Heeding God’s voice

sumatran-tiger-518771_640 (1)Zephaniah 3:2: She heeded no voice, She accepted no instruction. She did not trust in the LORD, She did not draw near to her God. (NASB)

This is God’s word to a people as he x-rayed their situation. Similarly, Jesus x-rayed the situation in Jerusalem in his days saying that, since they do not know the time of their visitation and did not respond appropriately to him as God’s messenger, they will be judged (Luke 19:41-44).

In the Old Testament, God said that he sends to the children of Israel, different messengers, often and early in the morning, but they did not yield to divine warning but were bent on continuing in the error of their ways. Therefore, judgement was inevitable.

When Stephen was preaching to a group of Jews in the book of Acts, he called Israel “stiff-necked, always resisting the Holy Spirit.” Let’s examine what God says in the focus verse about the same nation.

She heeded no voice

Jesus as the good shepherd says: my sheep hear my voice and the voice of a stranger they will not follow (John 10:27).

He wants to communicate to us. He derives no pleasure in seeing us go astray, get into trouble, He wants to guide us aright. He is the good shepherd who leads us in the path of righteousness, who makes us lie down in green pasture, restores our souls (Psalm 23).

His path is the path of peace. When we hear and heed his voice, we find the path of life. We read in the bible that in the presence of God is the fullness of joy and in his right-hand pleasure forever more (Psalm 16:11). That is his intention when we follow his voice.

A Psalmist says about God, “Sacrifice and offering you did not require but my ears you have opened (Psalm 40:6).” If you are not hearing divine direction then you will live in the darkness.

We need to live in the atmosphere of hearing the voice of God, not necessary in the audible voice but moving with a sense of divine direction, and timing, as his children, based on the witness of the Holy Spirit within us.

She accepted no instruction

It is one thing to hear God’s voice and another to heed his instruction, and fully follow the Lord. Caleb was a man who was described as fully following God (Numbers 13-14).

Twelve spies were sent by Moses to perform reconnaissance the land of Canaan, which the children of Israel were meant to possess. While 10 brought bad news about how it is not possible to conquer the land because of the giants in the land, Joshua and Caleb said they should go forth and conquer the land because God was with them.

The two shared God’s perspective about the situation, regardless of what they saw in the natural, or what they heard others say. They were firm in following God.

The words of their mouth were words of faith and the bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The ten spies stirred up rebellion against God in the people, as they were overtaken by fear and not faith in the word of God. They 10 spies died that day, showing that the path leading away from the word of God, under whatever guise, leads to death.

We need to act based on the word of God, we need to have a heart of obedience, ready to line up with divine instruction, submitting to the will and ways of God.

She did not trust in the Lord

The ones the words of the focus verse were addressed to did not heed God’s voice, nor accept his instruction. And in the phrase under examination in that verse, we see one of the two reasons for that turn of event: lack of trust.

The book of Proverbs says that we should trust in the Lord with all our heart, not leaning on our own understanding, and to acknowledge God in our ways and he shall direct our path (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Not trusting God will lead to following our ways and rejecting the word and ways of God. The only reason we will not trust God is if we allow ourselves to be blinded from his truth.

The devil works round the clock to ensure that the people remain blinded so that the light of the gospel does not shine in their heart for them to be saved (1Corinthians 4:4). To be saved means to trust God, believing in his word.

Eve was convinced against continuing to trust the word of God, and the serpent told her that she needed to eat the forbidden fruit, take the disallowed step (Genesis 3). With that, she broke the edge which the word of God puts around her and the serpent was able to bite her with the sting of death (Ecclesiastes 10:8), and the whole world is now reeling from that sting- the sting of death (1Corinthians 15:55-56).

When we trust in Jesus we are able to come from death into life. What distrust in God caused, trust in God restores. Distrusting God leads to a curse, while trusting God leads to blessing. When we believe in Jesus we take delivery of the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:13-14), the limits that the curse of death puts on us, is removed, and we walk in freedom.

She did not draw near to her God

When we do not draw near to God we will not know him and, therefore, will not trust him enough to obey him without question, we will not heed his voice.

It is those who know their God, Daniel says, will be strong and do exploits (Daniel 11:32). God said that when we draw near him, he will draw near us, he will no longer be a stranger to us, no longer be far away, and elusive (Jeremiah 7:23-26).

Paul says: I know whom I have believed (2Timothy 1:12). God to him was beyond what he had been taught, beyond what he read in a book. He did not depend on the experience of those who were before him, but he had his own concrete exposure to and experience of God.

We have been given the Holy Spirit, not as spiritual decoration but to enable us to press into divine things. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that the carnal mind, the fleshly mind does not receive the things of the Holy Spirit, because they are foolishness to them, but we have the Spirit of God, and can know the things God has freely given to us which he has revealed to us by his Spirit (1Corinthians 2).

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