Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Unlike other prophets, the focus of the book of Jonah is on himself and his personal relationship with God.  Throughout all four chapters, the interplay between God and Jonah is close and personal. I am actually a little envious of Jonah because of the one-on-one audible conversation that occurs between them.  After all, wouldn’t you like to have God talk to you directly? Then again, maybe He is talking to us and we chose to close our ears, allowing for the excuse that says, “I didn’t hear what You said, Lord.”
Jonah was unable to offer any such excuse when God told him to go and preach in the city of Nineveh.  God’s voice and command were very clear.  Do you hear the voice of God talking to you saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (see Isaiah 30:21).  Or, do you ignore His voice so you can have an excuse to deny hearing it?   If you don’t hear God’s voice speaking to you, you have a problem at the very core of your Christianity.  Why?  Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  He spoke to His people in the Old Testament; He spoke to them in the New Testament, and He speaks to His people today.  How do I know?  Let me ask you, “are you one of His sheep?” If you are, then these words of Jesus were spoken to you, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (see John 10:27).

We also discover in Hebrews 3:7-8 that Paul expected his readers to hear God’s voice, “Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost says, ‘Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.’” And again in Revelation 3:20 Jesus calls out to us, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.”  We can ignore God’s voice only so long.  And like Jonah, we may have to have our own “sea creature” experience so we can learn to listen and follow.

At some point in time all people hear God’s voice, however, only those who have grown accustom to listening to that beautiful voice on a regular basis and heeding His instructions will rise up in the resurrection.  John spoke of that time in Chapter 5:28,29,  “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

It is evident that even God’s prophets are not immune to spiritual decline and not hearing the voice of God in the “small” things of each day which eventually lead to the bigger “Jonah events” that can be disastrous.  Following instructions was not one of Jonah’s top talents—he learned the hard way that it’s much better to hear God’s voice and follow orders.  Hopefully you are listening and learning to become quicker in your response to God.

Jim Ayer
Vice President for Advancement
Adventist World Radio
General Conference