My Law And My Voice
“And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;”
Or, as it is translated in the New American Standard version,
“The Lord said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it,”
In this verse, God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah to the Israel during the time that the King of Babylon was attacking Jerusalem. What is interesting about this verse is that it shows that our heavenly Father expects us not only to follow His revealed word in the scriptures (law), but also that He expects us to receive and follow His voice too. At this particular time, His voice was the prophet Jeremiah.
There is some confusion in Christians as to the whether we should only follow what we know of the scriptures or if it is proper to also heed what God says through spiritual experiences. The truth and the balance of the matter are that both are important. During the difficult times that God’s people were facing as the Babylonians were laying siege to Jerusalem God expected them to both “do” His law and “hear” His voice. Today, as we face difficult times in our lives we must give heed to “what is written” and “what we hear.”
It is written,
“Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
God blessed Abraham as the father of many nations because he obeyed both His voice and His laws. Some people think that keeping the commandments of God are of greater importance than obeying the voice of God but that is not so. Both are important for both are necessary.
The scriptures are what God has written in the past and are what God thinks about events and situations that are historical in nature. From these scriptures, we can derive broad principles and lessons that help us to understand and relate to God. God’s voice is different because it is immediate, specific, and relevant to what we are doing right now. Whereas the scriptures give us universal precepts about God, His voice speaks to what we, as groups or individuals, are dealing with today.
It is written,
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
When we come to a place where we need to make a decision we can go to God’s word and try to figure out, from historical examples and His commandments, how we should proceed. Sometimes, even when we do this, it is still not clear how we should correctly apply these teachings. Through hearing God’s voice, we can know How God wants us to proceed at the time we need His direction. Our Father can simply say do “this or that” or give us a better understanding of the scriptures we are trying to apply to our situation.
Here is a truth,
“The voice of God and the law of God work together to reveal the will of God in our lives.”
For some, the difficulty comes when what they believe differs from what the voice of God says. The default position in many is that if what you hear is different than what you have been taught then you must go with what you know. I think that this is one of the most damaging precepts that are currently taught in the normative church simply because it makes God’s Holy Spirit subservient to our knowledge. Simply put, if we cannot understand what God is saying within the context of what we know we reject it. In effect, our doctrine takes precedence over our God.
However, the Spirit and the word agree.
It is written,
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
2 Peter 1:21
The Spirit wrote the word and, therefore, when we hear His voice it will be in line with what is already written. However, and this is a very important point, it may not necessarily be in line with what our church teaches. The decision whether or not to obey church authority is where the difficulty comes for many people and where confusion sometimes sets it. They hear God’s voice, but it does not line up with what they are supposed to believe. Do they obey God’s voice or do they follow what they have been taught assuming that they hear wrongly?
The answer to this question is that, in general, if you know the voice of your Father then, when He says something different than what you believe, it usually indicates that your beliefs are incorrect to some degree. Unfortunately, what we currently believe, even though we try to base it upon scripture, is only an approximation of the truth. Many times, when the Spirit speaks to us, He leads us into truth and brings greater clarity to our minds on certain topics. Initially, we may recoil and say to ourselves “that can’t be right” but upon further reflection in the word we see that it was “us” who were mistaken and not our Father.
It is OK to consider what the Spirit says, and search out those things in the word like the Boreans did in the first century. Considering new ways of looking at things is not fatal and when we compare them to the word of God (I mean scripture and not our doctrine) we can see if they fit in with the general tenor of His book. Many, out of fear, will not permit themselves or others to do this open and honest evaluation of the Spirit. However, for us to move forward in God, we need to start to have confidence in His voice to the point where we will trust what He says at least long enough to examine it.
In conclusion, a life lived by revelation is not at odds with the written word but a compliment to it. The voice of God “fine tunes” our understanding of His will in specific circumstances we face on a daily basis. Let us all give great heed to the oracles of God in whatever form they take, whether written 2000 years ago or spoken to us today.