First of all, let’s get a really important question out of the way: Why on earth am I writing an article about how to hear God’s voice through scripture? If the Bible is God’s word, then if you read it you’ve heard him automatically, haven’t you?
Nope. You haven’t. In Jesus’ day there was a religious sect called the Pharisees that knew their Bibles backwards and forwards. In fact, many had at least the first five books of the Bible memorized. Can you say that? Can you even imagine that?
I don’t have to imagine. When I was in Bible School one of the visiting professors was an orthodox Jew (a modern day Pharisee) who had found Jesus. He could recite huge portions of the Old Testament, along with the verses connected to obscure references. We’d call out random verses: “Deuteronomy 31:5!” and he’d recite the verse perfectly. “Genesis 26:11!” And he’d recite the verse. Perfect every time. We couldn’t stump him!
Well, one day Jesus was having a conversation with a bunch of freak… I mean, religious people just like my professor and said something absolutely astounding: “You have never heard God’s voice!” (John 5:37)
Huh? I’ll give you a hint: It’s only possible if reading, studying, and even memorizing scripture isn’t exactly the same thing as hearing God’s voice. Which is disconcerting, because hearing God in his word is sorta the point, right? But it has to be true, if you’re honest about how life actually plays out.
I’ve heard it too many times to count. From “good” Christians, too. They say… dare I say it… that they know the Bible is supposed to be God’s word and all, but… most days they get nothing out of it. Just cold words on a page. So we don’t read the Bible much for ourselves. We read devotional books written by people smarter than us who somehow managed to get more out of it than we did. And, here’s the big kicker—I’ve even heard people confess that they find the Bible boring a good chunk of the time.
Boring?! Should we call down fire from heaven to fry all those ungodly infidels? Wait, not yet. If the Bible is exactly equivalent to God speaking—if every time you read it God is talking to you, as some people claim—then what we’re also admitting is that God is often boring to talk to. That Christians the world over sit down with God face to face every morning and find him rather… well, bland. That God needs a public speaking course to learn how to deliver more captivating content.
I know, it sounds like blasphemy. But truthfully now: On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate how meaningful and exciting the Bible is to you in your devotion times on a regular basis? How often does your heart beat faster because you are absolutely certain that God is “live, and online” talking to you as you handle his word?
My guess is that whatever number you picked, its lower than you’d like it to be. Maybe you even feel guilty about what a low number you logged. But I’ve proven my point, I think—reading, studying, and even memorizing scripture simply can’t equal hearing God through it. If it did, Bible reading would trump everything else in life, every time. But it doesn’t, does it?
That’s a really important thing to admit, so I’m proud of you. But I’m not going to leave you there. We simply have to learn how to hear God as we handle scripture. And we will. There’s just one more topic to tackle before we get into the meat of this article. Tune in tomorrow for that, you won’t want to miss this!