From the earliest pages of Scripture, we are confronted with the voice of God.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we see repeated again and again, “Then God said…” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29). And Genesis 1:22, 28, “And God blessed them, saying…”
Whatever God said, God did. God acted and created based on his word, his voice. What an incredible Creator God is revealed to us! We see Him immediately as reliable, as One who keeps His word. And what power is this that can speak and create from nothing? We see God’s majesty and might.
His voice gave blessing (1:28, “God blessed them and said…”). His voice gave purpose (1:28, “… and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…'”). His voice gave commands for their good (2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.'”)
God’s spoken words and commands were intended to bless, to guide, and to protect within the boundaries He had created. Obedience to these commands would lead to life, and by contrast, disobedience would lead to death. Simple and straightforward, yet serious. As our Creator, God is worthy to be heard, to be obeyed, and to be blessed in return.
After the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, though, another voice is introduced, the voice of the cunning serpent. The serpent questioned Eve about what God had said (3:1, “Has God indeed said…?”). The serpent then challenged Eve’s response by telling her what God had said was not true (3:4, “you will not surely die”) and causing her to distrust God’s goodness: surely God was keeping something from them. Eve believed the serpent’s deceptive words – his voice – and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, breaking the one prohibitive command God had given. She gave to her husband, and Adam listened to her voice and ate as well.
Despite God already giving Adam and Eve dominion (rule, authority) over the serpent (1:28, “God said to them…. ‘have dominion… over every living thing that moves on the earth'”), in that moment they allowed the serpent to have dominion over them. They forgot who was really master over whom: God over them, them over the serpent. And they didn’t go back to God, their Creator, to ask Him about what they were being told, to contrast His word further against that of the serpent.
Then God’s voice is reintroduced, calling to Adam, “Where are you?” (3:9). After their conversation (3:9-13), God then speaks the consequences of their sin (3:14-24) that were true to what He had said from the start. Again, we see a God who keeps His word.
And yet, in the midst of this speaking, God speaks and plants a promise of hope (3:15), the Seed to come (the offspring, descendant, Messiah, Promised One). And He demonstrates His mercy by clothing them in animal tunics (3:21), the first sort of sacrifice for sin, an initial picture of things to come.
We now see a God who not only speaks, who not only keeps His word, but who provides for us even in our rebellion, in our sin. We see the hope that was to come, Jesus, whose sacrifice on the cross would take the consequences of our sinful rebellion and cover us with His robes of righteousness for those who believe upon Him and turn to Him. Jesus, in fact, is the Word, who was with God in the beginning and who is God. Through Him, all things were made, and in Him was life, the light of all mankind (John 1:1-5). His death and resurrection speak the word of our salvation.
The earliest pages of Scripture clearly paint for us a picture of our speaking God and the reality that other voices are competing for our attention, for our belief. This is a theme that continues all throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The devil is depicted as our adversary, like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We must be aware and be warned, to be sober and alert.
Satan continues to this day to attempt to deceive us, to lie to us, to cause us to question God’s goodness, to work against God’s good plans for our lives. We must decide whose voice we will listen to and trust. Whom will we believe? One part of the armor of God that the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians to put on is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). We need to hear, know, and obey the Word, the voice of the Lord.
In Matthew 4, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Isn’t it reassuring that our Savior would be tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), as an example for us? And how did He not sin? He knew God’s Word, and with each temptation, He spoke back the Word of God as it was written. He did not yield to the tempation, but relied on the Word of God, such that the devil ultimately left Him (James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”) and angels came and ministered to Him, suggesting it was exhausting.
These thoughts lead me to these questions:
- Do we know what God says to us through his Word, the Bible? In this way, we hear His voice.
- Are we reading and mediating upon this Word, God’s truth?
- Can we bring it to mind in our moment of temptation or struggle?
- Perhaps next time we face a temptation, we go to the Bible and look for a word from God to help us. He promises a way of escape in temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Will we take it?
- Do we expect struggle in our fight against sin and temptation? Do we give up if it seems too hard? Jesus has given us a pattern to follow (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 12:1-4), and He offers help in our weakness. We can pray and seek the One who can actually fight the battle for us.
- What voices in our culture and world are competing for our attention and belief?
- Will we listen to the voice of God?
We have a God who speaks, who has given us His Word. Will we listen, believe, and obey? True joy and peace will follow as we do.