DOES GOD SPEAK?

There is an old Tamil film song that used to touch my heart when I was a young child that goes like this: If Lord Jesus speaks, what will He speak? What will He speak in order to quieten a poor aching heart? These words were very dear to me because it brought God close to me, as One Who speaks to me.

Often we are in a quandary as to whether God speaks and if at all He is speaking, what is He speaking to us, especially in times of trouble.

Job, a man of great wealth and great integrity who lived in times past, also had the same question in a time of extreme suffering, when all that he believed in seemed swept away. His friend Elihu’s answer provides us a clue to this dilemma that seems universal and for all times. You can find it in the 33rd chapter of the book of Job in the Bible.

According to Elihu, God is not silent but does speak, one way or another. God does answer always, in one or two ways, even when people don’t acknowledge His presence. Elihu points out that God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.

God speaks to us ‘in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death.’

God also ‘might get their attention through pain, by throwing them on a bed of suffering, So they can’t stand the sight of food, have no appetite for their favorite treats. They lose weight, wasting away to nothing, reduced to a bag of bones. They hang on the cliff-edge of death, knowing the next breath may be their last.’

In reading this we see that God’s intention is to capture our attention so as to warn us away from evil and keep us from death. God speaks to is in visions and dreams of the night with the intention of terrifying us away from wrongdoing. Since we do not hear or notice Him, He has to reach out by other means to make us listen and take notice when we are finally in bed, resting.

God does not scare us in order to make us tremble before Him, but horrifies us so that we would refrain from felony or crime, since these would lead to death. That’s God’s agenda – to scare the hell out of us so as to keep us out of hell!

We also see that God uses pain to capture our attention and not to torture or destroy us. God’s purpose is never to punish or penalize us in a vindicative or vicious manner, but to prevent us from destroying ourselves.

C.S Lewis writes in his book, The problem of pain, that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world’’. God has His own ways of waking the conscience of us when we are absolutely heedless. Of all His many tools, pain is the loudest, for it makes us take note of His word. The psalmist, King David, declares that before he was afflicted he went astray, but now he keeps His word.

To the question as to why would God deal with us so, we can only bow low and answer that it because we our insensitivity to Him. We are so stupefied and insensible to His voice of love and reason that He has to use other means to capture our attention. We have become so incapacitated by cares, riches and pleasures that we are incapable of deciphering His words. So, God has to resort to other ways of making us hear and heed Him and give Him our attention so that we can inherit life and not destruction.

To go back to our question of whether God speaks, we can safely reply, Yes, God does speak. To the question, if so, what does He speak, we can confidently say that He speaks in order to turn us from death to life. He doesn’t speak to put fear of Himself in us, but fear of doing wrong and going to hell.

The crowning glory of the fact that God speaks is found in the first chapter of the book of Hebrews in the Bible: ‘God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;’

If God speaks warnings through dreams, captures our attention through pain, what does He want to convey to us through His only Son, Jesus? What else but that our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ death of the cross and the way to Him has been made open by the blood of Christ!

God, through His Son, is speaking to us of reconciliation and peace with Him. He is telling us that we have access to Him through Christ. He is inviting the world to a relationship with Him and a communion with one another, made possible by the sacrifice of His Son. He is not just terrifying us to keep us from wrongdoing and hell, but also showing us the ways and means to read h Him and heaven!

Would we heed His call, the gentle still small voice of our Creator through His Son or are we going to force Him to use other means of persuasion?

The choice is ours, as He waits in the sidelines for us to hear and obey, out of our own freewill!

*It would help you to read a continuation of this article entitled WHY INTERCESSION AND PRAYER https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/12/30/why-of-intercession-and-prayer/

*Pics courtesy Google, unsplash.com and shutterstock

E’EN THOUGH IT BE A CROSS!

NEARERMYGOD

Seated in a church, I watched as the earthly remains of my friend’s husband was brought in. I scanned her face, looking past her composed demeanor to her aching heart, sensing the vacuum left there by the loss of her companion of many years. I bowed my head in sorrow, as the Pastor prayed the opening prayer, crying out to the One who created her and joined them together to be one flesh.

The pastor announced the opening song number and we stood to sing that timeless hymn by Sarah F. Adams. As the organ led, the violin accompanied and we sang the song of comfort, the first few lines caught my attention:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
Refrain:
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

My heart, heavy with sympathy for my friend, thrummed and resonated with the line “E’en though it be a cross and woke to realization.

Yes, indeed, I thought to myself, its a CROSS that lifts me. Though it seems quite strange and paradoxical too, the crux of the Christian faith and life, is not a crown but a cross that raises!

The cross stands at the heart of the Christian belief, the epitome of its essence and the embodiment of its existence. The cross stands at the crossroads of time, dividing it into two eras – Before and After it. It rings the death knell of man’s efforts to reach God and the morning bells of God’s triumph in reaching out to him. It signals the culmination of mankind’s bondage to sin, sickness & satan and the dawn of liberation to new life, purpose and future for all human beings, eternally!

Its astonishing to note that the symbol of the worst ignominy in the then cultured Roman world of conquest has today become the insignia of the greatest victory on earth and in heaven. The cross it is that signifies the end of man’s alienation from God and the beginning of renewed relationship with Him as His beloved sons and daughters. Therefore, in the words of Apostle Paul, that in spite of the fact that the it is both a stumbling block to the religious and a wonder to the ingenuous, the cross is strength and salvation to all who are called by Him!

The cross is an incongruity, being both a defense and an offense – defense of mankind’s salvation and eternal life and offense again sin & worldliness. It is both the means of God’s grace and mode of God’s judgement – God’s judgement meant that Jesus had to be crucified and because Jesus paid the price of God’s judgement, those who believe in Him become the beneficiaries of God’s grace!

Pastor Timothy Keller, American theologian and apologist, recent tweet rightly points out, “Unless you point to the good news of God’s grace people will not be able to bear the bad news of God’s judgement”. The cross, associated as it is with pain, torture, judgement, punishment, death etc., is actually the means of gain, comfort, absolution, liberation and life to all those that follow the One Who died on it in weakness but rose again in victory and power!

This is then is the message of hope and succor for my friend: Even though she has the cross of loneliness and singleness to bear at this point in her life, yet it is that same cross that is providing and will provide her comfort and solace in that it has provided for and ensured abundant life her loved one. Indeed, this will be her source of strength, enabling her to live her life of triumphant assurance and joy!

© Sabina Tagore Immanuel