How does the Lord communicate with you?
If I asked you that over coffee, you would likely give me more than one answer. I would have multiple answers as well because He communicates with us in a myriad of ways and always has. And the BEST part about that is that He wants to communicate with us. The communication issues (if there are any) are on our part. That has been true since He created mankind.
A friend who is a professional photographer recently captured a sunset that is so brilliantly beautiful that words cannot do it justice. It was as if God painted on the canvas of the sky the deepest and brightest reds, oranges, yellows, and blues that a human mind can imagine and then kicked it up a notch above that.
I was not at the meadow where the photo was taken or even outdoors that evening, but when I saw the photo, I wondered how many of those who were out noticed the Lord’s finishing touches on creation for that day.
I sensed Him in worship on Sunday as we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and a worship song about overcoming fear entitled “Stand in Your Love.” I heard Him in the pastor’s message from the book of John.
I felt Him in the embrace of my husband and in the warm conversation about Him with a friend over lunch.
I heard Him whispering to my heart as I slipped into bed and He had all of my attention.
You might agree with these examples and have many more to add, but then as I was reading in Exodus, I saw how He spoke to the Israelites. The story makes clear that they were frightened enough that they asked Him to only speak to Moses and let him tell them what they were to know.
Biblical references make clear God speaks in gentle breezes or roaring thundering sounds that can be deafeningly loud.
For the Israelites it was not only the ear-shattering volume, but the accompanying thunder, lightning, smoke and trumpet sound that added to their terror. Did God really want to strike terror into their hearts?
To answer that question, we would need to recall they had been steeped in a culture of idols that were inanimate and despite seeing the plagues in Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea they knew little about Him. They could not fathom his holiness or the power of all of who He was (and is). They also had not gotten in touch with their own sin and how impossible it is to be in God’s presence with sin clinging to any part of them (or us).
Every way the Israelites connected with God taught them more about who He was, but to grasp even the basic understanding would take a lot longer. That’s not unlike us when we first come to Him. Our minds are finite, and a lifetime is not enough to expose us to all of who He is. We will have eternity to delve into more and more of Him.
But even in the deafening sound, the whirlwind, the belly of the whale, the chariots of fire, the desert and wilderness, God was reaching out.
When Christ came to earth, we got a glimpse of the glory of God in human dress and when He ascended and the indwelling Holy Spirit became a part of all who would believe, He spoke in gentle ways, inviting us to come closer. Even so Paul warned about quenching the Spirit.
All of this relates to our need to recognize and acknowledge our sinfulness and God’s holiness. He desires us to have a close relationship with Him, but also that our love for his grace would result in our obedience.
The Israelites were terrified of this deafening audible voice of God, but it began to result in a fear of displeasing Him as a result of a greater awareness of their sinfulness. They would need to experience the consequences of not remembering that more than a few times as they moved forward.
What drives my desire to be obedient and to sin less?
What reminds me of what response God desires from me?
The gentle voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
I must never take advantage of his grace or allow my hearing to dull and my conscience to weaken when so great a love purchased my freedom at such a great price.
It is that gift that allows me to come into his presence at his invitation covered in robes washed white by the blood of Christ.