Kind of crazy, but Sue and I got hooked on the TV talent show “The Voice” this year. Pretty much followed it through all season . . . from blind auditions . . to battle rounds . . . to the finals. Our pick didn’t win . . . we’re not “voters” . . . but someone with a pretty nice voice was declared the winner this week. Yeah . . . nice voice . . . not likely though that I’m buying the CD. But this morning, as I worked through my readings, I heard another voice . . . and this truly is THE VOICE.
First, I got to continue to watch Job playing the Jeopardy game of his life . . . “I’ll take ‘Questions from God’ for 500, Alex.” Does He ever! Chapter 39, a continuation of chapter 38, has God inserting Himself into the on-going debate between Job and his counselors. And God addresses Job . . . Job who demanded an audience with God . . . Job who goes silent before the thunderous voice of God. Questions . . . that’s what God has . . . lots of questions (18 of them in this chapter alone, I think) . . . and they start coming fast and furious at Job. And, as I follow this interrogation, I can’t help but be overwhelmed (as I’m sure Job was too) at God’s magnificent testimony in the things of creation. The LORD makes so clear that even what happens in the details of the animal kingdom is all of His design . . . and it declares His might and His glory.
Then I read the prophet Haggai and the voice of the LORD isn’t asking a question but making a plea, “Consider your ways” . . . or in the NIV, “Give careful thought to your ways.” Five times in two short chapters (1:5, 1:7, 2:15, 2:18a, 2:18b) the Lord is saying to His people, “Give your head a shake! How well is this working out for you? . . . building your own houses and planting your own fields while my temple, which I’ve called you to re-build, continues to lie in ruins?” It wasn’t working . . . all their labor toward providing for themselves was having very little return. It was a wake up call to “put first things first” . . . to do God’s work in God’s way at God’s time. And when the people take a “time out” and start considering their ways, they acknowledge their need to get back to doing it God’s way . . . and then God stirs up their spirits (Haggai 1:14) . . . gets them jazzed about the work again . . . and promises them that He will remain with them.
O the grace of God . . . they didn’t need to rebuild the temple so that God would be with them . . . He had already committed to that . . . they were to build the temple that God might take pleasure in it and be glorified (Haggai 1:8). Get that? We can do stuff that gives the God of Job pleasure and brings Him glory . . . amazing!!!
And then God’s voice captures my imagination again as I turn to John 20. Mary’s in front of the empty tomb . . . confused and beside herself because she doesn’t know where the body of Jesus is. And this time, the voice of God is not the thundering voice of Job or the pleading voice of Haggai, but it’s the tender voice of Jesus . . . God in the flesh . . . risen from the dead . . . the Shepherd’s voice who calls one of His little lambs by name, “Mary!” (John 20:16). And His sheep know His voice . . . and her confusion gives way to sight . . . and she sees her Lord. Oh, that God knows my name . . . that if I’m still, from time to time, I can hear Him speak my name . . . thoughts too wonderful to really comprehend!
And then my final reading this morning in Revelation 18. There go those “loud voices” again . . . I don’t think those angels have a “quiet voice.” The fury of God is being poured out upon Babylon and another angel is sent to unload the wrath of the Lamb upon a world that has refused to bow the knee . . . “and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her”(Rev. 18:8). And the voice of judgment resounds upon earth leaving all without excuse. How mighty and terrible and fearsome is the voice of God’s judgment!
And so, I sit back and think about THE VOICE.
Sometimes I need to hear the questioning voice of God to Job, “Who do you think you are? Who do you think I am?” Sometimes I need to hear the “God voice” of Haggai, “Give careful thought to your ways, Pete. Have you got your priorities right? Are you putting your energies into what I’ve asked you to do, or are you working your own agenda?” And, praise God, sometimes, when I’m quiet and still, I hear His tender voice calling my name . . . and I fall at His feet and cry out in return, “Rabboni!” But I will not hear His voice of judgment for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
O’ Bless the Voice . . . by His grace . . . for His glory.