One morning not long ago I was having my daily, personal time with God. I noticed something I found both convicting and helpful.
My Old Testament reading was in Ezekiel 21-22. As I read I began to observe an amazing contrast going on throughout Ezekiel’s prophecy.
On the one hand Ezekiel routinely speaks of his reception and transmission of God’s word to those to whom it was spoken. These expressions are found repeatedly throughout his prophecy:
- “the word of the LORD came to me” (49x)
- “declares the LORD” (86x)
- “thus says the LORD” (126x)
- “prophesy” (25x)
Ezekiel knew he had heard from God! And thus was able to confidently, authoritatively pass that word on to God’s people.
But on the other hand I ran across for the second time (cf. also 13:6-7, 10) his denunciation of others “prophets” who did not accurately hear God and transmit God’s word:
“And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.” (Ezek. 22:28)
Clearly and frequently Ezekiel heard the word of the Lord, discerned it as such, knew he had heard Him rightly, and communicated it in God’s Name with utter confidence. Ezekiel knew when he’d heard God and when he had not. Additionally, he knew when others had not heard Him and inaccurately spoke in His Name.
How can you and I be like Ezekiel? How can we be sure not to be like the other “prophets” of his day? How has that task and responsibility changed this side of Jesus’ completed redemptive work and with a closed canon of Scripture?
I then turned to that day’s New Testament reading, which happened to be in the latter half of Hebrews 11. There I read of the great men and women of God …
“who through faith conquered … enforced … obtained … stopped … quenched … escaped … were made strong … became mighty … put … to flight … received back … were tortured … suffered … stoned … sawn in two … killed …” (Heb. 11:33-36).
They too had heard God, knew it, and acted upon it. And their faith was clear for all to see.
Obviously it is of the utmost importance to rightly hear and discern God’s voice/word. But it is equally important to act upon His voice/word! It is easy to become immobilized by introspection and equivocation and “discernment” efforts. God intends us to hear and know His voice … and act upon it in faith!
Faith moves! Faith acts! Faith does! Faith achieves! Faith receives! Faith leaves demonstrable evidence! Faith leaves footprints!
And the net of all this in Ezekiel is found in the oft repeated phrase: “then you will know that I am the LORD” (72x).
So I conclude this: God speaks that we might act that we (and others) might know Him in experience!
If we fail to rightly discern His voice, we will never know Him in experience.
If we hear and rightly discern His voice, but do not act in faith, we will never know Him in experience.
If we act with utter conviction and confidence upon what we believe to be the word/voice of God, but (despite our bluster and bravado) have not rightly heard him, we will never know Him in experience.
If we hear and rightly discern His voice and even communicate it to others, but do not act upon it in faith, we will never know Him in experience.
We can cry and wail all we want about wanting to “experience” God and know Him deeply, but unless we authentically and rightly hear His voice and then act upon it in faith, we (and those for whom we are divinely accountable) will never know God in experience.
Father, would you please enable us to leave a trail of faith-footprints through 2013. We ask this in Jesus’ Name and for your glory. Amen!