‘For God does speak – now one way, now another – though no one perceives it’ – Job 33:14 (NIV).
God speaks and no one perceives it.
This verse and its truth struck me as I was doing my daily readings recently.
God speaks. I have been a Christian for eight years now, led a ministry in my home church, served as a deacon, worked for another church, completed a theology degree, currently studying for a Masters in theology and have been an avid reader for some years now. Yet this reality which I have had a mental assent to for so long, in fact which I have experienced repeatedly, hit me afresh.
But we often fail to hear him.
This is perhaps the reason why it hit me afresh this last week. See during the previous eight years (and long before that) I have refused to listen to God speaking time and time again. Sometimes it has been ignorance. Sometimes there have been too voices competing for my attention at once. Sometimes I have chosen not to hear God speak. The sad reality is that we fail to hear him.
But praise God that he is a gracious God and one who loves his people.
A major message in the Minor Prophets is that God speaks – but he does not just speak once, he speaks again and again and again and again. Look at how these books begin:
‘The word of the LORD came to Hosea…’ – Hosea 1:1 (ESV)
‘The word of the LORD came to Joel…’ – Joel 1:1 (ESV)
‘Thus says the LORD…’ – Amos 1:3, 6 (ESV)
‘Thus says the LORD GOD…’ – Obadiah 1 (ESV)
‘Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah…’ – Jonah 1:1 (ESV)
‘The word of the LORD that came to Micah…’ – Micah 1:1 (ESV)
‘Thus says the LORD…’ – Nahum 1:12
‘The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah…’ – Zephaniah 1:1 (ESV)
‘The word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah…’ Zechariah 1:1 (ESV)
‘The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel…’ – Malachi 1:1 (ESV)
This is only a selection from the Minor Prophets, but look at how all the books begin – they begin by telling the readers that God is speaking to his people through his prophets!
This is a major message in the Minor Prophets:
I have found this as I have tried to preach my way through Haggai.
The book of Haggai can be divided into four sections, each section is a message delivered by Haggai on a different day. What really struck me as I have preached from this small book (only two chapters long) is that these messages are not just some religious wacko letting off steam – these messages are God speaking.
Look again at the prominence of this theme:
‘The word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet…’ – Haggai 1:1 (ESV)
‘The word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet…’ – Haggai 2:1 (ESV)
‘The word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet…’ – Haggai 2:10 (ESV)
‘The word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai…’ – Haggai 2:20 (ESV)
However, the lesson is not only that God speaks. It is also that He speaks into human time.
Haggai is instructive in this – each of Haggai’s messages are dated with some detail. God spoke on certain days to his people. God spoke on the first day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king (1:1), on the twenty-first day of the seventh month in the second year of Darius the king (2:1), on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month in the second year of Darius the king (2:10) and the final message came on that same day (2:20).
Again, this is not where it ends though. Not only does God speak; and not only does God speak into human time; but God also speaks to humans.
Haggai shows us this again. There are three recipients of the messages that Haggai delivers: Zerubbabel who is the civil leader, Joshua who is the religious leader and then the people at large. God speaks to these people with a message relevant to their need.
The amazing thing is that this is not just a message to be found in the Minor Prophets. In all reality this is the message of the Bible – God speaks. It begins with God speaking everything into creation (Gen. 1:3) and ends God telling his people he will come again soon (Rev. 22:20).
What we find central to the Bible though is the pinnacle of God speaking to his people – that pinnacle is God’s Word, The Word.
‘Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…’ – Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV).
The pinnacle of God speaking into human history to human beings is His Word in the flesh. Jesus came with a message relevant to our need, relevant to everyone’s need – the need to have sin dealt with. He came to this earth, lived at a particular time and in a particular place, and he told us that God must deal with sin through a perfect sacrifice so that He may gather His people from all nations, tribes and tongues.
We must strive to listen to God as he continues to speak to us by revealing himself through His Son, Jesus, in His Word.
As I finish, I am once again amazed at the lengths God goes to in order to speak to people who often fail to hear him. I find myself praying that the Holy Spirit would open my ears to hear Him again.
I ask can you hear Him?