God is Speaking: Are We Listening?
God is speaking.
This sounds simple enough, but… when God speaks, He wants to be listened to. There is a consequence when we do not listen to God.
No less an exalted personage than Saul, called to be, and anointed as, King of Israel, ignored God (italic emphases mine):
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ “ (1 Samuel 15:1-3)
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs – everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. (1 Samuel 15:7-11)
When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.” “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied. Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!“ (1 Samuel 15:13-26)
No less a prophet than Jonah, called by God to preach against the city of Nineveh, ignored God (italic emphases mine):
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. (Jonah 1:1-5)
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) (Jonah 1:7-10)
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried to the Lord, “O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him. But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:12-17)
As recorded in Holy Scripture, king Saul never recovered from his disobedience to God: he was replaced as king of Israel by David. Jonah did not suffer the same fate… because he repented of his disobedience to God (italic emphasis mine):
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah 2:8-10)
Jonah, now in obedience to God, went on to the city of Nineveh, and preached against it as God had commanded him. As a result of Jonah’s obedience to the will and the word of God, Nineveh was spared from the utter destruction that God had threatened to bring upon it.
However, Jonah was angry at having to do God’s will; he did not want to see Nineveh spared. We see the amazing grace of God in his discourse with Jonah over Jonah’s displeasure; we see that God does not want anyone to perish, but to repent and to know His forgiveness and mercy (italic emphases mine):
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?“ (Jonah 4:1-11)
Jonah wanted to see Nineveh destroyed, and he expressed his displeasure with God saying that he wanted to die. However, God took Jonah to task as He compared Jonah’s concern for the vine that no longer sheltered his head from the heat of the sun to the city of Nineveh, its residents ignorant of the great catastrophe that was to befall it if its people did not repent… how much more important are people, living souls, than anything else! God is concerned with the things that matter.
Bearing in mind that God is the same yesterday, today and forever…
“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:6-7)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Fast forward to the present time…
We have, undeniably, made an almost total mess of God’s creation. Everywhere you look, the manifestations of evil that come from the sin nature inherited from our original parents Adam and Eve is in evidence: greed, selfishness, idolatry, envy, malice, corruption, lusting, pride, arrogance, haughtiness, vanity, stubbornness… all born of disobedience, a direct result of thinking (as Adam and Eve did) that somehow, God is not to be taken at His word, that somehow, the provisions that God has made for us are not sufficient, that somehow, there is a better way forward than what God has provided.
Really… are we truly that arrogant? Evidently.
I don’t want to hear the secular nonsense that ‘we can all take care of each other’ and ‘it takes a village’. No… we can’t, and… No, it doesn’t.
It takes a God… God the Father Almighty, and the One that He has sent, His Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All of our astounding filth aside, God is nothing if not continually compassionate, holding out His arms to us, no matter what it is we have seen fit to do that offends and angers Him:
Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. (Joel 2:12-14)
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
We have not done this.
God will not be infinitely patient with us, as Holy Scripture indicates:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
In accordance with this, in these present days, we have increasingly seen the work of the Holy Spirit unleashed… but with an eye on the eventual outcome (italic emphasis mine):
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (Joel 2:28-31)
Nations that defy the will and the Word of God will be judged, and they will be destroyed (italic emphases mine):
“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. (Joel 3:1-2)
“Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow – so great is their wickedness!” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. (Joel 3:12-16)
This world is in the very last of the very last days. Make no mistake about that. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear knows that this is true. If you cannot comprehend that this is so, Holy Scripture will tell you why (italic emphasis mine):
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12)
There is one way (italic emphasis mine):
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
God knows everything… what is past, what is present, what is yet to come… and Biblical prophecy has never once, thus far, failed to materialize (italic emphasis mine):
Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:9-10)
Don’t let this be said of you:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good. (Psalm 53:1)