Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
God does not only want us to know the historical Jesus, who came in human form and walked among men. He yearns for us also to know the living, resurrected Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father wants to enable us to hear, know and obey the risen Lord.
But often we don’t realize He is speaking to us. And no wonder we miss His cues—His voice is like the sound of many rushing waters! Revelation 1:15 says, “His voice was like the sound of many waters.” Notice the use of the word many. When it comes to many waters, there is the sound of a gentle, trickling stream; the sound of a thunderstorm, with rain pouring down; the sound of waves crashing in upon the shore; and the overwhelming sound of a river at flood stage, clearing away everything in its ensuing path. God’s voice today is like the sound of these many rushing waters.
A Revealing Phone Call
One time, the voice of God came to me in the middle of the night, but I didn’t recognize it at first. The ringing of my telephone woke me up. I got up out of bed, went to our kitchen and picked up the phone, only to find there was no one on the other end—just a dial tone. I stumbled back into bed and fell asleep, only to hear the phone ringing a second time. I rolled out of bed, groped in the dark and picked up the phone, only to find again that there was no voice on the other end.
Wearily, I walked back once more to my bedroom and crawled back into bed, only to be awakened a third time by hearing our telephone ringing. Determined to figure this thing out, I went to the kitchen, picked up the receiver and listened longer. I still didn’t hear anything. But this time, a still, small voice in my heart whispered, Jeremiah 33:3.
I hung up the receiver, found a Bible and looked up the verse: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” I was stunned by God’s invitation, and I spent the next couple of hours just sitting in the quietness of our living room in the presence of the Almighty, communing with Him and listening to His sweet, sweet voice.
Now, folks, that was a genuine God encounter, a personal and unusual way for Him to demonstrate how He takes the initiative to deepen our relationship with Him. He caused the sound of a telephone to awaken me from my sleep. He persisted until He got my full attention. He took me to His written Word. His Word was illuminated by the Holy Spirit and was used to draw me closer to His very bosom. Yes, after He got my attention, I called upon the Lord, and He did show me great and mighty things that I did not previously know!
The Impact of His Voice
Let’s read Psalm 29:3-9 to get a better idea of the variety of ways we might be able to hear the voice of God:
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve and strips the forests bare; and in His temple everything says, “Glory!”
Yes, when the powerful and glorious voice of the Lord comes into our lives, it rolls around in our spirits and “thunders” for a while (verse 3). It grabs our attention. We can’t get away from it, and we can’t get away from Him. At times, God will manifest Himself as a glorious intruder, as He did with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. If and when this occurs, we will never be the same. His voice will rock our world!
Majestic and penetrating, the voice of the Lord “breaks the cedars” (verse 5). Cedars are a very dense, hard wood. (Have you ever felt someone was “too dense” for the Lord to reach?) When cedars are broken open, they release an irresistible fragrance. God’s voice is capable of coming into and mowing down any situation that looms in front of us like an intimidating giant. Out of that once-foreboding giant, the aroma of Christ can come forth.
Have you ever needed to be refreshed in the Lord? Have you lost some of your zeal along the way? Do you need to return to your first love? Then God’s voice is the cure. The intimacy of His voice will make you skip once again (see verse 6). You will feel like a child at play, ready to run, jump and leap. Your wildness will even return, and once again you will learn to love adventure.
Psalm 29 continues, “The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire” (verse 7). Have you ever been scorched by the hot words of God? Sometimes thundering, sometimes quiet and sweet, God’s voice can bring intense conviction into our lives. When His authentic fire comes, we may feel like running away from the fire rather than into it. But this fiery word and resulting experience has come to purify us for a useful purpose. Let the fire fall, and let His word purify, cleanse and burn out all of the dross and impurities within your heart.
Moving on to verse 8, we find that the “voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness.” In truth, this can be pretty uncomfortable. God shakes everything that can be shaken so that that which cannot be shaken will remain. I don’t want my life to be built on a foundation that cannot hold up under such pressure. The voice of the Lord will try the foundations of our lives. God makes sure our lives are built upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ and His righteousness. During times of trial, pressure and shaking, we need to let those difficulties propel us to become unshakable.
Do you want creativity to abound in your life? Are you tired of your own ideas and formulas? Then listen for the voice of the Lord, because it makes the “deer to calve” (verse 9). The voice of the Lord creates faith in the hearer. It changes your circumstances from barren to fruitful.
It is never too late for fresh life to emerge. Dormant dreams become activated in a moment by the voice of God. May His word come upon you and cause you to see yourself as a fruitful vine.
“And [the voice of the Lord] strips the forests bare” (verse 9). How do you like that one? God’s voice comes, and it removes all the false armor that we rely on. All of our vanities, self-reliance, false images and pretenses are stripped away, and we are left naked before the Creator of the universe. The voice of God brings humility into our lives. According to John 15, it is the tree that has borne fruit that He prunes. So let’s be encouraged, looking at the end result and remembering how good He is. If He strips us or asks us to lay something down, He always has a great reason.
God’s Voice Today!
God wants us to hear His voice not just yesterday but also today and in a vibrant relationship, with all of its manifestations, so that we can bear much fruit—fruit that will remain.
So let His voice thunder. Let the fire fall. Let His word be magnified. Let the waterfall of His refreshing sound replenish each and every thing. Let all creation echo His sound. Let His still, small voice and His tumultuous voice continue to proceed from the throne of God into our lives.
The voice of the Lord is indeed diverse and majestic. Yes, everything in His temple shouts “Glory!” Come on, now. Do it with me. Give Him some praise, and watch what the Lord will do!
Marveling at His Ways,
James W. Goll
Excerpts of this article are taken from Chapter 3: The Sound of Many Rushing Waters in my book Hearing God’s Voice Today. If you are interested in more on this topic, please also see the Hearing God’s Voice Today curriculum.