Hearing God’s Voice in the Old Testament

Carole Engle AverittBy Carole Engle Averitt7 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Extravagant Love: Exploring God’s Passion for Us by Carole Engle Avriett


Can you imagine the conversations between God and His first children, Adam and Eve? Not only did they hear God’s voice, they spent time in His presence. God spoke directly to them in the Garden of Eden. But after the Fall, things changed. God continued to speak to them, but they no longer experienced His presence as they did before sin entered the world.

Through succeeding generations, many people did indeed hear the voice of God. He spoke to Cain (Genesis 4:6), to Noah (Genesis 6:13 and following), to Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:1–2), to Jacob (Genesis 28:13–15), and many times to Moses throughout Exodus. Eventually, however, God began to speak primarily to His prophets, who then relayed these messages to the people. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, Nathan, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, to name a few, were men called by God who often heard Him speak directly to them.

One Old Testament person we can be certain had direct ties with God is King David. It is unclear if David heard God’s voice in the physical sense, but certainly he heard God speak into his heart and mind many times.

A Psalm about God’s Voice

David had a connection with the voice of God from without and from within. Throughout his lifetime, he experienced firsthand God’s presence in a wide variety of circumstances, including during the heat of battle, after adultery and conspiracy to murder, under familial duress with children, and in the many joyous occasions when he received blessings.

During all these times, David saw with his own eyes the results of God’s voice moving and commanding circumstances. It brought strength and endurance; it chastised and then spoke forgiveness; it comforted and provided wisdom; it accepted praise and glory. This personal awareness lasted until the end of his days on Earth.

No wonder we have a song such as Psalm 29 written by the king, in which the sound of a crashing thunderstorm reminds him of the voice of God. David seems to indicate that he had actually heard the voice of God audibly at some point.

Roaring thunderstorms often swept inland from the eastern Mediterranean, making landfall in the north over the mountains and then rushing down upon the worshipers in the Temple in the City of David. Perhaps it was during one such display of startlingly bright flashes of lightning and accompanying peals of roaring thunder that King David bent to pen one of the most stirring tributes to the voice of the Lord we have in all of Scripture.

Within the span of eleven verses, the leader of Israel lists nine attributes within that surging storm that remind him of the voice of the Lord:

  1. The voice of the Lord is powerful.
  2. His voice thunders.
  3. His voice is full of majesty.
  4. His voice flashes forth flames of fire.
  5. His voice breaks cedars.
  6. His voice shakes the wilderness.
  7. His voice makes the deer give birth (tender, sets things in motion).
  8. His voice sends out exultation and joy (Lebanon herself skips).
  9. His voice strips forests bare (referring to its forcefulness).

David conveys power by using thunder and flames and other catastrophic events in nature to describe the voice of God. But we also see David coupling great tenderness and joy with these mighty images.

However, at the close of the Old Testament there is a four-hundred-year span when God seems to be silent. Or at least we have no record of His voice being heard by anyone. Even in the opening verses of the New Testament, the messages heard by human ears are delivered by angels.

There are a few instances in the New Testament when a person actually heard the voice of God from Heaven. One of these is Peter.

Peter’s Amazing Recollection of Hearing the Voice of God

One of the most interesting passages concerning God’s voice was written by Peter while in prison in Rome not long before his execution. The big fisherman recalls the transfiguration on “the holy mountain.” During this event Peter, along with James and John, literally heard the voice of God the Father proclaiming His pleasure in His beloved Son.

In 2 Peter 1:17–18, he records what happened. And he uses an awe-inspiring phrase: he says the Voice came from Heaven in “majestic glory” (some translations say “the excellent or supreme glory”):

For when he [Jesus] received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice
was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with
whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice from heaven,
for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Obviously, the decades since Peter’s witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus had not dulled his amazement at hearing God’s majestic and glorious voice!

As the boy Jesus grew, He had to learn to use His human voice. It’s hard to imagine, but as a toddler He probably played around his mother’s knees, pronouncing words a syllable at a time just as any toddler must to master language.

Eventually Jesus used His voice as a human male, and the same magnificent organs of larynx, throat, lungs, and tongue would be used to teach, to heal, to bless, and to cast out demons. As He left Earth, He promised to send a Spirit, a Holy One, who would live inside each believer to guide, instruct, convict, and communicate. And at that moment, the great Voice would dwell inside each believer: the Voice of the Holy Spirit.

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