Israel’s God was different from all the other gods that surrounding nations worshiped. He is a God who speaks. While other nations had idols and images to represent what their gods looked like, Israel had a God who couldn’t be represented but who could be heard. The entire Bible is a record of God speaking into human history.
If God is speaking, then should we not be listening? The job of an Old Testament prophet was to listen to God and speak his Word to the people. In those days, the people could not hear God for themselves. Once the message was delivered, the people were expected to respond.
The prophet Isaiah offers insight into how this worked in his own life. “The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened my ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away.” (Isaiah 50:4-5)
A couple of thoughts jump out at me from this passage. The first is this idea of regularity: he listens “morning by morning.” When he wakes up, he is ready to hear from God. We are creatures of habit and we do many things on a daily basis. Do we also take time to listen to the one who speaks? Do we expect to hear him each morning?
The second thing I find here is that Isaiah isn’t just listening to God for his own benefit. He listens so that he can offer words of encouragement to those who are weary. Our faith is always lived out in relationship, in community with others. We have spouses, children and friends who are part of our daily existence. When we listen to God, we are prepared to offer support, encouragement and comfort to those around us. This ministry is always needed.
Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet, but he set an example for all who call themselves Christians. The hope is that we would all make time to listen to God and be ready to offer strength to others. God speaks to us through his Word and through the voice of his Spirit. Are we listening?