God uses various ways to speak to His children. One of the rarest, is the audible voice of God. I can only think of 2 instances in the bible where God spoke audibly to someone. The first is when Samuel was asleep and God kept calling His name. The other, and the one I want to comment on today, is Saul on the road to Damascus. Let’s look at the story first.
Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Saul was known for his determination to wipe out all the Christians. He was full of rage and violence when it came to those that believed in Jesus as the Messiah. His heart seemed to burn for their blood to be shed. His mind fully occupied and now he was asking to go farther from Jerusalem to “bring more Christians to justice.” He was intense in his pursuit! To him, his cause was just and his hatred and persecution of Christians was fully justified.
Personal Commentary: a Side Note
I believe the Christians were so hated because Jesus exposed the issues within the temple and the temple system. It seems a bit strange to note that the temple contained no Ark of the Covenant. That had been gone many years before, rendering the temple activities as merely religious ritual with no true spiritual power. The Sanhedrin were losing their power and control over the people. The system as a whole had stepped outside of God’s original intent. Individuals still wanted to do what was right but it had been muddied by tradition, religious spirits and power hungry men. Jesus stepped in and declared it a defunct system and for the first time offered hope that the religious leaders of the time didn’t offer.
Works alone had become dead and useless. The rules hadn’t changed but now the grace to follow the rules and the mercy when one missed the mark was now in play. The veil was torn and the people now had access to the God of the universe, the creator of heaven and earth with out the need for a priest to make restitution for them. What need did they have of the religious leaders any more. Their efforts to snuff out the Christians only spread them around the known world and increased their reach having the opposite effect.
The Road to Damascus
I imagine as Saul was approaching Damascus that his excitement was growing in anticipation of capturing Christians. He anticipated feeding that hatred and bitterness with great satisfaction. Then suddenly, Jesus interrupted his plans and thought process. It was a hard stop so that he could receive a course correction. I wonder if God had been trying to get his attention before that day and he just wouldn’t hear it. This day he was humbled in a moment to hear the audible voice of the Lord.
Saul seemed to understand that he was being corrected, that he had missed it somewhere. When the flash of light shone and he fell to the ground. All the men in his group heard the voice of the Lord asking why are you persecuting me. Jesus didn’t just speak personally to Saul, but did so in a way that others would hear and believe as well. I wonder if Jesus had just spoken to Saul if the others would have thought Saul had finally lost it. Nothing is every mentioned about the other men again. I wonder how responded to Jesus audible voice.
Look at Saul’s response to the voice of Jesus. He said, “who are you, Lord?” Saul knew in an instant that it was a divine appointment. He just didn’t know who his appointment was with! Quite the dramatic entrance for the Lord don’t you think? Have you ever been so hard headed that God had to go to extreme measures to get your attention? I know I have!
As a baby Christian I would pray Lord, don’t let me miss it! Use a baseball bat to get my attention if you have to. I don’t want to be so hard headed that I miss what the Lord is saying or doing around me. I want to follow His direction in every area of my life. My prayer now is Lord, help me be more sensitive to your leading. I want to walk by the spirit much more than by the flesh. My understanding is no where near adequate enough do this thing God has called me to do. I have to lean on His understanding and following.
God does occasionally speak to us in an audible voice. He will allow us to hear his voice audibly from time to time. It isn’t a common occurrence. I have only heard God speak to me in an audible voice once in my life. It was shocking and reached right down into my heart. He speaks to me in so many other ways but at that point in my life, I was crying out, reaching through the darkness for Him. He couldn’t get me to realize that He was speaking to me through all these other ways. So he met me where I was and spoke to me in a way that I got it.
God is a good father and He will do what he has to in order to reach us. He is faithful and just and responds to us. Look around at the different ways God may be speaking to you in your day to day life. He is always speaking, we just aren’t always paying attention. You will find him in the small things around you, not just the larger issues of life.