32 “For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard.
33 “Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?
34 “Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.”
To me, it still is the most remarkable thing: our Lord God has chosen not to be mute nor to speak only through living mortal men, but He has set His Word down for us to read whenever we like or need. Out of the ages, He speaks to us with authority and with power, His Bible essentially unchanged because it has been watched over by the Lord God Himself. Was there ever such a God in any other religion, any other culture? Was there ever such a God who came among His people to save them from their own sin and unbelief? Was there a God through whom we can count ourselves not only saved from punishment for our sins but also glorified through His Son and given the precious gift of eternal life?
Sadly, today many forget the days that are past, those days when faith-filled men and women counted obedience to God more important than following the whims of men. We do not ask whether or not there has been such a God as the one we know in the Bible. Worse yet, people do not even seek the God of the Bible. Instead, they settle for the God they hear about in books or on television, or they tailor God to fit their own social agendas. The God of the Bible has no voice in such people’s lives, because they follow every teacher who scratches their itching ears. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) They are no longer a people called out from the midst of another nation–no longer a people called to be holy in the midst of ungodliness and immorality–and so they do not ask after the God upon whose Word they claim to stand. They profess the title “Christian” and yet they ignore the very Word of God that Christ Himself not only obeyed but which He also used to defeat the power of Satan. (Matthew 4:1-11)
God is speaking now and calling us back to Him and to His Bible. He calls to me and you, “that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him.” We need look nowhere else, need seek God in no other religion, no other meditation, no other culture. He calls to us right where we are: from the pulpits of faithful preachers, from the wonders of nature surrounding us, from the loving relationships of our lives, and from the pages of Bibles left so long on dusty shelves. He calls to us not with thunder or fire or earthquake, but with a still small voice that we can hear only when we are quiet and humble and obedient to Him.
1 Kings 19:13
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
The voice that spoke to Elijah asked him what reason he had for running from Ahab and Jezebel. Didn’t Elijah have confidence in this God whose power he had so decisively demonstrated? Did the prophet not remember that the LORD is God, and there is no other? What God had ever done the things that the Lord had done for Israel? “What are you doing here?” the Lord asked. Why this place? Why come out here to hear My voice? Why run from victory?
9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 “Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
Will we our hearts be dull, unaware of His mercy? Will we our ears be heavy, unhearing of His voice? Will we our eyes be shut, unseeing of His love? Will we keep on hearing but not even attempt to understand? Will we keep seeing and not perceive that the Lord our God is One, and there is none other but Him? Will we refuse to see and refuse to hear, and thus refuse to understand with our hearts and return to the Lord and be healed? To us has been shown not only the might of His outstretched arm against Egypt but the power of His salvation against Satan and against death itself. This has been shown to us through the ancient testimony of His Word, through the historic testimony of His faithful servants, and through the ongoing testimony of believers even today. Will we not hear and see and believe this?
Out of the midst of the Bible’s fire that burns us with conviction and truth, God is speaking to us to return to Him. Through His comfort in our trials, through His healing of our hurts, through His wonders when we least expect them, through His might given to us when we are weak, and through our faith itself, God is speaking to us to return to Him and be healed.
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
The apostles knew the Word better than most men of their time because it had been opened to them by the Son of God Himself. And yet they were still unbelieving, still hard of heart–and hard of hearing and seeing, even when others testified of His resurrection. Jesus then rebuked them for the dullness of their hearts, and he commanded them instead to go forth and preach what they had witnessed. “Preach the gospel,” He told them. He commanded them to leave behind their unbelief, to forget what they thought they knew about God and instead to share the gospel–the good news–of Jesus the Messiah, the Christ of God, the risen Lord. Out of the fires of their own brief education as disciples of the Son of God, these eleven men would bring forth a fire that spoke across every tongue and tribe and nation. And out of that fire, did you and I not hear the very voice of God speaking to us? Did we not hear His Word with conviction and humility? Did we not come to know that, indeed, “the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him”?
Today, let us turn to hear the voice of God speaking to us out of the ages. Let us read and know His Word better, and let us not be misled by human teachers who twist the Bible to fit their own agendas or to suit human whims. Let us manifest the truth which is Jesus Christ–manifest Him in our own words and deeds and thoughts, manifest Him in the ministries to which we are called, manifest Him through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, manifest Him in forgiveness, mercy, and love. Let us make known to the world that which is known to us: the gospel of Jesus Christ, through which all believers are saved.
“Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?”
Yes, we have heard the voice of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we who believe shall live with Him forever.
Holy Lord God, how glorious is Your Word! Speaking to us across the ages, Your voice rings true in every human life, bringing us to conviction and repentance and new life. I pray, O Lord, that until such time as Your Son returns, You will speak to us always through Your Word. I pray that all will return to You and seek to know You better through the Bible, that they would come to see that You are not the God of philosophers or self-serving teachers but the living God of a living people. You are a Lord who gives more grace, a Judge who grants pardon for sins, and a King who reigns in hearts and minds and souls. May all people hear the voice of the Lord our God speaking out of the fire and LIVE. Amen.