The Shepherd's Voice
by Rev. Brian Mathis
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I woke up this morning thinking about all the places in the Old Testament that God physically speaks to someone and a reality struck me. For many of us who call themselves Christian we want a Moses experience in an Elijah world. If that seems a little strange let us take a look at these two encounters. First we find Moses out tending the flocks of his father-in-law when this he sees a bush that is on fire:
3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:3-4 (ESV)
If we take the time to look further into these passages of scripture we come to understand this is when Moses receives the marching orders to go back and confront Pharaoh and to bring freedom to God’s people. As Christians we often wish God would be this clear with us when we are seeking guidance about what to do as we serve Him. However, the reality is we are more often especially in today’s world going to find ourselves feeling like Elijah who has been serving God and has taken a stand for Him to the point he is the last true prophet left and people are seeking to destroy him. We find Elijah hiding in a cave wondering how and why God would bring him to this place and situation. I believe many of us can relate as we find ourselves in what feels like similar situations. However, God is still speaking it just requires a different kind of listening.
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (ESV)
While several eye-catching things happened before Elijah that God could have used to provide him direction and get his attention it was the still small voice that caused Elijah to move. The difference between these two encounters is simple for me. It comes to understanding the relationship between God and each individual. Moses did not know who he was talking to and Elijah did. God had to create a situation that would cause Moses to turn aside and come to meet Him where He was. Elijah however knew the voice of God. Elijah had allowed his own circumstance to effect his ability to hear God’s voice. It required God to refocus Elijah’s attention and reassure him that He could go nowhere that God could not find him or be with Him. Just like Moses once Elijah was listening, God instructed him about what he was to do.
Today are you as believers able to recognize that still small voice or are you looking for your burning bush. Jesus taught us about hearing His voice in John 10:
3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3-5 (ESV)
If you are looking for the burning bush maybe it’s because the voice of the shepherd is strange to you. In our world today there are millions of voices crying out for our attention something new and flashy draws us to the left and the right each day. However, it requires a discerning ear if you really desire to hear God’s voice in your life. We must develop that listening ear through fasting, worship, prayer and scripture reading so that we can recognize and understand the voice of the shepherd when He calls us. I pray today that you begin to have an ear of discernment for the voice of the shepherd as you walk in the light of God’s Word.
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