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|Vol. 15 No. 9 September 2013||
We have been given the choice of listening to only one of two voices. We are either listening to the voice of God or we are listening to the voice of Satan. There is nothing in between. Contrary to popular opinion or belief, we cannot be listening to both of these voices at the same time.
God spoke to Adam and Eve telling them exactly what they needed to know and to do to stay in His divine favor in the Garden of Eden forever. Eve chose to listen to Satan’s lying voice through the serpent. Both she and Adam were soon to learn they had made the most tragic mistake. Neither of them was forced to do what they did, and it was beyond their ability to ever recover from the ramifications of that choice! God always gives us a choice in the things we choose to do or not to do, but we do not get to choose the consequences of our bad choices.
When the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedient choice were brought to bear, suddenly Satan the instigator was totally mute. Nothing has changed through the centuries; he is still using the same ploy, and not surprisingly, getting the same results. To his utter amusement, he knows what the horrifying outcome of disobedience will be – separation from God eternally!
When God asked Adam where he was, if Adam had been forthcoming in his reply, he would have said, “I am in sin.” Genesis 3:10 states, “So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’” Soon to follow was God’s declaration of punishment on the serpent, Eve and Adam.
It should be noted that He began with the serpent, the mastermind of this tragedy. Eve’s punishment resonates to this present moment as does that of Adam. Genesis 3:17 says, “Then to Adam He said, Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.’” Listening to the voice of his wife turned out to be the worst mistake he ever made!
However, Adam was not alone in husbands listening to wives and the situation going most horribly wrong. Abraham, who is described as being the friend of God, listened to his wife Sarah and the situation had most inferior results. In Genesis 16, their names had not yet been changed from Abram and Sarai. We read in verses 1 and 2, “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid, perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.”
Subsequently, Hagar bore Abraham a son that he named Ishmael who was 14-years-old when Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. Sarah saw him mocking Isaac and ordered Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. She said Ishmael would not be an heir with her son. Whose idea was this initially? The more Sarah got what she thought she wanted, the less she wanted what she got! Abraham was very displeased with Sarah’s demand because of his son Ishmael. Genesis 21:12 says, “But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice, for in Isaac your seed shall be called.’” Many times God can and does take our self-serving motives and uses them to fulfill His purpose and plan.
Exodus 18 is the account of events between Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro had brought his daughter and his two grandsons to Moses in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God. The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and they stood before him from morning until evening. Jethro asked Moses what was this thing he was doing and why did he alone sit to judge all the people from morning until evening. Moses told him because the people had disputes that they brought to him, and he would make known to them the statues of God and His laws. Jethro told Moses the thing he was doing was not good.
Jethro told Moses in Exodus 18:18-19, “Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you. Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God.”
In Exodus 18:23 Jethro said, “If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” Verse 24 says, “So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.” For Moses and the people, it was all good.
One of the well known accounts to students of the Bible is the 40-year wilderness wandering of the children of Israel. One writer stated, “For Israel an eleven-day journey (Deuteronomy 1:2) became a forty-year agony.” The children of Israel brought this on themselves because they repeatedly and incessantly refused to listen to God and rebelled against Him!
They murmured against being delivered from Egyptian bondage to die in the wilderness – according to them. They murmured about water and food. They murmured against Moses and Aaron. They murmured among themselves. They even murmured against God!
Numbers 13 is the heartbreaking account of the Israelites listening to the wrong voice, which ended in their miserable 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The 12 spies that God commanded Moses to send to the land of Canaan came back with divided information. Ten of the spies gave a bad report of the land. Only Joshua and Caleb reported that they as a people were well able to take the land. Unfortunately for them, they did not believe Joshua and Caleb.
Having crossed the line one time too many listening to the wrong voice, God passed sentence. “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above” (Numbers 14:29). Joshua and Caleb were the only two exceptions because they obeyed God without question (Deuteronomy 1:37-40).
Psalm 78 recounts Israel’s rebellion. Verses 15-16 tell us, “He split the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink in abundance like the depths. He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.” Verses 17-18 tell us, “But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness. And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy.”
Psalm 81:10-13 declares, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!”
Psalm 106:24-26 further states the sin of Israel’s rebellion and God’s wrath. “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word. But complained in their tents, and did not heed the voice of the LORD. Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness.”
The Book of Hebrews contains several warnings against the danger of falling away from the harbor of salvation. The peril of hardening the heart in disbelief and subsequent rebellion is addressed forthrightly in Hebrews 3:7-9. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years.’”
Listening to the voice of God equals being taken home to heaven. Listening to the voice of Satan equals being cast into hell. God has given that final and eternal choice to each of us. Make no mistake about it, every day we are choosing to listen to one voice or the other.