In a recent article about the importance of Bible reading, I came across this interesting passage:
Has God ever spoken directly to you? While I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, many credible people have. This morning I spoke with the wife of one of our elders about her recent experience. Betsy had just finished teaching a Bible lesson on the experience of Hezekiah as recorded in 2 Kings 20. If you remember the account, the prophet Isaiah told the king he was about to die. The king fervently prayed, and God spoke through the prophet once again, promising to extend Hezekiah’s life by 15 years. Isaiah knew exactly what the Lord had said.
Does God ever clearly speak like that today? Betsy said shortly after teaching that lesson to her class, God taught her one as well. After a coffee break, she was praying while walking back up the stairs to her classroom. Her prayer concerned the possibility of her husband’s job being moved to another city. She was anxious. But during the prayer, she was stunned by a calm but challenging voice: “Why do you not trust that I will take care of you?” The surprising clarity of that message brought immediate peace. Even though Betsy didn’t yet know where her husband’s next assignment would be, the message God spoke was both deeply calming and convicting. She renewed her commitment to simply trust the Lord.
I know we are not supposed to comment on things such as this, so, or course, I will comment.
First, if God will speak to us in an “audible voice” why do we need to read the Bible? Do we just “fall back” on the Bible when God refuses us the audible voice? (By the way, I’ve always wondered how an inaudible voice of God would sound.)
Second, since this is God speaking, why shouldn’t it be inscripturated (written) with all the other recent messages people claim to have received from God. Should we expect the Holy Spirit to become involved in assuring that these messages are accurately recorded? Do these then form the newest book in the Bible?
Third, How does Betsy know this voice she heard was from God? One answer might be, “She was praying, so of course this ‘answer’ must be from God.” The problem with this kind of reasoning is that God has never promised to answer prayers in an audible voice. So the mere fact that Betsy reports hearing a voice does not mean that voice is from God. And while the writer reports that “the surprising clarity” of the message brought “immediate peace” this also does not prove it is the voice of God.
Finally, notice how the writer of this article attempts to connect the case of Betsy the elder’s wife with the case of Hezekiah. If it could happen to Hezekiah, why not to Betsy? But notice that in the Biblical episode of Hezekiah, Hezekiah’s prayer was answered not through an audible voice of God, but rather, through the prophet Isaiah. The two cases are not really parallel, it seems.
What if I were to claim that just now, God spoke to me in an audible voice to tell me that He did not speak to Betsy in an audible voice? How could we even begin to evaluate two such claims? Does Betsy’s claim win because she is the wife of an elder? (I’m not even a wife!)
This kind of thing comes up periodically in Christian circles. Usually, no one points it out or questions it. I suppose such questions are simply considered unseemly. In the case of Betsy, it all seems very innocent enough since nothing important is at stake.
But what happens when later, perhaps, God speaks to another elder’s wife explaining the “correct” understanding of the Book of Revelation? (Or something else, perhaps – try your own example here.)