Saturday, June 11, 2011

God is Like . . . (Part 2)

What Does God’s Voice Sound Like?

In my last post, I wrote about what God looks like and the imperfect metaphors we, as the created, must use to describe our creator. God is infinitely more than any word or thing that we can compare Him to on Earth, but the Bible is full of these imperfect metaphors for characteristics of God.  This week I’d like to look at what God sounds like.

If you do a Google search for “what does God sound like” or “how can I hear God’s voice”, you’ll find a bunch of sites saying you can hear God in your mind, in circumstances, or in the Bible.  A lot times they’ll refer to God’s still small voice and quote this verse as evidence: “And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13)

And while I don’t want to discount God speaking to us through these other methods, this verse is usually taken out of context; it is not referring to Elijah having a thought, interpreting circumstance, or reading the Bible (he didn’t even have a Bible); the verse is referring to hearing an audible voice, which sounded like a gentle whisper.  Let’s look at the verse in context:

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. 

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:9-13)

First “the Word of the Lord” comes to Elijah.  I think this is what people are referring to when they talk about those other ways of hearing God. I think that verse 13 makes it clear that God’s voice is something different.  It is audible. Though, you’ll notice that whether audible or not, the message is the same “what are you doing here?” (verses 9 & 13).

With that clarification made, what does the Bible say God’s audible voice sounds like?

Rushing Water

I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:2)

His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Revelations 1:15)


His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. (Dan 10:6)

An Army and Wings

When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. (Ezekiel 1:24)

This last one is a bit more personal. God spoke to me audibly once.  He said, “Give up those things you love and follow me.”  I thought His voice sounded like a strong wind in the trees, but the other metaphors above describe it very well too.

The Wind

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2)

Next in the Series: "What Does God Taste Like?" . . . yep, you read that correctly--taste.

God is Like . . . Part 1 What Does God Look Like?
God is Like . . . Part 3 What Does God Taste Like?


Ben Cabe said...

I think that the church tends to place too much emphasis on emotion. When I heard God's voice I may have felt a strong emotion afterward but my emotions had nothing to do with me actually hearing his voice.

Stephen Phillip Porter said...

That's very true.


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