By Joseph Ametepe
"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh'...God spoke further to Moses and said to him, 'I am the LORD'" (Exodus 6:1-2).
One of the clearest teachings of the Bible is found in this brief passage. It is simple and straightforward. Yet, it's significant. The lesson is this: God speaks to His chosen servant in order to reveal His will to him.
Every year, for the last twenty-two years of my life, God has given me the privilege of reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. One of the spiritual lessons God has taught and continue to teach me is that He is the God who speaks to His believing child. He is the God who communicates with His people to make known to them His purposes and plans. Perhaps, no one was blessed like Moses, who learned this precious lesson and enjoyed its blessed fruits. God spoke to him again and again. He learned that when God's servant listens, God speaks to him. Whenever, I get to Exodus to Deuteronomy, I look forward to the Spirit's work of teaching me afresh that the God who converted, cleansed, consecrated, called, and commissioned me into His service is a God who speaks to His chosen servant in order to make His will known to him. Repeatedly, the Bible says, "the LORD spoke to Moses" or "the LORD said to Moses and Aaron." In fact, I have not yet taken the time to count exactly how many times these expressions are used in the Pentateuch. I would like to encourage you to take careful note of these expressions the next time you read through the Bible, the Pentateuch in particular. It would amaze you how many times they are used. Certainly, the repetition is to emphasize to God's believing people that their God is in the business of speaking to them in order to make known His will to them.
From the burning bush, God began to teach Moses this important lesson. And throughout their journey in the wilderness, God deeply impressed this lesson on Moses' heart. God had specifically told Moses that when the tabernacle is constructed, He would Himself meet with him to speak with him and to him. We find this in Exodus. "And there I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel" (Exodus 25:22). "It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak with you" (Exodus 29:42).
You see, one of the main purposes of building the tent of meeting or the tabernacle, was for God to communicate to His chosen people. In our zeal and passion to study the significance of all the various objects of the tabernacle, we often overlook this main purpose. Communication! God's desire to speak to His people! Unlike other so-called gods who have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, mouths but do not speak, Yahweh, the sovereign God of the universe, the self-existing God, the self-sufficient Ruler of the nations, sees, hears, and speaks to His people. How encouraging! In fact, the whole Bible can be accurately described as the record of what God has spoken. That's what it is. It's about what Yahweh has said to mankind.
God speaks to His people. Please notice what the Bible says in Exodus 6:1-2: "Then the LORD said to Moses... God spoke further to Moses." Please observe that whenever God speaks, it is specifically directed to a person. He doesn't speak aimlessness. He speaks directly to a person. The object of the verbs "said" and "spoke" is Moses. The verb "spoke" (Hebrew: dabar) is one of the most general words in the entire Hebrew Old Testament. The verb occurs 1,100 times. It is one of the basic words for "say" and "speak." About thirty different English words are used to translate it in the K. J. V. Mental or oral communication is the main idea. ~Adapted from the Hebrew Greek Study Bible
Moses enjoyed the privilege of God speaking to him. The Bible itself says of Moses: "If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the LORD" (Numbers 12:6-8). But please understand that the privilege of hearing the God who speaks is not reserved for a spiritual giant like Moses. Joshua learned from Moses' example. Before the conquest of Jericho, Joshua, had an encounter with the captain of the host of the LORD. Having fallen on his face to the earth before this divine figure, Joshua asked an important question that revealed that he had learned from Moses' example. He asked: "What has my lord to say to his servant?" (Joshua 5:14). Samuel also learned and enjoyed the blessed privilege of hearing God speak to him personally. Eli, the old priest, taught him to say, "Speak, LORD, Your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:9). Other prophets and kings and ordinary individuals in Israel also enjoyed the blessed privilege of hearing God speak to them.
Perhaps, you are asking: "Can believers in Jesus expect God to speak to them today?" This is an important practical question. It is however, not a question to be debated merely for the sake of debate. The resounding answer to this question is that God speaks to believers today. Think of it! He is the God of communication. Communication originated with Him. Moreover, He has shown throughout the Bible that He longs and loves to communicate with the people He created in His own image. In fact, the inspired writer of Hebrews summarized God's love and longing to communicate with His people in these words: "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son..." (Hebrews 1:1-2). The writer of Hebrews emphasized that God spoke to the generations before them. But God didn't stop there. He continued to communicate to generations after the fathers who are living in "these last days." The inspired writer is simply saying, God hasn't cut-off His communication line with His people. The line is still open, if only they would listen to Him. Therefore, present day believers can expect God to speak to them too. Why? It's God's nature to communicate with His believing people. He longs and loves to speak to them.
Having established the fact that believers can expect God to speak to them, another important question arises at this juncture. How does God communicate with believers today? Today God speaks to believers primarily through His word, the Bible. Every time we approach the Bible, we should pray like Joshua or Samuel. "What has my Lord to say to His servant?" "Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening." God also speaks through the impression of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit residing in the believer, is our Counselor and Guide. He speaks to the believer to guide and lead him or her into God's purposes. God speaks today through Spirit-filled believers, such as pastors, shepherds, Bible teachers, and believers who are in tune with Him. God also speaks today to believers through circumstances. In other words, God directs the path of His believing child through the circumstances he or she faces in life. I wanted to be a professor in civil engineering, but God orchestrated the circumstances of my life to accept His call to become a minister of His precious Word. Lastly, when God chooses, He can speak to believers through dreams and visions. But the believer must be vigilant and aware that not every dream or vision is of God. Discernment of the Spirit is greatly needed to sort out which dream or vision is of God and which is not.
Now the question is: As a believer in Jesus Christ, do you consistently expect God to speak to you and lead you into His will for your life? Is it your regular practice to ask God, "Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening, whenever you open your Bible? Do you ask Him: "What has my Lord to say to His servant?"
Personally, two hymns by Frances Ridley Havergal have been a blessing to me. In my personal time with the Lord, whenever God brings this principle to my attention, I sing them in my time of worship to allow the Spirit to impress His teaching about this principle deeper on my heart. The first one is "Master, Speak, Thy Servant Heareth." The second one is "Lord, Speak to Me." These hymns are rarely sang in churches today. But, oh, how rich they are to my soul! Please prayerfully ponder their words and use them in your personal and private time of seeking God. I have included the first three stanzas of the first hymn and the first stanza of the second.
"Master, speak, thy servant heareth, waiting for thy gracious word, longing for thy voice that cheereth; Master, let it now be heard. I am listening, Lord, for thee: what has thou to say to me?
Speak to me by name, O Master, let me know it is to me; speak, that I may follow faster, with a step more firm and free, where the shepherd leads the flock in the shadow of the rock.
Master, speak: and make me ready, when thy voice is truly heard, with obedience glad and steady still to follow every word. I am listening, Lord, for thee: Master, speak, O speak to me!"
The first stanza of the second hymn reads: "Lord, speak to me, that I may speak In living echoes of Thy tone; As Thou has sought, so let me seek Thy erring children lost and lone."
God speaks to His believing child to reveal His will to him or her. What a privilege! Are you enjoying this privilege as a believer in Jesus Christ? Remember, God longs and loves to speak with you and to you. It's His nature to communicate with His believing people. Today, through the help of the Holy Spirit living in you, position yourself to listen to God! Pause before Him! Pay close attention to His still small voice! Promptly obey what God's Spirit says to you!