Can You Hear Me Now?
Do you know that God speaks directly to His people individually? How do you know when you are hearing God’s voice, and not your own—or even worse, Satan’s?
God still speaks. The question is, are you listening?
In the time during which Eli was high priest, it was rare for people to hear the Word of the Lord. Eli’s sons “were scoundrels” according
to the NIV. They were treating the sacrifices
to the Lord with disdain, taking for them-selves the choicest pieces of meat, even before the fat was burned as required by God.
“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27 NIV).”
They were also committing adultery with women who served at the entrance to the temple. Eli knew about it and questioned them, but he did not discipline them for their sins. Thus, God was determined to judge Eli and his sons.
God first sent “a man of God” to Eli (1 Samuel 2:27). This man’s identity is not revealed, but his status is: he was a man of God. This was a common euphemism for a prophet. Because God is just, He sent Eli a message through the prophet to warn Him of what was to come to His family. Perhaps because God didn’t immediately carry out his judgment against Eli and his sons but instead gave them time to repent, they did not believe that God was going to actually do what He had said.
So they heard, but they didn’t listen.
Hearing is something you don’t really control. Today, with all the media and technology constantly barraging us with their messages, we can hardly help hearing. But listening we have control over. Listening is active, where hearing is passive. So Eli and his sons heard but didn’t listen.
Samuel was just a boy, living in the house of God and serving the high priest. One night when they were asleep, God called Samuel’s name. After thrice coming to Eli, thinking he was hearing the old priest, Eli suddenly realizes that God is speaking to the boy. He tells Samuel to answer God the next time He called.
“So Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down, and it shall be that if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place (1 Samuel 3:9 NIV).”
It was rare to hear from God in those days, and Samuel had not yet heard from God directly. Imagine being a young lad and hearing the condemnation of your boss the very first time God speaks to you! No wonder he was afraid to tell Eli the next morning!
God still speaks to His followers today. But with all the other voices constantly coming at us, how do we know when we hear His voice? Here are five ways God might speak to you.
1. He speaks through His word. We can be absolutely sure that the written word of God is His voice. When you read a verse and it resonates with you, you’ve heard the voice of God. Next is to listen to what He is saying!
2. God also speaks to us in our minds. We have a profound thought that surprises us. If it lines up with the word of God, that may be God speaking directly to our minds, especially if the thought deeply surprises you.
3. Prophetic dreams are another way that God speaks to His people today. If you think that He only spoke that way in the Old Testament,
then read Acts 2:17 where we are specifically told that “young men will dream dreams and old men will see visions.” (Prophetic means speaking forth the word of God, not necessarily foretelling the future.)
4. God speaks through things that can only be attributable to God. Coming to faith itself is only by an act of God. Healing or being freed from bondage are also ways we know we are hearing from God.
5. God answers prayers. When we petition God and He acts on our behalf, we have heard from God.
So how do we know for sure that it is God we have heard from? First, He is fully capable of bearing witness through something over which we have no control. He will confirm His word to us, often through the confirmation of elders who affirm God’s voice.
1 John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits. He says that we should test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false spirits have gone forth in the world. Don’t believe everything you hear, but as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11, examine the Scriptures every day to see if what you are listening to is true.
1 Corinthians 14:29 (AMP) says, “Let two or three prophets speak [as inspired by the Holy Spirit], while the rest pay attention and weigh carefully what is said.”
“Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit. Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies [spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning]. But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 AMP).”
If what we have heard testifies that Jesus was resurrected from the dead (lining up with the word of God), we can rest in the knowledge that the word is, indeed from God. If it doesn’t, then the spirit behind the voice is not God’s Spirit.
So today I challenge you to actively listen to God in His word, in others you trust, and in your own mind and heart.