audible voice is a stretch at best.
In my various travels and conversations with believers over the years, I’ve come to understand that, modern day accounts of God speaking with an audible voice, although they do exist, are also few and far between. I have do doubt that God will do what ever it takes to get your attention and if speaking to you in an audible voice is what it takes then so be it but I do not believe that is God’s “preferred” method of communicating with you.
We are, first and foremost, a spirit that (temporarily) lives in a body and we have a soul. God is also a Spirit and as such, primarily, communicates with us on a “Spirit” level. So, how do we know when God is “talking” to us?
The account of Gideon in the book of Judges chapter 6 is one that I’m sure we can all relate to in one way or another. Gideon was doing a relatively menial task (threshing wheat) when God spoke to him. God told Gideon to gather up an army and go to war with Israel’s captors. Gideon, obviously wanting to know for sure that this was God’s voice and not his own thoughts, asked for some signs from God just to be sure. One night, Gideon said to God, I’m going to leave a piece of fleece on the ground tonight and if, by morning, the fleece is wet with dew but the ground around it is dry, then I will know that it was your voice I heard and not my own. Come morning, sure enough, just as Gideon had asked, the fleece was wet and the ground was dry. Then Gideon was like, wait a minute, let’s do this again but reversed! This time if the fleece is dry and the ground around it is wet with dew, then I’ll know for sure that it was indeed, the voice of God in me that I heard. Sure enough, it was as Gideon asked and it would appear that, once Gideon had it figured out, he never doubted the voice of God “IN” him again.
So how do we hear from God? First and foremost, it is usually the “voice within us.” Remember that I said that God is a Spirit and He primarily speaks to us through our spirit. What does it sound like?
1 Kings 19:11-13 gives an account of God speaking to Elijah. Elijah describes God’s voice by saying that a strong wind came up that was so strong it began blowing the rocks off the mountains, but God’s voice was not in the wind or the rocks. Then an earthquake, followed by fire, but God’s voice was not in the earthquake or the fire. Then came a “gentle blowing,” or “Gentle whisper (NLT)” or a “Still small voice (KJV).” Job said in Job 4:16 that he heard a “hushed” or “quiet” voice.
God does not compete with the earthquakes and fires (loud voices) that go on within us. Instead, God is heard saying “Peace, be still.” God is heard in the quietness that happens beneath the storms, in the center of the storms, in the midst of the turmoil. He is heard in the quietness of our thoughts. Sometimes it’s in what we mistakenly think of as “intuition” or that “gut feeling.” God is heard where there is no sound.
Why is God heard in the “peace be still?” Why is God heard where there is no sound? It’s because God speaks with authority and authority demands attention. When Authority speaks, the earthquakes and fires listen and the voice of Authority usually says exactly what we need to hear. Sometimes, Authority doesn’t have to say anything at all. A look, a touch, a nod.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (John 14:27). I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Listen, where there is no sound. You may just be surprised at what you hear.