“For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”
This message is about hearing the voice of God, and trusting it. In John 10:3-4, Jesus said “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” If we are “the people of His pasture”, then Jesus is our Shepherd, our leader and our guide. Psalm 23 says that He ‘leads’ us beside quiet waters. The shepherd longs for His sheep to hear His voice but many of us do not stop to listen. Or we may listen only sometimes, to the messages we want to hear! Others believe that God does not speak to people, or that He does not speak to them. God has been speaking to people before the foundations of the world, so there is clearly nothing wrong with His transmitter! The fault lies in the receiver. There are walls between our hearts and the heart of the Father, which stop us hearing what He is saying. These walls may be our wrong perceptions of God and who He is, or they may be some lie from the devil which we have believed; it could also be some area of disobedience which has brought a hardness of heart and dulled our sensitivity to the sweetest voice of all.
This scripture from Psalm 95 refers to the time the people of Israel were travelling the desert after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Their hearts were hardened through a lack of gratitude, a spirit of grumbling and discontentment. God had brought them out of a life of bondage, and had shown them His power and glory. He traveled with them day and night, and protected them with His manifest presence. He provided for every need that arose. This should have filled them with faith and motivated them to love and trust Him in everything. However, they grieved the heart of God by never acknowledging His faithfulness, goodness and provision, and by grumbling and finding fault with Him at every turn.
“Massah and Meribah” was the name Moses gave to a place where God gave the people water when they cried out to him in their thirst. Massah means ‘testing’ or ‘tempting’ and Meribah means ‘quarrel’ or ‘arguing’. The people tested God by grumbling about the lack of water. They quarreled with Moses their leader (and therefore with God) and questioned whether God was really with them at all. Every time they encountered some challenging circumstance, they could have chosen to remember all the good things God had done for them, and trust Him to do the same again, but they spoke bitter, rebellious words which hardened them even more and distanced them further from the One who loved and cherished them and took care of all their needs.
Friend, we can choose to believe the Word of God and trust Him, or we can decide to harden our hearts against it, question its truth, and grumble about the difficulties we sometimes face in this trouble filled world. More than anything else, God wants us to trust Him. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God; not difficult, but impossible! Faith softens the heart, and opens it to hear from God. Without faith, we could never hear the voice of God! Each time we ignore the voice of God, or fail to respond, we harden our hearts a little bit more, until the development of a hard crust makes our hearts go ‘astray’. When we grumble and gripe, we speak the language of the evil one, and this destroys our faith. When we grumble, we make a statement against God and His nature, which is goodness, mercy and love.
The people of Israel spent 40 years on a journey which could have taken them under 2 weeks. If we do not learn to listen to the sweet soft voice of the Father, we may find ourselves walking around the desert many years, never breaking out from the same painful situations we want to move away from. God’s people spent so long in the desert because they just would not learn the lessons He was teaching them – that if they trusted Him and took Him at His word, they would see His goodness and provision, and lack nothing. If we fail the test, we may end up repeating the same class, sometimes many times over. Most of the people of Israel never received their promotion. They never graduated from school, or entered the promised land, dying instead in the desert they had wandered around for forty years. God said they were a people whose hearts went ‘astray’, and because of that, they never entered His ‘rest’ (the promised land), that state of satisfaction and contentment; that place of no more striving and of absolute peace; a place of trusting God, hearing from Him, and knowing that He holds you in His hands.
Friend, beyond all your challenges and difficulties, God has a place of peace and rest for you this year which only He can give. It is a place where you experience all the blessings He has for you because you learn to hear His voice and obey. However, grumbling and disobedience shuts down faith, and can harden our hearts too much to hear the soft voice of the blessed Holy Spirit.
Hearing/reading the Word of God softens hearts, and makes faith grow. It makes us ready to tune in to another supernatural frequency! As you begin to read Gods Word and heed His voice, or hear from Him through dreams or visions, and do what He says, you will see the losses of former years wiped out, and the blessing of God flowing into your life. I have heard many testimonies of people whose lives, or the lives of their loved ones were saved (as in the 9/11 tragedy) because they heard the sweet soft voice of the Holy Spirit and acted upon it. Make it a priority this year to tune in to the voice of the Father, and walk in His divine direction. He has great plans for you!
May the love of Jesus fill you with a hunger for His Word and His Spirit. May the voice of the Father be your daily guiding light! I will be praying for you all this week.