"Can you hear me now?" That was the catch-phrase for a cell phone company a number of years ago. A man was walking around and speaking into his phone, asking if his listener was getting the sound of the message. In the language of the Jicarilla Apache there is a phrase that means someone has ears but they aren’t listening to what's being said to them. In each case sounds are being sent but we might wonder if the person to whom they are going to is receiving and understanding them. So also is it as we hear from God.
Article Two of the Belgic Confession introduces our understanding of how it is that God speaks in this way:
"We know God by two means:
God’s eternal power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.
All these things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse.
God speaks, in a general sense, through what we can see in creation. He speaks in a more particular sense through what we read in His word. Whenever we open our Bibles and read the words on the page, it is as if God Himself was speaking directly to us.
What are we to make of such speech? We hear so many words, so many voices, through the course of the day that it becomes very easy to treat God's voice as just one among many. We hear the words, perhaps briefly consider them, and then move on to the next voice clamoring for our attention.
This week I read a sermon by Alexander Maclaren, where he said:
"When God speaks, it is neither reverent or safe to refuse to listen."
When I read those words I took them as a reminder, and a gentle rebuke, to consider the way I approach the Bible. Reading it is not something to do because I know that I should, or because I believe it is good for me, although both those reasons are true.
Sure, it is a book, but it is a book unlike any other book. It is the book that, alone, is filled with the words of God from beginning to end.
The question as we read it not "Can you hear?" but "What do you hear, and what are you going to do about it?"
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.