Hearing God's Voice and Stepping out in Obedience
by Charlotte Barton
Hearing God's Voice does not always seem easy to us. We sometimes make it more difficult than it should be. And when we do hear God's voice we often do not step out or hesitate stepping out in obedience to what God says.
I have had my many moments of lessons on hearing God's voice. And just as a father continues teaching his child important life-lessons even as he becomes an adult, my heavenly Father is still teaching me as I continue to learn to hear His voice.
There is a father at our church who has a very distinct way getting his kid's attention, even when they are very far away. They can be in a crowded area with lots of noise and people, the father will give a quick whistle, and the kids instantly turn to where it is coming from. They know to quickly respond and go to where he is. No one else responded to it, but his children did. They did not respond to any other whistles from strangers. Why? Because they knew their father's unique sound when he wants them to come to him so he can tell them something important. They know his voice.
That brings to mind a very similar portion of scripture about hearing God's voice. John 10:1-5 (Amplified Bible), says,
1 I ASSURE you, most solemnly I tell you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way (elsewhere, from some other quarter) is a thief and a robber.
2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 The watchman opens the door for this man, and the sheep listen to his voice and heed it; and he calls his own sheep by name and brings (leads) them out.
4 When he has brought his own sheep outside, he walks on before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 They will never [on any account] follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not know the voice of strangers or recognize their call.
How does the sheep know the shepherd's voice?
They spend time together every day and often even through the night. As the shepherd talks or sings aloud, the sheep hear his voice. When the shepherd gives verbal commands to guide the sheep they hear his voice. So, they become familiar with the sound of his voice to where they quickly recognize it apart from a stranger's voice who is not their shepherd's.
As we spend time with our Shepherd who is Jesus, praying, talking with Him, worshiping and seeking Him, we get to know His voice. But how can we learn to hear God's voice if we are the ones doing all the talking? We must spend time quietly listening to Him as He speaks to our heart and spirit. We also learn to recognize His voice through His Word, the Bible, as we read, study, and meditate on it daily. Hearing God's voice comes by hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17 says,
"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (NKJV)
“But how do I know for sure that it is not the enemy, Satan's voice, since he is very sneaky and deceptive?”
People often ask that question. Verses one and two shows us how to recognize a stranger, the enemy, apart from the Shepherd. If the words or thoughts come forth from any source that is not “by the Door”, or does not line up with the Word of God, it is not the true Shepherd. The Bible says that Jesus is “the Door of the sheep” (John 10:7). If the voice goes against what the Bible says, it is not God's voice, but is the voice of the enemy.
Get out of the Cave
There are very important lessons to be learned in 1 Kings 19:11-13 about hearing God's voice and obedience to His Word. First, let's look at this portion of scripture.
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 rent 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 [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice.
13 When Elijah heard the voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?
If you look at what led up to this point (starting in chapter 18), the Israelites had forsaken the commandments of the Lord and were following Baal. Elijah brought a prophetic Word to them that God was not going to let it rain for three years. Well, it did not rain like he said. For his safety he hid for three years and then brought Word to the people that God was going to send the rain, proving that God is God.
A God that Defies Natural Laws
Unfortunately, just like some people are today, they still did not really believe despite the obvious. So, Elijah proved that God is the true, all-powerful, living God when he soaked the wood and animal sacrifice with water, and God sent fire from heaven and burned up the sacrifice defying natural laws that something cannot burn if it is wet. Elijah killed the prophets of Baal, and took off running for his life, wishing he was dead. He found a cave to hide in and surrounded himself in his own pity.
Then, in verse 11 God says to Elijah to get out of the cave and stand on the mount. Did he do it? No! Talk about disobedience! But God continues to try to get Elijah's attention and to try to teach him to hear His voice. The Lord passed by, but Elijah did not hear His voice then. He only saw, heard, and felt what was not of the Lord. He was looking at what was loud and at what seemed obvious before him.
Next, a fire came forth, which was not God's voice. All of a sudden, after all the other sights and sounds subsided, he heard it. It was the distinct sound of a quiet voice that he recognized. Elijah did not respond to the “strange” sounds or sights. But he knew when He heard that familiar still, small voice speak. He was finally hearing God's voice. He had heard God speak to him many times before, but maybe God was teaching him to hear His voice in a different way. Or maybe Elijah had become so caught up in his problems that he was not hearing God's voice like he should.
Satan's Distracting Technique
I tend to think that God was trying to speak even during the loud thunder, lightning, earthquake, and fire, but Elijah was not hearing God's voice for the distractions that the enemy was placing before him. That seems to be a big factor in the difficulty of hearing God's voice sometimes. The enemy places all kinds of distractions and problems in our lives in such a way that it hinders us from hearing the still, small voice, God's voice.
I find it interesting, but not surprising, that it was not until Elijah got up and obeyed, and went outside of the cave that he heard God talk to him. Inside a cave sounds are echoed and distorted. Inside a cave you could recognize the sound of the voice, but to make out specific words could be difficult.
Satan wants to keep us bound in a cave to where we cannot hear what God wants to say to us. The enemy wants to keep us in the cave so we will not respond in obedience to what He has called us to do. Look at what happened with Elijah after he recognized that still, small voice of God and got up in obedience. God said, “What in the world do you think you're doing, Elijah, hiding up here in a cave from your fears?” (my paraphrasing). God lets Elijah go ahead and give his “pity on me” speech.
God Does Not Respond to Our Pity Party
What happens next I thought was funny. God does not respond to Elijah's pity-talk. He simply changes the subject (starting at verse 15) and tells Elijah what He is calling him to do. In other words, God wants us to get out of our cave, realize that He is in control and He knows how to take care of our situation, listen to His still, small voice, and obey what He has called us forth to do.
Are you hear hearing God's voice today? Are you stepping out in obedience of His Word? If not, I encourage you to spend more time in His presence, shutting out life's distractions, reading God's Word, praying, and listening for His still, small voice. Doing so will transform your life in a mighty way.
To read a personal prayer/proclamation and testimony of hearing God's voice and stepping out in obedience, click the link below:
Other recommended online Biblical Teaching on Hearing God's Voice:
Teaching Article by Andrew Wommack "How to: Hear God's Voice"