THE people of Israel forgot all the miraculous signs and wonders that were done on their behalf in Egypt and refused to listen to God. Of course, they suffered for it later.

  God desires an intimate relationship with His people. They are the sheep of His pasture. There was need, therefore, for the people to hearken to His voice. There is no doubt that God regularly speaks to His people. He may employ different methods to pass on His message: Dreams — Jacob (Gen 28:12-15); visions/revelations – Peter (Acts 10:9-16) and direct speech – Moses (Ex 3:4-12), Samuel (1 Sam. 3:4-14), Paul (Acts 9:3-5).

  It is left for a person to be spiritually sensitive and attentive too, especially when God is speaking.

  The writer of Hebrews wrote many years after David had written Psalm 95 and was admonishing his hearers on the importance of hearing the voice of God. He said: “If you hear His voice…’ Recall that he was faced with three categories of the Jewish community. Firstly, were those that received the preaching of the gospel through certain apostles, prophets and believed unto salvation. Secondly, those who believed, but were not committed to that belief because of fear of persecution and love of their own sins. The third group were those that were not convinced at all.

  This letter was directed partly to Christians – those who believed unto salvation — and partly to non-Christians, who are not really accepting anything; they have intellectual understanding, know the gospel, but are hanging on the edge of decision. And you know, there are many people like that. Those, who have intellectually responded to the gospel, but are not committed to it. They are not committed to Jesus Christ or accepted Him as their Lord and personal Saviour. To this group, God does not think they have done Him a favour just because they like His gospel. In fact, if you hear it and know it and intellectually assent to it, but never commit your soul to it, then the retribution and the judgment of God on you will be much surer and much more serious than those who barely heard the gospel. Therefore, ‘to whom much is given much is required’ (Luke 12:48).

  The writer of the letter of Hebrews had a great fear for those Jews, who heard the gospel right from the mouths of the apostles and the prophets, but shrank back because of the love of sin and the fear of persecution. Maybe, they had run up and said – you know, I like this thing about Jesus; it is great. I might give my life to this. However, when their friends start firing, they begin to fall away from the initial statement that they have made. They have never willingly thrown their whole weight on Jesus and as a result, they have a form of godliness but they deny its power (2 Tim. 3:5-7), thereby falling under what the Bible classifies as an apostate. An apostate is an individual that knows the truth, but wilfully rejects it and falls back.

  Let it be stated that it is tragic for the child of God to cease hearing from Him in his life. There is a great need even in our own day and time to continually hear the voice of God. Such is capable of helping us grow in faith and to worship Him faithfully. Remember, God has not stopped speaking to His people. Read these passages: 1 Sam 3:10, Ex 3:4-6, Isa. 6:8-13, Jer. 1:4-12, Amos 7:14-17, Matt 2:13, 3:17, 17:5, Acts 27:23-24.

 Sin among others is a major barrier to hearing the voice of God. Ponder over these: Isa 59:1-2, Jer. 6:10, Ezek. 12:2 Zech. 7:11, Matt 13:15, 2 Tim. 4:4. But as a child of God, when last did you hear Him speak to you?

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State.

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